September 17, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Green violet ear comes to Iowa

Green violet ear My brother John responded to a rare bird alert in Sioux City, Iowa -- a Green violet ear, which is a kind of hummingbird that normally lives in highland areas from central Mexico as far south as Bolivia. After waiting for a half hour or so, his patience -- and that of Monica! -- was amply rewarded, as this fine photograph attests. So how did this little guy end up several thousand miles north of his normal range? Maybe he was looking for the Field of Dreams. (Is this Heaven?) Ah, the mysteries of Nature...

UPDATE: Diana Pesek, a bird watcher from Iowa who was visiting this area a few months ago, saw my e-mail news alert and replied:

We had one [Green violet ear] last year over on my side of the state that stayed for about a week, coming to a feeder at a couple's farm home near Waterloo in northeast-central Iowa...

Could it be the same individual? A nonconforming rugged individualist, perhaps, or just defective navigational skills?

Afton Mountain hawk watch

I finally made it up to the hawk watch at Rockfish Gap / Afton Mountain this afternoon, after a regrettably long absence. While the human company was plentiful and friendly -- Brenda Tekin, Gordy Adamski, and a number of new folks -- the number of raptors we observed was quite low. After a couple hours I drove along the crest of the Blue Ridge on Route 610, but didn't see much there, either. Back in Staunton late in the afternoon, I went to Bell's Lane to see if that Yellow-bellied flycatcher was still there. It wasn't, but there were several dozen other noisy songbirds, to my surprise. Here's today's list, with rough estimates of how many of each I saw, segregated according to place, in rough chronological order:

Also, there were many Monarch butterflies at each place I went.