Author Archives: Tim Schreckengost

Wordless Wednesday – January 13, 2016

Cooper's Hawk - Tim Schreckengost - 24104087562_bd43b516f1_k

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5 Reasons to Attend the 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

The 2016 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival runs from January 20th to the 25th and is held in Brevard County, Florida. Here is a list of 5 reason why I think you should attend!

1. The Birds – Obviously. The main reason birders go to festivals is to see birds and get as many lifers as possible. Merritt Island NWR (more below), Daytona Beach, and Viera Wetlands are among the more popular birding locations. Click on the photo and type Brevard County, FL into the Location box and learn more about the birding hotspots within a short drive of the festival headquarters. Here’s a list of birds seen during the 2015 festival.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

Brevard County, Florida eBird Hotspots. Credit: eBird.org.

2. The Keynote Speakers – There’s an impressive lineup of Keynote Speakers for the 2016 festival, including Dr. Steven W. Kress of the National Audubon Society, Giff Beaton, a leading authority on Odonata and other fauna, James Currie of Birding Adventures TV, Kevin Karlson & Dale Rosselet, authors of the new Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds, and Steve N.G. Howell of WINGS. Read more about the speakers here.

3. The Field Trips & Workshops – There is an exhaustive list of field trips and workshops for this year’s festival, way too many to list here. I will say that there are a few digiscoping workshops, most discussing digiscoping with a DSLR, but one by Clay Taylor highlighting phonescoping! Read more about field trips here and workshops here.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red-shouldered Hawk in Brevard County, Florida on January 22, 2015. Digiscoped with a Samsung Galaxy S4 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

4. The Exhibit Center – This place is typically packed with visitors. Festival participants can try optics and gear before buying, talk with birding and wildlife tour leaders, and check out local artists’ work. Read more about the Exhibit Center here.

5. Merritt Island NWR – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is, hands-down, my favorite spot to bird in Brevard County. Black Point Wildlife Drive is an excellent place to photograph wading birds and ducks, Florida Scrub-Jays are “common” year-round, and Painted Buntings frequent the feeders at the Visitor’s Center. If you’re attending the festival, make sure you spend a AT LEAST one morning at Merritt Island!

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Roseate Spoonbill at Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County, Florida on January 25, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Registration for this year’s festival is open until 5 PM on January 15. You can register for the festival online. I’ll be at the festival working the Phone Skope booth and should be out in the field birding each morning. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be at the festival!

There were two Ivory Gulls!

The craziest thing happened within the past 24 hours. I’m sure most of you were aware of the Ivory Gull at Canal Park in Duluth, MN, but a shocking discovery was made last night. Another Ivory Gull was found predated nearby in Wisconsin! There is still one Ivory Gull continuing at Canal Park in Duluth. Have crazier things happened?

Photos of the predated gull can be seen over at Laura’s Birding Blog.

You can stay up-to-date with ABA rarities by using NARBA, the “Fast, Accurate RBA.”

Wordless Wednesday – January 6, 2016

Blue Jay - Tim Schreckengost - 24070735101_c031f29788_k

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2016 ABA Bird of the Year!

The American Birding Association (ABA) just announced the 2016 Bird of the Year, Chestnut-collared Longspur! You can read all about it over at the ABA website.

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir

This morning I finally ventured outside of Grove City to do a bit of exploring in Mercer County. I had a few spots in mind to visit, including Buhl Park and Shenango Reservoir. A short, cold stop at Buhl Park (eBird Checklist) yielded a number of Canada Geese and Mallards along with a lone Mute Swan and female Green-winged Teal.

Buhl Park in Hermitage, PA on January 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Buhl Park in Hermitage, PA on January 5, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

I then drove to Shenango Reservoir (eBird Checklist) to check for ducks and geese using open water. I arrived to find most of the reservoir to be frozen, but Mallards and Hooded Mergansers were taking advantage of the “small” opening in the water.

Hooded Mergansers at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Hooded Mergansers at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

I drove along the reservoir with little success at finding any more open water. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed a decent-sized flock of geese off Rt. 846. I found an open parking lot and, fortunately, a trail leading to the edge of the reservoir with a clear line of sight to the flock. Most of the birds were sleeping, but would occasionally lift their heads. I counted 258 Canada Geese and managed to pick out one Cackling Goose (eBird Checklist). Although distant, I was able to get photos and video using my iPhone 6 Plus and Phone Skope Adapter.

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60x85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Cackling Goose at Shenango Reservoir, Mercer County, PA on January 5, 2015. Digiscoped with a iPhone 6 Plus + Vortex Optics Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter.

Tundra Swans over Hunter’s Farm Park

This morning was the first time I took Rio, my Springer Spaniel, for a walk to Hunter’s Farm Park near sunrise. We generally go between 10 and noon, but since I start work with Phone Skope today, we had to get out earlier. There was definitely a difference in bird activity between sunrise and noon, for sure. Birds were just starting to wake up and begin foraging. What really piqued my interest though, was the number of birds taking “morning” flight. This isn’t a typical morning flight, but rather a morning flight to foraging locations or even migratory flights. Birds in the air this morning included Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, Canada Goose, and much to my surprise, Tundra Swan! I’m hoping to get out early a few more times this week to get a peek at other species taking this flight. Here are a couple photos of the Tundra Swans flying over, heading southeast.

Tundra Swans over Hunter's Farm in Grove City, PA on January 4, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Tundra Swans over Hunter’s Farm in Grove City, PA on January 4, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Tundra Swans over Hunter's Farm in Grove City, PA on January 4, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Tundra Swans over Hunter’s Farm in Grove City, PA on January 4, 2015. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.