Welcome to what began in 2005 as a quest to photograph 700 or more ABA countable North American bird species. Of the 760 species of birds possible to see in North America currently published to this site, the number of ABA “countable” species presently stands at:
Red-necked Phalarope, Portland, CT
May 29-30: Stopped at the Portland Fairgrounds along the Connecticut River to check out the breeding plumage female Red-necked Phalarope feeding there in a large rain puddle. In the afternoon here the lighting was awful, but the following morning conditions were perfect. Phalaropes are unusual among avian species in that the females are more colorful than the males.
May 29-30: Stopped at the Portland Fairgrounds along the Connecticut River to check out the breeding plumage female Red-necked Phalarope feeding there in a large rain puddle. In the afternoon here the lighting was awful, but the following morning conditions were perfect. Phalaropes are unusual among avian species in that the females are more colorful than the males.read more »
May 20-21: Hammonasset State Park in Madison, CT is one of the most visited birding venues in Connecticut year-round, and a place I visit often as it is just 15 minutes from my house. Since arriving back from Florida two days earlier, on May 20 I thought I’d check it out for migrants after three solid days of rain. There were a moderate number of warblers and others, the best being this female Blackburnian, but nothing compared to the next day. I’ve never before had the experience of a true “fallout,” but today there were so many warblers on the Willard’s Island trails, in virtually every oak tree and even some of the conifers, that there was no way to accurately count them all and even difficult to stay on any single bird with the camera. I counted eleven warbler species, but there were undoubtedly more. Most numerous were American Redstart (estimated minimum 75 seen), Magnolia (minimum 50 seen) and Black & White (minimum least 25 seen). I spent most of the time concentrating on those species that I don’t see often – especially a pair of Bay-breasted Warblers which were lower down in the trees than most of the others except for the Black & Whites, and several Canada Warblers. Other species included a cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager (female), Great Crested Flycatcher, and a number of Eastern Wood-Pewees.
Except for possibly May 14, 2010 at Magee Marsh in Ohio, one of the best spring migration hot spots in the U.S., and September 10, 2012 at Bluff Point in Groton, CT during fall migration, today had the highest number of warblers I have ever seen in one place at the same time.read more »
May 2: Best view yet of a Bahama Mockingbird, seen immediately adjacent to the parking area at Lantana Nature Preserve. This small patch of habitat along the intracoastal Waterway in the midst of surrounding development can often be surprisingly rewarding. On the right spring day this spot can hold a nice selection of transient migrants, and over the past few years has had such rarities as LaSagra’s Flycatcher and even a Kirtland’s Warbler.read more »
April 25 -27: Southeast Arizona is undeniably one of the premier birding areas in all of North America, and it’s always a treat to go back. This time I was particularly tempted to make the impromptu trip by the appearance of a Fan-tailed Warbler that appeared on April 13 in a private yard in the Chiricahua Mountains, not far from where another rare (for North America) warbler, a Slate-throated Redstart, also was being observed.
I arrived in Tucson at 10 AM on April 25 and headed south directly to Tubac, along I-19, to look for the Sinaloa Wren that has been seen there off and on just south of Santa Gertrudis Lane. This species is becoming a kind of nemesis since I missed the one at Fort Huachuca two years ago after a morning of fruitless searching, and missed it again this time despite spending most of the day looking and listening. The wren had not been reported for the previous four days so there was no being certain that it was even still there, but it turns out it was indeed seen again sporadically by a few others later in the week. This is an extremely shy bird, more often heard than seen, and very difficult to see well let alone photograph.
My good Arizona friend Matt VanWallene met me back in Tucson in time for dinner, and together we set out early on April 26 for the Chiracahuas, two and a half hours southeast and not far from the New Mexico border. Unfortunately the Fan-tailed Warbler had turned out to be only a five-day wonder and was already long gone before my flight west, so we concentrated our search instead on the Slate-throated Redstart up in Pinery Canyon. The specific area to search is along a hilly trail adjoining a creek some 200 yards uphill from the roadside parking spot which is some two miles west of the campground at 7000 feet elevation. The bird can possibly be anywhere along a 100 yard or so stretch of the trail, so it is best to park oneself and just remain stationary and observe until sooner or late it is spotted. We were fortunate to see it several times, once at very close range at eye level which afforded an unusually furtunate opportunity for good photographs.
Because of the vigil for the Slate-throated Redstart, we paid only scant attention to the other species present including Townsend’s and Red-faced Warblers, Painted Redstarts, and one Mexican Chickadee. I also had a two-second view of one brightly green-backed hummingbird that I suspected was a Berylline – a prospective life bird, and the Chiricahuas are indeed the place to see it – but I managed to miss the opportunity to document this would-be rarity with a photo.
Next stop, still in the Chiricahuas, was the George Walker House in Paradise. No rarities, although there was an Ovenbird which, although common in the east, is rare for Arizona.
The following morning we headed for the Huachucas where we had planned to seek out the Tufted Flycatcher in Ramsey Canyon, but the spot is a two mile hike uphill from the montane parking area and, discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to forego this particular trek, so instead we drove up to the campground at the top of Carr Canyon Road. This is a steep narrow dirt road with no guard rail and continuous very sharp switchbacks which leave no margin for error, so do not try this without a four-wheel drive vehicle with adequate ground clearance. The road up featured a pair of Zone-tailed Hawks. The roughly 26 species tally was rewarding with the highlights being a resident group of Buff-breasted Flycatchers and a Greater Pewee loudly singing its unique “Jose Maria” song.
In the afternoon we stopped at the Ash Canyon B&B which I had visited once before back in 2009. It’s a well-known birding hot spot where you can spend a leisurely few hours relaxing while the myriad species come in to the many feeders. Highlights here among the some 28 species I counted were Scott’s Oriole and a male Lucifer Hummingbird that the B&B is especially known for.read more »
March 15: Today I visited Lake Worth Beach Park on Rte. A1A in Lake Worth, FL to see if I could find the Tropical Mockingbird that has been reported to be resident there. It turned out to be quite conspicuous, perching openly in the small trees at the south end of the parking lot. This species is an uncommon visitor to the U.S. being normally resident from southern Mexico, the Yucatan, and through Central America into northern Brazil. The species is very similar to Northern Mockingbird, but lacks the white patches in the wings and has a longer tail that shows significantly less white. These two species have been considered by some to be conspecific.read more »
January 3, 2018: We kick off the new year with a White-faced Whistling Duck, currently hanging out on a neighborhood Boynton Beach pond with a huge mixed flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Egyptian Geese. This species is not native to North America and not “ABA countable,” although it is widespread in most of South America and sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar. The individual represented here is quite docile and most likely an escapee. It is keeping company with a huge mixed flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Egyptian Geese – the largest number by far of each of these two species I have ever seen in one place, literally too many to accurately count.read more »