My Fine Feathered Friend

I’ve got a lot scheduled over the next couple days, so I hope you’ll bear with me while I post some photos today and tomorrow. I promise, they’re good ones.

Red-Tailed Hawk #5

 

Red-Tailed Hawk #4

 

See. I told you. You can see some more awesome birds on my Flickr account.

The Rarities Continue

You can’t keep good birders down.

After a fantastic two days birding, the boys wanted to recuperate by, you guessed it, birding.

On Sunday, we had planned to head out later in the afternoon, but there was a report of a Wilson’s Phalarope at a pond just 30 minutes up the road. This pond is right around the corner from the pond where we were able to view the Black-necked Stilt just a couple weeks ago.

The boys didn’t want to wait, in case the bird was just making a quick stop before heading north. They made a convincing argument, and we were out the door within 15 minutes.

Wilson's Phalarope #1

 

For all you non-birders out there, the Wilson’s Phalarope is the one nearest the center of the image that looks completely different than the other birds in the photo. Yes, the one with the mask.

After a rather uneventful day today, they convinced me that we should double-check to see if the Wilson’s Phalarope was still hanging around the cow farm. Since it’s just up the road, I figured we could make the trip again.

The bird had moved on to greener pastures (hah), but we did get a chance to observe a few different species of sandpipers, a Green Heron that kept flying in and out of the area. We checked all of the other locations we usually do, and we saw this beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk.

Red-Tailed Hawk #1

 

I have several appointments for the remainder of the week, and we probably won’t get a chance to get out much in the next few days, so I hope they got it all out of their system for a bit. I know I did. I need time to recharge and recuperate myself. 😉 Now that’s something you don’t see around here very often!

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Who Needs A Map Anyway?

Have you ever had one of those days? No, not one of those days, but you know, the kind of day where nothing at all goes as planned, but the day turns out better than you had expected?

It all started when I woke up this morning. I felt refreshed, invigorated, and ready to tackle the day. My plan was to finish emptying out the garage so my wife could start turning it into her “studio” this week.

There’s only about 2 hours of work left out there, so I figured I would begin around 2 and end by 4. That’s when the day itself completely turned on end. I received an e-mail at about 1:30 with a rare bird report.

Apparently, there was a Black-Necked Stilt hanging out at a farm pond just 30 minutes north of us. I may have forgotten to tell you this, but the Black-Necked Stilt, until today, was my “goal bird”.

The boys and I, in our bird-watching travels, each pick a bird for our “goal bird”. Meaning, our goal, whether it takes a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime, is to see that bird. Mine just so happened to be the Black-Necked Stilt.

As you can see by the range map, they just don’t venture over toward our neck of the woods too often, so it didn’t take much convincing to pack up the scopes and head to Bartow County.

The Black-Necked Stilt can be found around small ponds, lakeshores, and mudflats. It forages for insects, small fish, tadpoles, and other small food sources. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird, exceeded only by flamingos.

When we arrived at the farm pond on Brandon Farm Road, we saw the bird immediately. We didn’t need our binoculars to spot it, but the view through our scopes was absolutely amazing. The bird was resting on the shore of the pond for about 20 minutes, then it abruptly stood up, waded into the water and began feeding. Another 20 minutes later and it was resting back up on the shore. I never thought we would see this beautiful bird so close to home.

Black-Necked Stilt #4

 

The one thing I have learned, more than anything, since we have been birding, is that range maps are constantly changing. Whether it’s the climate, other enviromental influences, or some ecological puzzle yet to be solved, birds don’t read the range maps before they depart for their destination.

I have more photos on my Flickr page, but remember, we were quite a distance from the Black-Necked Stilt, so the photos are not the best.

We observed the bird for the better part of an hour, then we had to venture back down the road so we could get some other errands done before it got too late.

We ran a few errands and as the sun went down, I started to get a headache. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the day, the pollen in the air, or just fatigue, but regardless of what caused it, I am not going to let a headache ruin an otherwise perfect day.

As I wrap up this post this evening I realize it’s time to choose a new “goal bird”, and I have no idea what I am going to pick this time. Got any ideas?

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A Slow Mover

The weather sure changed quick. From cold and chilly to warm and muggy. What happened to spring? It sure made us move a lot slower today.

I took the boys up to Bartow County to check the sod farm and a couple other places and what do you know, we finally got to see the American Golden Plover, which was a life first for all of us.

We also enjoyed seeing the Greater Yellowlegs, the Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpipers, and some Least Sandpipers.

The best view, however, was this snapping turtle whose head was bigger than my fist.

 

We won’t get a chance to do much birding this week, because I have several projects to get done, but I’m sure we’ll head somewhere next weekend.

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