March has turned out to be a very good month and we still have several days left! Thanks to our quick trip to Vegas, my Average Year status is now at 239 (link here) – that includes two local finds yesterday thanks to standing out in a large tree lined meadow waiting for the distinct peent of horny male American Woodcocks (link here – more sad memories). Call me 12, but I still laugh every single time I say or type out that name hehehe. The other +1 was more of a twist as it “found” me. I was just standing there noting it was getting surprisingly chilly as the sun was preparing for bed, when I noticed a fast moving bird heading across the meadow directly at me. Ever witness people just standing there taking it all in as a car or other potentially dangerous object speeds in their direction? This bird just kept coming, I just kept standing there, bird continues to close the gap, I continue to gawk, bird appears to be on a mission, I continue to ponder the history of flight, bird undeterred, I wonder if Ron is standing next to me (birds hate him), bird proceeds to whiz past my right ear and land on a nearby branch, I nearly crap my pants. What the hell was THAT! I turned to give it a stern talking to when I noticed it was a Fox Sparrow. Took a few snaps to get the +1 for the year and politely informed it a Top Gun flyby wasn’t necessary, a friendly wave would have been sufficient. I don’t speak bird, but I think it called me a ground hugging troglodyte and pointed to its wings – sigh.
That puts me a mere 61 birds away from the 300 goal for the year. Hoping to take a huge chunk out of that next week as we are heading down to Dauphin Island (and along the Panhandle) for some migration action. During that time we’ll be bringing you several posts from Brad including an adventure to a place Intrigued has never been before. Actually, Brad also influenced today’s featured post.
Well, since yesterday was all about seeing “Red” at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, figured it was only appropriate to add a companion post next. I have raved about the birding hotspot near Havana ever since Linda and I visited it for the first time many many years ago. We went down there because they had a Northern Shoveler spotted there and at the time I thought it was an extremely rare bird. Since then I have learned that it is a pretty common bird – at least here in the Midwest. Since then Emiquon has continually produced new birds like the Red-Breasted Merganser (see previous post, the Black-Necked Stilt, the Sora and a ton of shorebirds to name a few. This place is truly a gem for birders.
Today I bring you another fairly common inhabitant of the flooded lowlands.
That lovely creature is a male Blue-Winged Teal. You might have been fooled by the title since it is hard to actually see the “blue” element they are named for. They actually have what is referred to as a “slatey-blue” head. I find this feature is difficult to really notice unless the light is just right. What is easy to identify in the field is the thick white line between their bill and eye.
Congratulations, we are in BONUS time this month thanks to getting on top of the posts earlier than usual. I’m off today and relaxing a bit after spending the morning taking down on the exterior Christmas decorations – before you comment that it is a little late for that, I technically had them turned off as of the 12th which is my Christmas is officially over date. The two big snows of the year still have not dissipated much so it was quite the task to get this done – need to get all the extension cords thawed out so they can actually be looped. I also decided to shovel off Serenity (link here) in effort to keep the stress off the span. That was work just getting down and back on the big hills – next time taking the snowboard! Enough bantering, on with the featured bird of the day.
Figured I would go ahead and make another check in the Bird List today thanks to a surprise capture while up at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. This has become one of my favorite parks not only for the multitude of birds shot up there, but the trails are also long and hilly – perfect for the 1/2 marathon training which is usually in flight whenever we get the opportunity to head up there (typically for dog shows). While looking through the bounty from that trip I noticed this image and decided to investigate a little more.
These were taken at one of the back (often mucky) marshes off the main campground road. We always make a point to hit this particular spot since it seems to always have some interesting wildlife hanging out – deer, ducks, snak… umm forget that last part. The wildlife tends to keep at the back edge of the pond making it pretty difficult to get anything beyond bird list shots. These were heavily zoomed in just so you could make out the bird at the cost of quality. The feature that immediately caught my eye was the long white stripe.
Hit the jump to find out what this bird is and read up a little bit on its background.