Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Birds of La Hesperia, five state lifers, more on ebird and a nesting Cerulean video!

I promised when I started this blog that I would go back and revisit some of my birding experiences in South America. So to make good on this promise I present to you the birds of La Hesperia:

Birds of La Hesperia
(click it and watch the slideshow!)

In here are all my best bird shots from La Hesperia, the biological station where I worked from January through June, 2010. They are roughly ordered from best to worst in terms of quality, with some hilariously poor shots toward the end (see Blue Seedeater and Black Hawk-Eagle).

I included bad pictures in a record keeping effort. Nobody to my knowledge has previously worked on a photo inventory for this site. And all were taken on site. I have better shots of some species, but they were taken elsewhere and have not been included.

So while this is not meant to be exhibition of my photographic skills (and I don't even claim to be a photographer), some of them did come out pretty well. If you would like to use any, just please give me credit and mention La Hesperia. There are also a handful by my friend David Kilner (a.k.a. "Colorado" on www.scottsup.blogspot.com) and these are marked DK.

Also this is a bit of a challenge to anyone who fancies him or herself as a naturalist or photographer, and somehow ends up at La Hesperia, to photograph any species I was unable to capture or to submit better photos so I can take down some of the embarrassingly bad images.

For more information on La Hesperia, see www.lahesperia.org or visit the facebook page.

Turning to domestic birds...

I participated in another fall count back on Sept. 25: Jeff Pippen's in Duke Forest gate 23 (Korstian division). I got the times mixed up and showed up 15-minutes early and was serendipitously rewarded by a Common Raven being mobbed by several American Crows. The raven is quite a good bird for the Piedmont and state bird #210 for me! (#209 was Cattle Egret, which I had seen before but somehow left off my NC list).

Other wildlife pretty much stole the show for the rest of the count. A big copperhead was a highlight for the other student participants. And Jeff got really excited about this butterfly:

...which apparently is somewhat rare. (a White M Hairstreak, can you see the white 'm'?)

We did encounter a small migrant flock at the bridge near the end with Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler Bay-breasted Warbler. I missed the latter two, which would have been state birds.

I quickly made up for these misses when I went out to Eno River State Park (off Pleasant Green Road) with Norm Budnitz three days later. Warblers were thick along the river and we managed 11 species including the missing Black-throated Blue (NC #211) and Chestnut-sided (#212) as well as Cape May (#213) and Tennessee (#214).

A pair of noisy Pileated Woodpeckers kept trying to distract us from the warbler show and with a Hairy Woodpecker and a couple Red-headed present (not to mention the ubiquitous Downy and Red-bellied) we were only a sapsucker short of a woodpecker sweep.

Also in the mix were about 10 Yellow-billed Cuckoos (pictured), a couple Scarlet Tanagers and the other warblers: Blackburnian, Redstart, Parula, Pine, Yellowthroat, Black-and-White, Magnolia. I ended up being probably my best day of fall migrants outside of trips to Block Island, RI.

I'll finish this post with a few more comments about ebird...

My discussion on ebird last time generated nice comments from a couple other bird bloggers: Ali Iyoob (see his birding journal) and Andrew, who keeps a blog on birding in Arizona. It turns out a lot of folks keep birding blogs, in fact there's already another one that calls itself birds on the brain. Since it was started a few months before mine, I should probably think about changing the name. Any suggestions?

Another nice thing about ebird is that regional volunteers check up on rare sightings among lists and contact birders to confirm that a mistake was not made. This has happened to me three times so far and in one case it alerted me to a life tick I had missed. I had recorded a few sightings of Pied Oystercatcher in New Zealand. At some point this species was split into Pied (in Australia) and South Island (in New Zealand).

So I went back and corrected the errors in my data for accuracy's sake and got a life tick in the process. I had lost a few ticks while updating my checklist due to various lumps, so I am now at 1443, but who knows what other splits out there I am missing out on? Hopefully some alert volunteer will see the red flags in my list backlog and help me out!

Finally I'm going to end with an amazing HD video of Cerulean Warblers nesting behavior taken by my friend, Peter Capobianco. I promise it will blow you away (make sure to chose the highest resolution and watch full screen!)

Pete is also a fantastic photographer and puts anything I'll ever post here to shame.

Check out his work: http://www.naturalescapesimagery.com/
And his new Zazzle storefront where you can buy sick refrigerator magnets! : http://www.zazzle.com/natural_escapes


  1. Some really nice pics from La Hesperia. Fun to see some old friends from my trip to Ecuador. And relatives of old friends. Especially the Toucan Barbet.

  2. How about "Birding Brainwarbles"

  3. Just re-posting a nice comment I received through the carolinabirds listserve:


    The Cerulean Warbler video is absolutely fabulous. The female building the nest, both male and female feeding, and the bug that was too big for the baby were incredible!

    The bird songs in the background were wonderful. How many do you hear? I think I hear 14.