Monday, February 16, 2015

Radiant Warblers

In the Midwest, the month of February is typically frigid, cloudy and gray. As we shiver and shovel through the winter season, I offer these warbler images with hope that they will brighten your day.

A resplendent Black-throated Green Warbler perches on green foliage

An orange-throated beauty in search of a meal ~ Blackburnian Warbler

Hunting for a buggy snack ~ Cape May Warbler

A colorful Chestnut-sided Warbler seeks food

A brilliant Yellow Warbler pauses for a moment in the marsh

A sightly Canada Warbler shows off its black necklace

Foraging along the creek ~ Prothonotary Warbler

Crooning a tune amid the leaf litter ~ Kentucky Warbler

The russet cap of a Palm Warbler

A stunning Magnolia Warbler perches among the blossoming pink buds

A thirsty Hooded Warbler eyes a drink in shallow waters

A bright sight at the marsh ~ Common Yellowthroat

A handsome Townsend's Warbler seeks nourishment in the berry-laden trees

The curious look of a lovely Northern Parula

Posted by Julie Gidwitz 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Maine Birds in Winter

Hairy Woodpecker (female) Lisbon, ME 1-16-15
 It's been a bit "hairy" around my house and I have not been able to post here for over two months. I am still healing from a dislocated shoulder, but I thought that I would show you some of the birds I have seen here in Maine since moving here just about a year ago. I went on a search through all of my photos, and suddenly realized I had too many for one post! So, I have broken them up by season, and am starting with Winter, and continuing on for the next three months with the next three seasons! So, please come back to see more Maine Birds!

Ring-billed Gull and Herring Gulls in Wiscasset 3-15-14
 Last winter when I first arrived I went in search of birds, not knowing any of the local hotspots.

Canada Geese in the Kennebec River, Bath, Maine 3-15-14
I found seagulls in Wiscasset and Canada Geese at the South Boat Launch in Bath.

Snow Buntings in Livermore, ME 11-21-14

While this is not the best photo, I was thrilled to add Snow Buntings to my Life List this year.

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk in my backyard, Brunswick, ME 11-29-14
Update 2-9-14: This bird was misidentified as a juvenile Red-tailed hawk initially. Thanks to a fellow birder, it has now been corrected. Field marks are speckling on breast instead of across belly, smaller, rounder head with a sweeter looking face, smaller bill, and limited gray banding in the tail. Thank you Kyle Lima!

Blue Jay at the Mere Point Boat Launch 12-2-14

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Simpson's Point Landing 12-2-14

Female Buffleheads at the Mere Point Boat Launch 12-21-14

Barred Owl on Rossmore Road in Brunswick, ME 1-1-14
This was my first Barred Owl in Maine!

Cardinal and Juncos in my backyard 1-4-15

A pair of immature Bald Eagles playing with each other over the Kennebec River in Bath 1-13-15

Eastern Bluebirds in Lisbon 1-16-15
Bluebirds are rare in winter, but definitely possible!

Common Redpolls in my backyard 1-18-15

Hermit Thrush in my backyard 1-18-15

Links to some local eBird Hotspots:
January 1st sunset at Wharton's Point

And don't forget to come visit me at 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Birding Coban and Semuc Champey

The lagoons of Semuc Champey
Some birding treks can be rough on the body.  After our comfortable stays in Antigua and near Tikal in Guatemala, we headed off to an unknown destination known as Coban.  While most areas in Guatemala are safe to travel, Coban has had a history of being a challenge for some tourists. 

Royal Flycatcher
It's a popular destination for tourists because it's located near some epic landscapes full of incredible birds!  One would think Spanish is the main language spoken, but here in this region, the Mayan language of Q'eqchi is dominant. Coban is really a wonderful city, but the traveler does need to take care of his or her things while in this town.  Theft has been a problem here in the past. There has also been an anti-tourist attitude(when compared to the comforts of Flores and Antigua) towards visitors hoping to spy the Resplendent Quetzal or needing a rest before making the trek down to Semuc Champey. Part of that "anti" feeling is also caused by obnoxious tourists. So tread lightly here and enjoy what this magnificent city has to offer!  Plus the coffee is quite nice:)

Yellow-throated Euphonia-female
With all that said, Coban and surrounding areas are worth the extra effort. However be warned!  Even if you think a bus or minivan is full, you're wrong.  There were many tight spaces on our bumpy treks throughout the countryside:)  I even had a 3 hour ride in the back of a truck standing up!  It took every ounce of will power to stay positive.  And for the pain and bruises?  A Common Pauraque. Okay, it was worth it:)

Yellow-throated Euphonia-male
I brought my water pack with me daily as it was June or what the locals call the wet season.  During this time of year, the weather is humid, overcast and WET!  But the wildlife is spectacular!   

Semuc Champey is a rough ride down into a wild and beautiful area. Once inside the park, you'll want to take a dip in the crystal blue waters.  There are little brown fish that will nibble on your hairs and dead skin.  I know.  It sounds gross, but you'll find yourself oddly liking it:)  Word of caution.  If you do go for a swim, don't leave your belongings unattended.  Kids will come out of the forest and steal them!  Also, it can be rainy with the trails muddy and slick at times.  But my lifer, the Swallow-tailed Kite, at the top of Mirador, was so worth it. 

Chestnut-headed Oropendula
While you are trekking throughout this gorgeous park, keep an eye out for monkeys and plenty of birds!  The place is basically a limestone bridge over a deep cavernous river.  Be careful walking near the edge because there is no return.

Below is a shot of the Cahabón river flowing underground where it resurfaces on the other side of the bridge.  This special area is unique in that it has created a network of underground caverns.  It was here that I discovered hundreds of swifts flying under and around this natural bridge. I safely clung to the side as I observed them fly in and out of these underground caverns.

Swifts are naturally difficult to capture with photos, but here are the White-collared Swifts in the dark gray skies on this day. 

White-collared Swifts
While I'm freaking out about the birds, my friend is loving the water and laughing at me. I get in the moment!  But I think we all can agree here at Birding Is Fun! that observing birds in the wild is pretty awesome:)   I can swim at my hotel:)

Our trek out to Semuc Champey was eventful and worth the pain. But we weren't done.  I said good-bye to the park for the last time and tried to remember it all. We had a couple more stops to make. So we headed back to the village of Lanquín for a late dinner and a trip back to our headquarters in Coban.

Coban is a MUST stop if you're wanting the Resplendent Quetzal on your list.  We hired a taxi for the early morning so that we would arrive to our destination on time.  We stopped at a local ranch where the Quetzals were being seen.  They had wild avocado trees and a delicious breakfast waiting:) The link above will tell you about that special trip.

Resplendent Quetzal
This is a great bird to introduce to your non-birding friends and a fun place to hike.

It's different now.  I don't know if I'll make it back to Coban in this lifetime because there are so many other places to explore, but it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in my life! Sure, it's rough, but on a stressful day at work, all you have to do is transport yourself back to the memory and everything will be okay. It's that beautiful.

Howler Monkey
So after a rough trek to areas like these, it's always nice to take a couple days off for relaxation. 

Stay tuned for more....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Reflections on a Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser, male at J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, FL recently. Hunting for fish, diving, surfacing, such interesting water colors and patterns. What a treat to photograph. Photographing birds allows you to not only appreciate the elements of a photo, but also to become absorbed in the bird's life and behavior and thus gain a new appreciation for that bird in its environment.
Lillian Stokes
Stokes Birding Blog