Monday, April 30, 2012

Tennessee Rest Area

We stopped off at a beautiful Tennessee rest area yesterday to go birding. Simon had thought he had seen tanagers here before; hoped to add those to the list. It was pretty hot out with no wind. The first bird we came across was singing and perched high up in the trees. Took a little while to locate the bird. It didn't want us to see it but when we finally got to snap a few pictures of it, we figured it was either a Baltimore or Orchard Oriole. Then we saw an adult summer male making the bird a Orchard Oriole. What a beautiful bird!

We ventured down to the river and along the river we saw at least ten Turkey Vultures standing on the shore. But couldn't get a clear shot of them before they flew off across the river and perched in the trees. We didn't see anything and thought we'd have better luck at the top instead of down by the river. So, we climbed the little hill and heard some calls once we got back up  the hill. We searched and searched and finally saw it; another Orchard Oriole.

Next, we headed over to a field that was partly mowed and was lined with tall trees on both sides. In the field was spotted a Blue Bunting and in the trees we saw at least 2 different warblers. With the warblers we were unable to get a photo or ID of either. No warblers this time. We are now up to 249 species! We am so happy with our number!

Happy Birding!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lets Get Tropical!

We were down in Garland, Texas when Simon spotted it; he's so good at spotting birds! Just as we were pulling out of the shipper he spotted a Monk Parakeet! First all I saw was a bird fly up into a tree but then we turned around and parked. Once we got over to the trees I saw them fly away, we were about to give up and head back to the truck when one flew overhead with nesting materials! We spotted the nest and the Monk Parakeets building away! It was very neat watching the one as it worked on building the nest. This makes 247!

Happy Birding!!!!!

Yesterday we stopped off at a rest area n Arkansas, and saw a bunch of Purple Martins at a bird house. It was so awesome to see this beautiful birds! This place actually had two martin houses, so we enjoyed them for a while. Our bird year is now up to 246! Here are some pictures~

Happy Birding!!!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Greater Prairie Chickens and Marbled Godwits

Also while in North Dakota we went in search of the Greater Prairie Chicken. We got before the crack of dawn and tried to wake up. We got in the car and headed north to the Greater Prairie Chicken Wildlife Management Area. We arrived around 5:30am and went out looking and hoping to spot them doing their mating display. It wasn't looking good and it was already 7am, we headed down one more road and came across this guy who was doing a census for the birds. Gary was very helpful and told us where to go to check for Prairie Chickens; he said he'd be over in a few moments. We went to the spot and Simon spotted them and as soon as we walked across the road they flew away. We did manage to get a few pictures but nothing good. Gary arrived and he told us of another place to look and also a place where Sharp-tailed Grouse are supposed to be. We did not have time to see them but are looking forward to going back there in the fall.

Marbled Godwit
As we were in search for the chickens we saw a shorebird that was a lifer; Marbled Godwits. They were all along the roadsides.

Marbled Godwit

We are now at 245 for the year and looking forward to what we will see next!

Happy Birding!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kelly's Slough NWR

Here are some pictures from Kelly's Slough NWR near Grand Forks, ND. We didn't get anything new but got some neat pictures! Happy Birding!!!!!!

Northern Pintails

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

Northern Harrier with a snake

Grand Forks Lagoons

First good shot!
As you have probably noticed our banner has been updated and that's a juvenile Snowy Owl! We went to the Grand Forks Lagoons and I'm sure glad we chose the entrance we did, because once we got over the gate Simon spotted the Snowy Owl. About half way down the road surrounded by Canada Geese, Northern Pintail and Mallards. There was no trees or any way to sneak up on the owl so we slowly walked toward him, the geese and other ducks made their way into the water. The Snowy Owl stayed, but kept an eye on us. We got within about 500 ft and got a few more shots of him and then he decided we were too close so he flew to a rock about 50 ft away. Wanting to have good pictures of this Snowy Owl we went a little further and a little bit later he flew about 100 ft away again. So we decided we needed to walk closer to the edge of the water and not look at him; so maybe he wouldn't think we were coming after him. For the most part it worked we got within about 400 feet of him and got some more pictures and he flew away. We really enjoyed this experience! Now the Snowy Owl makes # 243!! There was also a lot of Lesser Scaups, Buffleheads, and Horned Grebes.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Flying away!

Horned Grebe

Happy Birding!!!
Lesser Scuaps

Friday, April 20, 2012

Texas Rest Areas

Curve-billed Thrasher
A few days ago we stopped off at a few rest areas along interstate 10, on our way to San Antonio. The first one contained Great-tailed Grackles, Curve-billed Thrashers, and Western Kingbirds. Got some good pictures of the Curve-billed Thrashers.

The next rest area had about the same but the Great-tailed Grackles were displaying for the females that were up in the trees. They did a display and then strutted. Very neat to watch; Simon and I watched for about ten minutes!
Great-tailed Grackle displaying!

Happy Birding!!

More Displaying!

4 Birds, Insects, 2 Turtle Rescued!!!

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
We were in San Antonio, Texas a two days ago and had some time on our hands, so we did some searching and decided to check out Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands. Once we got there we thought we had hit a road block and were not going to be able to get in. The entrance was gated and the call box wasn't working. We looked up the number and they let us in! The first bird we spotted before we even paid the fee was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher perched right by the gate we snapped a few pictures.

We then went inside and got a map and saw some recent sightings; the Black-bellied Whistling Duck was on there! We headed down the pathway and found a spot to park the truck. It was hot and humid with little wind; not exactly preferred conditions but better than rain! We could head all kinds of birds and there was just a ton of butterflies and dragonflies all over the place! 

We spotted Northern Shovelers, American Coots, Blue-winged Teals, and Red-winged Blackbirds. Nothing new so far. We walked a little more around the next pond and spotted some Black-crowned Night Herons and Green Herons flying away. 
Unidentified Butterlfy

Female Blue-winged Teal 

Then we finally stopped something new! A small flycatcher was flying around in a tree, we identified him/her as Least Flycatcher. Moving on and happy to be getting a new year bird. As we walked down the path some more we caught sight of a few insects. I hope you don't mind me sharing my insect photos. 

Least Flycatcher
Checkered White
Unidentified Dragonfly
 So, we were to began we wouldn't see too many birds at this place. We were thinking we would see more insects than birds. I think we actually did! Up the road we came to an intersection and looked down one of the paths and saw two turtles! One seemed to be waiting for the other 9one to catch up; which was about 30 feet back. Being the romantic that I am I assume they are a couple and the one behind is the female. So "she" is sauntering down the path; "he" must of got tired of waiting for her because he made a right into the weeds and headed down for the water. She kept coming I don't think she noticed us or just really wanted to get down to the water. We stayed at about 30 feet away until she got to the spot were her mate went down to the water and Simon went over and got a close up shot! After we left her alone she headed back the way she came and then finally went down to the water. Turtles are so cute!

Unidentified Dragonfly
Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
The next pond had most of the same thing; Coots, Shovelers, Teals, and Mallards. On the other side of the pond we spotted a Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpipers, and Black-necked Stilt. Then on the other side of the pond there was a bird, that was just out of range for my 500 mm lens (I hate when that happens). But we could still tell what it was; Glossy Ibis. New lifer! We wanted to get a better picture so we went around the back of the pond and we found there was no clear shot. We kept on walking around and we came to an area that we could walk down to get a good picture, so Simon went down and got a good picture and also got Pectoral Sandpipers. That's also a lifer! Three lifers isn't bad; we thought for only having to pay $2 each! But we weren't done yet. We still had the trail around the visitors center to bird.
Glossy Ibis

The hole they were in.
We were almost back to the truck when I came across a big hole next to this big pipe in the ground and being the curious person that I am I looked; I saw two turtles inside the hole. I was so sad and I had originally thought they were dead but it turned out they were not. One of them was very brown and the other was still greenish. I assumed the brownish one had been in there longer since he was brown, but I don't know for sure. The other one was peeking his head out, probably screaming out for a rescue! And that is exactly what they got! There was a spider web over the top of the hole, so that will tell you how long they could have been in there. Again I don't know how long it takes a spider
The turtles
The release of the green one was great!
to make a web either. Simon grabbed a stick and noticed it had a scorpion on it, so he calmly put down the stick and took a picture of the insect and moved it off with his boot. Then clearing away the spider web he then figured that the hole was about 3-4 feet deep. He was sure he would be able to get down there and get them out. So he did just that! I was so happy he climbed down in the hole. Then he picked the turtles up and set them on the ground; he told me that the brown one did poke his head out when he jumped down in the hole. That was a good sign, since I thought he was dead for sure. We took some pictures of the hole and the turtles to share. Simon picked up the turtles and we went to find a good place to release them into the pond. First, we put the greenish one in the water and he took off right away! Second, he put the brownish one in the water and nothing happened, Simon checked out his feet they all moved but maybe he was just shy or still scared for being in that hole. So, we splashed water on his shell and set him on the shoreline. Hopefully he snapped out of it and got into the water.
This one didn't swim away:( But
we splashed water on him.
Hopefully he makes it!

We made our way to the visitor center and reported the turtle rescue! They said they would look into it the next day. I sure hope they did!

 After leaving the visitor center we decided to check around the grounds for hummingbirds. We heard a bird calling from the tree top and were searching and I spotted it! That usually doesn't happen, Simon usually spots them first. It was very noisy and it turned out to be a Long-billed Thrasher! Bird #4 for the day!

We checked out the trail behind the Visitor Center but that turned up nothing just birds we already have this year; Verdin, Black-throated Hummingbird, and Red-winged Blackbird. We are now up to 242 and we are heading eastward hopefully we will pick up some more warbler among others!
Long-billed Thrasher

Pipevine Swallowtail

Happy Birding!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Eastern Meadowlark
We arrived at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park yesterday by cab. As soon as the cab drove off I realized that I had forgotten my battery on the charger in the truck. So we were down to one camera and being the wonderful husband, Simon gave me his battery! We first got a map of the trail and headed for the hummingbird feeders with no hummingbirds. We waited a little bit and snapped a few shots of a black-chinned Hummingbird. Then moving on down the path we saw two people looking through their binoculars, we chatted for a bit about the park as they were birders and had just finished the trails.

White-winged Dove
The first trail brought us nothing new, but got us some nice pictures of birds we already gotten this year. Plenty of White-winged Doves flying around.
Ash-throated Flycatcher

Then we arrived at the Upland Trail and were seeing more birds. We spotted an Ash-throated Flycatcher perched on a tree, got a few good shots of that  little guy.

I spotted a Lucy's Warbler we were unable to get a good picture of that little warbler. We saw some Chipping Sparrows, House Finches, and more Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Dark-eyed Junco-Gray-headed Group
We went down the trail a little bit farther and spotted a Dark-eyed Junco Gray-headed group. A group of Dark-eyed Junco that we do not, only need two more groups of Dark-eyed Junco and we will have them all! Near the junco we saw more Chipping Sparrows and a Virginia's Warbler. Virginia's Warbler is a lifer for us! We then started to head back to check out the hummingbird feeders; nothing new just more Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Black-chinned Hummingbird
After we left the state park headed for San Antonio, Texas along the way we stopped off at a few rest areas. They brought nothing new just some Great-tailed Grackles displaying; which is very neat to watch, some Curve-billed Thrashers, and Western Kingbird.

Then Simon was noticing about every bridge he went under there was a ton of swallows and we wanted to get a Cave Swallow. He pulled over and I was cooking dinner, so he jumped out and went and got some pictures and I saw them too there must have been 30-40 of them flying all over the place!
We are now up to 238!!! Happy Birding!!!
Cave Swallow

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Los Lunas, NM

Chihuahuan Raven
Chihauhuan Raven
No birds for yesterday, as we were driving through hail and rain in Utah and later on snow in the mountains. Well I call it mountains, Simon says they are canyons. We went to Los Lunas, New Mexico to try and pick up a Burrowing Owl, and did just that! Before we even seen the owls we caught sight of a pair of Chihuahuan Ravens. New life bird for us! One of the ravens was gathering sticks probably preparing for a few new arrivals! 
Pair of Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
The Burrowing Owls were standing near their holes and didn't seem to happy about our desire to get a good picture. So we snapped a few shots and let them be. We are now up to 234 for our Big Year! 

Tomorrow we have planned a birding trip to Mesilla Vally Bosque State Park. Hoping to increase our bird number! Wish us luck! 

Happy Birding!!!