Trips We Took

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Bob and I visited my Dad this past week (Dec. 16-19, 2010) in Palm Beach Gardens. We visited a few wetlands – Green Cay and Wakodohatchee – and a few other birdy areas and saw so many great birds, like Rosy:

Roseate Spoonbill (3 in total) at Green Cay Wetlands, Florida, Dec. 17, 2010

We lifed Purple Gallinules and a Limpkin:

Lifer Purple Gallinule! This is over at Wakodohatchee Wetlands, just 5 minutes from Green CayLifer LIMPKIN at Sandhill Crane Access Area on PGA Boulevard, Palm, Beach Gardens, FL

We also lifed Eurasian Collared Doves and Crested Caracara, and we saw two escapee Egyptian Geese and some Muscovy Ducks. Plus so many other great birds. Start with Rosy to flip through all the photos in the album.

Bombay Hook, Delaware

Bombay Hook, Aug. 13, 2010. American Avocet - lifer #320!Glossy Ibis.

All I can say is, WOW. This place is amazing. Thank you to Scott Barnes, Linda Mack, Pete Bacinski, and Carole Hughes for leading this excellent adventure in August 2010 and finding me 4 life birds: Avocet, Hudsonian Godwit, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Long-billed Dowitcher. We couldn’t believe our good fortune in that there were over 400 Avocets present – Pete did a rough count and got 425. What a way to life a bird! I can’t wait to go back to this wonderful reserve.

Southampton, Long Island, NY

View of the backyard at A Butler's ManorAt Elizabeth Morton NWR in Sag Harbor: Black-capped Chickadee eating from Bob's hand

In August 2007, we took a trip out to Southampton, NY, and stayed at an awesome bed and breakfast called A Butler’s Manor. The innkeepers, Chris and Kim, are such gracious hosts. They really did attend to our every need. And they have a dog named Truffle (RIP now Truffie) who is a sweet lover girl. The gardens are just stunning, and the yard is bird friendly because of the many different plants and flowers, as well as the bird feeders. We saw Common Yellowthroat, Baltimore Oriole, Carolina Wren, Black-capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow, Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Gray Catbird, Blue Jay, and Cardinal, among others. Also, the pool is HUGE and the breakfasts are fantastic. Go visit!

We went back to Elizabeth Morton NWR (see our trip below “Eastport and Sag Harbor” for much more on this wildlife reserve) and had Chickadees and Titmice eating from our hands again. We also went to Shinnecock Inlet and lifed Clapper Rail. They breed here. We had crazy amazing views of this one rail who basically was walking around in front of us! He was very vocal too. Other great birds here included American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Willet, Least and Common Terns, Barn Swallows, Chimney Swifts, and American Crows. The beach across Dune Road was good for the terns, gulls, swallows, chickadees, and much more.

Eastport and Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY

At Elizabeth Morton NWR in Sag Harbor, Long Island: Black-capped Chickadee eating sunflower seeds from Bob's handThis was the only Cardinal to eat from our hands

In August 2006, we visited Eastport, Long Island, and stayed at Seatuck Cove House, which borders stunning Moriches Bay. Moriches Bay is a nesting area for Roseate Terns, which we lifed. Every morning we would watch them from our balcony as they dove for food, along with the Common and Least Terns and Osprey. A pair of Kingfishers regularly hunted for food by waiting patiently on the bow of a small boat. There was a family of Mute Swans that swam around the cove every day, the parents guarding their three cygnets as they explored. One Spotted Sandpiper ran up and down the shoreline of the small sandbar across the way, and Great and Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons were all over the place. Laughing Gulls yelled overhead and Double-crested Cormorants dove in the beautiful warm water. All of this took place as we watched twenty yards from the water’s edge. This inn is highly recommended, especially for birders. They have an awesome pool too!

One day we drove out to Sag Harbor to Elizabeth Morton NWR. The habitat in this reserve is so mixed. The trail begins in a heavily wooded area filled with Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches (all of whom eat out of your hand if you hold up sunflower seeds and stay very still – see photos) to warblers, wrens, and orioles. It then opens up into a meadow where there are boxes mounted for Eastern Bluebirds. Gray Catbirds and Eastern Towhees abound. Follow the trail back into the woods, and soon you will find yourself walking out onto the beach, where areas have been protected for Piping Plovers and Least Terns to nest. We saw one Piping Plover the first time we went and saw 5 Ospreys on our second trip a year later, along with many other various birds.

Jordan Hollow, Stanley, Virginia

Jordan Hollow. The view from our cabinRacer - one of the many cats on the property. One of our two favorite boys

One of our favorite vacation spots is Jordan Hollow, located in Stanley, Virginia. The accomodations are so beautiful and the personnel are great. The on-site restaurant features a chef who cooks some of the best food we’ve ever eaten in our lives. And, they have about twenty cats who live on the property at any one time. They’ll come sleep in your room if you want them to.

There are some great attractions nearby, including Shenandoah National Park (Skyline Drive is fabulous for birding, especially during migration), wineries where we did a lot of wine tasting as well as birding, and cool places like Luray Caverns where you can see stalactite and stalagmite formations.

During our trips to Virginia, we’ve lifed many birds, including Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebird, Prothonotary Warbler(!), Indigo Bunting, Eastern Meadowlark (a target bird that we lifed as we pulled into the driveway of a winery – the bird was calling and was perched in great view on a tree branch), Black Vulture, Carolina Chickadee, Chimney Swift (many would funnel into the inn’s chimney every night), Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Martin, Spotted Sandpiper, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Canada Warbler (a pair on a trail on Skyline Drive let us get exceptionally close to them as they bathed in a little stream), Swainson’s Thrush, Barred Owl, Field Sparrow, and Ruffed Grouse (heard only).

Other great birds we’ve seen in Virginia are Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart (on the last spring 2007 trip, they were just everywhere), Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Killdeer, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, White-eyed Vireo, Common Raven, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, among many others.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Beautiful Angel Canyon - home of Best FriendsOur lovely friend Becky. We did two nights of "doggy sleepover." She was adopted shortly after we visited.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in Angel Canyon in Kanab, Utah, one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. In the fall of 2005, Bob and I went to volunteer with the animals for one week. It was unforgettable, if not for the beauty of the area alone, for the people and all the animals and birds we met at Best Friends. Best Friends is a no-kill sanctuary that houses approximately 1,500 rescued animals and birds at any one time, all living in very clean and spacious quarters. The people who work at the sanctuary have a true love and devotion to all creatures big and small. They have a very high rate of adoption, but any animal not able to find a home will forever have a loving one at Best Friends.

We lifed many birds on this trip, not only at the sanctuary, but also at the Grand Canyon on a day trip and in Las Vegas, where we flew into and out of. At the sanctuary, we lifed Rough-legged Hawk, Western Scrub-Jay, Juniper Titmouse, Rock and Canyon Wrens, White-crowned Sparrow, and Cassin’s Finch. At the Grand Canyon, we added Townsend’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers (yes, Yellow-rumps! I had only been birding seriously for a year or so at this point), Acorn Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Stellar’s Jay, Western and Mountain Bluebirds, and American Pipit. And in Vegas, we lifed both Brewer’s Blackbird and Great-tailed Grackle.

Popcorn Park

Peacock displaying for us in the parking lotBeautiful RudyLady the GoatEmu saying hello

Popcorn Park Zoo in Forked River, NJ, is really not a zoo, but rather a sanctuary where a large variety of animals and birds have found a good home. It is one of the five no-kill shelters in New Jersey run by the American Humane Societies. We once sponsored a dog named Pluto (see photos), so we decided to go visit him and bring him some toys and bones. He was adopted a few years ago, and we are thrilled! We got to walk him and give him his treats, and then we took a tour of the grounds. Presently, we sponsor a lovely blind dog named Rudy and a cute goat named Lady. Look at the amazing animals and birds who were all rescued!

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