Sunday, January 8, 2012

Western Tanager!

Ali Iyoob and I made the trip down to Pinehurst this morning to check out the Western Tanager that has been visiting a feeder for weeks, but was only recently identified and reported.

We were welcomed into the home of the friendly and gracious Marjorie Ludwig who lavished us with coffee, cookies, banana bread and fruit.  Never have I enjoyed such luxury while chasing a bird!

The tanager made a few fleeting appearances at first.  It would appear magically at the feeder and then fly off before I could even raise my binoculars.

During the down time between glimpses we were entertained by a rather comical Fox Squirrel that kept futilely climbing the base of the baffled bird feeders before sliding back down the pole in fireman style.
Fox Squirrel
And of course Marjorie's yard swarms with common feeder birds. The bright Pine Warblers kept making me double-take.
Pine Warbler (Not a tanager) and Brown-headed Nuthatch
Ali finally discovered that the tanager was snagging a peanut and then eating it in the privacy of some nearby hedges by the base of the foundation.  Here we were able to view it well through binoculars fairly well, but photos were next to impossible.

Finally, it landed on top of the feeder and then sat on the tray, giving us a nice 15-second view and an opportunity for documentation.
Western Tanager!

I knew my photos wouldn't be much compared to what Ali can capture with his camera, so I shot a quick HD video that shows the bird nicely from a variety of angles (be sure to watch in 720p!).

One thing I noticed from my photos and video is that the bird appears to have reddish coloration on the undertail coverts and vent.  I have no prior experience with this species (lifer #1544!), but I haven't seen reddish in this area in any field guides or google images.  Could this bird have some Summer or Flame-colored genetic influence or is this just an artifact?  In all other respects it appears spot on for Western to my novice eyes. 

This was also my 298th NC bird...getting close to the third century!

A big thanks to Marjorie for sharing this beautiful bird with such hospitality!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Targets for 2012

Last January I posted 5 bird targets for 2011:

1. Golden Eagle (if I were going to the neotropics this year I would replace "Golden" with "Harpy")
2. Black Rail (the Yellow Rail has me foolishly optimistic)
3. Gryphon Vulture (I missed this 4 years ago in Crete, hoping to see one in Croatia)
4. Roller
5. Eurasian Bee-eater

The only one I managed to get was Eurasian Bee-eater (several hundred in Greece!).  Since I have no plans to visit Europe this year, Gryphon Vulture and Roller will have to wait for another year.

For 2012 that leaves...