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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby!

I had the privilege of visiting friends Chris Wood and Jessie Barry in their Upstate NY haunts over my winter break. Our exploits crossed the border into Canada as well, partly for the birding there (5-figure gulls in Niagra and a Barnacle Goose in Grimsby, for example.) The other reason is that the closest American Airlines could get me to my intended destination (Rochester, NY) within 3 days of my departure from Denver was Toronto...

Anyway, we had the good fortune to base ourselves at Jessie's parents' house on the south shore of Lake Ontario for a couple of days (Thanks, Jim & Liz!!) They have the ultimate lake-watching setup- picture windows facing the lake and an awesome rail-mounted, top-down scope mount right at the window. A strong arctic cold front blasted in on our first night, and we did some serious pajama birding for a while with the comforts of hot coffee and a hot fireplace nearby. A decent lake-watch list developed including scads of Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters, and Red-breasted Mergansers flying by in adjustment to the new weather conditions.
Pajama birding at its finest...

Eventually, however, we sallied out into the gnarly weather (temps in the low teens and winds in the high 20s and 30s.) More good birds were found, but to me some of the most impressive sights were the ice formations that were plastered on the breakwaters and navigation lights at the mouths of rivers.

Winter birding on Lake Ontario: Only serious, well-dressed birders need apply.

Fantasmagorical ice at Charlotte Lighthouse (Mouth of Genesee River.) A miracle sunbeam hit the lighthouse for a minute or two- the picture doesn't begin to do it justice...

More wicked ice at the Irondequoit light

Oh, and there were birds around, too. I'm usually lucky to see a single Long-tailed Duck each year in Colorado, so I was pretty geeked to see thousands of them on the lake. The light was rough and many of the birds were distant and wary, but I still vastly improved my photo stock of this species.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CBC Radio Feature

There's a nice feature from Boulder's independent radio KGNU about the Boulder CBC- a radio journalist came with my group in the early morning and then recorded some of the fun at the compilation dinner. Thanks to the Boulder County Nature Association for hosting the MP3 file!

Friday, January 01, 2010

NPR Interview

I was on NPR's Science Friday today during their section on the Christmas Bird Count. I chimed in about birding tech, particularly iPhone apps. Give it a listen- if you can't wait to hear what I had to say, fast-forward to about 13:00.