Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's a Prothonotary Warbler

Back in my neck of the woods at Lake Kittamaqundi, I had been hearing and glimpsing some kind of warbler for a few days. I wasn't able to connect sound to species until Friday afternoon, when I heard that sound again and had some better views of the bird near the north end of the lake. The diagnostic photo above (my best shot) shows the patch of intense yellow you might see when the bird is present. After I reported it, the experts descended on the lake yesterday and obtained better photos and recordings. Not a rare bird, really, but it generates some excitement among birdwatchers.

Here is an audio sample of prothonotary warbler with better photo on Cornell Lab's All About Birds.

Apparently, a late season horned grebe was also on the lake yesterday. See the eBird overview for Lake Kittamaqundi in the Nature and Wildlife Links in the blog margin.

(Prothonotary: This warbler gets its name from the bright yellow vestments of the prothonotary, a Catholic church official.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Birds are in Your Neck of the Woods?

Ovenbird, Atholton

A review of birds (and other denizens) found in neighborhood parks around Columbia recently: Many of these birds can be seen or heard in many different areas, but it's nice to know that you don't have to go far or wander through tick-infested brush to find them. First, above: An ovenbird in the woods across Donleigh Drive from Touche Touchet Bakery and the Atholton Shopping Center. It's a species of warbler, and my first time seeing one. I'd been tromping around the Howard County Conservancy and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area in hopes of spotting an ovenbird, and here was one along a nice paved path after a light lunch at the bakery.

Solitary Sandpiper, pond next to Daedalus Books (Gerwig Lane)

If there's a stormwater pond or a creek with mud flats or a sand bar in the neighborhood, shorebirds might be found there at certain times of the year. Above is a solitary sandpiper at the pond beside Daedalus Books on Gerwig Lane. (Unfortunately, ponds like this catch a lot of garbage, and some of my photos posted on eBird show an otherwise good shot of a bird next to a soda can or a brick or some other litter.)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Sewell's Orchard Pond

Sewell's Orchard Pond is actually a chain of stormwater ponds in a neighborhood park south of 175 in east Columbia. Above is a blue-gray gnatcatcher, described by birders as looking like a tiny mockingbird and difficult to photograph as it flits around hunting for tiny insect prey. So that's a lucky shot with both the bird and its prey in its bill. Below is a double-crested cormorant on the middle pond with a water agitator in view at Sewell's Orchard.

Double-crested Cormorant, Sewell's Orchard Pond

Snapping Turtles, Sewell's Orchard Pond

If there is a pond, there is likely at least one big snapping turtle in it. Above, my camera caught two basking together in the lower pond at Sewell's Orchard. Below: My best view of what I could see was a warbler at Sewell's Orchard Pond. Later, I identified it more specifically as a male American redstart.

American Redstart, Sewell's Orchard Pond

Green Heron, Guilford Downs (Thunder Hill)

Yesterday, I found Guilford Downs, as it is designated in eBird. It's a beautiful little pocket of park area in the Thunder Hill neighborhood. Habitat types tucked into the park include the pond pictured here, a stream, grassy areas and mature woods -- where I heard wood thrush and eastern wood pewee, which make me wonder what else is in those trees. Above is a green heron in the pond.

Snapping Turtle, Guilford Downs (Thunder Hill)

Of course, a large snapping turtle lives in the pond, too. Below is a spotted sandpiper.

Spotted Sandpiper, Guilford Downs (Thunder Hill)

Great Crested Flycatcher near Lake Kittamaqundi

Back in my neck of the woods around Lake Kittamaqundi, above is the ubiquitous but elusive great crested flycatcher. Related to the phoebes and pewees and about the size of a blue jay, it's back from the tropics to breed in our area over the summer. We hear its crazy "breep" calls more than we see it, as it likes to stay in the tops of trees in woods. Sometimes it comes down to allow a closer view, or you can catch sight of it when it's on bare branches or at the edge of a stand of trees. You can find great crested flycatchers around all the lakes and parks in Columbia and Howard County.

I'll close this post with a sunny view of Wilde Lake earlier this week -- and I heard three great crested flycatchers while I was there.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Symphony Woods eBird Checklist

With an understory of mostly mowed lawn, Symphony Woods Park in Columbia's Town Center did not look promising for other than the most common birds, such as robins and starlings. A look yesterday (May 10, 2017) showed that the many tall mature trees in the park attract some birds of woods and forest....

My video with 360 degree sweep  caught some of the bird songs, especially red-eyed vireo. Red-bellied woodpecker and summer resident great crested flycatcher are heard also. (A pair of the flycatchers was present.)

Coming up this Saturday is the Howard County Bird Club's May Count, which coincides with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Global Big Day. Links to these organizations and more information can be found in the Nature and Wildlife Links in this blog's margin.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Other Clyde's Customers

Yesterday at the Lakefront after the heavy rain: the black squirrel outside Clyde's, and barn swallows nesting on the Lakefront Pavilion.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lake Elkhorn Yesterday Afternoon

View from the Dam, Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, Maryland

Great Blue Heron

Barn Swallow Collecting Mud for Nest Material

Spotted Sandpipers and Friends

Spotted Sandpiper