Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring arrived but birding was slow

We got out on our local wetlands patch early, about 20 minutes before sunrise. Rain was forecast for later in the day so we kept a wary eye on the skies. It was too dark for photos when, while walking in, we saw a raccoon and a Gray Fox. 

This photo of a Little Blue Heron had to be tweaked to bring out the details under the poor lighting conditions.

 Little Blue Heron 20140320 
The heron assumed this typical foraging posture that makes it easy to identify, even from far away.

Little Blue Heron 2-20140320

The red and yellow epaulet of this male Red-winged Blackbird glowed through the darkness.

Red-winged Blackbird 20140320

After processing this photo of a Belted Kingfisher, taken at some distance, I realized that it was a female. The male would lack the rufous belly band.

Belted Kingfisher female 2-20140320

The sun rose due east as expected on the vernal equinox, under a menacing and quickly building cumulus cloud. 

Sunrise and clouds on first day of spring 20140320

Gray Catbirds were still numerous. This one posed nicely as sunlight burst forth.

Gray Catbird 20140320

We did not see a single warbler. With rain threatening we hurried back home after walking the mandatory two miles in and out of the wetlands. A couple of doors from our home, this White-winged Dove was collecting nesting materials in a neighbor's yard.

White-winged Dove gathering twigs 2-20140320

It clouded over but the precipitation actually held off, so I checked our back yard for photo opportunities. An Anhinga was drying its wings at the edge of our lake.

Anhing in back yard 20140320

A flock of White Ibises probed the water's edge.

White Ibis in yard 20140320

A European Starling hunted for insects on the lawn.

European Starling 20140320

Nearby, a Northern Mockingbird demonstrated its hunting technique...

Northern Mockingbird 20140320

...flashing its wings to startle prey items.

Northern Mockingbird flashing wings 20140320

Northern Mockingbird flashing wings 2-20140320

The female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that caused us so much concern has abandoned our ailing Mahogany tree and now has adopted the same type of tree in our neighbor's yard. Over a three months period of observation, her plumage has transformed from juvenile to nearly full adult. Here she was on December 24:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2-20131224

Now she is quite nicely adorned with full red cap and eponymous yellow belly.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 20140320

From the number of sap wells in our neighbor's tree I assume she had been busy here for some time before we banished her from our yard.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2-20140320

Gray skies continued with rain for the next few days, and finally a cold front blew through to chase away the clouds. This is the view from our back patio.

View from patio 20140325


  1. Ken, lovely series of images. The Little Blue is one of my favorites.. And the Kingfisher adn the cool Sapsucker are always great sightings. The sky shots are beautiful. Great post, enjoy your weekend!

  2. you have marvelous back-yard birds. :) loved the mocker series! i always love to see the kingfishers as i delight that, finally, the female gets the most color. :)

  3. Lots of great sightings Ken! Sure doesn't look like a slow day to me! The water birds are lovely. The Anhinga puts on a terrific show! We are seeing some Red-winged Blackbirds returning to this area, so I guess that means spring has arrived here too. Love that sunrise shot!

  4. So many great photos!
    Great work!

  5. HI Kenneth What a lovely view you have. You saw a great selection of bird on your early morning walk. Red-winged Blackbird is great in the that light and I loved the beautiful sunrise. You are blessed to have just lovely birs around you area.

  6. Beautiful series. I especially enjoyed the kingfisher and the anhinga drying its wings.

  7. such lovely variety here; I rather like the red-winged blackbird ...and all the others!

  8. think, having an anhinga in my own back yard!! I'd be so thrilled!!!!! All your birding shares this week are, as always, fabulous!!!

    also, viewing from your link you left for me at my birding blog ...I'd Rather B Birdin' where I'd have to say, better late than never. Company and use of the computer room as an extra bedroom is sometimes a must. Hope you enjoyed your company.

  9. I'm very jealous of the Anhinga in your backyard. Beautiful photo.

  10. Once again, a superb series of photographs and really interesting post, Ken! Love the comparison shots of the maturing Sapsucker. And even though common, I always love watching the Mockingbirds!

  11. Such beautiful photos of wonderful birds. I didn't realize that the male and female belteds were different...I need to study more. Loved all the pictures. (And you saw so many, even on a rainy day - I'm lucky to get more than two birds on most of my walks.)


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