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Old 05-16-2020, 04:07 PM   #10181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okaugust View Post

Ben Franklin lost, and I'm glad. We only eat ugly animals, and this velociraptor, 'er, Wild Turkey, that poked over the berm to look at me has a face only a mother could love. "I feel like I'm being watched...."
Ben was only kidding when he suggested the Turkey was more American in it's work ethic and therefore should be the national bird.
Nobody ever cared that Eagles steal some of their meals and peck siblings to death to survive.
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Old 05-16-2020, 06:04 PM   #10182
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:02 PM   #10183
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Wow! The orange on that Oriole is fabulous. I've been reading about the hawks. Great pic of the Coopers and the red tail. Must be surreal to see them in person. Really good of you to share. Your photos and dialogue are absolutely awesome.
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:41 PM   #10184
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Thanks for coming along!
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:31 AM   #10185
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Definitely not my photo but I saw this great pic of an Alaskan seagull on a "Photos of the week" compilation:
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:05 AM   #10186
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I wonder what it's got in its talons, looks like a retrieval training device of some kind.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:48 AM   #10187
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Yesterday we opened up our bird walk at the local museum again. We had Wyoming PBS come out and do a story on how we've changed what we do or how it's a good activity during the pandemic. The last two months we've had a small group out, not officially. Mostly my friend and I went to carry on 8 plus years of data collecting that's been done every month. A handful of people showed up, even though we technically canceled it, and walked along with us.

Yesterday we had about two dozen, and our max was 25. But how darn proud I was of them for doing it the right way. Only maybe 3-4 didn't have masks.



This is the big rancher dude that is the director of the museum, sporting a mask with great flair!



This is why it is a good idea to wear masks. The woman on the right has MS, the one in the middle a lung transplant, and her job is now supporting people through the transplant process.



What makes me so happy about this is a lot of the people we've had come out in the last year are so have recently lost their spouses. They've connected with friends this way, made new ones, found a virus buddy, and are just a treat to have come out.



Our chapter secretary has been an educator for years, but is now retired. Yesterday she introduced Blue to the world. He's going to have adventures in reading, birding, etc.



There were Calliope Hummingbirds. This is the smallest bird in North American.



This male was having a territory dispute with another male. He flares up his gorget when he is doing this.



I don't know if these baby Great Horned Owls moved from another nest to this old Magpie nest, but here they are. They would be branching by now, and just starting to fly a bit. It's possible they dropped here or made their way branch by branch.



Damn paparazzi, I'm nappin' ovah heah!



Looking a little rough, my first Lazuli Bunting of the year. Once he gets over his flight with some food and rest, he'll be up on a branch singing for a lady in all his glory.



After that, I went over to my friend's house to wait for her to finish up with the PBS folks. I took another friend who is a new birder, and we spotted some of those unusual or brilliant birds.

First Black-headed Grosbeak of the year, finally.



Another Blackpoll Warbler. I saw it in a pine tree top. Now this uncommon bird I've found three times in the last week, and each time in a completely different ecosystem. Once by the river, one by a reservoir, and now in pines at a house surrounded by hay fields. Each time the behavior was different. Also, this bird is the longest distance migrant. It flies 4000 miles sometimes almost non-stop over four days to get where it wants to go. They are definitely thrown off by something. But the thing about why I take photos is I thought it was a Black-capped Chickadee at the big distance from me to the top of a 50' pine, and in full sun hard to see. Photo later says otherwise!



Speaking of rough, why is the National Enquirer always RIGHT THERE when I just step out of the bath and want to run out for a latte? Western Tanager



But the violas were nice too.



Pearl has melted.



Then we went up to a wildlife habitat management area, only to find it closed until June 1, but the drive was nice. Much like group motorcycle rides, birding with two dozen people makes you want to go off on your own and do some serious stuff.





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Old 05-17-2020, 10:54 AM   #10188
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Those are all wonderful, but the Tanager shot is really something else, Tina. Thanks for sharing these!
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:38 AM   #10189
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Valley Verde! Beautiful shots!
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Old 05-20-2020, 08:04 PM   #10190
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Yes yes, I have more bird photos, but more on that later.

Tonight I got a call about 4:15 from a woman down in Story, WY that there was an injured Osprey on the ground. She got the Game & Fish folks who run the Fish Hatchery there over, and I gave her contact info for Ironside Bird Rescue over in Cody. Got a call back that things were rolling, but could I help gather up the bird and transport it. I called our new game warder, a real life Joe Pickett, he's super nice, and he met me out there.

Osprey are hard to rehab, as they are picky eaters. If it had a badly broken wing, it would've had to been put down in the field. Fortunately when we got there, it was hopping and flapping about.

Photos courtesy of Ami, the woman who called it in.







Assessing the situation.





See the warden, he's tough does it bare handed and all. Me, I've got two coats, leather gloves and a pair of safety goggles on. I've picked up an eagle before, I know better!









The injury to the wing. Not sure what it is yet until Susan at Ironside gets it and takes a look and runs tests.



Lots of helpers.





The lady on the left is the one who called us.



Tomorrow a woman named Gwen, a retired wildlife biologist, is hoping to get three Swainson's Hawk eggs from Gillette (they need to be removed from a transformer that needs work), and a duckling from nearby and take the bird over to Cody.

For now, it's in the guest bedroom. No food, no water, it's already stressed. Like the eagle, it will stay in the box until it gets to it's destination.



I told Mike we should've put it in the other guest room, then put plaques on the doors that said "The Eagle Room" and "The Osprey Room" like some fancy hotel!

It's a long day for the bird though, and no water is rough. Hope it makes it. Send good thoughts.
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:45 PM   #10191
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So, how's your guest in 'The Osprey Room' doing?
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:53 AM   #10192
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He ended up staying almost 24 hours before the bird Uber biologist could pick him up. He was very calm. Made it to the rehab and had X-rays but I don’t know the prognosis yet. Good news though he ate a while fish! The wing doesn’t seem to be broken so I’m hopeful!
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Old Today, 01:14 PM   #10193
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There was another military aircraft fly-over in San Antonio yesterday, this time it was four WWII aircraft from Lewis Air Legends museum, in observation of Memorial Day. My original spot I planned to shoot from was the Alamodome parking lot ... but, the security guard wouldn't allow me to set up there. (Even though we did last week, when the Thunderbirds flew over S.A.)
So, I went to another open area for pictures, the Tower of the Americas lot. It was in the center of the planned loop route the B-25 and three P-51s' were flying. But, I only had a 200 mm lens reach & the gray skies didn't help.











Link to the Lewis Air Legends website, describing the four participating aircraft ... https://lewisairlegends.com/
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Old Today, 03:02 PM   #10194
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Nice shots, whatever you say! I especially like the first one.

Update on the Osprey, it seems it may have been shot, but it's eating like crazy. Very unusual for an Osprey in the stir, so to speak. As the warden said, the shooting makes it a criminal problem, not a biological problem. People don't like Osprey, Pelicans, because they take fish. Last year in Montana someone shot over a dozen Pelicans at one of our favorite spots. Also last year a guy about 1/2 a mile from where I live shot at least one, maybe two Osprey. Getting someone to care about that is a problem. They care, but they are busy.



ANYWOO, crap, nine days since I posted. That means you all are going to get more birds than you ever wanted again.

Sunday the 17th, I got out and started motoring around some of my favorite spots, but the early bird campers were already staking claims on lake front real estate, some paying for spots and leaving them until the next weekend, some folks just out, pretty packed, not a lot of birds. I was about to give up and decided to take a back back road home, about to give up on that too, when I spotted a Northern Harrier trying to take out a Great Blue Heron, or vice versa. I missed that shot. Both are ground nesters, and both will eat the chicks of the other, so I don't know who got into what, but the harriers chased off the heron. The female went back into her little brush nest, and the male perched, which doesn't seem to happen often.

The Gray Ghost



That Monday I talked Mike into walking the hood with me. That doesn't happen very often either. I managed to luck into a "Life Bird" for both of us. Life bird usually means a bird you are seeing for the first time in your life. For me, I like to also think of it as a bird I will be unlikely to see again any time soon, and each time I do it will be memorable. This bird has been one of my nemesis birds for a couple of years. On the list of want to see, but never seen. It's secretive, pretty quiet, and likes still ponds in the woods.

Northern Waterthrush



Tuesday I took a drive after work instead, hitting some of the hayfields to our west on another "dry weather only road." Target bird was the Bobolink, which sounds like R2D2. We have a couple of spots we find them, but there is one big hay field the show up in in droves. They'd just got in yet, so there weren't a lot of males out singing yet.



Got a nice shot of a similar looking bird, the Colorado State Bird, Lark Bunting.



And the hippy to his goth cousin, Lazuli Bunting!



Great Snipe Hunt? They do exist! These birds have wings that make a "winnowing" sound when they fly. As one of the folks on my Wyoming Bird Facebook page asked when she heard it "like Curly from the Three Stooges?" And if you're hearing it at night in a tent for the first time, positively eerie.



That morning took a walk with my friend over here. Got a real surprise treat, another unusual bird for us, Townsend's Warbler. It's been such a weird migration so far. A lot of unusual birds in unusual places. I've only seen this bird twice before. Once in AZ over winter, and once in Gillette during fall migration.



American Redstarts showed up. These are warblers, and they are fast and like to hang out in the tree tops. The males are a spectacular black, orange and white. The females more gray, yellow and white.



Wednesday morning took a hike up on Red Grade Spring Trail. A fellow coming up from Colorado was looking for some birds, and I wanted to see what was there before taking him up.

Green-tailed Towhee showing off its namesake.



Another fast little warbler that keeps to the scrub, MacGillivaray's Warbler. The males are another great visual treat, but again, hard to catch. I got another shot of the back of him only.



Of course, I took the guy out in the evening and the bird activity went downhill. So I came home, and went to check the mail and the post owl was there to bring my mojo back.



The next morning the guy from CO got up there at 5:30 a.m. and found another one of my nemesis birds, Ruffed Grouse. I've only been looking for them up there for, oh, three years now.



But we met out at another wildlife/rec area, along with a gal named Sue, and stomped around there for a bit. It's hard to bird with other people, because I always feel like I need to be a good guide/host/entertainer. Worse, sometimes it's like on Jurassic Park where people are looking at you like "there will be birds on the bird tour right?" So if you think you want to bird with me...

Well, we did find about half a dozen Yellow-breasted Chat. These guys also like to keep in the brush, but can be found by their crazy chatter and mixed up songs and calls. They aren't a mimic, but it feels like it.



.....
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Old Today, 03:29 PM   #10195
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Saturday we headed to Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management area again. It's been about 10 months since we were there, I think, or maybe August. This is the place north west of Rawlins, and quite literally the middle of nowhere. There will be no picnickers, boaters, campers found out here except us and an occasional forest or game and fish surveyor.

The first stop though, on the way, is for Lickity Split, who asked me last year if Independence Rock west of Casper was worth diverting to. IMHO, it's an okay on the way from one place to another, but not to go 3 hours out of the way. It does have a lot of history etched on it, if you have the time to clamber up there to look at it.





We did not, so taken with zoom.



One of my favorite things about Chain Lakes are the wild horses. Knowing little about them, I'm wondering if this mare has a pair of twins off the big black stallions running around the place. They started to run, she said WHOA and like two toddlers they almost ran into the back of her.



It's a lot of this out there. This road (we always say, using Gimli voice "and they call it a rooooooad!") leads to a four walled old wood structure that has a giant nest on top.



Didn't see anything in the nest, which made me sad. Parked a bit away, we got out, when the shadow went over....

Turns out mom and dad are overhead after all, Ferruginous Hawks, which must mean...



This one gave the other a sharp rap on the head with its beak, so you only see one.



It wasn't particularly birdy out there. It was cold and windy, which keeps the birds down and the windows up. That makes the birding by car tough. We did get out a few times, spotted a Great Horned Owl, Burrowing Owls twice, also Sagebrush Sparrow, one of my favorite singers.



Okay, say it with me "and they call it a roooooooaaad!"



There are nesting birds on the alkali ponds and flats. American Avocets and Killdeer...



Get a room!



We keep going out looking for the uber rare Mountain Plover (nothing to do with mountains or even water like most plovers) but no luck, so try try again. We really need to camp out there to spend the time listening and looking on foot, but at almost 50, I am to the point where waking up frozen on the ground in a tent isn't all it used to be. Alas. Anyway, the signs of life are there, if you look, and it's really amazing.







At the same time, it's a rough existence.







[youtube]Nm8Bo5KJxK8[youtube]

Thar be varmints!



Out here, it's a junction of three dirt roads going from and to nowhere. We orient ourselves (I don't remember a curve in this road, do you? I don't think we've been on this before. Nope, this isn't the road to the bigger lake. Again.) by what we can. Like old appliances.



And the compound where the inhabitants we're snatched by aliens. All of the doors have been open for three years now.



And just like that. Poof. They were gone.
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Old Today, 03:48 PM   #10196
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I wouldn't say I'm obsessed. That guy from Colorado who took five days off to sleep in his car while going to 12 counties in WY with a goal of getting 100+ species in each county, that's obsessed. But since he found that damned Ruffed Grouse, I've gone up to the same spot every morning. Twice I've heard it. I've yet to see it, and right after I left Sunday the other gal and her daughter sighted it. Dammit. But I had places to go, people to meet.

You really have to get there about, oh, 5:45 at the latest.



And lurk, while enjoying the scenery.





Sigh. Still no luck.



Over to the east we go! Late morning and early afternoon was back to the Sand Creek area and a hike on Dugout Gulch, where we went a month ago. More migrants going through and breeding birds in.

Usually it is hot and humid over there, so cool and a little rain was a nice change. No wind. I don't mind wind, rain/snow, cold, just not altogether if I can help it.

Black-headed Grosbeak



Cordilleran Flycatcher - another flycatcher that looks like all the rest.



And holy moly, and Ovenbird in out in the open! Another brushy loving bird that I usually hear (singing Teacher Teacher Teacher) from the brush or trees, and have only gotten a glimpse of once or twice.



Red-naped Sapsucker and the wells it drills into trees. The bird doesn't actually suck the sap. It uses it to trap insects which it will eat later. Other birds like Hummingbirds will however.



Another flycatcher that looks like the rest, Western Wood=pewee. It's call is a single short note that sounds something like a distant coach's whistle.



After that, we headed toward Gillette and the northern part of Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The fellow we'd met at Dugout Gulch is an eBird reviewer, wonderkind and friend, and he's been out there doing field surveys. He knows things man. Anyway, problem with these surveys is they are usually also in the middle of no where, not always accessible by road, and I don't know navigation. We didn't find the Field Sparrows we were hoping for, but I'll take a whole mess of Short-eared Owls any day of the week and twice on Sundays!





We got lost, but it was a good kind of lost.



Then we found some Burrowing Owls!

These guys live in burrows usually on the outer edges of Prairie Dog colonies, and are diurnal, and sometime not to far from or in urban areas. Keep your eyes peeled on the p-dawg towns!



We got lost AGAIN!



Ah well.

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Old Today, 03:57 PM   #10197
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Yesterday was a slow day. I went to look for the grouse, but way too late in the day, too many people. Next stop was pretty busy too, so I headed out to the IBA east of Buffalo for some wide open space.



It's eternally gratifying to have a land owner who wants the land to be there for wildlife. We are getting all kinds of breeding grassland and sage brush birds out there.

Brewer's Sparrow - I've read this bird has a complete lack of distinguishing characteristics. Which is helpful in IDing by negatives. It also has a long drawn out jumbled song, so that's another help.



And finding Burrowing Owls out there is a win too!



Male Chestnut-collared Longspur in breeding plumage!



And hello there baby Golden Eagle!



Meadowlark Lemon



And yes, I did get up early this morning, go to look for the Ruffed Grouse. Too late, at 7:30 it's not drumming anymore either. Hey Mr Red-breasted Nuthatch, seen any grouse?



How about you Mr Western Tanager? No?



Ah well.
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