Birding on the bolt

Birding on the bolt often offers some unique birding opportunities. If you keep an open mind and scan around while driving, you’ll be amazed what you can run into (pardon the pun). This week was particular great for bolt birding. While running to Fedex I spotted a rare (for this particular area) Bald Eagle hunting along the North Branch of the Raritan River. I also spotted an American Kestrel, as well as a Northern Harrier. The Harrier flew over my car this afternoon and then proceeded to hunt in a large farm field. This is the first Northern Harrier that I’ve seen in this area and the good thing was that I managed to stop to check it out. The bad thing is that I am using some super small binoculars that someone gave me. They are nice in that they fit in the door of my car, but they aren’t great for bird watching as their focal view is very small so it’s hard to find the bird. I guess I’m also very used to my monster 10x50 Pentax binocs.

Most birders prefer something more compact and light, but I opted for this monster as it gives me super doper magnification and superb low light viewing. I’ve used them for owl spotting (Short Eared) and the results were amazing. I was able to track the owls well after some of the birders with scopes threw in the towel. I’ve also used them for viewing Red Fox with similar results. I am probably in a tiny minority when it comes to my choice in binoculars…


Many sightings of IBWO over the years

In order to show both sides of the story I wanted to cross post to an IBWO optimist (cyberthrush ) who believes that there have been many sightings of IBWO over the years.
According to cyberthrush sightings fall into 5 categories:
"1. Birders who believe they have seen Ivory-bills but never reported it for fear of the scoffing, jeering, or intimidation they would face.
2. Birders who believe they have seen Ivory-bills (might even have photographic proof), but who believe it UNethical to report such a finding, for fear of the potential havoc brought upon the birds.
3. Birders who have had fleeting 'low-qualiity' glances at big black-and-white woodpeckers in woods and automatically shrugged it off as Pileateds, when in fact they had observed IBWOs.
4. Hunters, fisherman, backwoodsmen, who have seen IBWOs, but didn't have a clue what they were seeing (nor care) and so never reported it.
5. Hunters, fishermen, etc. who have seen IBWOs, and knew EXACTLY what they were seeing, and deliberately chose NOT to report it for fear of Government intervention and tight regulation of the land involved."
These 5 categories seem pretty inclusive and compelling to me. What do you think?

Just how wary was the IBWO?

I found a nice article that delves into some of the historical records related to the behavior of the IBWO, specifically the level of wariness that the bird exhibited. I am trying to keep an open mind and I don't want to influence the poll voting in any way, but I will present info as I find it. Personally I find this topic extremely interesting. Being somewhat of a romantic I would like to believe that the IBWO is still around. Thanks to all the folks commenting on this riveting topic. Don't forget to vote on the poll.

Ivory billed woodpecker videos

What's your ultimate birding toy - Canon400mm lens?

One of the posts I read today made me think about my ultimate birding toy. Actually it wasn't hard to come up with. Since I've started admiring birds, I've always wanted a top end 'birding' lens. At the top of my list at the moment would be the Canon 400mm F2.8 USM IS. This bad boy allows you to take pictures at low light and it takes crystal clear pics. If you feel adventurous you could throw on a 1.4 or 2x converter which will further extend the lens' range. Of course, if I had to I would take a cheaper 300mm such as the Canon 300mm F2.8 or even the F4.0. All jokes aside both of these are tremendous lenses! At the moment I have a Canon 75-300mm F4.5 USM IS and it does a fair job. Unfortunately it is pretty slow to focus and it's not ideal for low light situations.

I keep thinking that one day when I'm big I'll be able to buy one of these beauties! How much bigger do I need to get though? I’m already 6.1 and 210lbs…

What’s your ultimate birding toy? Maybe you’d like a spotting scope, Leico binoculars (I wouldn’t mind a pair of these either), new digital camera…..


IBW Background

Came across this great post by Lillian and Don Stokes that gives much of the background on the discovery of the IBW

NEW Poll - Ivory Billed Woodpecker Status

What do you think about the Ivory Billed Woodpecker? Is it an exciting discovery or simply a case of misidentification - do you really care either way?

I'd love to hear from you and please visit my blog and cast your vote!

Poll results: Should dogs be allowed......

Well the results for my second poll is in and the voting went very well. I asked you whether dogs should be allowed in wildlife areas. I had a grand total of 25 people voting which is pretty representative of the US demographics ;-) The results were a sweep for the naysayers who got 64% of the votes, while the folks in favor of dogs in wildlife areas only managed to get 16% of the votes. Interestingly, the yes votes were actually beaten by the undecided's who cast 20% of the votes.
Ok, so for me it was VERY strange when I came to the US and I saw dogs all over place. In SA dogs are not allowed in widlife areas, maybe because there are so many EXTREMELY dangerous animals around that would love to eat them for breakfast. Even seeing dogs in state camping grounds was very strange to me and in my opinion spoils the tranquility of being out in nature.
As for my third poll I'd like to see what your opinion is on the 'discovery' of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker (IBW). For those of you who have been reading my blog, I've written quite a few posts recently about the IBW and I'd love to hear what you think about it. I'll be posting the poll later today, so please pop in and vote. Also please feel free to leave me any comments about your thoughts on the IBW.

Housing market picking up, maybe

Although my open house hasn't attracted ANY interested parties, Jim Wright's post indicates that the owl box market is picking up a little. I wonder if the new arrival in Oakland indicates that the NJ market is picking up.... Maybe I need to look into other marketing opportunities to see if I can promote my house a little more effectively. Any ideas?
I am waiting patiently for ANY signs of owl activity. Well actually I'm waiting impatiently truth be told.


Zick dough or crack?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock or you’ve been north of Siberia (is there anything north of Siberia??) for the last month, you should know that Zick dough is the rage amongst the birding community. I decided to jump onto the bandwagon this weekend and I cooked up a batch. Well it turns out that this stuff should have been called Zick crack or coke. It took a little while, but the birds have found most of the sources of Zick dough and they are literally fighting over the stuff! Isn't dough slang for money i.e. dough=drugs...hmmm. Unfortunately the only dough that is untouched, is the stash on my new platform feeder that I built this weekend with some left over two by fours.....typical! Anyway, if you haven't cooked up a batch of dough I can HIGHLY recommend it!
Well done Julie, maybe you should have copyrighted the recipe ;-)

AWESOME Screech Owl Video

Check out Jim Wright's Screech owl video. The video is his story of the Eastern screech owl family that lived just beyond his backyard last spring. It is 3 minutes and 24 seconds long, and if you like owls and baby owls, it should be a VERY fast 3:24. The video features footage from the nesting-box cam, great outside photography by his friend and colleague Jerry Barrack, and a rousing soundtrack by the Hunger Mountain Boys.

GREAT JOB Jim. Hopefully I will get lucky this Spring and have some of these awesome guys in my owl box!