Nothing but National Geographic quality photos
Birds and critters that pose like professional models
Yet another article about how Whooping cranes had a good breeding summer
North America’s imperilled whooping crane population — which had experts in a panic just 18 months ago after nearly 10% of the giant birds died in their wintering grounds in Texas — has rebounded after a banner summer season in Northern Canada where a near-record number of chicks were born.
The unexpected resurgence of the last surviving natural flock of the continent’s tallest bird — one of Canada’s most endangered species — has wildlife officials on the Gulf Coast in Texas excitedly awaiting this fall’s arrival of the cranes after their epic, annual flight south from Wood Buffalo National Park along the Alberta-Northwest Territories border.
“With 46 chicks fledging from a record 74 nests in August 2010, the flock size should reach record levels this fall, expected somewhere around 290,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Tom Stehn states in the latest status report on the species.
The 2010 baby boom has been attributed to ideal water conditions in Wood Buffalo, where the cranes are highly protected and carefully monitored during their annual summer stay.
This year, a number of birds was also captured and fitted with satellite tags to allow better tracking of the flock in the coming years. Individual birds can live longer than two decades.
Things are looking up for the endangered whooping crane. The bird made news two years ago when a record number of crane deaths were reported during drought conditions on the Texas coast. But according to state and federal biologists, flock numbers have rebounded, and a new record high number of cranes should start arriving on the Texas coast later this month.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Tom Stehn, the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population of whooping cranes rebounded to 264 in the winter of 2009-10, back from 247 at the end of the 2008-09 winter. With 46 chicks fledging from a record 74 nests in August 2010 the flock size should reach record levels this fall — expected to be somewhere around 290. Once numbering only 21 birds on earth, the previous population high was 270 in the fall of 2009.
...nine whooper chicks now sport high-tech bling thanks to the work of two avian scientists from The Crane Trust, a conservation organization headquartered on the Platte River near Alda.
And the project marks the first time in 22 years whooping cranes have been banded on their breeding grounds in the Northwest Territories.
The global positioning system transmitters will allow biologists to track the endangered birds as they migrate up and down the continent, revealing new information about where whoopers roost, rest and, more importantly, die.
Researchers know little about the causes of premature death for a species that can live 30 years in the wild. About 80 percent of annual crane mortality occurs during the 2,500-mile spring and fall migrations.
Plans are what you make until you know what you have done. I was supposed to be in Seattle now, and at a family wedding on Saturday. Miz Winnie had a kerfuffle with other dogs in Dickinson, and so I decided not to go to Seattle where she would be exposed to other dogs, and potential other kerfuffles. She was, at some point before I got her from the rescue group traumatized by other dogs. Thought we were at the point were we might be past that, but, well we aren't. Going to try to find some professional help in solving this problem...
Anyway, I was flipping through the photos that I took on our travels and realized that I had not posted this photo from Fort Niobrara NWR.
It's a just out of the nest Eastern phoebe. There was at least one nestling still in the nest that the mother was feeding.
Isn't he/she cute?
I was sitting at the computer going through todays photos, and I looked out the motel window and saw a rainbow. Quickly took a couple of photos through the window. Then decided that wasn't going to cut it, so I quickly leashed up Miz W, and headed outside.
Don't have a lot to show for the last couple of days. Spent part of Thursday and Friday at Bowdoin NWR in Montana. Weather and lighting were not particularly cooperative.
Stopped by Ilo NWR Saturday.
This Willet chattered at me as I photographed him.
This Upland sandpiper was posing nicely and I was firing away with the camera when I heard a big pickup approaching. I was mumbling under my breath to myself about it as he passed by. After he was gone and I was looking at the photos I had just taken, I mumbled, thanks pickup guy, you just got me a nice one.
Spent the day, well, I guess I should say yesterday, since it's after midnight, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is an absolutely awesome place. Most of my photos were of scenery and various mammals. Will be here a couple more days and then am heading to spots where the main focus will be birds.
A couple of posts down, I posted what I called a halfway decent photo of a Lark sparrow. Got a far better one yesterday.
Have been in Wall, South Dakota since Monday. Have spent a portion of every day since in Badlands National Park. I have been to the Badlands twice before. Once when I was a teenager, and then the first or second year after I moved to Nebraska. I do not remember being as awestruck by the beauty then. My photos of the Badlands are here.
I have also spent some of my time in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. The grasslands are south of the national park. The grasslands are where these photos were taken.
I spent part of my day today at Ft. Niobrara NWR. Early in the day it was extremely windy and the blowing sand was getting on everything...me and the camera gear. Birds were singing in areas, but they weren't showing themselves at all. Frustrated, I went back to the motel. Went back in the early evening and things were much pleasant.
Lady luck was with me this morning. Made a real quick trip up to Branched Oak Lake to see if I could find the Scissor-tailed flycatcher. It appears that she may be building a nest, as she was gathering nesting material. My photo isn't particularly good, but it does show her with nesting material. (Photo is cropped)
Have been busy with the other stuff that fills one's life and haven't been getting out and about much of late. Did head out to Branched Oak Lake yesterday. There had been a couple of reports that a Scissor-tailed flycather had been seen there, so thought I might get lucky and find it too. Well, luck wasn't on my side yesterday. Maybe another day.
I went down to Squaw Creek NWR yesterday. There were lots of birds out and about in their breeding finery. I'll be posting more pictures in the next few days.
This guy, like all Green herons was really skittish, and he didn't hang around to pose for very long.
Have been having provider and computer issues. Think they are resolved now. Took these photos a couple of days ago. From the appearance of the "baby bird", I'm guessing it hadn't been hatched for very long. There were a couple of the little ones, and boy could they move, though one still had kind of wobbly legs.
Went up to Branched Oak Lake today and a couple of summer residents and one migrant chose to pose.
The summer residents:
Finally, some decent bird photos taken in Nebraska!
When I first saw this guy, I thought, oh, a Red-tailed hawk. Then as I got closer, I realized nope, an Osprey. Just as I got my camera lined up, he decided he wasn't in the mood for posing.