Tons of Snowy Owls popping up all over the tri-state area. They are definitely one thing I would miss about winters in the US. I spent the day walking Island Beach State Park and was rewarded with three Snowys. One was pretty shy and would only allow 200 yards, but the other two were very cooperative to 100 yards. From what I can tell they were working their way down the beach towards Barnegat, hunting along the shoreline. The birds made several forays onto the beach to scare up either a gull or peep. Nearby was this decapitated loon with the breast cut out. Scanning around I found the remains of this waterbird arm, and this tail from a yellow shafted flicker. I also found quite a few Snowy Owl tracks! But why would these birds be hunting birds along the shore and not all the rodents around? Just inland I realized why. Island Park has a lot of foxes so far less rodents around. This is also the reason they crossed the inlet to Barnegat, no foxes over there. As they worked their way down the beach I set up in front of one hoping it would cross in front of me. I just sat in the sand and waited. The key is to not space off while you are waiting but the bird needs to feel comfortable with you there. So sometimes you just sit and sit, in this case almost 1 hour. The best tell is the body language of the bird will change before she flys off. In this sequence, she went from dozing till suddenly a bird on the beach catches her eye and she locks on. Just before it flew off, its head bobbed and it stood up. From there it was a 1/2 second till this. Just a very special day under special circumstances. If you go, please dont get to within 100 yards and also respect the dunes. On the way out, I collected about 20 lbs of plastic garbage.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
It is often cloudy and rainy in the Cloud Forest. As a result getting direct light with high shutter speeds becomes almost impossible to eliminate blur. That being said, there were great hummers at any of the places with feeders that I went. At 2000+ meters you find the violet tailed sylph which is one of the longest hummingbirds in Ecuador, and one of the smallest with the purple throated woodstar. One of my favorites is the Empress Brilliant. Due to the prevalence of feeders, the hummers become agitated if the bottles go empty too long. Its not uncommon for them to land on you while "demanding" breakfast. One of the most daring is the buff-tailed coronet. I had more than a few land on my head while up early with the sun. Once deployed, every hummingbird in the nabe comes in for a drink. Meanwhile at 1800m at the feeders in El Mirador, you get the tiny green-thorntail in the woodstar's niche. 4 Down at 1500meter, in Mindo proper the fabulous Andean Emerald. Also at the Mariposario was the fantastic White-whiskered Hermit.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Had a nice opportunity to revisit Ecuador and peel back some of the layers of this country. I spent the majority of my time between Nanegalito and Los Bancos with Mindo Mariposarios being a favored stop. It was a special and needed break from the insanity that sees to be breaking out on daily basis back in the States. In Ecuador I am reminded that birds have lived on this planet for millions of years and survived earthquakes, volcanism, meteor strikes and a few wars. So somehow if I can find them, I too can navigate the cataclysm du jour. So here's what some of that looks like: Las Tangaras! Blue-winged Mountain tanager. Golden Naped Tanager. Flame faced tanager. Beryl Spangled Tanager. Golden Tanager. Male White lined Tanager Female White lined Tanager. Blue Necked Tanager. Rufous Necked Tanager. These Swallow Tanagers. Coming next, Hummingbirds!