Category Archives: birdwatching

Bird Watching On The Prairie

Last Saturday, I took a day trip and drove down to visit fellow blogger, Rebecca from Rebecca’s Hearth and Home.  She’s a ranger at Prairie State Park.

You can read all about my rock star tour in this post.  Birding on the prairie is a bit more listening than watching.  You can hear the birds but spotting them is a bit more difficult.

Of course, we spotted the hawks easily but not easy to photograph.  Rebecca did help me spot and introduce me to a new (to me) bird: The Dickcissel.

We heard these birds before we could spot them.  The zoom lens and a bit of cropping happened in all my photos of them. 

I took the first set of photos while hiking on one of the prairie trails with Rebecca. As we returned to the nature center, I took the quarter-mile loop behind the building in hopes of simply capturing the vast expansive feeling of the open prairie.

I failed at that. However, I did spot more Dickcissel birds. So attempted a few more photos of them. They were mostly sitting in short shrubs blending in a bit with the small branches. One little bird did cooperate a tiny bit. 

The camera not so much. 

Have you spotted any new birds lately?

Linking this post up with the Bird Depot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’

Killdeer Nest in the Flint Hills

More accurately, the title should be killdeer nest on the scenic overlook right off the highway.

Last weekend, we took a trip to Oklahoma to visit family. Our route takes us through the Flint Hills of Kansas. Pretty but hard to photograph at 70 mile per hour. This time, however, we were driving through them during the sunset hours.

My husband agreed to stop at the Bazaar Cattle Pens overlook so I could take “just one photo of the sunset.”  Of course, one is a relative number to the person holding the camera.

I could hear the Killdeer calling as I took my “one” photo.  After spotting one down below near a pond, I turned and saw the one sitting on the rocky viewing area.

Must have a nest nearby, I mentioned to a woman as I glanced over toward it. She informed me it was sitting on it! Suddenly, one photo of the sunset became a few photos of the Killdeer sitting on the nest. Using the zoom lens as to not disturb the bird too much.

Although, she certainly chose a rather high traffic nesting site!

Killdeer Nest

The photos probably could be better. Working against the light and with worries my impatient family might leave me stranded on I-35 didn’t help my concentration.

The nest stood maybe 2-3 foot from the overlook rail. You can faintly see the nest to the left of the rail (Look closely, that black “rock” is the bird) in the sunset photo: 

The above photo gives a good idea how close people were to the nest. I doubt most of them knew it was there. I’d have missed it as well if not for the brief conversation about it. Then, the best part of our stop:

Killdeer attempting to distract us from the nest.

Watching the bird’s partner feign injury to get us away from the nest! A woman worried the bird had a broken wing. Happily, I told her about the act to get us away from the nest. (Knowledge I only recently learned from reading Anni’s I’d Rather B Birdin’ blog. She’s got great Killdeer pictures over there, much better than these!)

The Killdeer nest along the interstate was definitely the highlight of my birding adventures last week.

I’m linking this post up with the Bird Depot hosted by Anni of I’d Rather B Birdin’. Be sure and visit her site for truly amazing bird pictures!

Gentle Summer Rain

I love the summer rain.  We’ve not had much lately. It’s been August heat advisory HOT most of July. Almost ALL of last week, yesterday included.

Today we had a lovely summer rain. The pleasant temperature arrived first. Then, the rain started with a slight thunderstorm, nothing serious. And turned into a steady downpour.

I went outside and stood in it for a bit.  First in the backyard on the deck under the roof overlap. However, I moved out and the raindrops fell on me for a few minutes. I returned to the house and decided to go stand on the front porch for just a few more minutes.

During the majority of the rain, we stayed inside (the cat included for a change!) and watched movies (or did our own thing). First, I watched Spiderman 2 with G, a nice treat. And then, my husband decided to watch Jurassic Park 3 so I sat and watched it as well.

Again, I found my way outside. Our little gray cat tagged along with me. The birds chirped happily.

I spent a few minutes watching a little group of sparrows eating seeds on the neighbor’s driveway.  Jumping up to pull them down off the weeds. The camera came out for the show.  With the little gray cat complaining about the lack of attention, I turned back to check out the garden (and yes, give her a bit of love).  No need to water the garden and the flowers looked happy.

Why Summer Rain Is Better

(than the other seasons, my opinion)

  • It smells good. The scent of hot pavement cooled off by summer rain, surely there’s a fancy word for it?
  • The best of refreshments after sweltering heat
  • Not freezing cold, doesn’t turn into any serious road hazards (thinking of ice, snow, etc)
  • Provides a good reason to sit inside and watch movies or read
  • Saves on the watering of the garden and refreshes the flowers (I think my flowers prefer rain water. I know they’d verify it for me if they spoke.)

I’ll end my post with one of my favorite songs about rain:

Do you like summer rain?

(Including this post in the 30 Days of Summer Series)

Young Bluejay

One day earlier last week before the Fourth festivities, I noticed an odd array of birds.

Sitting on the neighbor’s fence: A robin, two blue jays, and a grackle. Of course, I ran for my camera!

The grackle went through the lattice-work and flew down toward the overgrown yard.  

My focus went to the blue jays. I tried to sneak the backdoor open…and one startled and flew away.  One agreed to pose.   I realized I had a young blue jay in my camera sights. So striking! 

And then, mama came along and off they both flew high in the trees leaving only the little robin on the fence.  Not much of a week for bird watching as most of the evening skies filled with fireworks and loud booms. And I worked quite a bit before and after the holiday.

Other birds I spotted this week: lots of grackles and robins, the blue jays, cardinals, a blue heron flying over the pond at the end of the street, a mockingbird sitting in a tree on the playground at work, a random killdeer in a parking lot, and a few sparrows.

Oh, and in case you wondered, baby blue jays vocals are just as loud and possibly louder than the adult birds. Can’t miss them!

Linking this post up with The Bird Depot hosted by Anni of I’d Rather B Birdin’.

Soggy, Summer Birds

I’ve been a bit too busy and it’s been a bit too hot to venture too far away from home.  Still, the backyard birds manage to keep me entertained.

On Tuesday, I made a run to Target. The forecast called for thunderstorms and it had already rained in the morning. It’s not going to rain again until tonight, I defiantly announced and set off to do my shopping.

As I stood in line to pay for my purchases, we all heard it. The rain hammering down on the roof of the store. There’s some odd sense of Midwest security and camaraderie that emerges when those pop-up storms come while in a store. The “I should have brought an umbrella” and the discussion of the weather ensues. And the rain continues.

The onslaught of raindrops paused as I finished paying for my purchases. I made it almost to my car before in a practical joking sense, mother nature let loose again with yet another downpour. Soaked in sank into my car and drove home noticing the super dark skies (between the furiously working wiper blades).

Once home, I observed the menacing dark skies to the south. Went inside to ask my husband if they’d issued any weather warnings. He didn’t think so although none of my family bothered to check the weather.  Turns out there were tornado warnings just southeast of us.

However, this post is about the birds. After the storm officially left, I glanced out the backdoor and noticed some rather soggy birds. (Please bear with my photos, I’m still trying to figure out my photo editing with Windows 10.)

Soggy, summer birds:

The cardinal stood out against the green leaves and clearing sky:  Grackles are going strong in our neighborhood, raising their young and keeping the rest of us, birds, cats, and humans, in line.  (Young grackles are kind of cute)
The last photo I’m including simply to show the purplish-blue shimmer of the Grackle since it’s not noticeable in the photos above.  While not easy to photograph, they are amazing to watch as I’ve noticed they seem to have a quite complex system of communicating and really do stick together.

Other birds I spotted this week:

house sparrows, doves, lots more grackles!, a pair of robins letting a squirrel know exactly who was in charge of things (hint: not the squirrel), blue-jays, turkey vultures flying overhead, some type of hawk with striped tail feathers (flew over my car on the way to work too fast for any proper id), and a mockingbird.

What birds did you spot this week?

(Joining in with the Bird D’Pot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin’)

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