Sunday, April 24, 2016

Photo Journal 2016: March

I remember once hearing someone refer to March 4th as if it were a command, as in to march forth and charge ahead with confidence. I think of this every year as I regroup from the cold winter and look forward to my favorite season, spring (which happens to start in March). Now that I am a birder, I realize even more how it was fate that I should be born in spring, the season of rebirth and possibility, of renewed energy and awe. As the last frosts melt away and the trees begin to bud, I can almost hear whispers of the collective sentiment to march forth and prosper. :)

March, Spot 1

March, Spot 2

Here in spot 2, it's easy to see the change from the beginning of March to the end. White is replaced by green, and gray skies are repainted blue. 

March, Spot 3


Other March happenings:

Life Birds

Harlequin Duck
This month, I was lucky enough to find three new birds: American Pipit (Anthus rubescens), Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), and the ever-impressive Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). Each of these three lifer sightings provided their own unique experience. 

The first, the American Pipit, was a chance sighting while viewing a Northern Pintail duck. As my friend Andrew and I scanned the beach, wind whipping violently at our faces, we saw a bird jumping around on the sand. It didn't look like a blackbird and it had streaking and tail-dipping behavior. I Love unexpected lifers!

Harlequin Duck swimming
The second, the Grasshopper Sparrow, was a group effort where one birder found it, and through the grapevine, many others were able to relocate and view this little bird. This was a bird I probably would not have spotted on my own, but once I saw it, hopping around with a few Song Sparrows, I could see the smaller size and the yellow wash indicative of a Grasshopper Sparrow.

Harlequin Duck, on the rocks
The third, the Harlequin Duck, was a sighting that was a long time in the making for me! I'd made the journey to Jackson twice previously on what we birders call a "twitch" (traveling a significant distance for the sole purpose of finding one particular species). My two previous attempts resulted in no Harlequin Duck, even though this individual duck had been seen at the same little boat launch area for months in a row. Not to be deterred, I went a third time thinking, "Third time's a charm, right?" and was not disappointed! I was actually glad it took so long because by the time I found him, he was beginning to transition to its more striking breeding plumage reminiscent of a painted warrior. Of course, being only March, he was still not all the way to full breeding plumage, but the beauty of this duck is something I'll never forget.

Memorable FOY's (first of the year sightings):

Male Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • American Woodcock
  • Rusty Blackbird
  • Snowy Owl (waiting all winter for this one...had all but given up... then saw 2 in one week!)
  • Barred Owl
  • Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
Snowy Owl


Last year's January through March total species count: 61
This year's January through March total species count: 99

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