Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14

I had a blast today at the Bird Preserve. Today was the Great Backyard Bird Count, and my friend Lupe and I spent the day counting birds. We teamed up for our GBBC count and came up with 43 species between the two of us. I had 37 species for the day with 3 "new" species for the year. I have been looking for American Wigeons for the last month and a half, and today I finally found one on Pond 9 (the rest of them are mooching bread at Sunset Park in the pond with the Redheads).

My first American Wigeon of the year at the BVP.

Then I found this very accomodating Ruby-crowned Kinglet. He let me get pretty close and take several pictures. I think his eye is kind of freaky-looking in this picture, the angle and the white eye-ring make it look unnaturally large to me. But I bet he looks even freakier to the little bugs he was eating.
A Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

About this time I started hearing that people had seen Virginia Rails on Pond 1 and Pond 3. So I started to look for them. No luck. But later that afternoon, Lupe tipped me off to one on the peninsula on Pond 7. I was on the path above that pond and on a higher elevation and it let me watch it for several minutes while it fed along the shore. I wasn't very close so this next picture is blown up quite a bit on the computer.

This was one of several Virginia Rails sightings today at the preserve.

After I picked up the rail, I decided to make one last run by Pond 9. As I was heading back in, I saw some movement in the corner of Pond 6. There is a little bit of beach there in the corner and I saw a Sora feeding in the water. I was only 20 feet or so away but it didn't seem to mind me watching.

A Sora feeding in Pond 6.

As I was watching it feed in the water ANOTHER Sora came out about 15 feet further down. It stuck to the reeds. As I was watching the two Soras, a couple from Salt Lake came over to see what I was watching, and as I was pointing out the Sora, another Virginia Rail came out of the reeds briefly. We continued to watch the first Sora for several minutes, and during that time in that same little corner, we saw a Greater Yellowlegs, a Bewick's Wren, a Song Sparrow, and a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. I had apparently stumbled on the busiest spot in the preserve. I was really excited to have seen 2 Virginia Rails, and 2 Soras in such a short space of time. Combined with the American Coots and the Common Moorhens I saw today, I saw every Rail, Gallinule, and Coot on the preserve's checklist today.

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