Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Hawk

Yesterday and today were gorgeous fall days, and it was a delight to be out and about.

The instructor of the first birding class I took told us that 99% of the hawks that we would see would be Red-tailed Hawks. Somehow that gave me a mindset that there was no need to learn how to differentiate hawks. I have figured out some of the obvious ones, but other times they just baffle me.

All that said here are a couple of photos of a hawk that is most likely a Red-tailed

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Monday, September 24, 2007

A Neat Day

When I went out to pick up the paper this morning it was warm, muggy and breezy. My reaction was maybe I'll be lazy and not go out this morning. Started to read the paper, and said to self, get yourself out of the chair, you can be lazy in January when it's snowing. So off I went. Decided to go to Branched Oak Lake because I haven't spent much time there lately.

Saw a bunch of Great Egrets and got some nice photos of them. There were oodles of Ring-billed Gulls, and Franklin's Gulls. Talked to a guy who said there had been some Sabine's Gulls seen there last evening. I don't believe I saw them. The gulls that I deemed to be Franklin's all had a white ring around the eye, and according to all my books, the Sabine's doesn't that white ring. I proceded on, leaving him to his search. And boy did I hit a jackpot!

When the first of these guys darted out of the undergrowth I thought it was a Northern Bobwhite. Then I realized that guy isn't a Bobwhite.

I present a Chukar

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Another shot

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There were four of them together

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According to the range maps in all my birding books, these guys aren't normally in Nebraska. However, Sibley's says:

Chukars are released regularly in all states for hunting and other purposes, so are frequently seen outside of the mapped range.

I went back to see if the guy I had talked to had found a Sabine's and to tell him about the Chukars. Couldn't find him and there weren't many gulls around by that time.

Can you guess what I will use as motivation the next time I'm feeling lazy? Yuppers, I will remind myself of the Chukars.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall Colors...

a day before the official beginning of fall.

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Photo taken at Twin Lakes WMA

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Power Bird

Your Power Bird is an Eagle

You are spiritual and able to soar to great heights.
You are a true inspiration, and many people look to you for guidance.
And you are quite demanding in relationships... but you're worth it.
People know that you will become even greater than you imagine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Was Able to Play This Morning.....

albeit briefly.

I dawdled over my coffee and didn't get rolling as early as I should have.

Among other things the doctor ordered yesterday for my mother was some physical therapy. A year ago she could walk with the assistance of a walker. Today, she cannot get herself out of a chair without assistance, and goes, even the shortest distance in a wheel chair. Anyhooo, the Physical Therapist called a couple of minutes after eight. From the conversation, I could tell that she expected me to be there during her evaluation meeting this morning. After the phone call I put my head on the steering wheel of the car and mumbled about how the fates were against me this week.

My new lens is awesome. It's heavier than the old cheapie, but it focuses so nice, and in spite of the person behind the camera takes some really nice photos.

First up is a Dogday Cicada. Isn't he ugly?

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Then there is this Banded Garden Spider

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I just love this photo of a dewy Aster

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stuff From Other Blogs

Still had some whine left over after last nights post, so I had some cheese and crackers with the remainder....

Most evenings I take a tour through some other birding blogs out there on the innertubz. Thought I would note some that I found interesting this evening.

Search and Serendipity has a post about damage to High Island wrought by Hurricane Humberto. He has links to pictures and additional information. Laura's Birding Blog also has information and links.

Born Again Bird Watcher has a post about an interactive on-line game called Mission: Migration. He says the following

The game is easy to learn how to play but challenging to win. In the process, the player learns a tremendous amount about just what birds endure each Spring and Autumn during their migratory journeys. Teachers from elementary school through university level could (and should) incorporate this game into their relevant lessons for all students would certainly find the experience both interesting as well as entertaining - the two key elements for the long-term retention of information. Adults should play it as well for the very same reason

I played the game, it's fun, and it is educational.

One of the things I decided when I started this blog was that I would not address politics. There are a gazillion blogs that do that, and do it far better than I could ever hope to. I debated with myself whether to add this link, and decided that since it involves legislation that affects birding, its not really wandering too far over into the political world. Wildbird on the Fly says the following:

Two bills being considered by Congress -- H.R. 2757 and S. 1641, both named the Wetlands Loan Act -- could secure a loan of $400 million to buy wetlands and grasslands for the National Wildlife Refuge System during the next 10 years.

If you consider the conservation of wetlands and grasslands important, consider contacting your senators and representatives and sharing your views.

Speak up. Help the birds.

The weather report looks good for tomorrow morning. Hopefully, I will be out playing tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Wanna Play With My New Toy!

When I took an early retirement several years ago I thought that I would have unlimited time to play and do what I wanted to whenever I wanted to.

Last week I concluded that the cheapie macro lens that I bought a number of years ago was going the way of all old cheapie stuff. So I did some research and decided that it would be best to buy a Canon macro. It was pricier than other options. I have a birthday coming up soon and I never got around to buying something for myself last year, so I checked the balance of the checking account and decided to go for it. Buying it locally wasn't an option, so I ordered it online. Sunday I received a call from UPS that I had to sign for it, so someone had to be here. So yesterday was spent waiting. After UPS delivered it, it was too late and much too windy to go out and play with my new toy. Today it was rainy and windy. Tomorrow I have to accompany my mother to medical tests. So it will be Thursday before I can play with the new toy.

Bbbbuuut I'm retired...I should be able to play at will....NOT!

In the meantime, a couple of photos of a Dingy Cutworm Moth that I took last week

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Photos taken at Pawnee Lake SRA

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More Squaw Creek Photos

Two Turkey Vultures and a Great Blue Heron perched in a tree

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Then they were "attacked" by a small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds

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The Turkey Vultures flew away, and the Great Blue Heron is now standing and alert

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Glad...

that Benjamin Franklin did not prevail when he thought the Turkey should be the National Bird.

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There is a nesting pair of Bald Eagles at Squaw Creek NWR. There are presently two nests on the refuge. This is one of them

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The other one is quite a distance from the road and hard to see when there is foliage on the trees. I stopped by the Visitors Center and asked about the nests. The volunteer (bless all volunteers, they perform so many needed services) said there is only one nesting pair. He said that there had been three nests, but the third got blown down in a storm a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the eaglets had not fledged and they didn't make it. He was unsure which nest the eagles used this year, but two eaglets did fledge this year.

All the photos I took the past three days at Squaw Creek NWR can be found here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day Two At Squaw Creek

It was a lovely coolish September day.

I got a decent photo of the Little Blue Heron

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And several nice photos of a Double-crested Cormorant

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And a neat photo of an Osprey

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All the photos taken can be found here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Was In Three States Today...

I have been checking the site for Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge for the last several weeks for the waterfowl surveys and the shorebird surveys. Yesterday afternoon it became apparent that the trip I had hoped to take next week was not going to be possible. At this point, my mother's health tests take priority over my gallivanting. So I decided spur of the moment to give myself a booby prize. And so here I am in St. Joseph, Missouri. To get here, one has to pass through Iowa, hence the title of this post.

I couldn't leave until late afternoon. I made one quick pass through Squaw Creek this afternoon. I saw lots of Great Blue Herons

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And lots of Pied-bill Grebes

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And I got a new life bird today. A Little Blue Heron. Took one really awful photo. Hopefully next time I see one, I'll get a better photo

More photos to come tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Good Birding Day!

The title says it! Finally, for a change, I had a good birding day!

Saw and heard lots of Gray Catbirds

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And then there's this little guy

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There were lots of gulls, including this guy which I think is a Franklin's Gull

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Also saw Pelicans, Double Crested Cormorants and my first Pied-billed Grebe of the fall season.

Then there was this guy

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So what is it? There were actually three of them, together. They were grazing along the side of the road. They seemed quite tame. They were moving along at a pretty good clip. I stopped the car, and watched them for a bit. I started the car and they paid me no attention. I backed up, to try to get an angle for a photo, they paid me no attention. Most wild critters would have bolted when I started the car up, to say nothing of backing up...So what is it?

Some of the photos were taken at Branched Oak Lake

UPDATE: Thanks to Cogresha for identifying my mystery bird as a Helmeted Guinea Fowl. He provided this site as verification, and for more information about the bird.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Spider

Sunday I posted a picture of the yellow form of the White-banded Crab Spider. Today I took a picture of the white form.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Yellow Spiders

A Goldenrod Crab Spider

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A White-banded Crab Spider

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A Yellow Garden Spider

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UPDATE: August 15, 2010
Recently several people have clicked through to the larger images of the above photos and have left messages regarding whether one or the other of these spiders are poisonous if they bite.

I'm an amateur photographer. I'm not a biologist, a spiderologist or whatever those who study spiders are called. I most certainly am not a doctor, or member of the medical profession.

The best I can do is refer you here. None of these spiders seem to appear in this article. However, for goodness sakes, if you have been bitten by one of them, call or visit a medical facility immediately.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Change of Pace From Butterflies!

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I have no idea what kind of fungi these are...but I thought they were kind of neat