Ver Meer Woods – Pella, Iowa – May 6, 2019

On May 6, 2019 my son-in-law and I assisted a member of the Ver Meer family in an inventory of the species at Ver Meer Woods, on the banks of the South Skunk River near Pella, Iowa.  Here is a list of the birds we saw that morning.

First and most spectacular were the nesting colonies of Great Blue Herons in the great old Sycamores on the property.  We saw about 100 nests and even more Herons, and in many of the nests could be heard young chirping.  Hatched eggshells littered the ground.  This may be the largest Great Blue Heron rookery in the State of Iowa.  What a sight and sound it was.  And what a Natural Treasure it is!!

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Other species seen at the Woodland during the morning were:  Turkey Vultures, Crows, Red-tailed Hawk, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Turkeys, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatchers, Barred Owl (heard only), Least Flycatchers, Empidonax species, Wood Thrushes, Swainson’s Thrushes, Veery, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Mourning Doves, House Wrens, Yellow-throated Vireos (heard only), Blue-headed Vireo, Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, Catbirds, Common Grackles, Bluejays, White-breasted Nuthatches, Baltimore Orioles, Robins, Eastern Towhees, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Pileated Woodpecker (heard only), Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and the following bonanza of 7 Warbler species:  Redstarts, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbirds, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black and White Warblers, and the bird of the day, a beautiful male Blackburnian Warbler.  Total Species at the Woodlands: 45

Others seen near the Woods were Pheasants (at least 5), Great Tailed Grackles (3), Meadowlark species, Barn Swallows, and Red-winged Blackbirds, bringing the number at or near the Woods to 50 species.  The Ver Meer Family deserves great credit for placing this unique place under a conservation easement to assure the preservation of its treasures far into the future.

Other sightings of special interest were a lovely Coyote, a very large Woodchuck, a Garter Snake and Spring flowers covering the forest floor in profusion:  among others,  Spring Beauty, Rue Anemone, Violets, Buttercups, Jack-in-the Pulpit, with a few Jacks present in their pulpits, May Apples (but no apples yet), Wild Ginger, and Dutchman’s Britches (of course), but not in flower.

Tufted Flycatchers in Arizona

On June 19, 1915 I hiked up Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains in search of Tufted Flycatchers.   During the past month a pair of Tufted Flycatchers has been seen regularly about 2 miles up the canyon from the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Visitor Center.  Rarely seen in North America, this pair constitutes the first recorded North American nesters.

The first mile of the hike, approximately, is on the Nature Conservancy Preserve.  The trail there is well marked and has benches at regular short intervals for the benefit of those of us not accustomed to hiking above 5,000 feet, as this is.  Where the Nature Conservancy Preserve ends, the Coronado National Forest begins.  Ramsey Peak stands at 8,725 feet at the upper end of the Canyon.

Following the detailed description provided by volunteers at the Nature Conservancy, one of whom was the first to locate these Tufted Flycatchers, I located them about 2.5 hours after I started on the hike.  I was very surprised that there was no one else on the trail.  At the specified location one, and possibly both, of the Flycatchers gave me great looks as they sallied out from the bare twigs at the end of a couple of Engleman Spruce trees to capture passing insects.  I was not able to locate the nest which apparently can be seen fairly easily with binoculars.    I was thrilled to add this colorful little flycatcher as number 739 on my North American Life List.  Due to hip replacement surgery in early March, I have not been travelling to find new birds, so this, only my second new life bird in 2015, was very rewarding.  Particularly rewarding was discovering that my recovery has been so very good that I was able to negotiate the high altitude and 2 miles of high trail with no difficulty.

The day was beautiful and the silence supreme, so I decided to have my lunch while sitting on a rock watching the Flycatcher(s).  About 12:30 I began the return trip.  Over-confidence in the mountains, however, can be a big mistake.  As I walked slowly along the trail, I was careless in failing to observe the sign at the place where the trail split.  I thought I had merely continued on the same trail that I had come up, but after a while I began to wonder why nothing looked familiar.  At first I thought I just had not noticed things as I labored upward earlier, so, instead of turning back, I foolishly continued on the trail.  About 2:00 p.m., I realized that I was on a different trail.  Not to worry, just follow the trail downward and I would come out at the base.  About 2:30 I decided that strategy was too risky, as sometimes the trail ascended on switchbacks, and sometimes it went down, and I did not know how far I would have to walk to get out.  Still, no one else showed up on the trail, but there began to be bear sign.

At about that time the trail passed into the open on a rocky point, from which I could see Sierra Vista in the east.  I guessed it to be about 5 or 6 miles down the canyon from where I was.  I had lost confidence in my ability to get out safely on my own, so I took the opportunity of open space and hoped for reception, to call 911 on my cell phone.  The 911 representative, after finding out where I was (“in the mountains”), informed me that 911 did not respond to problems in the mountains, but that the Cochise County Sheriff’s office had a Search and Rescue Team that she would contact for me.  She did, and they quickly got on the line, asked some questions about my physical condition (which was still good, mostly because I had carried a good supply of water with me) and informed me that they would send out a team to get me.  I relaxed, feeling that my problem was now under control, and stretched out on the trail with my backpack for a pillow and dozed for a while.  My phone rang, and the Searcher asked me to tell him if I could hear their series of 3 whistles.  I could not hear them. He told me they would try again in a bit.  I then tried to get up and could not, because of severe cramps in both of my legs. Postassium deficiency, from the heat and exertion of the day.   After working that out, I was able to get up.  A little while later I heard their whistle and called out that I could hear them.  Five searchers arrived a few minutes later.  A welcome sight indeed!

They did some checking on my vitals and had me drink some Gatorade (hot Gatorade, due to the time on the trail getting up to me) to restore my potassium level and ability to avoid cramps.  When they were satisfied that I was mentally and physically capable, they asked if I felt that I could walk out with them.  I asked how far, and they said .4 of a mile, and I said yes.  It turned out to be .7 of a mile, but I made it down to their Polaris ATV.  I got in the Polaris and then experienced the absolute worst road trip of my life, on the rutted and steep road down to “civilization”.  It was about 3 miles.  I clearly could not have walked out.  I marvel at the durability of the vehicle, and the skill of the driver, to traverse that “road”.

The Cochise County Search and Rescue Team consists of about 85 people, all local volunteers.  They are very impressive and professional. When we all arrived at the base, we were greeted by about at least a half dozen more volunteers.  One of them, Ursula, had a camera and took our picture together.  The man third in from the right is Manny, who had the idea of organizing the volunteer group about 40 years ago.  I wonder how many people they have saved over those years.

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Surprisingly, I felt pretty good the next morning so I hiked back up the short mile to the Bledsoe Loop on the Preserve, in further search of the Flame Colored Tanagers that had previously been seen there for several weeks.  However, they had abandoned the nest that they had built and were either gone, or in hiding whenever I was in that area.  So, I have yet to get to 740 on my North American Life List.  I was pleased to meet the Nature Conservancy Preserve Manager, Eric Andersen, who was overseeing some work on the trail near the Bledsoe Loop.  He kindly provided me with a can of cold sweet tea to wash down my second picnic lunch of the trip.   I found my way back.

Ivory Gull in Illinois — January 3, 2015

Late in the afternoon of January 2, 2015, the bird hotlines came alive with reports that an Ivory Gull was seen on the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois.  This ABA Code 3 bird has long been on my wish list, but my expectations of ever seeing one were lessening every year.  My research indicated that the probable best place to find them was at Barrow, on the northern shore of Alaska in the fall.  Not a place that I was anxious to go to in the fall, especially since the chances of seeing them well there were not very good in any event.

The Ivory Gull is of concern for its long-term survival because of the loss of the frigid habitat that it requires.  The liquidation of the ice in the Arctic is affecting not only the Polar Bears and other ice dependent creatures, but the few species of birds that depend on that environment for their specialized mode of survival.  These are the most northern nesting birds in the world.  And so I was becoming quite pessimistic about ever seeing this, to me, most beautiful of all the North American gulls, with the possible exception of Ross’s Gull, which can claim its own stake to beauty.

Unfortunately the weather forecast called for freezing rain in the Quincy area on January 3 and blizzard conditions here in Des Moines on the evening of January 3.  Nevertheless, I convinced Barbara (it really took very little convincing) that we should make the 4 hour trip from Des Moines to Quincy the next morning, for what well may be my last chance to see an Ivory Gull.

Fortunately the temperature stayed at or above freezing all the way to Quincy, so the fog and drizzle were inconveniences but not dangers.  We arrived in Quincy about noon and stopped at the last place where the bird had been reported: on the river near the Pier Restaurant parking lot.  There were no birds there.  Other sightings had been between the Restaurant and Lock and Dam 21, several miles to the south.  We found Lock and Dam 21 and there were a few birders there with scopes set to look north from the road.  With a little help from the bystanders, I was able to pick out a white spot on a small ice floe far to the north, shrouded in fog and mist.  It gradually floated nearer to us, but as it was becoming identifiable, it decided to fly back up river.  We took off in the car to try to find a better viewing spot.  Much of the river bank is closed under private ownership, but we were able to locate a couple of accesses between the dam and the Restaurant on the east shore.  No luck.

We drove back to Lock and Dam 21, and no one was there.  Obviously, the birders had found a better viewing site so we returned to our efforts to find the right viewing site along the east shore.  We finally spotted a number of birders in a small parking lot along the river and as we pulled to a stop, the bird soared past us within feet, as it pulled a small fish from the shoreline and flew to a floating ice island to consume it.  Barbara was really disappointed that we arrived too late to get a real close-up of the bird as it flew near shore.  However, the currents were with us and the bird floated past at a reasonably close distance, and I was able to get terrific scope views of the all-white plumaged gull with the black eyes, black legs and feet, gray bill and yellow bill-tip.  Here are a few of Barbara’s photos of my long sought after Ivory Gull, number 738 on my North American Life List.

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An interesting side note to our trip was the concern expressed by the Missourians among the birders present, as to whether the bird was on the Illinois side of the river or on the Missouri side of the river.  Never before has an Ivory Gull been seen in Missouri.  The Missouri birders were very anxious to be among those who identified the first Ivory Gull ever seen in Missouri.  I believe the consensus was that the bird at least flew over the Missouri side of the river, so perhaps the Official Birding Judges of Missouri will approve this as a verified sighting in their state.

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Harlequin Duck in Iowa – December 31, 2014

In November I saw hundreds of colorful breeding plumaged Harlequin Ducks in Adak, in the Aleutian Islands, but never before have I seen a Harlequin Duck in any plumage in Iowa.  This plain jane “Harley” showed up in Des Moines below the Center Street Dam in late December and continues to inhabit our local waters.  I wonder where she will go from here?  Birds found so far out of their normal territory are always of concern for their ability to find their way home.

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The size difference is noticeable between the Harlequin Duck and the Canada Goose.

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Adak and Nome – November Birding – 2014

On November 16, 2014 I joined a group of 6 other venturesome birders and Aaron Lang of Wilderness Birding Adventures for his first fall birding trip to Adak.  Luke DeCicco assisted Aaron in leading the tour.  The photos were taken by either Aaron or Luke.

My primary target bird of the Adak trip was Whiskered Auklet.  We were a bit handicapped by being confined to land as we scoped the waters around Adak for glimpses of this little Alcid.  Its big sibling, Crested Auklet, was present in large numbers, but hours of scoping led to just 3 (others saw several more) quite distant views of my target.  Though somewhat distant, the smaller size and whitish under-tail area of this little seabird were enough, barely, for me to say yes, I have seen Whiskered Auklets, albeit with the help of a good telescope.  Needless to say, we did not get any good pictures of the Whiskered Auklets.  Thus I added number 736 to my North American Life List.

Other targets which would have been new to me were the Asian species sometimes found wintering at Adak, Whooper Swans and Smew (a duck).  We failed to find either.  Perhaps this was because of the unusually warm weather at Adak, leading to open water on many of the inaccessible  interior lakes which may have harbored the birds before the lakes froze forcing a move to the more saline waters near the shorelines that we were able to view.

Off-setting the somewhat disappointing lack of new birds, were great views of at least 33 Emperor Geese.  I had previously seen Emperor Geese at Adak in the spring, but the views were distant and poor.  These fall birds were very cooperative and we saw them each day we were there.  I think they are one of the most beautiful of the goose family.

Another highlight was the sighting of 2 or possibly 3 light-phase Gyrfalcons.  My only prior look at a Gyrfalcon was of nestlings north of Nome several years ago, so the sight of the adults was a thrill.

Among the more numerous inhabitants of Adak in winter were the colorful Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, a lone Glaucous Gull, several Pacific Wrens and the dark Song Sparrows of Adak.

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In 1997 the U.S. Navy closed its base at Adak and the formerly nice homes at the base have deteriorated badly, especially since my last visit there in 2003.  A few of them are still maintained and we all stayed in one of them where our leaders prepared all our meals.  I am told that there are only about 40 registered voters living at Adak and we saw very few people among the deteriorating buildings.  Supplies arrive twice weekly by air on Alaska Airlines along with the few passengers who come to bird or to hunt.

We returned to Anchorage on the 20th and flew to Nome on the 21st. As our plane approached the Nome runway, it suddenly gunned the engines and lifted up and away from the runway.  I later found out that the reason for the interrupted landing was that a herd of Muskox started across the runway.  A large herd of Muskox is making the town of Nome their headquarters, to the chagrin of many of the residents.  One of these most interesting beasts is shown below.

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My only target bird at Nome was the McKay’s Bunting.  Fortunately on the afternoon of the day we arrived there we were blessed with long, close views of at least 20 of these beautiful little creatures as they frequented the feeder area provided by one of the Nome residents.

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The picture below shows the contrast between a Snow Bunting in winter plumage (the dark bird) and the McKay’s Bunting in winter plumage (the right, white, bird).

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And so this beautiful and very difficult to find bird became number 737 of my List.  This leaves me with only 1 ABA Code 1 bird to find (the Clapper Rail of the east which was recently split, with the newly named Ridgway’s Rail of the west being the one that I had previously seen while it was lumped with “Clapper Rails”), and 2 ABA Code birds, the elusive Sooty Grouse and the sea-going Mottled Petrel.

Hawaii – Kauai and Maui September 30 – October 5

We flew to Kauai on September 30.  This was our first time on Kauai.  We arrived late and stayed at a nice resort north of the Lihue airport. The next morning (October 1) we were awakened by the persistent crowing of the Red Jungle Fowl (chickens)

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that were introduced onto the island many years ago and now occupy almost every acre of the island.   We birded on our own from Lihue up the east and north coasts.  At the Kilauea Lighthouse, we found our first interesting birds: lots of Nene Geese, 

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Red-footed Boobies 

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and Great Frigate Birds.

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The best finds of the day were the Wedge-tailed Shearwater chicks, looking very vulnerable and exposed.

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We went on to the end of the road at the northwest corner of the island, looking for a way to get near the taro ponds, where we had been told we might see Koloas, or Hawaiian Ducks, which would be new for me.
 
 
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We failed to find an access point on the way out, but on the way back we took a little turn-off toward the taro ponds, and just a few yards in, spotted two pairs of Koloas.
 
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Coots and Common Gallinules were plentiful on the ponds and rivers along the way.
We then drove back through Lihue (and heavy rain) to Waimea where we stayed over night at a rustic motel.  The next morning (October 2) we met our bird guide, Jim Denny, at the end of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific where he helped us find a couple of new birds for me, an Elepaio (a native Hawaiian bird, one of the few that has not become extinct), and an Erckel’s Francolin, an introduced game bird species.
 
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The only other native forest birds seen were  Apapanes, which were fairly numerous.
 
 
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We flew to Maui on October 3 and enjoyed the rehearsal dinner for my great niece’s wedding.  On the 4th we drove up to the Coffee Plantation near Kanapali, where we saw a number of interesting birds, including Chestnut Manakins,
 
 
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Pacific Golden Plovers,
 
 
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and Gray Francolins.  Later we spotted several beautiful Black Francolins.
 
 
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Whiskered Tern at Cape May, NJ September 17, 2014

On September 12, 2014 a Whiskered Tern was identified at Cape May, New Jersey.  The Rare Bird Alerts were immediately filled with reports of this sighting, because it is only the third time that a Whiskered Tern has been recorded in North America.  It is classified as an ABA Code 5, the rarest of the ABA classifications.  The prior sightings, both in the Cape May area, occurred in the 1990s.

Barbara and I flew to Philadelphia and drove to Cape May on Wednesday, September 17.  I hoped to add the Whiskered Tern to my North American List, as species number 735.  It was one of the easiest excursions to find a rare bird that I have ever experienced.  As we drove into the parking lot near the Cape May Lighthouse,

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we saw dozens of observers with scopes and binoculars lined up on the Hawk Watch platform at the north end of the parking lot.  We joined the lineup and immediately saw the Whiskered Tern snatching insects from the surface of Bunker Pond as it engaged in swift, acrobatic flight.

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It soon disappeared toward the Atlantic Ocean and we walked a short distance to the beach, hoping to re-find it.  It was there and Barbara was able to photograph it among the other terns and gulls resting on the sand.

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After a few minutes the tern took off to return to the pond to feast on more insects.

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A visit to Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helen’s August 25-26, 2014

We went to Washington State to see my sister and to try once again (the third such effort) to locate a Sooty Grouse.  Seeing my sister was by far the most rewarding and the easiest part.  The Grouse remained unseen in spite of two days of searching at Mount Rainier, supposedly the best place in Washington to find them.  I am beginning to question the Difficulty 2 rating ascribed to this bird by the American Birding Association.  It has proved far more difficult for me to find.  The consolation prize, experiencing Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s, made the effort all worthwhile.

I would guess that Mount Rainier is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in the world.  It is very striking from all angles.  Looking to the east in the evening, from Eatonville, it is bathed in horizontal sunlight.

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Looking north in the morning across Reflection Lake, near Paradise, produces a dramatic result.

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In the afternoon, looking southwest  yielded an entirely different perspective.

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Here we did see a Western Tanager foraging for bugs with Mount Rainier in the background.

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There were many chipmunks scurrying around the hiking trails.  We also saw a few marmots.  This one was enjoying a warm rock in the sun and was not intimidated by our presence.

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The flowers in the mountain meadows, both at Paradise and at Sunrise, are in full bloom.

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By mid-morning of day 2 it seemed unlikely that a Sooty Grouse would show itself, so we drove to Mount St. Helen’s to see what has happened since it exploded in 1980 and destroyed the landscape around it.

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The Visitor Center at Johnson Ridge is terrific.  The Ranger led programs are well planned and the movie showing the revival of the biology of the area in the 30 plus years since the explosion (eruption) is one of the best such documentaries I have ever seen.

We walked along the trail for some distance to experience the landscape on a close-up basis.  Among the highlights were a herd of elk resting on a distant hillside.  The remains of the giant trees that were blown away by the volcanic blast litter the hills and valleys and will probably remain visible for years to come.

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Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helen’s are worthwhile destinations for anyone who enjoys the beauty or the power of nature.

Black Swifts at Ouray, Colorado – June 23, 2014

The City of Ouray, Colorado bought the area now called Box Canyon Park a long time ago.  Thanks to the City of Ouray.  The Park is a little jewel.  Upon entering Box Canyon, you will be awed by the sound of roaring water as the force of thousands of gallons per minute ricochet off a mix of rugged crags and smoothly eroded pre-Cambrian rock, rushing eighty feet to the canyon’s floor.

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It also happens to be home to a colony of Black Swifts, in recent years, perhaps only 6 or 7 nesting pairs.  The Park handout features a picture of a Black Swift on the cover, with the brief notation: “Summer home of the beautiful & rare Black Swift.”

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Not only is the Park a jewel, and the Black Swifts a major attraction for birders, but Ouray (pronounced “Youray”), is a lovely mountain village and worth a summer visit for its own beauty.

I learned of the presence of Black Swifts at Ouray from an article in the September-October 2012 issue of Audubon Magazine, written by Alisa Opar.  Anyone seeking information about the amazing Black Swift (its airspeeds can exceed 100 miles per hour, and it may remain in the air permanently except for the time spent nesting and raising young), should read that article.

At Ouray, Sue Hirshman has dedicated 18 years of her life to recording the daily activities of the Black Swifts who nest at Box Canyon Falls.  She graciously agreed to meet us at the site on June 23, to help us locate the nests, eggs and hopefully, swifts, who were just beginning their reproduction cycle.  I was, to re-coin an old phrase, “blown away” by the close-up views of the nesting Black Swifts, their nests and their eggs, at unexpectedly close range.

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I had expected to find the Black Swifts at Ouray, but not to see them so well.  Uniquely among North American swifts, the Black Swifts lay only a single egg.  If that nest fails early, they may lay a second egg, but the long growing time (45 days) required to reach maturity may endanger late born swifts because of the arrival of cold weather in October.

My North American Life List grew to 733 with the addition of the Black Swifts.  That leaves only 4 more ABA code 2 birds to add to my list:  Sooty Grouse, Whiskered Auklet, Mottled Petrel and McKay’s Bunting (the latter 3 probably only to be found in Alaska or its waters).  I will be working on this during the balance of this year.

Nutmeg Mannikins and Scripp’s Murrelets San Diego June 6-7, 2014

Two of the seven ABA Code 2 birds that I have not seen in North America have been the subjects of recent changes of status under the American Ornithological classification system.  Nutmeg Mannikins are not native to North America, but have been around in southern California for a long time.  Last year they were recognized as a viable population and given recognition by the ABA.  At about the same time the species known as Xantus’s Murrelet, was split into two species, Scripp’s Murrelet and Guadaloupe Murrelet.  Scripp’s Murrrelet was designated as an ABA Code 2 and Guadaloupe Murrelet was designated as an ABA Code 3.  Poor old John Xantus (1825-1894) thereby lost by the stroke of a keyboard one of his only two namesakes in the bird world.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other one, Xantus’s Hummingbird, succumb to a similar fate if his reputation is not redeemed before that happens.

The Nutmeg Mannikins were easy to find in Tecolote Canyon, on the north side of San Diego.  In fact, there must have been at least 30 of them in the flock that flitted about the stream bed near the entrance to the Canyon.  I missed them on my way in but Chris, a local birder, figured out what I was looking for and sent me back to the gate area, where I enjoyed watching the noisy flock for a half hour or so.   Number 731 on my North American list and leaving 6 on my target class of Code 2 birds.

At 6:30 the next morning I departed from Port Loma on the Grande with a group of about 50 birders, destined to the 30 Mile Bank over a 12 hour excursion.   This pelagic outing, sponsored by SOCAL, is an annual event and attracts many local birders as well as a few of us from greater distances.  Paul Lehman was the lead guide on the trip and did a fine job of keeping us all informed of not only the birds, but the other natural objects observed along the way.  He informed me that to see Scripp’s Murrelets on this trip was far from a sure bet, because most of them had moved out of the area by the end of May.  So, it was with great relief and pleasure that about mid-afternoon, 2 Scripp’s Murrelets appeared alongside our boat and gave an unusual opportunity for close-up observation and photography.  Many of the folks on the boat were photographers, and one, Doug Galasko, sent me two photos of the Murrelets with permission to use them on this blog.

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The Scripp’s Murrelets became number 732 on my North American Life list, and reduced the number of Code 2 birds that I have yet to see to 5.  I am hoping to make a clean sweep of the Code 2s within the next year.  Three of them will probably mean another trip to Alaska (Whiskered Auklet and Mottled Petrel in the Aleutians and, in Nome in winter, McKay’s Buntings).  The other 2, Black Swifts and Sooty Grouse remain a challenge for me but should be found somewhere in the western part of the lower 48.

Doug Galasco also sent me a photo of the somewhat uncommon (in North America) Brown Booby that we saw from the Grande.

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The same lady who directed me to the Nutmeg Mannikins in Tecolote Canyon, also suggested that I go to the Bird and Butterfly Garden south of Imperial Beach to see the Black-throated Magpie-jays that have been seen regularly in that vicinity.  These are not recognized by the ABA, as there is evidence that they are escapees from pet status and may not have established a viable reproducing wild population here.  I was unable to make connections to get back to Iowa on Sunday, the 8th so I drove down to the southwest corner of the United States to look for the Magpie-jays.  I missed the turn and drove on to Border Field State Park near Tijuana, Mexico, but on the U.S. side.  The gate was closed, but I met a fellow who was planning to hike up to the end of the trail, so we hiked it together.  He took my picture by the fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

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I walked back to my car and found the Bird and Butterfly Garden where, later in the day, I had the pleasure of observing a flock of 5 or 6 of the Long-tailed Magpie-jays.  I took some pictures on my phone, but none of them turned out very well.