Saturday, August 6, 2011

Least Bittern: the last pics

The sun was out from behind some clouds providing better lighting for these pics. I really like this top pic as it shows the neck plumage well and I think this is very cool looking. I also like the bottom pic for showing off the interesting wing plumage with the buff colored wing patches surrounded with chestnut and then white feathers. Shortly after I took this pic the bittern retreated back into the thick cattails. SeEtta

Oops, Least Bittern is looking at me

In the top pic the Least Bittern is looking directly in my direction and I suspect it has heard the mechanical clicks of my Canon dslr camera (yes, the bells are all turned off but all cameras make some amount of mechanical noise when the shutter is depressed and I have found other birds disturbed by it). I stayed very still and quiet so the bittern did not flush but instead stayed for another couple of minutes. The bottom pic, next in the sequence, shoes it went back to it's hunting position with beak jutted out in front with head and body pretty parallel to the ground. SeEtta

Rare Least Bittern at Holcim Wetlands in Colorado

This Least Bittern was found this week by a local birder, Rich, at the Holcim Wetlands east of Florence,CO. This is a rare bird in any part of Colorado and the first seen in this county. I took the top pic as the bird poked it's head out from behind the cattails. In the bottom pic the bird had stepped all the way out and had assumed the hunting position. More pics in next posts. SeEtta

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Red-headed Woodpecker pics

In the top pick the bird's nictitating membrane is almost covering it's eye. In the bottom pic the bird is just lookin good. SeEtta

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Handsome Red-headed Woodpecker

I found this Red-headed Woodpecker on a telephone pole not far from the Ft Lyon Canal in Otero County, CO yesterday. I think that this is such a gorgeous bird with it's brilliant red head with black and white body and wings. I also found an adult bird attending a likely nest cavity in an old cottonwood right next to the canal. SeEtta

Lark Buntings, time to migrate

I found these Lark Buntings that were part of a larger flock of close to 50 birds yesterday in Crowley County. Like in this group composed of males with 1 female, most of the Lark Buntings I saw were males with a few females. These are either gathering for migration or may have started migration. SeEtta

Migrating Sanderlings stopping over to fuel up

I found these two migrating Sanderlings working the small shoreline at Lake Meredith yesterday. These two must have left their breeding grounds early to arrive here on the second day of August.
I believe these are both in the process of molting from breeding plumage. I have tried to keep the coloration exactly the same but they seemed to have more orangish coloration in person than on my photos. SeEtta

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cormorant take off: hop, lunge, hop .... then lift off

I got these pics of a Double-crested Cormorant as it started to take off, an effort that involves 'hopping' (with both feet) across the water for some ways before the lift off. I think it kinda looks like it was actually doing a swan dive not a take-off. SeEtta

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cute young racoons (but oh, so destructive)

When I got out of my car the other night I spotted two young racoons running by my drive-way. When they saw me they climbed a tree in my front yard where I got these pics (in the top pic one of the ears of a second racoon is visible as it is located right behind the left ear of the racoon pictured). Unfortunately they can be most destructive--they destroy my neighbors' vegetable and fruit crops and tore up a neighbor dog some year's ago. So as cute as they look, I would prefer they stick to natural areas. SeEtta

Uncommon hawk in Fremont County, CO: a Swainson's

I found this adult Swainson's Hawk south of Florence, CO and still within Fremont County tonight. They are uncommon in my county though usually found in the small amount of remaining grasslands either south or east of Florence. I found it not long after I spotted a wildfire that had just begun in the Wet Mountains just west of this area. My long telephoto lens combo on my dslr camera came in handy as I was able to show a photo of the wildfire location to the fire fighters (by the time they arrived the smoke had gone down and it is difficult to point out a location on top of distant mountains). The wildfire was likely started by lightening as there were thunder storms all around and the fire fighters thought the rain may put out the fire. SeEtta

Monday, August 1, 2011

Young Gray Catbird fledgling

I have had Gray Catbirds visit my yard for past 8 or so years since a pair nested in an overgrown shrub (laced with invading vine) right under my dining room window. I like to think it is either the same pair of birds or their offspring who visit and often engage in counter-singing with me (yes, the catbird would sing, pause and I would whistle their song, the catbird would sing again, alternating sometimes for several minutes). I cleaned up that shrub so they don't nest in my yard anymore but appear to nest somewhere close in my neighborhood as one and sometimes two adult catbirds pay frequent visits in the spring. They also usually bring their offspring to meet me--well, that's what I would like to think but I realize they like all the fruit bearing plants and trees plus nice thick vegetation to hide them in.

Several days ago I heard what sounded like fledgling calls coming from a shrub in my next door neighbors front yard. After carefully approaching I spotted an adult catbird bringing food to an apparent but hidden fledgling (I got a little video but haven't had time to upload and edit it yet). Then day before yesterday I heard the fledgling calling again, this time from one of my purple ash trees in my front yard. It took some time to find it as it was 15-20 feet up on a branch that partially obscured it and here are pics of that young fledgling (see how short it's tail is). In the top pic it's creamy colored gape flanges are quite obvious. It's "dark pinkish buff" (as noted in Birds of North America BNA online) can be seen in both pics. The feathers on it's underparts look quite gray to me and likely mostly still natal down (though BNA says "Juvenal feathers loosely textured."--so maybe this is not down??). However, the undertail coverts stand out as they are colored "buffy to pale rufous" (again per BNA). A few very odd looking feather tracts come up from it's head like a spike hairdo (have to enlarge by clicking on pic then clicking again on it to see this).
For the past two days at least one fledgling catbird has been in my backyard and the adult was feeding it some partially ripened crabapples from my trees but I couldn't spot the fledgling. SeEtta