Close Encounters of the SIB Kind

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

Ed and I just returned from a trip to the great state of Washington as part of our Big Year! It was our first trip out to the state and we fell in love with all it’s beauty. Snow capped mountains, fall colors, and water, water, everywhere….how incredible were all the bays and sounds!

1 Semiahmoo Spit WA (Ed Konrad)

We spent 3 of our days at the Semiahmoo Spit, near Blaine, up by the Canada border. I reached out to a dear friend of SIB, David Gardner, who was formerly at Camp St. Christopher. David is now the Adult and Family Programs Manager at the North Cascades Institute. We met up for a great day of birding. I wanted to bird Pt. Roberts Lighthouse, which required us to go into Canada and dip back down to the spit in US waters. It turned out to be David’s first trip to Canada, however brief! (which cannot be said for our return to the US, that took over 30 min at border control…LOL)

2 Aija and David at Pt Roberts (Ed Konrad)

At Pt Roberts we had some great birding with some good seabirds, Pacific and Common Loons, Common Murres, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Pigeon Guillemot. One of our target species was the Northern Shrike, which we dipped on, but both found it independently in the next few days. We then returned to the Semiahmoo Spit where we had a wealth of White-winged and Surf Scoters and Harlequin Ducks. It was a great day and fun to reconnect with David. I know that SIB misses David and his love and enthusiasm for birding.

Our 2018 US Big Year adventure continues to go well! I am up to 566 species for the US this year, 66 more than I ever expected to get. We have traveled through 31 states, visited 14 National Parks, driven 25,000 miles, flown many more miles. And we’ve walked and walked a countless number of miles! We’ve been gone from home for 95 days so far this year, with trips to TX, CO/NE, IL/OH, AZ, CO/UT, FL, CA, and WA. Ed has been really enjoying helping me spot, and of course photographing the birds and incredible scenery. It’s been like a giant scavenger hunt across the US, and we are having more fun than we ever expected to have at this point in our lives. Bird on Seabrook!
Here’ the URL for Ed’s Flickr site which chronicles our Big Year.
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Travel: Birds of Chilean Patagonia

In late February, six Seabrookers (Jack and Donna Miller, Ted and Janet Fine, Jerry and Diana Cohen) toured across Patagonia, Chile for two weeks, from Puerto Veras in the North to Punta Arenas in the South. We thought the Seabrook Island Birders might be interested in seeing pictures of some species we observed which are not seen in North America. The best birding took place on an excursion to the island of Chiloe, in the Pacific Ocean, and in and around Torres del Paine National Park in the South.

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This picture of the Upland or Magellan Goose was taken by our tour guide, Laura Pomilio.

 

 

My favorites were the Imperial Cormorants, also called Imperial Shags, on the beach in Punta Arenas (see photos below). They look and waddle like miniature penguins, grouped in large colonies on the beach, but are much larger and more active than the cormorants we see on Seabrook. Some of their colonies can be quite large, as seen on the pier below.

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These Black-Necked Swans were photographed by Janet Fine on the island of Chiloe, but we also saw quite a few of them on the southern part of Patagonia around Puerto Natales. They are the largest waterfowl in South America, averaging 8-15 lbs.

 

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This Black-faced Ibis was taken by Diana on a sheep ranch near Punta Arenas. They reside in flocks in the grasslands of the sheep ranch we visited.

 

We had an opportunity to take a small boat on the Island of Chiloe to observe both Humboldt and Magellan Penguins sunning and feeding on the rocks on the islands. These rock islands are the only place where both Humboldt and Magellan Penguins cohabit-ate, which is a big deal considering that Humboldt Penguins are endangered.  An interesting aside is that the penguins actually roost in the hills above the rocks, and then waddle down paths to the rocks to fish and sun. We caught glimpses of them coming down from the hills, but photos were a challenge, as we were on a small boat rocking around in the waves. Here are some photos which Diana took. Notice how well the penguins blend into the rocks – great camouflage!

There were several species of water birds on Chiloe, including these below. How about some help from all you birders out there to identify them?

 

Article submitted by Jerry Cohen
Photo credit to Diana Cohen, Janet Fine and Laura Pomilio

If you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos!  Thanks!