Spotted Owls

Spotted Owls
adapted from my photo of 2008

Sunday, November 28, 2010

South Dakota critters

Dave and I have gone west and east of Rapid City to see the scenery and, of course, watch birds. Highlights of yesterday's trip to Pierre, SD were Black-legged Kittiwakes, Bald and Golden Eagles, lots of pheasants and Sharp-tailed Grouse, and the lovely views all around, many of the covered with snow. Back here in the apartment the highlight at the bird feeder area was a very tame buck a few minutes ago (in addition to the numerous juncos).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quicky birding in Fort Worth

Zipped over to Memorial Oaks area early this morning, and was amazed to find that I was the only one parked in the parking lot, even by the time I left. Yellow-rumped Warblers ruled, followed by Carolina Chickadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Nothing rare, but it was such a beautiful morning, sunny, in the 50s (it got up to about 67 today). A couple of Wood Ducks were making some ungodly sounds that for a moment I thought were made by owls. I'm not sure what they were up to and I only figured out what they were when they flew off as I approached the stream.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Texas birding

Yesterday morning was a beautiful morning in our yard, but most exciting was the presence of at least three Golden-crowned Kinglets, high in the pecan tree. I don't think I'd ever seen any in my yard. Have you ever tried to photograph kinglets? They never stop moving. I snapped away, mostly getting pictures of browning pecan leaves. I didn't think I'd caught a single one, except for a nondescript belly shot, but I was surprised to see later that I'd actually gotten one in flight.

But I couldn't stay around. I'd planned a short trip to just north of Houston (about 4 hours away) to try to get photos of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers to use to paint from. I took our dog Shar along for company and arrived at W.G. Jones State Forest at about 3:30. I heard and saw numerous Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers, and saw a couple of Downy Woodpeckers, a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker before 4:45, when all of a sudden the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers arrived, squeaking busily and then quickly diving into holes in the pine trees. You had to be quick to get a picture, but I got a few somewhat fuzzy ones. I thought all the pictures were of single birds, but imagine my surprise when a couple of the pictures showed two of the sneaky birds. Although better pictures would have been nice, I decided not to stay around overnight - my home sounded much better than finding a motel, and so I returned home last night. Back to work now, after a quick trip into the car dealer to replace a tail-light that a kind policeman last night pointed out to me was dead.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Report from South Dakota and Texas

Dave has sent me pictures of deer browsing at the weather service (one of quite a few apparently is shown in the picture). Turkeys cross his lawn periodicially (no picture yet), and Dark-eyed Juncos have started eating at the seed that I forced him to put out on the ground. These I believe are the pink-sided ones; I had seen white-winged ones when I was there. Meanwhile, I went out southwest of Fort Worth this morning and got my first Pine Siskins and Golden-crowned Kinglets of the fall (no pictures of them).

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's looking more like winter every day

I finally let myself go birding today, out to Lake Benbrook in southwestern Tarrant Co. (TX)and found 54 species in just under 3 hours. Sparrows were plentiful (Harris's, White-crowned, Song, Vesper, Savannah, Lincoln's, Fox), as were Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and American Pipits. Just one Brown Creeper was heard and then finally seen. Waterbirds were more limited - American Coots, Mallards, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal. The only gulls that I saw were Ring-billed, and there were also Forster's Terns out on the water. Probably the best bird was a Bald Eagle diving at coots near the shore. I tried to get a picture when it was close, but only succeeded in getting it focused just before the eagle disappeared around a bend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Driving, driving

Today reminded me a lot of my 2008 big year of birding. Driving, driving toward a goal, paying attention to the birds somewhat as I fly by, but mostly intent on the distant goal. This trip the goal is home, and I'll be there tomorrow. Today I drove about 730 miles across South Dakota, Nebraska and most of Kansas. Tomorrow out of Kansas, to Oklahoma and then Texas. I did not take this route in 2008, but I did quite a few days with similar single-mindedness. It was good to have our dog Shar along for company today. She's an amazing traveler, able to doze curled up on the passenger seat for mile after mile, only periodically rousing herself to look around, paw at me, and then circle around and curl up again. Of course she's always most eager to get out as soon as I slow down a bit from highway speed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

South Dakota birding

Finally I have Internet access here in Dave's new apartment in Rapid City. We've been buying stuff to get his apartment to feel a bit more like home, and we've been out birding to Canyon Lake Park here in the city, which now has many many Canada Geese, about 7 species of ducks, nuthatches, and chickadees. The birding highlight of this trip, however, is, hands-down, the Sharp-tailed Grouse that feed both morning and night on the football field about 1/2 a block from his apartment. I only found out about it after I followed a big fat grouse-shaped bird that I could see (from his living room windos) flying over a field down the hill from his apartment. Wonderful and unexpected in town!

gold parties