Thursday, March 31, 2016

Common Loons a Closer Look

It was a Loon Day for sure.  I had been walking the shores of Fountain Lake since we arrived two weeks again looking for loons. There has been one or two most times I looked. Usually the Loon was on the far shore but today was different and the sun even came out briefly. There were two but only one came close enough for a photo shoot. 

Sign of Spring: Mergansers in the Bay

We are waiting for the spring flush at home in Minnesota. So far only a few water fowls on Fountain Lake and Edgewater Bay. There has been a few Common Loons for a week. Not as spectacular as a few years ago when the lakes north of us were still frozen. The ice went out of both Fountain Lake and Minnetonka in Mpls the second earliest recorded. (over 100 years) The Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures made there way back. Waiting for Kinglets which are reported in Freeborn County.

Red-breasted Mergansers

              Hooded Mergansers (2014)

Common Mergansers  (lower photo 2014)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Hermit Thrush, Black Phoebe, Black-throated Gray

Who walks there? A Screech Owl looks at us questioning at Bensten State Park.

           A lovely Black-throated Gray Warbler welcomed us before we entered the  park.  Bensten State Park, is the only place I have seen the Black Phoebe. We saw a pair on the levee bank as we started our walk. The nicest surprise was a Hermit Thrush at the Kiskadee Blind. This small thrush migrates through Minnesota on its way to Northern Minnesota or       Canada. It does have a tail but my view was obstructed.    

Hermit Thrush as small as an Ovenbird @7inches

 Black  Phoebe  Year Round in
                                                                                                   Southwest USA and Mexico

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spotted Towhee - McAllen Nature Center

On our last Sunday here we trekked over to McAllen Nature Center where the Spotted Towhee has been camped out the last months. This is a new bird for me but a similiar bird, the Eastern Towhee can be seen in MN and east of the Mississippi.  The Spotted Towhee is more spectacular than most Sparrows, truly lovely with its long tail.  I am appreciating Sparrows more.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Frontera - A Windy Birdy Morning

Gunnar and I almost had Frontera to ourselves. Our plan was to stake out the Blue Bunting first. After Gunnar put the 3 chairs back to the feeding station, we settled in to watch. Not to be -- a friendly birder came back for a better shot too. He was wearing a white T-shirt and a long camera. I am not saying that is why but . . .  The female Painted Bunting, Black-crested Tit-mice, White-eyed Vireo Black & White Warbler, Long-billed Thrasher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Wilson Warbler came through but none came to the water. The White Shirt stayed and we left. An hour or more later I stopped by the BB water and three birders were looking into the forest floor. I identified the Blue Bunting way back with an Orange-crowned Warbler and Olive Sparrow came to the water. As we were staring at the BB, a young nursery worker quietly said, "Excuse me."  As he scurried by the BB flushed back and did not reappear.   Overall, it turned out to a be a very birdy day.

White-eyed Vireo
            Olive Sparrow above and Orange-crowned Warbler below. Not other photos of great birds.
We had  views of the BB 30 feet back and sometimes in the sunshine. 
It was one of my longest looks at that lovely Blue.

Ovenbird Day at Frontera

Not many birders at Frontera. Only 4 vehicles in the parking lot. Weeks ago the overflow parking was used and some vans held a dozen anxious birders. But there were a few new to the area looking for the Blue Bunting.  The wind blew strong from the beginning of the day with a heavy cloud cover. We thought our chances of seeing one of the rare birds were good.  But it was to be a Ovenbird Day. I had been looking for great shots of this lovely bird for weeks. It is a secretive warbler that moves quickly on the forest floor. 

                            Long-billed Thrasher (similar behavior & coloring but huge)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Crimson-collared Day at Frontera

We were determined to see this bird. I sat on the pond side to take photos of the Ovenbird. After an hour or more I saw Gunnar and another birder with their binoculars up then down. So I returned to my viewing and saw the bird and called Gunnar over. He had to admit that they had been looking at it but did not recognize it. I staked it out a few days later but had to use the restroom and missed it by 15 minutes after sitting there for almost 2 hours. We missed the Blue Bunting by a minute at the normal drip. None the else, we celebrated.

Crimson-collared Grosbeak

Plain Chachalaca- male
 White Ibis - immature

Black-headed Grosbeak           (female) 

 Ten Black-belly Whistling Ducks

And then there were four. 

Gunnar celebrating at the Blue Onion.

 And then there were two.