May Snows

May Snows bring Orioles to oranges and a Green Heron and Solitary Sandpiper to my neighbor’s frog pond.

Our record May snowfall stranded many migrants here in central Iowa.  Among the more interesting drop-ins was this Baltimore Oriole who found our orange in the midst of the snow fall.


The next morning a visit to my neighbor’s pond showed a first-time caller to our neighborhood, a very complacent Green Heron who found a good source of frogs.


The Green Heron was joined at the pond by another first time visitor to our neighborhood, a Solitary Sandpiper.


West Coast Pelagic-birding Cruise April 14-18, 2013

       Between April 14th and April 18th this year Barbara and I cruised along the west coast on the Holland-America cruise ship, the Zaandam.  The ship was repositioning from its winter cruise grounds south of San Diego, to Alaskan waters.  Although we are not regular “cruisers” this particular trip interested me because of the opportunity for finding some “pelagic” birds along the route to Vancouver.

        High on my list was a “Scripp’s Murrelet”.  This bird was known as Xantus’s Murrelet, but it was given its new name when Xantus’s Murrelet was split very recently into two species, one the Scripp’s Murrelet and one, generally found in Mexican waters, called the “Guadaloupe Murrelet”.  I did not see any Murrelets and I don’t think any of the other birders on board saw any either (there were about 15 of us dedicated birders among the almost 900 guests on board).  Oh, well, hopefully there will be another day for that search.

Another of my target birds was Cook’s Petrel.  I was a little hampered by back problems which delayed my morning activities, particularly on the morning when everyone else saw several of them.  Strike 2 on me.


Third among my objectives was Murphy’s Petrel.  Fortunately, they showed up in relative abundance and this became my North American bird number 717.

An unexpected bonus bird appeared in the form of a single Hawaiian Petrel.  I don’t think anyone expected to find this Hawaiian based pelagic this close to North America (we were cruising about 30 to 50 miles off the California shore at the time).

We enjoyed our experience on the Zaandam.  The food was good, the rooms were very nice and the ride was relatively smooth.