New Leica Birding Blog

Jeff Bouton with Leica Sport Optics has started a new blog here. If it wasn't for Jeff, my list of North American Birds seen would probably be around 400 species or so, rather than 597. That guy is a seriously talented birder. He also happens to be a lot of fun to hang out with, so I consider myself fortunate to be able to go birding with him on a regular basis.

The shot above was taken this year in Homer, Alaska, shortly after we saw a Bar-tailed Godwit(below).


Eagles in Alaska

For the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to Homer Alaska in early May to attend the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. While the main attraction is of course, shorebirds, I always associate Homer with eagles. These large fish and carrion eaters are abundant and very approachable almost anywhere on Alaska's Kenai peninsula. Their abundance and commonality reminds me of our Robins here in Wisconsin. Like everything else in Alaska though, these yard-birds are bigger.

Is it a coincidence that the Bald Eagle's plumage mimics one of the fundamental backdrops of the Alaskan landscape, the snow-caped mountain?


San Diego Birding

Here are some of the digiscoping and birding highlights from my last San Diego trip. The San Diego area has some of the most diverse habitat and thus, ample birding opportunities. One of the more common birds in the area is the Western Bluebird, pictured above. I never tire of watching or photographing this species when the chance presents itself.

With the help of some friends, I was able to track down a number of missing species from my bird life list, including the Mountain Plover (above) that we found foraging in agricultural fields near the Salton Sea. Another target bird that we tracked down in the same area is the eye-popping Grey Flycatcher (pictured below). This is a bird that is drab even by Empidonax standards.

The bird pictured above is a California Gnatcatcher. Federally endangered, this species is most easily distinguishable from the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher by the almost entirely black underside of its tail.
California Gnatcatcher, perched on barb wire.
I've got some serious catching up to do here at 600 Birds. Since my last post I've been to Corpus Christi for the American Birding Association convention and shortly after that, I flew to Homer, Alaska for the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. After those two trips, I now find myself sitting at 597 birds. Looking ahead to my travels in the fall, I'm wondering where I'm going to find those next 3 birds.

In the meantime, summer is here and I'll be tending to our gardens and hanging out with my kids, who all of a sudden have a lot more free time on their hands. That won't stop me from daydreaming about that Black-billed Cuckoo that I still need to cross paths with.