Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ever Had A Really Great Day?!

Every now and then you have one of those really fantastic days, and today, the mojo was in full force. My digiscoping efforts, while not what I had hoped for were much improved so that is a positive. It is a learning process and at least I am taking leaps forward versus steps back.

My first birding stop was productive and where I spent about an hour practicing. Eastern Meadowlarks, Barn Swallows, a male and female Blue Grosbeak and the Bobolinks.

Left that location and went on to the park. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-Eyed Vireo (note the cool white eye), Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Buntings and a wonderful flyover by some Red-Shouldered Hawks taking food back to the nest. One hawk circled over as if to say look what I have. The photo of the hawks is a series of four shots as it came by, circled and departed. The creature dangling is a frog.

Weather was perfect. After coming home, cut the grass and worked in the yard for a while then took Ali-girl for a long walk. She is sacked out tonight and I am not far behind her. A shower and tick check is a must. I have already pulled five off today.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fly By

I took a day of leave today to combine with my Monday off for a four day weekend. Weather is suppose to be wonderful. My intentions were to get up early and head out however, things did not go as planned. I hoped to arrive early and attempt to photograph some Boblinks but arrived too late. I missed more good shots today that I got but saw some nice things.

My intent was to spend some time practicing digiscoping for tomorrow. I have been frustrated with my attempts and finally joined an online group and have been practicing some recommendations received from the group. I must say, there has been a big improvement this week which makes me happy.

My plans tonight are to make sure all lenses are crystal clean, camera battery charged and everything is packed and checked for in the morning. There was so much "fluff" for lack of a better word flying in the air today most of my shots had little specks.

As I was leaving the park crossing the bridge over the pond, a Great Blue Heron flew so close I could not even adjust the camera quickly enough. When one is that close, you realize what huge birds they truely are.

My hopes for tomorrow are the Boblinks, Indigo Buntings, White Eyed Vireo and a Kentucky Warbler I spotted today.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Birding At Home

The morning started out with a light drizzle and fog and between having a presentation to work on for a bluebird society meeting where I have been invited to present and gas prices sky high, at home it was today.

Late this afternoon the sun came out and it was beautiful. I will splurge tomorrow on a birding outing. I did have another purpose for staying home particularly once the sun came out. For the last couple of days, a Great Crested Flycatcher has been hanging around and as I am typing hear it has come back and is sitting out calling.

As they are only migratory birds in this area, it is exciting when one takes up residence for the summer. After a couple of days of listening to it but never quite being able to get a good look, this afternoon was it. When I finally spotted it, I also happened to notice another unfamiliar bird. I have heard its call the last couple of afternoons also and unfortunately, it flew so quickly I only got tail feathers. Well, just a challenge for another afternoon.

A bluebird that is nesting in a box up the street flew down to hunt insects in the sinking sunlight of the day. The birds hit the trees in front of the house as they catch the last rays.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Catching Up

The last two weeks have been an absolute blur. High stress work, deep heartache over the loss of a loved one to someone I work with, a severe injury to my Aunt and then to top it all off, a much to close call with a tornado has been just about all I can stand for a while. I have spent the last two afternoons picking up limb after limb. Hail mostly destroyed all the flowers I had put out so I will have to start over on those.

I am thankful though because many people their homes and possessions and not sure of the number now, but quite a few, their lives. Less than two miles from where I live, a swath of trees looks like some hacked them off half way down and many building destroyed.

After finally getting the yard back in some reasonable order, I took the morning to go to the park/refuge. Crying shame. Many large trees down there too but mostly confined to one trail.

As I was leaving, I stopped to watch some Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and almost did not see what was before my eyes. Delighted to see that the hummingbirds have arrived.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Wildlife

I was looking forward to the weekend but Mother Nature had weather plans of her own that put a serious damper on mine. I know we needed the rain, but enough! If April showers bring May flowers, it will be a bumper crops. Several bad storms over the last couple of days have taken a toll. I have a tree down in the yard that did some damage and took my phone line down for a couple of days.

I was able to get out a little while yesterday morning before more rain came back in. I was the first car through the gate at the refuge I visit and drove very slowly down the drive. Off in the field beside the drive I spotted movement and stopped the car. A fox was chasing and pouncing on something. I never could see what it was after but I suppose a mouse.

This morning I hoped for a little nicer weather but it was still overcast and cloudy. Makes birding difficult and with leaves now coming on the trees, even more so. As I was watching a heron fly off, I noticed movement in the water. The beaver was making an appearance. It would swim over to a patch of water lillys then dive down. Not sure if it was just chewing the stems off of completely pulling or digging them up. With prize in tow, it would then go to shallow water to have a nice bit of morning breakfast. After several trips, it finally came on shore and waddled off to the back side of the little island.

Monday, April 4, 2011

American Goldfinches

Gone are the muted colors of winter for the male GF's. There is not much of a change in the female coloration. The tree was filled with finches going from branch to branch. Not sure if they were looking for insects attracted to the sap of the budding leaves or eating seeds from the buds.

I had hoped to get a little digiscoping practice in today however the wind gusts were simply too great. The birds were not quite as active as hoped for. I have noticed that when the wind is very strong they seem to take refuge among the brush. Until another day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Great Birding Morning

I was pulled to work the 3-11 shift for the weekend which I dreaded because my normal hours are 6-3 but decided it was the lesser of two busy weekends.

I wasn't sure I would feel like getting up early to go birding this morning knowing I had to go in at 3 but decided with the beautiful weather, yes and it turned out to be a fantastic day.

On a couple of occasions over the last 2-3 weeks when going to my favorite haunt, I had spotted a bird I didn't readily recognize but with traffic was unable to stop. This morning early I headed out with the intention to take a couple of side stops and there it was. I went to a turn around and came back up just knowing the bird would be gone but there it was. I eased out of the car grabbing the camera and grabbed some shots. I knew it was not a bird normally seen in the are but still unsure at this point what it was.

When I arrived at my destination I grabbed the bird book and started looking. My friend punch it in on the ipad and there it was. A Scissor-tailed flycatcher. They are not normally in the area and are more towards Texas and Oklahoma. What a thrill. So this constitutes a rare bird in this area.

Day continued with a Yellow Palm Warbler and several other good shots. I am just getting home and wanted to make a post but it is off to bed now. I have tomorrow off and plan to head out early. Weather is suppose to be beautiful so I hope for good birding.