Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It Twas a Dark and Dreary Day...once again...

 The Song Sparrow was singing because I couldn't...or can't...

 After three lovely days of having the flu and missing work, I decided to try to escape to the wilds. I looked at the thermometer and saw that it was in the mid sixties...and a little cloudy. What the heck, I need to get outside! I heard about Short-eared Owls zooming around at Sandy Ridge Reservation the previous day among others...I'll head out there. Yeah, that will be a good idea. Camera, binoculars, water, snack, cough drops, LOTS of tissues...ready...I'm off.

You know what they say about well made plans...there's always a snag...and you know it's me...somethings gonna happen! Suddenly the winds shifted...and picked up...the temp dropped to about 45 and we were completely cloud covered. I'm here, so I'm gonna walk no matter what! I also have my rain cover for the camera just in case!

It didn't rain thankfully...and I brought enough tissues. And the cough drops kept me from scaring away any birds that were there...except for the owls which I never found...or most of the ducks...or the woodcock...or thrush...vireos...warblers...anyway...I had a nice walk and it was great to get out and wander around and get some fresh air.

 You can tell this is an American Tree Sparrow by the bi-colored bill.
Uh...well, if he didn't duck you'd be able to tell...
Gotta love the patterns on the backs of sparrows!

 There ya go!
Bi-colored bill!
Told ya so.

Love that scare hair he has!

 Orange-breasted Ground Thrush.

 There's a Bald Eagle in there!

 He was embarrassed about something...

 I forgot to mention that I saw a Song Sparrow out there!

 As usual, the Kingfishers were far away...and the grayness of the day made for dark and moody pics.

 I did see a number of ducks, though they were on the other side of the marsh...a little too far for getting any good photos.
The Blue-winged Teals were a bit closer.

 There were quite a few pairs out there...

 "Hello Red! I have anything stuck in my beak?"

 Canada Geese are sloppy eaters...always drooling...and we won't discuss what they leave on the trails...or the soles of my boots...

 I think I mentioned the fact that there were dozens of Song Sparrows out...didn't I?

 Those two male Green-winged Teal were getting ready to rumble over that hot babe...
Ah, spring is in the air...quack...

 I have never seen a shy Mallard before...

 Squirrels, yes.

 Otters, no.

 Now, a couple two, three Song Sparrows singing, yes...just a few...hundred...

 I haven't seen any Red-headed Woodpeckers in quite some time.
This guy was worth the trip out there!

 So, as I was leaving the marsh and heading back into the woods, I saw a shadow streaking into the trees to my right. I backed down the trail slowly, hoping for an owl...scanning all of the low limbs where I thought I saw the bird move. I made it all of the way out, back to the edge and didn't see a thing. When I turned around to look at the marsh, this Red-shouldered Hawk was about twenty feet in front of me staring me down!
That was the shadow I saw!

 Oh, and there was another Song Sparrow there as well...
 (meanwhile, back at the hawk...)
I slowly walked away from the hawk so I could get a full shot of him. 
He posed for a minute, still staring me down...wondering if I was weak enough to kill and eat...

 He flew to another snag so I could get a profile shot too!
Such a nice bird...and yea, I was talking to him the whole time, that's why he was watching me.
"Crazy humans..."
 The Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows were zooming around...faster than I can focus.
Luckily this Tree Swallow sat still for a moment.

Song Sparrow. 

 Oops...I spoke to soon...he's off!

 Not the best lighting for a Red-winged Blackbird...oh time!
I'll leave you again with just one more Song Sparrow...from behind!

See ya soon!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Dark and Dreary Day...and damp...and drizzly...and actually two days...that were damp...and dank..and...

 Yes. That American Wigeon IS crashing into the butt of the one in front of him.
Some kids just don't pay attention...must have been texting... really was a dark and dreary day in Shreve for the annual  Migration Sensation....and damp...and cold...I wonder why I was sick the following least I kept my camera dry. Remind me to re-waterproof my boots...

I must say I did have a great time even with the questionable weather. I met up with a lot of old friends that I only see once a year, and made some new ones too! I spoke with my good buddy Karen from Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Robert from Time and Optics(watch for their new catalog coming soon with a few photos from yours truly!) Oh, did I mention PIE? HOMEMADE AMISH PIE? Yeah, I had that too! After wandering around the Shreve Elementary School where the festivities are held and listening to a couple of great talks from Jim McCormac and Cheryl Harner, I finally made it out for  some bird cruising around the farmland of Shreve.

Wright Marsh is always a great place for duckies and them lil wet birds...I would recommend bringing a scope...or a 1000mm lens if your budget allows. Some days you can get fairly close, this day, not so much. Oh, and when it's like this a flash would be better on your camera and not at home. At least I remembered my rain cover for the camera and lens...I spent the longest time slogging through the muck at Wright, I love that place. There's always something good to see and you never know from year to year. Remember waterproof boots. I'll remember next year...

This year brought the largest quantity of Sandhill Cranes I've ever seen! Probably a dozen on Saturday and another dozen on Sunday! And a few thousand ducks...and Tundra Swans! If you've never been to the Shreve Migration Sensation, look it up next year and make the effort to go. It's a small town and they put a lot of effort into it. It's very inexpensive to attend, only $15 this year. And there's pie.

 Yep,  m r ducks.
LOTS of them!
And that's not dirt on the top of my lens...that's more ducks zooming back and forth.

 There's otters out there...somewhere...I didn't see usual...

 This is why you should never fly below another American Wigeon.
That's gonna leave a mark...

 Canada Geeseseses are loud.
VERY loud.


 Whatever this Downy Woodpecker just ate made his hair stand on end...
Must have been a spicy one...

 This male Hooded Merganser was trying to keep a low profile as he was stalking that female...

 I saw a couple of Horned Grebes during the weekend.
This one even decided to get closer to see what I was doing on the ground.
"Silly man, you should be in the water!"

 ...still no...

 This pair of Sandhill Cranes were walking along the dike at Wright Marsh.

 There were dozens and dozens of my little Song Sparrow buddies singing up a storm.
Hey, maybe that's why it was raining!
 There must be good nom-noms in there!

 So many ducks, so far away...
The noise from the Tundra Swans was amazing to hear!

 The swans almost drowned out the Red-winged Blackbirds...almost...

 There's always an argument when you get that many together...
"We should migrate now! No, tomorrow!...No! NOW!...NO..."

 A few decided to leave...

 Anytime there was any movement, from me, the trains going past, the bald eagle flying over, everyone was up and away...flying in aimless circles, then landing again.

 I also went to Shreve Lake and the area around Funk Bottoms(I love that name!)
This was one of the Sandhill Cranes that zoomed around that day.

 It's always worth your time to check the flooded farm fields.
There were a few Northern Shovelers  on this day, there have been Eurasian Wigeons on other occasions.

 Yes, that's all ice  around there.
These early arrival Tree Swallows had to fly through and look for openings in the ice.

 Funk had dozens of Northern Pintails...and a Great Blue Heron...among the Mallards and Green-winged Teals in the area.

 LOTS of Pintails!

 That's all for now!

I'll see you soon with more birdies...and no otters!