Saturday, February 16, 2013

GBBC Day Two - Merlin, Kingfisher, Grackles

Merlin and Belted Kingfisher at Morris Arboretum. Watercolor by Ken Januski
A very overcast day today didn't make for a very inviting day two of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Still it was an opportunity to be out and about. I finally reached my 50th bird of 2013 in Philadelphia when I spotted my first Common Grackles of the year at Andorra Natural Area. Other than that though it was very quiet, almost as though the birds too decided it best to sleep in.

After Andorra I stopped briefly at nearby Morris Arboretum. When I small raptor in the large dead tree in front of where I parked my car I expected the familiar American Kestrel that has been frequenting the area. But it just didn't look right. Finally I realized that it was a Merlin. Species number 51.

It was also very quiet here, though that might have been partially due to the Merlin. It didn't seem to bother the Belted Kingfisher though, who was on the same large tree simultaneously with the falcon. The small 30 minute 5x7 inch watercolor above is based on field sketches and photos from that scene, rearranged to suit my artistic purposes.

Icterids are always a sign of spring. I assumed that I'd see Common Grackles one of these days. Another sign of spring was a singing Red-winged Blackbird at Morris. At one point they'll drown out all the other birds I'd rather hear but that time is still 4-6 weeks away. For now it's nice to hear their song.

And as usual it's nice to be out birding for GBBC. You never know what you'll see. I believe the Merlin is only the second I've ever seen in Philadelphia. I can't complain about seeing him either.

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