Sunday, February 17, 2013

My GBBC stuff plus a huge flock of Dutton Snow Buntings

I love the Great Backyard Bird Count weekend. Audubon recognizes it and it is just great fun every year! Check it out at the GBBC site!

I wrote about it on my last blog. When I left off, I mentioned I was hoping for some photos to enter in the GBBC contest. I did so just now. (No, they have not posted my pics ... yet ... but if they are astute enough, at least one of mine might make it into the finalists ...)

Anyway, y'all (my blog followers and birding friends) get to see the three pics I submitted.

I daily record birdies at my feeders. I was overjoyed a couple of days ago to see that a Northern Flicker - "Yellow-Shafted Flicker"  - dropped in! It was a male. Recently a female also dropped by!!! She has returned for the last two days. Flickers come early. Normally a Flicker drops in about  8:00 am, so if I had been up late watching TV, I might have missed it. This morning, this gal dropped in about 7:45 am. Geez! It was great I had hauled myself out of bed - even interrupting a great dream to do so - knowing that I had but a brief chance to see my feeder birdies before the lull. After the lull, only occasional visitors drop by. I saw/shot  her in the tulip tree in the yard, and just knew she would come in. Setting up coffee can wait! She did! And I shot!

As usual these days, after 8:30 am, the birds disappeared. I am learning that I need to be an "early bird" as well if I want to see the best birds!!! Yes, a few birds did drop by sporadically - including the Flicker again at 9:45 am - but only half the species I saw between 7:45 am and (today) 8:00 am (normally the lull starts at 8:30 am) reappeared. Darn the great recorded (I hate commercials and love the e-box so I can fast forward them...) TV shows that keep me up late!

So ... anyway ... after I made a great breakfast of fried corn meal mush (with blue cheese dressing as a dipper), sauteed asparagus, fried eggs, and raisin toast, and eliminating a few recorded shows from the "box", I took the requisite nap.

Upon awakening, Judy and I were off to "Dutton Fields" (Dutton and Lapeer roads in Oakland County) to see if the seeds I had previously tossed out and about had drawn in any birdies. We saw the same car (dark Toyota with emergent huge black lens) sitting in the spot where I regularly seeded. With binocs, I saw the driver was in full hooded winter garb (necessary at 20 degrees with open window and engine shut off!) and definitely using the car as a blind (as I had suggested on the internet).This was the third time I took Judy to shoot pics that same car was there ("in MY spot"). It is obvious the driver (this time without the previous three passengers) has fully embraced the great new world of "car birding"!!!  Judy was not only disappointed, but a bit peeved! Well, I noted to her that I had recently shared this site "with the world" (birder's list) - as my friend and bird mentor Ed Lewandowski had done with us when he was seeding it the last couple of years - and reminded Judy of the amazing experience we had two years ago. Yes, I now have returned the favor ("pay it forward") and took Ed's place this year to provide opportunities for other birders by continuing his offerings. "If you seed it, they will come"! So true! So wonderful!! I heard from a few Facebook birding friends that they got not only annual county records, but also a couple of "lifers" this year!  I "done good"!

Today turned out quite like two years ago! A flock of over 200 (300???) Snow Buntings was in the area! They mostly dropped in on occasion in front of the dark car offering the photographer what I can only assume what were amazing pics! But twice, they dropped in on my "new spot" (that I seeded today ...a bit south and uphill from the "driveway"). The first drop-in, I got some good pics. The second time - with car facing a different direction- Judy's open window (her side to birds) gave her her best shots of Snow Buntings ever! What fun!!!

Interestingly, when the hugh flock flew, rather than going down into the large empty field as usual, they went "behind the wall" into the stubble field by the mini-mall (behind the block wall). We checked it out a couple of times, and quickly realized the great camo of these birds. White as snow, yet with brown/grey flecking as rubble in a field. Maybe 200+ birds there, but you could barely see them until they moved!!! And yes, when we moved, they flew! The dark car guy should be thanking us for moving them!

Here is my best pic. I  submitted it to the GBBC photo contest. I do not think they had occasion to upload it yet, but if they do, please "like" it on FB! Actually if they upload it at all, I will be extremely happy ...

OK, fine ... anyway, I love it!

Judy and I both had shots of these amazingly beautuiful birds!!! And really, just to experience the sight of hundreds of Snow Buntings coming and going, and coming and going..., and just presenting amazing memories in the sky was sufficient!!!  And, I really do feel good about having done just a small bit of repaying Ed's birding love and memorable moments and continuing his tradition! "Pay it forward", and it comes back to you!

In trying to shoot the amazing sight of flying, flocking Snow Buntings, I caught an interesting lucky shot of what I am calling the "Snow Bunting Police"! Cute!

No Lapland Longspurs today - I was extremely lucky last time - but the overwhelming experience of a HUGE flock of Snow Buntings flying in and out of an area is really almost a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!! This was the second time for us!!! (thanks Ed!)

Yes, Judy and I got many pics at the new "second site" and really feel blessed the  flock dropped in!

Yet ... I would really like to hear from the photographers - the young guy with huge Canon tele in the greenish car (shooting Lapland Longspurs) before , and the seemingly-now-ever-present guy with huge black lens (today shooting the Snow Buntings)  - to see what they shot!!! Please also give back to the Birder's List! Hey! I really do not wonder why you chose this place in the middle of nowhere (Birder's List), but would like some some feedback showing "the List" your pics for the gift you were given! I suspect you have never had such an oppoutunity before!!! Just saying ...

1 comment:

Lee said...

Great pictures! Thank you for the tip of Dutton road and for the seeding. My husband, daughter and I have gone up once - no buntings but we did see some horned larks. Thanks again.