A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3: Another lifer dans Les Jouandis

Villarreal, France

sunny 92 °F

JUNE 8:

My third day at the beautiful Château Jouandis near Bergerac, France brought me more birds including WHITE WAGTAIL:
large_480CBC75-6207-4104-9BF6-A7B27FBE4BC9.jpeg

COMMON CHAFFINCH:
large_28941F99-A017-4BF2-8C36-5A8512DBF308.jpeglarge_3C4C5A24-EE0D-4B62-9FBF-766A2A320AAC.jpeg

COMMON SWIFT:
large_DD35BB79-5528-4B8E-8C2A-E35668C3E5A7.jpeg

A highly-cooperative young BLACK REDSTART:
large_88BB739B-64B2-4310-B07A-423FAE38AB3F.jpeglarge_8A0EAD36-1D46-4820-BBE1-9A08D9DF7EF9.jpeglarge_6F46F686-1B37-4F97-9119-13416394ED54.jpeg

And one posing in front of the Château:
large_A53297D8-5EF5-4E69-99A2-22AD10A63FE8.jpeg

Male EURASIAN BLACKBIRD:
large_D1DAC883-0C15-4026-9B86-836946C80AA3.jpeg

EURASIAN HOOPOES were nesting in a tree cavity near the pool! So cool to observe this species up close.
large_E9550A6A-07B5-41D3-A6D0-3E86780560CD.jpeg

Nice to see a HOUSE SPARROW in its native range — this might be my first photo of this species on here a they are trash birds back home.
large_C3759F76-EC9E-4B6B-950A-D97AA93CF713.jpeg

My one life bird was a RED KITE which used to be an endangered species in Europe — super cool as like the Bald Eagle in America, this is a species that has made a resounding comeback due to concerted conservation efforts. This species was even still uncommon when I visited Europe in 2014, and this time around I soon realized they were fairly abundant!
large_DCA395DF-2E28-45CF-BFEE-AC5C031ACC77.jpeg

I was even able to do a little herping as European Toads emerged at night with their resonant calls:
large_C6061546-35F5-4E0C-9184-50CCCF72E5D9.jpeglarge_3551664D-76B3-46B0-90CD-9AA2A29AEA22.jpeg

All of this not even to mention all the wonderful French music making that was going on! Bird-of-the-day to my lifer Red Kite with runner-up to the Eurasian Hoopoe!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1135 Species (1 life bird: Red Kite)

Posted by skwclar 13:43 Archived in France Comments (1)

🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷

Jouandis, France

all seasons in one day 70 °F

TUESDAY, JUNE 7:

A lot has happened since my last posting! I had my role debut of Il Conte Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro in Alexandria, Virginia which was a great success and a wonderful program. Here is the cast in costume:
large_0495EBF1-E1E8-4D74-843F-A241AEEBA912.jpeg

After the last Figaro performance, I headed straight to Dulles Airport for an absolutely dreadful 24-hour, 2-layover journey to Jouandis, France. Lufthansa even lost my bag. Incredibly annoying.

Anyway, after a day of as much rest I could afford to get without a change of clothes, I was able to get out to take some photos and to look for birds on tuesday. Here at this vocal program, CLA France, we are lucky enough to stay at a Château in the middle of the beautifully pastoral countryside.
large_B2FEA2F3-0180-430C-8495-6C25508A16D2.jpeglarge_05B3151E-8C50-4AC0-9ED1-F1F31D095DB9.jpeg

The food isn’t bad either (Michelin-star chef!) :)
large_63654DEA-E411-4711-940B-797B195A7790.jpeg

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES abound:
large_886163BB-5D39-426E-A2D9-35B3169FF375.jpeg

As do EUROPEAN GOLDFINCHES:
large_F0629769-7A67-4293-9F4E-553890B7951C.jpeg

And cows!
large_C0D57F59-AD29-4022-830C-A8EB4103E337.jpeg

This beautiful pair of CIRL BUNTINGS was a fantastic life bird for me!
large_1453BF9A-6D73-4A46-9C16-608EE670C18C.jpeglarge_3BA04CF1-A555-42D4-9B31-BA47A9D2BCC2.jpeglarge_10CC20EA-0921-4331-821E-21B797FE40B8.jpeg

And another life bird, a WILLOW WARBLER, soon joined the male!
large_42CF2954-33BC-4AAD-BF02-F9123925C5B6.jpeg

Who wasn’t particularly enthused:
large_0E6BE5D9-FDF6-44EB-A704-03229DFE082C.jpeg

BLACK REDSTART, reminiscent of my 2018 trip to Italy where these birds abounded:
large_F92F7516-3C33-412D-861C-C10651B02A00.jpeg

Another awesome lifer was this EUROPEAN GREEN WOODPECKER!
large_0E77B1CD-7440-46CA-A211-31503A5C787A.jpeglarge_6FCEB842-9F8D-406F-A8A6-D09B472625A4.jpeg

And my final lifer that day was a fun one, a EURASIAN HOOPOE which I had been hoping to see for a long time due to this bird’s uniqueness! They have a nesting hole right by our pool!
large_5D7BD154-74DB-4D36-8082-5231CD907C7D.jpeglarge_1744C571-5E16-409B-AE7B-AF6B4F3066B1.jpeg

Amazing to get so many lifers in one day, it had been quite a while!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1134 Species (4 life birds: Cirl Bunting, Willow Warbler, European Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Hoopoe)

Posted by skwclar 15:08 Archived in France Comments (3)

Last bird walks of the season

Oak Park, IL

sunny 77 °F

THURSDAY, MAY 26 — finally caught up on all of my May posting, just 6 days late!

After a day of cancelled bird walks due to wet weather, thursday brought two bird walks: a kiddie walk for a local Montessori school and an evening Oak Park Bird Walk. The school wasn’t in a great location for finding migrants but thankfully the kids were plenty excited over the common birds around like starlings:
large_A68D3E63-7D21-402C-863F-DB3EBD3B1535.jpeg

Honestly maybe this is the first starling picture I’ve ever posted on here? Or at least the first in a very long time. Lol!

And robins:
large_5AE1FE75-3F8F-49C5-8664-BF83C532EB78.jpeglarge_D2BB995E-9597-4687-B5AB-A907A658E917.jpeg

The kids were super sweet, though, and very receptive to my bird presentation, too. After a quick dinner at home, it was time for my last Oak Park Bird Walk of the spring where the highlight was finding this BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER nest on my block! If you want to look for it, it is on the west side of Elmwood Ave about 30 feet up in a tree in the parkway, just a bit south of Iowa Ave. Listen for the Gnatcatchers’ nasal calls.
large_C5A9C7DC-D4A8-4AFD-96E4-9311F802F22F.jpeglarge_2639CF3B-B828-46A0-9166-A3DD62EC9DCC.jpeg

And here are the adult gnatcatchers:
large_D0326C3F-2CB3-4609-888F-CBC3D3BB7C34.jpeglarge_E4E646C0-2430-42F8-8BA0-6798D8D33C69.jpeglarge_BA35C151-734F-46A0-B468-FC3B3C993879.jpeglarge_983F6508-8E4E-4C93-934E-A73D2A2473D5.jpeglarge_F8B46ADB-A755-4A89-B95F-2A4DA9B4BBCE.jpeglarge_FFCBEA47-EF4A-431A-AA80-30C4BC23815A.jpeg

We also enjoyed watching a TENNESSEE WARBLER:
large_D6F91788-8862-4BB3-AB06-55D355D420D0.jpeg

And an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
large_51EB7AB5-1F41-4B0E-BBB2-1CD727BA1D6E.jpeg

Juvenile Eastern Cottontail:
large_E7D1E35D-0099-4C26-9609-287B99218834.jpeg

And to end the walk, I was amazingly able to get everyone on a tiny female RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD sitting near the top of a tall tree. So cool!
large_6EAE52A6-14AA-4F3A-B3F2-5FA708F8EE37.jpeg

Bird-of-the-day to the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and their nest with runner-up to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This will be my last post from the Chicago area for a long time as up next for me is Washington DC. A brief highlight of my summer plans:
May 27-June 5: Washington, DC — performing the Count in Marriage of Figaro
June 6-June 23: Bergerac, France — French art song & opera festival
June 25-August 13: Chautauqua, NY — performing the Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen
August 13-August 22: Idaho!!!
August 22-Sept 1: Chicago
Sept 1 — back to NYC

In terms of birds, I expect no birding to happen in DC as the rehearsal schedule is extremely intense, and it will be similar in France though I may pick up a few lifers there as I have never been to the southwestern part of the country. In Chautauqua, I believe I will get out just about every sunday with some local birders who bird atlas in the area, and finally, Idaho is always all about birds! So stay tuned for more — if I can get my life list to just 1140 after France I will be happy.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1131 Species

Posted by skwclar 14:55 Archived in USA Comments (3)

More bird walks & Black Rail twitch!

overcast 66 °F

MONDAY, MAY 23:
Today brought another day of Oak Park Bird Walks, with a morning walk led from the house. There were a couple warblers around including this male CHESTNUT-SIDED:
large_75722082-2F71-41CA-8A3C-ED7F66968731.jpeglarge_53FA5979-D758-46B9-8F44-14C138204A67.jpeg

And a WILSON’S which is a fairly good one for the block:
large_68144A27-30E8-42C0-90BE-841D76C43B6B.jpeg

TUESDAY, MAY 24:
Kris Hansen and I drove up to Illinois Beach State Park today in search of a widely-publicized pair of Black Rails, a would-be lifer for the both of us. We made the 90-minute drive up to North Point Marina for parking and soon entered the marshy habitat where the rails were reported. Having a reliable Black Rail location in Illinois is an extreme anomaly as usually their location is suppressed due to their rarity and endangered status. I suspect someone unknowingly leaked the location on a groupchat and that’s how word got out.

Either way, we started off the morning with a vivacious SEDGE WREN:
large_939C59F6-BE9F-4457-A30D-B7FECFE85F78.jpeglarge_40816ADC-DCE4-4C5B-8D0A-7231C5E516F5.jpeglarge_532E8AAB-A837-44AF-9CF7-E2748066D08F.jpeglarge_74558D43-FB94-4189-B1B1-92D0BB093604.jpeglarge_A8BF0C7F-9864-461B-9ABE-0BA4F5A63288.jpeg

And a first-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE — note that they are yellow for the first year before transitioning to their cherry-colored plumage for older adults.
large_C7C6A957-41C3-47D5-A9B9-E9BA501CA402.jpeg

Then, the other birders and I spotted a tiny creature running through the marsh grasses in front of us. It was about sparrow-sized which was very promising as that is how tiny Black Rails are, but unfortunately it just turned out to be a cute little mouse:
large_A4212FE6-B0CD-4533-A2C8-63684F061B61.jpeglarge_A3347C30-115B-4EE3-9096-E25287BAD25E.jpeg

After a few hours of searching, I unfortunately had to drop Kris off at the nearby Metra but I didn’t want to call it quits on the bird just yet. So I headed back, with only a quick stop on the way in some good habitat where I picked up a few birds including this Traill’s-type (Alder/Willow) Flycatcher:
large_9B16E326-4386-4180-8CBC-73BD8C8D7A2A.jpeglarge_B200D0EF-09D1-44B2-921F-30E04FECA485.jpeg

And very soon after returning to the original rail location where Kris and I had been searching, I HEARD IT!!!! Effin’ BLACK RAIL!!! I could not believe it — the absolute holy grail of Illinois birding. “Kee kee deer!” is a sound that every midwestern birder dreams of hearing and I found it hard to believe one was singing from the marsh right in front of me. Absolutely epic.

Other rails were around as well including KING, SORA, and this VIRGINIA RAIL which gave great views as it crossed the path.
large_5DA606F8-33F4-45AA-BB9A-F5C482327C93.jpeglarge_7D4EC84A-C4B8-48C2-973F-C38B09C4DA40.jpeg
large_8ED537AC-19E6-4725-B270-2EE667E05819.jpeglarge_EFC58DBB-72FA-4F0B-9C74-14A662F962FC.jpeglarge_C29F63A7-4DB4-48A4-B665-D575FCFC901C.jpeglarge_0C46CEF8-92C7-4804-BED1-7F6E92D23095.jpeglarge_91634A65-FE1A-4CE4-A3EE-8E3609A04EC3.jpeglarge_6FA20B34-A840-4D52-B6E7-D592D2D26635.jpeglarge_1B0E25B1-8DC9-475A-A23C-23456577328B.jpeg

Unpictured here, I also saw its chick which briefly had me mistaken for Black Rail as young Virginias are also jet black, but fuzzier.

An Oak Park Bird Walk in the evening was extremely unproductive, as evidenced by the fact that I was only able to get a photo of a juvenile AMERICAN ROBIN:
large_6A9DB3CB-5D5D-48E4-80D7-D3A72A1CF59B.jpeg

So bird-of-the-day without doubt goes to the Black Rail, though I felt awful that I was not able to get Kris on the bird as she had to leave early. Runner-up to the cooperative Virginia Rail. Not everyday that you get four true rails in Illinois!

Great birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1131 Species (1 life bird today: Black Rail)

Posted by skwclar 02:40 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Thatcher Woods

River Forest, IL

semi-overcast 64 °F

SUNDAY, MAY 22 — getting gradually more and more caught up with posting!

This morning I led Ed O’Brien on an Oak Park Bird Walk through Thatcher Woods Forest Preserve. We found a decent number of migrants including quite a good one at the beginning, this MOURNING WARBLER:
large_2F67BBF0-42B3-4041-ADAD-3AD3B737972C.jpeg

RED-TAILED HAWK:
large_3AEC823D-68BB-4302-A74F-2EC21F47C0CD.jpeg

Female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:
large_557A11E0-D2E3-4A35-A3E8-C70A06D2578E.jpeg

GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER:
large_FAA33C7D-F5E6-464C-A044-EBF554B12A97.jpeg

WILSON’S WARBLER:
large_587D7FEC-900E-4702-8229-71784BE246F8.jpeg

MAGNOLIA WARBLER:
large_B21BAB58-B8C6-4080-A412-23A79FFD1DAF.jpeglarge_642EF991-A837-443A-B90A-51FA38094AE1.jpeg

CANADA WARBLER:
large_2B1EF3C1-C942-49E4-B6F9-E8206940E50F.jpeg

HOUSE WREN:
large_097551B3-11AC-4456-915F-3C5D5FD8F91B.jpeg

SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
large_90411CE0-E19C-4DE3-91E4-BB008B5B491F.jpeglarge_4508325E-970D-4785-BD5E-8867FE90CEDD.jpeg

We enjoyed watching this ALDER FLYCATCHER for a nice long time, a species I don’t get to identify terribly often since they are identical with Willows and can only be separated by voice. Luckily, this bird was calling “pip!” (Willlows say “whit!”):
large_A020CE2D-E5CC-4C8D-BF92-C2A8054D1248.jpeglarge_DBE47BA6-08B9-4E4E-A3DD-AA813C6463FB.jpeglarge_B13DA799-C2BE-4E47-8FFB-C810C4C83E42.jpeg

RED-EYED VIREO:
large_0AC4B900-3CA0-4F59-8831-98E4ECFA3979.jpeg

In the evening, I led my annual owl walk at Miller Meadow Forest Preserve where we saw several COMMON NIGHTHAWKS and heard three owls: 1 GREAT HORNED & 2 EASTERN SCREECH. Unfortunately, only two of us had a brief glimpse of a Screech disappearing into the woods and other than that, none of the owls were seen. I was hoping to see the usual Great Horned that perches on this Kestrel nest box but that would not be the case today:

Bird-of-the-day to the Mourning Warbler with runner-up to the Eastern Screech-Owls!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1130 Species

Posted by skwclar 01:02 Archived in USA Comments (1)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 799) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »