Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Exotic Bird

I've come to the conclusion that someone on the road that runs south and north along the west side of Branched Oak Lake must raise exotic birds. On September 12 I saw three Helmeted Guinea Fowls. On September 24 I saw four Chukars in the park in an area that would have been more or less directly east of where I saw the guinea fowls.

Today, I saw this lone Common Peafowl

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Isn't he/she pretty?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stuff From Other Blogs

There's a gal from the San Francisco area that often posts a birding diary on Daily Kos on Saturday mornings. This morning's diary was about birds returning to burned out areas after a wildfire such as we had in Southern California. The first returnees are

For a little while, the only avian visitors to the fire zone (and mostly the fringes, at that) will be the scavengers... vultures, some hawks, some corvids... In the hottest zones, there won’t be enough for even those guys to get by. But at the edges of the fire, there will be animals who were overcome by smoke or heat, but did not burn. The scavengers – avian, insect and mammalian – will feast. Soon thereafter, the animals that managed to survive in the fire zone will emerge, but they’ll have no cover and will make an easy meal for the predators moving back in. (Watch an agricultural burn someday – the fields are fringed with hawks waiting to pounce on the suddenly exposed rodents.)

The entire process is interesting and is well worth a read.

Another interesting tidbit was that a birdbander captured a Eurasian Kestral in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this week. It was the first recorded naturally occuring Eurasian Kestrel in California His pictures of the Kestrel are here.

Way down in the comments one of the commenters noted the wildfire damage to the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Hopper Mountain is the home of the California Condor recovery program.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An Osprey

After taking the pictures I posted last night, I headed off to Branched Oak Lake.

There has been an Osprey hanging around for about the last week. He graciously posed for me

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Monday, October 22, 2007

I Hit A Jackpot Today

Went to a lake today that isn't a part of the state system and got some really nice (I think) photos.

First up is a White-crowned Sparrow

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An immature White-crowned Sparrow

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A Harris's Sparrow

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A Song Sparrow

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A female Northern Cardinal

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And last but not least a Spotted Towhee

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

All's Well That Ends Well

Last night while the dawg was out for her evening constitutional, I decided to step out on the deck to see what I could see or hear. The potted plants on the deck are long past their prime, but I have left them thinking that the birds might enjoy what is left.

Much to my surprise a sparrow of some sort (probably a female House Sparrow) flew out of the foliage and through the open slider right into my dining/living room. While the bird bounced off the walls and ceiling, I pondered how to help it get back outside where it belongs. So every time it lit I rattled a newspaper and off it would fly. When it flew into the kitchen, I went and opened the door to the garage.

(The dawg has a dog door out the kitchen door into the garage, and another dog door out the side door of the garage into the back door.)

At just the moment the dawg came into the kitchen, the sparrow flew over her head out into the garage. Fortunately the dawg could care less about birds and was unfazed by a bird flying over her head. I quickly closed the dog door and went out into the garage. I stood there for a moment watching the sparrow, then opened the garage door. Instead of flying out through the open door the sparrow flew between the open garage door and the ceiling of the garage and lit on the open garage door close to the outside wall.

I stood there for a few moments pondering what to do next. I decided if I closed the garage door one of three things would happen. The sparrow would be pushed outside and our mutual adventure would be over, or it would fly back into the garage, or worst of all the little gal would get squished by the closing door. I decided the latter was highly unlikely. Soooo, I pushed the button to close the door. For a moment it looked like the sparrow would fly back into the garage, but then made the best choice and flew to freedom.

I hope the little gal found herself a nice roost and slept well the rest of the night!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Winter Finch Forecast

In my meanderings around the tubz and birding blogs specifically, I have noticed many comments that folks are seeing an unusual number of Red-breasted Nuthatches. I have also seen a couple of posts about Pine Siskins being seen in greater numbers.

On Sunday, a poster on the Nebraska bird hot-line posted a link to a Winter Finch Forecast published by the Ontario Field Ornithologists. A small portion of their report

Most coniferous and deciduous trees have very poor seed crops in much of Ontario and western Quebec.


...winter finches such as Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Purple Finches and redpolls are irrupting or will irrupt southward out of northern Ontario. See individual species accounts for details. In addition I comment on other irruptive passerines, such as the Red-breasted Nuthatch, whose movements are linked to cone crops.

They also include predictions on Red Crossbills, White-winged Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Bohemian Waxwings, Blue Jays, Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees, and Northern Owls.

It may portend interesting birdwatching for many this winter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Only Bird I Saw Today.....

Well...not really, but it's the only photograph I took today

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area

There are a plethora of websites for Cheyenne Bottoms. One of them begins:

"All wildlife watchers should make an annual pilgrimage to Cheyenne Bottoms…" say Bob Gress and George Potts, authors of Watching Kansas Wildlife.

While it has been several years since I visited Cheyenne Bottoms, I can hardly disagree with that statement.

More from the same site:

Cheyenne Bottoms is a 41,000-acre lowland located six miles northeast of Great Bend, Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks operates 19,857 acres as a wildlife management area. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 7,300 acres adjacent to Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.

For the most part, the roads through the area are atop the dikes that separate the area, so you look down into the water at the birds.

Other websites are here, here, and here. Some photographs of the area are here.

I saw what is most likely to have been a White-faced Ibis, though it took me awhile to settle on that. This is a cropped photo

A white faced is supposed to have a white and red face and red eyes. The Glossy Ibis has a brown face and brown eyes. However, in non-breeding plumage they both have brown eyes. Since a glossy is not supposed to be in Kansas, I have to go with white-faced. I did really hope it was a glossy, as that would have been a lifer for me.

My Cheyenne Bottoms photos are here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Quivira NWR

A few words about Quivira NWR tonight. Quivira is located about 35 miles southeast of Great Bend, Kansas.

The name of the refuge comes from a Native American tribe that lived in the area. It is a major stopover point for northward and southward migrations for thousands of bird.

From the Quivira NWR website

As part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities for wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation and hunting, and fishing. Bird watching and wildlife viewing opportunities abound at Quivira NWR. Quivira NWR has two large salt marshes, and both are excellent places to look for birds such as mallards, wood ducks, pintails, white pelicans, shorebirds and more. Additionally, bobcats, coyotes, and other mammals are often seen lurking about during the heat of the afternoon. For a wonderful wildlife opportunity, Quivira offers an experience you won't find anywhere else in Kansas.

I was a bit late for the shorebirds, though there were some around, and a little early for great numbers of waterfowl. In the two days I was there I did see a difference in the number of birds. On Wednesday I didn't see any gulls, Thurdsay there was a good number of gulls. Would love to go again in a couple of weeks. Will have to see....

Was suprised to see some Greater White-fronted Geese mixed in amongst the Canada Geese

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All of the Quivira photos I took are here.

I'll do a post on Cheyenne Bottoms tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Day Two at Quivira NWR and Cheyenne WA

I'm tired just a few of my favorite photos from today and yesterday

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning. This was taken just west of Quivira

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There were lots of Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and a few Cattle Egrets at Quivira. I really like this photo of a Cattle Egret

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This is, I believe, a Least Sandpiper

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Took this photo of a Western Grebe at Cheyenne Bottoms

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Heading home tomorrow, whether I want to or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Quivira NWR and Cheyenne Bottoms WA

I am in Kansas tonight. Spent a good part of the day at Quivira NWR, and the remainder at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.

Saw a really neat sign there

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Quivira photos for the day are here.

Cheyenne Bottoms photos are here.

More on the trip tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Gull's Misadventure

This afternoon I was sitting here fuming because I had hoped to go out to Branched Oak Lake, but instead was waiting for several return calls. It finally dawned in on me that the reason you have a cell phone is so you don't have to sit at home waiting for phone calls. The dawg gave me a woeful look when it was obvious I was getting ready to go yet again. She has been left home alone far too much, far too often in recent days, and she has been letting me know in the ways that dawgs do that she isn't pleased. So I took her along.

It was a very windy afternoon and once we were on our way I wasn't really sure how good the birding would be because of the wind, but on we went.

I had been sitting in one area for awhile. There was a small group of Canada Geese, a couple of Killdeer, and lots and lots of gulls. The gulls were mainly in the air, but there were some bobbing on the lake. I had the scope on the window mount to check out the ones on the lake. I was alternately looking through that and through the binoculars at the ones in the air hoping to find a Sabine's Gull. The reports on the Nebraska birdline have been of juveniles. I decided to move on and as I flipped a u-turn in the parking lot I saw a gull walking along. At first I thought I had my Sabine's, but alas it was not to be!

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I think it is either a Herring or Ring-billed Gull.

The gull continued to walk for quite a stretch, which I thought was a bit strange. After I got a few photos, I studied it through first the binoculars and then the scope. I determined it wasn't a Sabine's. Eventually it mixed with some other gulls that had just landed on the shoreline near the Canada Geese. All of a sudden the geese and other gulls scattered and my gull of interest was left by him/herself. About that time the dawg decided she wanted a drink of water, so my attention was diverted briefly. When I looked back, it looked,to the bare eye, like the bird was trying to fly, but having difficulty getting out of the shallow water. When I looked through the scope I realized that I was witnessing a murder! A Peregrine Falcon had the gull in its clutches and the gull was probably already a goner by the time I looked through the scope.

I am not usually a fan of the survival of the fittest thing. But I sat there absolutely mesmerized watching through the scope. Kind of gruesome, but the wind was blowing the feathers as the falcon plucked them. I found it interesting that the geese that had scattered, wandered back near the falcon with it's meal and so did the Killdeer. I guess once you are out of danger there's no need to be shy.