29 November 2009


I had 3 TUNDRA SWANS this morning on Little Wall Lake:

MO to IA

I snapped a few pictures down in Missouri over the weekend, including this TUFTED TITMOUSE with a shelled sunflower seed:

... and this female PURPLE FINCH:

Then driving back through Iowa, I was so desperate to photograph something that I actually took a picture of a BALD EAGLE:

A main target was to find EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS in Iowa, which we found easily in Keokuk:

Last but not least, we barely made it to Neil Smith in time to see a SHORT-EARED OWL flying around at dusk. We didn't know any of the "reliable" spots there but we got lucky and made it happen. Two target state birds down, many more to go...

28 November 2009


Ashley and I made a quick trip to southwest Michigan on the 21st of November. It was a great 3 hours of birding before we made the drive back to Iowa!

There were plenty of BONAPARTE'S GULLS at Tiscornia combined with some beautiful morning light. Here is an adult nonbreeding bird:
... and a first-cycle:

Mixed in was this adult nonbreeding LITTLE GULL:

Grebes gave us a nice show as well. We had both a WESTERN and RED-NECKED GREBE from the tip of the pier. Ironically, this RED-NECKED GREBE was a county bird even though I lived in and birded this county for 7 years:

You can't forget the ducks either. Here are 4 BLACK SCOTERS that zipped by early that morning:

...and a quick-moving flock of BUFFLEHEAD:

However, the real target of our drive was to see a tiny seabird that belongs on the Pacific Ocean. This ANCIENT MURRELET was found a week before we made the drive to see it. It didn't take us more than an hour to find the little guy! What a fun bird:

20 November 2009


I thought I'd share a picture of an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW I snapped this morning. It's nothing crazy but it was a nice morning with good light. Oh well.

16 November 2009


Any thoughts on the species of this gull? THGU? HERG?

I apologize for the quality, they were taken at quite a distance....

15 November 2009

Western Grebe, Pac Loon

Highlights from Lake Red Rock this morning included the below Western Grebe:

We also had:
Greater Yellowlegs (1)
Snow Bunting (8)
Common Loon (80+)
Horned Grebe (10+)
American White Pelican (200+)

At Saylorville this afternoon, we counted 283 COMMON LOONS from one location! I'm sure there were more up the lake but we only counted from Cherry Glen...

Also, we had decent looks of the continuing PACIFIC LOON. It was all by itself between Oak Grove and Sandpiper Beach.

02 November 2009

Update - 2 Nov 09

It's been a while since I've updated my blog. My apologies!

We went back up to Kossuth County on our way to Minneapolis to see if any more Smith's Longspurs were around but alas, we only found 1500+ Lapland's. Perhaps the Smith's moved on?

Here are a couple pictures of the habitat the Smith's were in:

We also birded Clear Lake twice this weekend. Highlights included a WESTERN/CLARK'S GREBE and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. I only managed one terrible digiscoped picture of the scoter before a boat flushed it:

Can you say Cackling Geese? These were along the shore of Clear Lake. Take your pick:

And not really bird related... but a couple days ago from the dam at Saylorville, apparently the Army thought it needed to practice water retrieval for fire safety. Or maybe it was training for new pilots? Either way, this helicopter was picking up water and dumping it along the shore on random things:

And lastly, who knew there was a National Hobo Museum? Well, we found one along our drive in northern Iowa!