Category Archives: birdwatching

Look “Who” Made Us Run Late On Monday

Last year, in late October, I sat out on our deck waiting. We’d been hearing the owls at night. Heard but not seen. I did see two of them after they met in a tree, and then swooped silently over my head off to hunt for the night. Much too dark (and fast) for any pictures.

I gave up on photographing any owls “in the wild” and settled for the nature center owls. Always a fun place to visit.

Fast forward to the past weekend. It rained almost the entire weekend. Monday morning still brought cloudy, gray skies though less rain. I opened the door while waiting for a particularly slow teenager to finish getting ready for school.

Wow, what kind of bird is that sitting on the wire across the street…  Suddenly, it was my turn to yell,

“Come here. Quick!”  It’s an owl! What is an owl doing sitting on the wire in the early morning? 

And how amazing is that? I had the camera handy in the living room though it was on the wrong setting. And I, in my excitement, didn’t notice in time. The first photo is the only one I took after fixing things. I could have spent all morning photographing the magnificent bird! However, my son did have school and alas, I had to work.

My husband had left my car parked in the street.  I had to go get my car and move it back in the driveway. The owl looked at me curiously.  Even though I hoped he’d stay, he swooped off to the maple tree in the front yard as I opened the car door.  We realized with slight concern on the way to school, the unknown whereabouts of a certain little gray cat.

Although I did not have time, I drove back home and called frantically for her. I ran in the house, still calling as she sauntered up the steps from the basement with an expression like the one in the photo below:  What? I was napping!

Crisis averted, I went on to work where I was only a couple of minutes late. Here’s one more highly edited photo of our  Barred Owl: 

Linking up my post to the Bird D’Pot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birding. Always lots of fantastic photos of amazing birds on her blog and in the links!

 

Happy Hummingbird Trails

They installed a hummingbird trail at a local nature park. I finally visited last Thursday. I’m so glad I took the time to go see. It did not disappoint!

The trails are  just outside the storm shelter/new nature center at George Owens Nature Park. The same park where the snowmen were last December. 

After chatting for a bit with the volunteer inside the nature center, I ventured outside to see if I could finally capture a hummingbird photo.  The center volunteer told me people sit and wait and bring tripods for their shots. Didn’t bring a tripod but I did sit on a bench to wait.  And I didn’t have to wait long! 

I had a great time just sitting and watching and listening to these amazing tiny birds! Finally, one flew to a tree out of the sun’s glare.  Excuse me, you’ve got some tree branch blocking my shot. How’s this?  Maybe this? 

I did better when they slowed down (ha!) enough to take a sip from the feeders. 

I also took a break from the busy birds and hiked a short (paved) trail through the park down to the lake. Not a single bird on the lake area but I did spy a camera-shy blue bird in the picnic area.  Spotted a few sparrows. A red-bellied woodpecker as well as a downy woodpecker. Thought I was zooming in on my elusive bluebird and found this baby in the viewfinder instead: 

Fairly certain, the baby is a blue jay.  Spent quite a long time watching for the blue bird to return. Spotted a couple late season young robins. Watched a turkey vulture circle the sky. Made my way back up the trail. Stopped to say goodbye to a summer flower (and hello to a Skipper).  As I walked toward the parking lot, I spotted a few more hummingbird feeders near the old nature center. Of course, I backtracked and watched a few more hummingbirds dart around them. Then, I snapped this final photo before returning home: 

What birds did you spot this week?

Linking my post up with the Bird D’Pot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’.

Birding At Roaring River State Park

Other than a hummingbird mercilessly taunting my photography attempts, I’ve not done much bird-watching this week.

And on another sad note, the city finally paid a visit to our neighbors with the wild backyard. Their backyard is no longer a wonderful habitat and looks once again like all the other suburban yards in this area. SIGH.

Thankfully, the Carolina Wren stuck around the yards. He’s in our yard now. I’ve announced our yard waste (a decent pile of sticks and such) must now stay forever. My husband disagrees.

Let’s think back to happier times like last weekend when I did get to do some birding. We visited Roaring River State Park and the scenery included some interesting birds!

One of the common sights around the park:

Vultures!  

Don’t you love when you accidentally learn something on a weekend getaway? Ha! I always called the birds at the park turkey vultures. Never realized they were indeed black vultures. They do have turkey vultures in the area as well but I didn’t spot any of them once I realized all these times I’ve been looking at black vultures. You’ll often find them hanging out at the fish cleaning station.  

I have several sub-par photos from three years ago of them in that area. Didn’t manage a new photo at the fish cleaning area.  This time, with just my husband and myself, we stumbled on this while on a hike:  

The naturalist in the nature center told us the park obtained a special permit to relocate some of them. She told us they were taking the wipers off cars as well as damaging the roof of the lodge. Moving on from the vultures, by far the most common bird I spotted at the park, I did see a few other birds. Apparently, hummingbirds all across the state enjoy tormenting my sad attempts to take their photos! I spotted one sipping honeysuckle but alas he said, “no photos, please” and jetted away!

Just outside the nature center, my husband spied a goldfinch.

Goldfinch!

Funny just as I started to complain about only seeing vultures (and the one hummingbird), my husband pointed this guy out to me. He did prove a more willing subject than my  hummingbirds. 

And finally, I spotted one more new (to me) bird while we were hiking and fishing at the park. The first time I spotted this bird, it flew deep into a hole in the spring.

The second time, I spotted two while we were fishing. I asked my husband, what were those two black and white birds that just flew into the forest?  

Belted Kingfisher

I finally spotted one and managed to capture a quick photo (Did I mention the cloudy skies  and rain every day we were there?).  

It was fun to spot some new (to me) birds before driving home. We spent a lot of the drive home playing turkey vulture or black vulture? And I spotted a few more kingfishers (no photos at highway speeds though!). (Linking up my post with the Bird Depot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather Be Birdin’)

 

Bird Watching Vs. Bird Photographing

Last week, I did a bit of bird watching. Not so much bird photographing.

I have only one lonely bird photograph to share.  However, I do have some fun bird watching tales to tell. It makes me wonder about it all.  Do we call this sport (hobby?) bird watching or bird photographing?  I love trying to capture the bird photos and joining in this link up each week.

However, I also love simply watching the birds. Many weeks I’m simply too busy to go out and search for that elusive perfect bird photo. This was one of those weeks. Full time work schedule, home fairly exhausted each night.  School started for the boys this week.  Mad dash for school supplies on Wednesday. Saturday full of family and the high school marching band preview show. Errands and now, rain on Sunday.

So, only one bird photo to share this week. A simple picture of a goldfinch in a neighbor’s flower garden. A quick snap as I walked around the block with my youngest son. 

By far, not even a great photo of a goldfinch. However, seeing the flash of yellow go by us and then, pointing it out in their garden. Definitely, a great bird watching joy! That’s how my bird watching happened this week, quick stolen moments as I went about my days and evenings.

Other Bird Watching Moments From Last Week:

  • Heard, then saw a cardinal in the neighbor’s evergreen tree. Watched the neighborhood mockingbird fly over and perch in the same tree. And then, the little hummingbird zipped over to the tree as well. What a time to not have my camera! However, instead of worrying about the perfect shot. I simply stood and watched. Soon enough the hummingbird buzzed away. Then, the mockingbird. Lastly, the cardinal.
  • Things I need to research: Why do they call them turkey vultures? To preschool children, they look like eagles.  The kids look at me with wide eyes when I say, “I think eagles are a little bit bigger than those birds”
  • A group of geese just hanging out in the Target parking lot after a brief afternoon rain shower moved through our area.
  • Many swifts or maybe barn swallows flying about in the sky making their familiar calls.
  • Last night, a hawk or maybe a falcon (my husband thinks it was a falcon, I think it was a young Cooper’s hawk) flying to a tree in a front yard down the street. And then off, to another area.

Sometimes, it’s nice to take a small (forced) break from trying to capture all the birds with the camera. I still enjoy just watching them. What birds did you enjoy watching last week?

Joining in the Bird Depot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’

 

Looking At Birds In The Neighborhood

Most my birding took place at home last week.

We do have some interesting new neighbors to watch.

Two turtle doves survey the neighborhood each morning and evening from the poles and wires.

My favorite new neighbor is the Mocking bird who likes to hang out when I’m without my camera. I did get lucky a few times. 

Our backyard song star, the Carolina Wren returned to us. 

I’ve see a pair of them flitting about in the early mornings and evenings. And of course, our resident Cardinals and Robins still hang out with us. A little group of sparrows also flits about the neighborhood. Usually too busy to stop and pose for photos.

I did capture some photos after a brief rain a few weeks early. You can view those photos here.

Speaking of birds too busy to pose for photos, my son and I walked out the door one evening only to spot a hummingbird sitting on the wire! And probably the same little bird startled me as I sat on the front porch reading one night.

A Blue jay squawked to let us know he saw us as we checked on the garden another night. He was probably fussing at the cat more than us but maybe not.

And while not birds, I am super excited to see these creatures flying around the yards again:  My favorite, the Monarch butterfly!

Hope to see lots more birds and butterflies next week!

What birds have you spotted lately?

Linking up with The Bird Depot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’. 

 

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