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millipede last won the day on March 28

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  1. Since there still isn't a good section(or one that gets attention) for other conversation I'm putting this here for now. I'm on my vacation in Massachusetts and behind my mom's neighbor's house is a swamp associated with the Concord river. Two days ago we had a decent time sitting there, a few good birds. Yesterday I went by myself and I heard 3 virginia rails around 8:30 in the morning. I got a glimpse of one, not enough to KNOW it was that but the general shape, behavior, location suggested that's what I just saw and I heard both the basic male and female calls... I was excited... but, my daughter wasn't with me. We went back out before 8:30 and waited, tried playback, waited... and nothing. :( I meant to come on yesterday and ask... is there a way to see one of these in the open? This swamp is thick and muddy... lots of weedy plants... the whole cove part of the river coming into the swamp is covered in duckweed... over a dozen wood ducks... osprey... herons... even a mute swan all three days. Is there a time of day where you can SEE a rail??? even if it's at night if I have a flashlight??? something? I NEED to know... ha. I'll report other details of the trip eventually. Got a few of the life birds we were looking for on the way and headed up to moose bog in VT tomorrow. Had a raven in the neighborhood this morning croaking away... Anyway... I could say more but there's lots to do... "need" the rail info as my daughter NEEDS to see one. :)
  2. can't afford to, financially, anyway... BUT...... I'd rather have no clue how to use a camera then deal with this one. I've had it for a little over 5 years now and, it's always been a little quirky... then 3 or 4 years ago I dropped it in a muddy puddle... Still works but, SLOWLY getting worse every year. Once in a while it will reset itself like I took the batteries out for a long time... Sometimes for NO reason at all, sometimes it's more likely if the batteries are weak. And then WHILE changing settings(date, time, image quality, etc) it will cycle through things I'm not cycling through... I'll scroll up and it will scroll up or down on its own. It's maddening. Used to just do that sometimes, now it's VERY often... and now, sometimes it will cycle through settings WHILE I'm trying to take a picture. Nothing like getting focused only have it act like I changed the dial from auto to something else. It has a mind of its own and I just want to smash it to the ground some days. Had it all charged up and brought it to the 4th of July fireworks as it has a fireworks setting that works well... But I couldn't do a thing with it so I tossed it back in the van and just watched. So........ Anyone want to donate a camera? HA It works good enough that it shouldn't be a BIG deal unless there's something rare that doesn't stand still and is gone 2 seconds later. But I'd still love a new one. Some day... just like a new PC, I've been saying someday for a while now but, it will happen......... some day... HA
  3. I asked around a little and haven't found much response.... yet... But I ended up mostly using eBird to decide where to go in CT... it's going to add about 20 minutes(just the driving) to our already long trip home. We're looking at 26 hours to MA and 28 hours on the way back... which will be longer than that because of labor day weekend traffic. We'll survive though. Purposely giving myself 3 days to get home. It will work out, I have faith. 🙂 So I'm currently decided on going to the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point. Looking at reports, it looks like a fairly reliable spot for the American oystercatcher. It's also not a public beach kind of place so it wont be crowded. There's also the potential for ruddy turnstone and red knot. We'll see about those. At any rate, it will be more interesting than a rest area. 🙂 After that, there will be rest stops in a few places, harper's ferry, some park in Virginia, a hospital's pond in Delaware I think... mostly little stops that wont be too serious and then, Bald Knob in Arkansas. I've almost got it all planned/mapped out. Hopefully by the end of today. I still haven't subscribed to any rare bird alerts and, I'm not sure I want to... I mean, obviously I want to... but, the trip is already long enough, don't know if I can stand detours. HA. The little egret in Maine is only reported once in a while lately so I'm not sure I want to go chasing that one. I wish the one that was in NH stuck around. And there's been a tufted duck up in NH at a location that's only open on the weekends... I think all I can do there is check reports on the Saturday we're there and, if it's reported at that point, head up early Sunday and hope we find it. We'll see. Still lots to do to get ready. Once we're back, I might crash for a while but I will eventually have eBird reports and pictures to share. At the very least, I better get pictures of our life birds. I just wish I could afford a new camera before then.
  4. Can you believe that I'm still planning??? ugh... ha. Been busy. I have the trip to Massachusetts planned... as long as the weather is good I have a day planned at Parker River NWR starting with the morning at Sandy Point State Reservation for some low tide swimming early in the morning, then hitting various spots that I still have to map out. Then a trip up to Moose Bog and an overnight camping trip to Brighton State Park while we're up there, one day when the weather is good, hopefully... Then we have a possible beach day at Wingaersheek... That's up in the air for the second week we're there. I've been studying species maps on eBird trying to figure out where to go to see an oystercatcher the last half of August and, they sure look hit or miss. I think my best bet is to look at the reports once I'm up there and go to where they've been spotted and just hope. Last two weeks in August, anyone have any SURE places to find one? Preferably north shore or something, not down in or below Boston... I'm HOPING after we go to Wingaersheek that we might be able to drive around the Gloucestor area and find something. But, the eBird maps for August don't look great... Each spot along the coast seemed to have one or two reports for ALL of August last year. That's not very promising... Then there's CT. If we don't find anything or run out of time and can't chase in MA, I think I will have to change my CT stop for the trip home... in fact, I'm wondering if I should just go ahead and plan a change for that now, ahead of time. Seems almost anywhere on the coast of CT will have oystercatchers... LOTS of reports compared to the northern coasts of MA. So I might just plan on chasing that on the way home... that drive that's going to take SO long. Map I'm using says 27:45 hours for the drive home(not counting the potential trip change for oystercatchers) and google, at the moment, says if I leave early that morning I plan on leaving it could take 25-31 hours. That's a 6 hour potential difference there. I'm prepared for that though. Stopping in each state will break that up enough, I hope. This is the plan, not changing it. 🙂 I was thinking about stopping at liberty park to try and see the statue of liberty... and see that oystercatchers are seen there, sometimes... But I think at that point I wont want to be making a stop that could end up taking longer than I'd like. We'll see. I'm giving myself enough time that if I get stuck in traffic, I'll still make it home. 🙂 Other than the LONG drive, 7 people AND their luggage crammed into a minivan, and a lack of sleep... it's going to be a good trip. I REALLY wish I could sleep better in a vehicle. There will be times where I might try to sleep if my wife is awake enough to drive but also a couple spots where we'll just be sleeping at a rest area. Even that will prove difficult but I better find a way to do it... Oh... anyone familiar with coastal hotspots in CT? Which ones you might suggest are good for oystercatchers?(I'll be looking at the maps and charts myself) AND... if any of said hotspots are close and EASY to get on and off from 95? That could make a difference. It will still be morning(ish) so there hopefully wouldn't be toooooo many people.... Or, perhaps I better plan on it not being beachy but a less touristy type place along the cost to stop. Any suggestions for that? Do we have any CT birders here??? I might go track down a CT bird group and ask them as well.
  5. I'd be inclined to call them greater yellowlegs. I can't judge the second picture very good but overall size/shape/appearance and length of bill gives me that feel. In the first picture the bill is at an angle in the pose but it looks long enough and appears to have a slight upturn, a characteristic of the greater. So that's my thoughts. Wait for confirmation from others.
  6. I'll have to get up and check it first thing in the morning but it will be difficult to compare at different hours. I put into google maps that I'd leave the day I plan on leaving, say around 8:30 AM and it said from Lowell(closer to where I'll be) to Baltimore would take 7 to 9.5 hours. As opposed to 6 to 7h40m if I skip Rhode Island and hit CT further west. I could lessen the time by skipping RI if I hit that while I'm visiting but... I am not sure that's a "better" plan... as I'd end up making a whole day out of a trip to RI if I go during my trip instead of adding a couple hours on the ride home. Decisions... hmmm... I get it... I'll be passing through those areas BEFORE work gets out that Friday so it shouldn't be AS bad... but, I can't change ALL my plans at this point. We're leaving MA on the 30th, it's just a matter of what time we leave and which way we go... but we REALLY want to visit those states. I'll have to think about it more. The worst part of a longer drive is... is it good for the van... I can wait. I'm patient. Our normal 24(ish) hour drive turned into 36 actual travel hours one year because of a snow storm in the IL/IN area. Lots of being stuck on the highway with off ramps closed and cars in ditches... We survived. If I NEED to I can TRY to jam CT and RI into a day trip while I'm there, or extend my drive TO Mass be dropping down(doubt I'll be up for that by the time I get there) but I REALLY want to pass through MD and DE and then WV and VA before dropping down to TN. One way or another... I'll make it. Am I on drugs? Nope... am I a tough, patient, tolerant birder? Yep... 😛 I like to tease my oldest daughter in the winter because she doesn't like to get out when it's COLD... I find the most ducks when it's cold..... miserably cold... Basically, I would walk that corridor if it meant an ivory billed or hybrid or something. 🙂 I'm open to suggestions as to better ways to fit in some of my plans but, at the moment I have no intention to just completely change them. If I'm miserable in traffic for a couple extra hours, I wont cry.
  7. Finally got my oldest daughter to come look... and I mentioned that I had looked at them but just wasn't sure. So she opened the book and said it's probably an Abert's. One of the things I hate about field guides is how the birds in real life aren't posed the same and have variations. In the book, this tail would look too long to me but, it is the best fit that I can see at the moment. I'll wait for some confirmation though. 🙂
  8. As strikingly pretty as they are, I've often found them to be a bit secretive... or at least, they hang out in DENSE trees often enough. Best bet to find one is to study their song and listen for them. They're not as abundant as some of the more common birds... with something like a cardinal, you can get a ton in your yard in one day but I THINK that you'll see birds like tanagers a bit more spread out. So one could be in that area and just not out in the open very often.
  9. That sounds like a SLIGHT exaggeration... 😛 You do have me "scared" though. My plan is to take 95 down through MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, and then lose it in Maryland... at that point I believe I'm going to head over to Harper's Ferry to hit west virginia and then travel the western side of VA down to TN. I'll be avoiding the DC area at least. I REALLY REALLY plan on hitting those states and there's really no other way to do so. In Massachusetts I can take 495 AROUND the boston area before picking 95 back up before hitting RI. But without adding a TON of time, 95 is the only way to go through some of those states. I haven't done much relaxing stuff online lately... been busy with the planning which has included shopping for stuff I "need" and that's been a pain. So I haven't been back here to update much. I got good advice on the two big hotspots I plan on visiting on the way there... and on the way back I'll be hitting bald knob in Arkansas and there's a guy that lives in that area that said I could even call him and have him come out and show us around if we need him. It's going to be miserable at times with the driving... I'd much rather take our normal route to and from but, seeing new birds and birding new locations is going to be fun. The first few miserable states on the way back home will be broken up with short checklists at rest areas and such. That SHOULD help the driving feel less miserable. We'll see I guess. I'll come back with some more updates from time to time and eventually have a finalized list of all I hope to see and where we'll be going, etc... I did manage to find my old map from Parker River NWR so I can plan that one out ahead of time... eBirding each spot separately and all. anyway... hopefully I wont DIE driving 95 through some of those states... It will be friday mid morning(friday before labor day, of all days...) so I'm hoping if I can leave MA at the right time, I can avoid some of the traffic. I don't know that avoiding traffic is possible but the main thing is to leave long before people are leaving work for the 3 day weekend.
  10. A friend's pics from Arizona... not sure where in AZ but, recent... This is an example of me just having a REAL hard time with blurry photos. I've been told all three photos are of the same bird. I can't make out all the detail I need. Looks almost like a female grackle(one of the long tailed ones) in one picture but the bill seems all wrong in another picture. Blurriness hides and distorts features to my eyes... :( Anyway, I need another opinion on the bird...
  11. wait for a second but that's certainly what I'd call it...
  12. 🙂 After I typed up what I did, I asked myself(quietly, in my head) how many people might just tell me what it was without reading it all. I almost commented/replied to clarify but decided just to see what would happen. 🙂 And... "he" millipede is a he.
  13. Sometimes comparing photos in field guides leaves me frustrated. I see the ID marks they mention but they're often vague and, more importantly, the mark on one is also on another species. That gets frustrating. MOST of the time I can ID the baltimore and orchard orioles we have here... Once in a while, the females trip me up. When I look in the guide to compare, it can just be close to either one sometimes. I probably need to study my daughter's 2nd ed Sibley's instead of the 1st I have next to me... MAYBE that would help me on a few species a little... Anyway, MOST of the time it's easy but once in a while a drab female comes along and just confuses me. I mostly want tips as to what marks I should learn better, for those confusing birds. I wasn't going to post a picture but, why not... This one I'm fairly certain is a female baltimore. Color seems okay for one and the white seems to fit a younger female baltimore. Sibley's doesn't show a younger female orchard to see if they can have white on them like that. An orchard female would be more yellow than orange... once in a while though, they just confuse me with their colors even. Maybe I just need more practice looking at the females. Anyone else ever notice, if you're at a place with multiple baltimore orioles, 95% of your attention is on the males? HA. Anyway, this girl seems plenty orange-ish enough to be a baltimore to me. But if I overlook the color, are there other things to focus on???
  14. I'm SO glad I'm planning this all well in advance as things are still going SLOW. @blackburnian, let me know how bad the bugs are there. I need to be prepared, especially if my sister decides to check it out too. I don't mind mosquitoes much myself I'm still attempting to get in touch with some contacts about the spots I intend to bird at on the way to MA. Battele Darby Creek near Columbus Ohio is one... For now I might need to go study the eBird reports in case I don't hear from anyone. I contacted the Columbus Audubon but that was almost completely useless. I emailed them with no response. Posted on their FB page and so far all I got was a link to some nature photographer's website suggesting I could try contacting him. Looked at his site like 4 or 5 days ago and emailed him using the contact info there. No reply so far. So now I've messaged him on Facebook as well but people don't see their messages there half the time(if they're coming from a stranger) Anyone on here from the Columbus area that knows that location well? My plan is to maybe look for common gallinules and a henslow's sparrow but the real bird I'd want to chase there would be the ring-necked pheasant. Again, I may end up having to rely on eBird info... but I'd LOVE it if I could talk to someone that is VERY familiar with the location that might be able to say "go to this section of the place, that's a good spot to find them." I honestly can't believe that the Columbus Audubon couldn't help me a little better than they did. If someone contacted the Audubon in Arkansas they would have been given specific info by now. And I'm not even a member either. eh, oh well. and Montezuma NWR in NY, I haven't been able to get any help with that one yet either. I'm kind of surprised. Our top bird to look for there is going to be sandhill cranes(not telling my daughter about some of these things) and the eBird reports suggest they're likely that time of year there. The question is... where? That refuge is like 10,000 acres or something. It's BIG. I can't spend an entire day there so guidance is needed. I think I already tried contacting someone through a contact form on a website. No response. So I may be resorting to eBird data for this as well. 😞 I like searching eBird data but looking for exact locations that birds are found in doesn't always work. I mean, there are people here that will just report to a random spot on a map to say they birded SOMEWHERE in the town. And not many people put in specific info on birds within a hotspot. Anyone familiar with this refuge and the birds there? Or know who I could contact? The cranes are the #1 bird I want to find on this whole drive but we'd also be interested in looking at/for bitterns(either) and virginia rails. I think given the habitat there, they could be anywhere within the refuge... and given their behavior, it might just be a matter of luck finding them. we'll see. Our trip home has changed a little. We originally considered looking for black-necked stilts in the Memphis area but ended up getting advice to check out Bald Knob in Arkansas... a location we've hoped to go to for a few years now and with our planned trip home, wasn't very far out of the way. That should be a wonderful stop on the way back that should give us the stilts and possibly a few other life birds. phew... well, back to trying to figure it all out.
  15. I'm not good with telling a couple of them apart, eastern and western look a lot alike for instance, but based on size, location, and appearance, I'd say this has to be an eastern screech owl. I've only ever seen one and it was a red morph.
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