April 30, 2009
April 29, 2009
Also seen on the way back was a Canada Goose family with six young ones. The "runt" (the bird with the red circle around it) in the group kept falling behind the rest. His future doesn't seem very bright. I had a nice day of birding and got to go wading which I always enjoy doing. I had four year birds on the trip as well as a foy Swainson's Thrush in my yard the same morning which put my year list up to 159. Almost forgot to add that I saw a Red-headed Woodpecker, the first one I have seen in Iowa this year.
...and are making a lot of noise. The only species of thrasher that lives in my area is the Brown Thrasher. They are the easternmost of all of the thrashers in North America and are related to mockingbirds. They mimic other birds like mockingbirds do and are always fun to listen to. I got one on video singing in my backyard from the top of a tree.
April 25, 2009
April 24, 2009
April 23, 2009
The first picture here is of a Snow Goose. It is not often that you see them up close because they are usually out in the fields during migration. The duck pond provided safe haven for injured geese who loved the food we brought them.
A couple Ross's Goose were there. They were so small and cute and had the brightest white feathers I have ever seen on a bird.
This past Tuesday I tried to find two of the three nemesis birds-the Hudsonian Godwit and the Black-billed Magpie.
The godwit I tried to find was reported from a place called New Lake. It had been seen a couple of times in the past few days. I went out there early in the morning and didn't see it even though it was there the night before :( Now it is an even bigger nemesis bird. The trip wasn't wasted however, we did see a foy Osprey on it's nest atop a large tower.
After that it was onto the magpies. I spent a leisurely day with my sister and her boyfriend from Seattle as well as my sister that lives in town. We hiked Stone State Park and saw a few birds including a foy Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. After the hike we decided to go up to see the Broken Kettle Grasslands, the largest remnants in Iowa and the American Bison that live there. We were not really birdwatching, in fact I forgot my binoculars, but I still tried to find some birds without them. As we were driving around I noticed my birding friend Jerry parked on the side of the road. He was birdwatching and to my surprise he said that there were four magpies sitting in the bushes about 350 ft away from the road. I didn't see the birds at first but I easily located the nest. A couple minutes later I saw two birds out in the open and snapped a few pictures before they dove back into the bushes.
The Black-billed Magpie was my 261st Iowa state bird. It can only be seen at the Broken Kettle Grasslands where it nests. I never expected to see them, it sort of came as a surprise. One nemesis down, two more to go!
April 22, 2009
April 15, 2009
I had a few photos I got earlier this year and I wanted to share them since I somehow forgot to. I am not just into birds, I also am into amphibians, butterflies and other insects, mammals, and reptiles, although birds generally come first.
The last photo is of a White-tailed Deer. These common deer that have a wide distribution across North America are numerous in some parts of Iowa. This individual was underneath a feeder at a nature center looking for food. It is funny what you can find at feeders besides birds. When I get a photo of a Black Bear at a feeder I will make sure to post it!
That's all the mammal photos I have to share. Watch out for the next mammal invasion on Birding with Tucker.
April 14, 2009
April 13, 2009
After we were done at the grasslands we headed to the Higman's Quarry in Westfield, IA and found some intersting birds there. On the way in we found a Loggerhead Shrikethat was hunting from the power lines near the road. He was a challenge to photograph as he kept flushing when we tried to get close enough for a nice picture.The best shot I could manage is below. A Savannah Sparrow was also seen on the way in.When we got into the quarry we didn't see much at first but did eventually find some ducks and four Eared Grebes (year bird) on the ponds there. We moved onward and found some more Eared Grebes which brought our total to 13 of them which is a good number for our area. More ducks were there but not much else so we moved on. We birded a little in some towns in the area but didn't see much. One pond we came across was productive however and had some shovelers and other waterfowl in it.We came across a good birding spot along the river. It was another sand and gravel quarry but the ponds there were bigger and deeper than those at the other one. We saw lots of bird when we got in there including Pied-billed Grebe (yb), Double-crested Cormorant (yb), Bald Eagle, and the more common birds. It appeared to have a lot of potential and we will be back there soon. We went back in a wooded area and flushed a Great Horned Owl there. Unbelievably we found more Eared Grebes putting us at 18 individuals for the day! An American White Pelican posed nicely for a picture at the quarry on the way out.
We headed further north but saw few birds but we kept going. We saw some year bird including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Vesper Sparrow but there was not much else besides the common birds. Of the few bird species we found far up north this pair of Wood Ducks were one of them.
The count for the day was 71 species with a number of year birds and a lot of fun!
April 12, 2009
It comes as no surprise that spring is the time when more 911 calls come in about fires than any other season. Springtime in Iowa wouldn't be the same without prairie fires and lots of 911 calls.
April 11, 2009
From Right to Left: Black-legged Kittiwake (ad), Ring-billed Gull (1st winter), Franklin's Gull (ad), Ring-billed Gull (ad)
If you would like to learn how to identify gulls of North America I suggest buying the Gulls of the Americas by Howell and Dunn. It can be purchased at http://www.abasales.com/.
April 10, 2009
I have been out to these Leks before to see the chickens but the other two times I have been out there the winds were very strong, the birds were fewer in number, and you couldn't hear them. It was nice to view them on a nice calm morning when I could take it all in. We easily saw close to twenty birds on two Lek sites within an hour.
After we observed the prairie chickens for a while we decided to head out to Yankton to see what birds were around the lake and dam. I had a couple year birds including Pied-billed Grebe and Great Egret. There was a lot there just not much variety. I had some fun photographing the birds there and I got a very nice shot of a Ring-billed Gull that came down to check out our cinnamon rolls. The Bonaparte's Gulls however were not interested in what we had to offer.
The most common bird there was the American Coot. They were all over the place in the thousands. Some birds were out of the water feeding on the grass. During the summer there is one particular location where they are all over the road and it is like the parting of the Red Sea as they run to get out of the way of your car.
I really liked this picture. It is not the prettiest or the sharpest but I loved that the coots were side by side, one with the wings up and one with the wings down as they took off.
April 9, 2009
April 8, 2009
These shots turned out nice as well. I was glad to be able to get the eye to show in so many of them.
So, have I bored you with all these robin shots yet?
April 7, 2009
This one is giving me the "evil eye".
I got this this one eating. And this one is just doing....nothing.