Saturday, May 19, 2007

Casual Birding, Great Results

We didn't plan to do any serious birding today, but the results were surprising. The morning started by taking my niece mountain biking. We saw the usual foothills bird traffic of Western Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Redtailed Hawks, etc. Near the end of the ride, we stopped to see if we could point out the Great Horned Owls. Indeed, the female Owl and all three of her fledged chicks were in a tree together. We could not find the male, but I am sure he was in the area. This makes the fourth year in a row that this couple has fledged at least 3 chicks (last year there were 4). Had the owls been arranged in a better composition, I would have gone home then returned with my camera. That will have to wait for another day.
In the afternoon we had a number of errands to run. We took along the camera and binoculars as we thought about stopping by a wetland area that I recently heard about. It is a converted rock quarry about a mile from where I work. We ended up spending 2 hours there. We watched Great Blue Herons(3), Black-crowned Night-Herons(2), Blackbirds, Coots and others. The highlight were the two families of Pied-billed Grebes. I have always been a fan of all Grebe's, but particularly the Pied-billed. Their behavior is so much more interesting than other waterfowl. Last year we had a single Pied-billed Grebe in our local pond. This year we have had two, but no chicks have been spotted yet. The Pied-billed's have the ability to compact their feathers and just sink into the water. In our local pond we have watched the Grebe sink and then come up right behind an American Coot, scaring the Coot into the reeds. Today the family in the photo had 4 chicks. We watched as the chicks would crawl up on the mothers back under her wings. In both photos you can see the 4th chick's head sticking out from under her feathers. It was fun to watch. We also saw the male return with some food. Not bad for some casual birding!

This article featured in the 50th edition of the I and the Bird Blog Carnival.

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1 comment:

TR said...

Your blog is very interesting! Really enjoy reading birding posts. I'm a 'casual birder'. I like your phrase!
--Zac's Mom