Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Venus in Clouds

A Corona/Aureole around Venus.

Created by cloud particles scattering light and more often seen around the much brighter moon. But as we can see Venus, and even Jupiter, are bright enough when the conditions are right. The aureole is the white glow around Venus. The corona is colorful, and is seen here as the reddish tinge on the outer edge. As usual, more info can be found here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Dip - 1) v. To travel to attempt to see a previously reported rare bird and fail to see it. 2) n. The actual bird that one has missed. Related forms: Dipped, verb.

After missing out on the Thick-billed Murre Patty got an email about some Red Crossbills in Double Trouble State Park. As it was on the way home ... 

Crossbills eat the seeds out of pinecones. The crossbill is an adaptation to pry the seeds from the cone.

Patty, who has an excellent sense of direction, navigated us to an entrance to Double Trouble that was as far as possible from where the birds were reported (there was no parking there anyways!). 

This is what it looked like when we started walking into the park. Notice anything?

It is pine trees all the way down the road. 

Pine trees. Nothing but pine trees.

And each and every one of those trees is full of pine cones. But nary a Crossbill in any of them.

It was a very dippy day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chasing Alcids

When we woke up this morning our plan was to visit Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. But an erroneous reading of a rare bird alert had us heading a bit further north. Someone, I won't mention any of Patty's names, thought there was a Thick-billed Murre to chase.

Spoiler alert: there wasn't. There were also reports of Razorbills in the same area. When we got to the site we found neither.

There were plenty of Common Loons.

By my count there were at least twenty.

But no Murre and no Razorbills. So we went looking for other things in the area. And when it was time to head home Patty suggested we swing by the inlet to try one more time for they Razorbills.

So we did. And the first bird we spotted was a Razorbill.

Here's a crop of the same image.

And the Murre? It's somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts. And no, I will not be chasing it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Yard Birds

I was reloading the feeders outside when I spotted our resident Eastern Screech Owl surveying her (or is it his?) domain.

She or he seems to be getting accustomed to my presence as I was able to get much closer this time. (The first time we spotted Screechy it retreated very quickly into the box when I walked out on to the deck.)

And while I was out there I heard a very loud "peeeeennnt" call of an American Woodcock.

 I quick called Patty, who spotted the bird eating worms in our front yard.

And while watching this one we heard another.

We also heard at least one and maybe two Barred Owls calling off in the woods. I doubt that either the Screech Owl or the Woodcock was happy to hear the Barred Owl calls. But we were.

As Patty said, a very exciting five minutes in the yard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

He's Back!

Look what Cupid brought us!

Now that's what we want to see.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Walk in the Park(er) Preserve

The Franklin Parker Preserve to be specific.

A beautiful part of the New Jersey Pinelands, just thirteen miles as the car drives from our home. It was a very nice day last Sunday, and we went for a walk there. Here are a few snapshots from along the trail.


Clear Water.









Dirt Road.

The Trail.

Trail's End. We finished it!


1000 mile challenge update: 857 miles to go. By the end of February I should have walked 165 miles. I've 16 days to walk 22 miles (not counting the two I've already walked today) and I've been averaging 3.4 miles a day. So far (pun?) so good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Today's Visitor

Just before leaving for work I spotted this fine fellow.

A Hermit Thrush.

Who doesn't like a bit of peanut butter with breakfast?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bird Watching

Patty and I aren't the only ones watching the avifauna in our yard. This Coopers Hawk has been spending quite a bit of time here lately.

But while our pleasure is derived from viewing the birds ...

... our hawk visitor can be considered to be perusing a menu, with the pleasure in the tasting.

Bon appรฉtit!