Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vacation Day 4

Yesterday I was so tired at the end of the day that I didn't even have the energy to write about it.  We were up at 4:00 a.m., on the road by 5:00 a.m., and got home at 5:00 p.m.  In between, we saw a bunch of birds and ate lunch.  We were in bed by 8:00 p.m.

We went to a state wildlife refuge (about 1:30 away from our apartment, in the next state) where about four target birds (would-be life birds) have been seen in the last few weeks.  We saw one of them: sharp-tailed grouse, which became my life bird #511.  As we were driving the auto tour portion of the refuge, one was sitting at the edge of the road on my side of the car and we flushed it as we drove by.  It was very close, and it was easy to distinguish from the other possible grouse on the refuge, but the look was quite brief.

Otherwise, my favorite birds were the youngsters we saw.  A young yellowthroat begging for food from his parent exactly like the young house sparrows at our feeder do--madly flapping and shaking its wings while sticking its open mouth up in the air.  The juvenile black and white striped pied-billed grebes that were so hard to ID at first because we have never seen pied-bills on their breeding grounds before.  Four elegant young trumpeter swans swimming in a row between their parents.

When we were on the boardwalk first thing in the morning, we heard an unexpected hoof-tromping sound that turned out to be a fawn running toward us on the narrow boardwalk.  When it finally realized OMG there are humans blocking my path!, it stopped suddenly--but the front half stopped before the back half so it slid/fell onto its butt.  It quickly scrambled itself upright again and ran back the way it came.

The other highlight animal sighting was a beaver swimming.

And I also felt like a birding bad-ass because on our auto tour drive, I spotted an American bittern hiding in the reeds with its neck sticking straight up.  I've seen a bittern before, but this was my first time to independently spot one in its characteristically camouflaged position.

Our full bird list:

Eastern kingbird
Black-capped chickadee
American crow
American goldfinch
Chipping sparrow
American robin
Song sparrow
Belted kingfisher
Eastern phoebe
Swamp sparrow
Green heron
Blue jay
Eastern towhee
Common yellowthroat
Red-winged blackbird
Gray catbird
Yellow warbler
Mourning dove
Red-bellied woodpecker
House wren
Pine warbler
Eastern bluebird
Black tern
Pied-billed grebe
Wood duck
Eastern wood-pewee
Common loon
Sandhill crane (15 of them!)
Barn swallow
Trumpeter swan
Bald eagle
American bittern
Canada goose
*Sharp-tailed grouse
Ring-necked pheasant
Ring-necked duck
Northern rough-winged swallow
Turkey vulture
Rose-breasted grosbeak
Common raven


mom said...

Don't you just love seeing baby birds? I'll never forget the summer we watched baby Canada Geese grow up. They started out as yellow tennis balls on legs. Adorable!

Sally said...

We saw SO MANY baby/young birds this week. It was fun to see a bunch of birds during breeding season instead of migration, which has been more normal for us when living in the southern US.