Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 14

I saw 35 species total and three "new" species Saturday: a Yellow-headed Blackbird on Pond 9, several groups of Savannah Sparrows, and a very scruffy juvenile Barn Swallow on the wires above the visitor's center. It was a beautiful sunny day and spring was in the air. All around the preserve you can see nest building and birds trying to attract a mate or pairing off.

This is the scruffiest looking Barn Swallow that I've ever seen. But I was excited to see it, because it was my first of the year. From the length of the tail, I'd say it is a juvenile.

A Tree Swallow. Kind of funny that it is sitting on wire and not in a tree.

This American Coot was precariously perched in a tree about 10 feet above the water. I watched it for a few moments hoping that, coots being coots, it might fall into the pond. No luck there.

The male Cinnamon Teals are absolutely brilliant. I caught this guy mid-splash.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 7

A male Ruddy Duck on Pond 1.

I did not have a lot of time to bird on Saturday, literally just minutes. So I didn't find any new species or even keep track of how many species I saw (too bad, because I heard people were seeing snipe and spotted sandpipers). But I did see my first blue-billed Ruddy Duck of the season. He was even displaying and slapping his chin on the water. Duck love is in the air.

Verdin's nest near visitor's center after 3 weeks of construction.

I also checked on the Verdin's nest and it looks like they've done some more building. I didn't see any Verdin working on the nest.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February 28

An American Avocet in Pond 7.

It's funny that you never really know what to expect when you go bird watching. I was thinking that I'd have a hard time adding any new species today after the last couple of weeks, but I had a great day, and I saw 39 species and had 6 "new" species: American Avocets, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Long-billed Dowitcher, a Common Raven, Violet-green Swallows, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. The avocets were the first recorded this year at the Bird Preserve, and it is still early enough in the year that one of them had a white and gray head, instead of the peachy head that we usually see at the preserve. (The other one was just turning peachy. That's a very technical term for their breeding plumage, ha ha.) In the afternoon, the avocets, the dowitcher, and the semipalmated sandpiper were all feeding on the shallow end of Pond 7. (I have to say thanks to my friends Randy and Babette and Randy's big camera, because without them the sandpiper would have gone down as an unidentified peep. He didn't stick around long enough for me to get more than one look.)

A Violet-green Swallow taking a break.

I also got my best looks ever at Violet-green Swallows. About a half dozen of them were flying around the visitors center and landing on the wires. (It's much easier to see them when they are holding still!) This isn't a great angle on my photo, but you can see the white above the eye, and the green on his back.

This big old turtle was hauled out on a rock in Pond 7 enjoying the sunshine.

Three male Great-tailed Grackles displaying.

Great-tailed Grackles displaying.

Spring must have been in the air. The Marsh Wrens were singing and chasing each other around and the Great-tailed Grackles were displaying and making a huge racket on Pond 9. Great-tailed Grackles are really kind of considered pests, but I think the males can be very pretty, and they have interesting behaviors to watch. When the males show off for the females they stretch their necks out and point their bills up in the air. There was a large group displaying Saturday on Pond 9. I think this photo is hilarious, those five males are just doing their best, and the female they were performing for is like, "that's nice, boys" and walks off and ignores them.