Birder's Eye View

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Afternoon Birding

The earth is what we all have in common. -- Wendell Berry
I walked along the dirt road of the archery range, an area where I occasionally go birding. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. I listened to the steady beat of my footsteps on the gravel. It was warm and humid outside, cooled only occasionally by a breeze that brought with it the scent of damp wood and swamp vegetation.

All the way down the road my ears were keen to the slightest rustle of the bushes, the softest chirp. But all I heard was the electric-buzzing of the cicadas and the soft hum of bees. I was looking for Roseate Spoonbills; I had seen one fly over, so I had set off down the road to find where it had landed.

After only several minutes, two flew right over my head and I eagerly snapped pictures. Spoonbills are one of my favorite bird species, and, while I've seen them many times this year already, birding is not just about the lists to me. I love to watch birds, even birds I see every day; they never cease to reveal something new to my boundless curiosity.

Moments after the spoonbills had passed, an Osprey flew over. I can usually recognize them quickly because of the length of their angular wings.

A few more minutes passed, and this time four Roseate Spoonbills cruised overehead! They flew in pairs before joining together and flying over the treeline.

After a while, we left the archery range and drove to the other side of the park near a big lake surrounded by cattails and pickerell weed. As I trod along the lake's shore, suddenly the ground beneath where I was about to step coiled back.

Trying not to lose my balance, I leapt over the obstacle. My family burst out laughing at me, as a 4-foot long Yellow Ratsnake slithered away into the reeds.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not at all afraid of snakes. In fact, I like them very much. But when you come inches from squishing one beneath your foot, it can be a little startling. Nonetheless, I was able to get some nice shots of it (see picture above).

Besides accomodating large ratsnakes, this area of the park also held an abundance of grackles and crows. Above is a male Boat-tailed Grackle, and below is a female. They appeared to be defending a nest from us, as they fluttered around frantically when we passed by.

So, no new species on this outing, but it was fun anyway.

Happy birding!

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  • Hahaha, man, that's one startled Rat Snake! ;) You probably scared him right out of the
    Nice Spoonbills. They are soo cool!!

    Have you seen any Cuckoos yet?

    By Blogger Parus, At May 22, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

  • Glad you like the pics! =) Nope, unfortunately, I've never seen a Cuckoo before! I've heard of Mangrove Cuckoo sightings in the area, but I've never been lucky enough to see one. Hopefully I'll get one this year, though.

    By Blogger A., At May 22, 2008 at 6:05 PM  

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