Monday, November 13, 2017

Raptors, Raptors and more Raptors!

Most of my weekend mornings, I am scouting for Bald Eagle nests for the upcoming Bald Eagle Nest Watch.  It is fun to discover new nests and I love exploring new areas around Dane County, Wisconsin.   I had finished up looking for another nest and I was headed home when I saw a sign for Indian Lake County Park.  I decided to check it out and I'm really glad I did.

So, the first raptor is technically not a raptor but a songbird.  I saw it right away when I pulled up into the parking lot.  A striking grey bird with a raptor-like reputation.  The Northern Shrike was flitting around in the trees and bushes.  It perched long enough for me to take a not so great shot but it was awesome to see this honorary member of the raptor family.

I walked around the lake for a little while and I kept thinking, "what a good spot this would be for a Bald Eagle."  Pretty much on queue, I noticed an adult landing on perch with what looked like a fish.   He eventually finished his meal and then headed across the lake to perch where I got this distance shot of him.

On the way back to my car, I saw yet another raptor.  At first, I thought it might be a Red-shouldered Hawk like the above one from my old New York backyard but no luck.  It turned out to be it's more common cousin the Red-tailed Hawk.

I thought the raptor fest was over and I was about back to my car when I saw another raptor.  What luck!  A beautiful female Northern Harrier was hunting over the grasses near the lake.  She circled the  area a number of times looking for prey in the grass but then headed over the tree line to hunt elsewhere.

What a great morning with my favorite group of birds and my first opportunity to photograph a Northern Harrier!  I will definitely be stopping off at Indian Lake County Park again.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Getting Ready to Migrate

Our backyard in the rental house here in Wisconsin is very slow on bird activity.  I have only got a few Morning Doves, and House Finches showing up to my feeder.  I got to say, I'm missing all the activity, we had in our New York backyard.  I guess you don't realize how lucky you have it until you move.  I  will have to go out and find the birds at local nature preserves for now.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a treat at one of those local nature preserves.  Right down the trail these two Sandhill Cranes flew in.  Cranes are a pretty rare sighting in the Albany, NY area but they are all over the place here in Southern Wisconsin.

Especially right now, when they are getting ready to migrate.  I have seen fields with more than a dozen cranes hanging out and fueling up before their trip.  The endangered Whooping Crane sometimes groups up with their Sandhill cousins but I haven't seen any yet.

These large, loud and kind of goofy looking birds are so much fun to watch!  Happy Birding and enjoy the migrants that are heading though your area.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

First Weekend of Birding

Hello Wisconsin! 

I couldn't help myself.  I had to reference "That 70's Show",  A sitcom taking place in Wisconsin.  The first weekend of birding since we moved to Madison, WI was good but very buggy!  It was great hunting for the swallows, Eastern Phoebes and Eastern Wood Pee-wees that I saw but a little uncomfortable for me.  

One of the highlights of last weekend was the numerous Common Yellowthroats.  I don't recall ever seeing this bird in NY but I have only been looking for warblers for about a year.  The male's striking "black mask"  contrasted with his "yellow throat" is beautiful.  They did make photographing them a challenge since they are pretty much constantly in motion.  

This Veery gave me the eye while foraging on the path with its' cousin in the thrush family the American Robin.

This Red-winged Blackbird gave me his best angry face!

Here is another shot of the Common Yellowthroat.  On top of all that, I found my first Wisconsin Bald Eagle nest.  The Eagle Report will live on!  Happy Birding and I hope to chronicle more of my new experiences in Wisconsin.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Feathers on Friday for 7/14/17

Scarlet Tanager

Happy Friday and first Friday spent in Wisconsin!  The last few weeks that we were in New York, I had two male Scarlet Tanagers and at least one female in my backyard.  Here is one of them looking for berries.  

He grabbed an unripe berry and popped it in his beak.   

He gave me a curious look and flew away to enjoy his berry in a more private area of the yard.   Have a great weekend and Happy Birding!  

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Eagle Report for 7/2017

End Of Another Season

This report is a few weeks late but with moving to Wisconsin, I have been very busy!  We finished up the season in the Capital Region of NY with all eaglets fledgling in late June or early July.  The above two were very busy taking care of three eaglets.  Three eaglets is pretty rare and the food supply needs to be good enough to support their ever-growing appetites.  

Here are the three taking in late May.  One of three had a very eventful fledge...

I went out to the nest in late June to check on the three eaglets.  They were extremely active.  The three were flapping, jumping and taking mini-fights above the nest.  The smallest of the group(probably a male) went out on a small branch and started flapping hard.  He flapped so hard, he fell off the branch and luckily, a lower pine branch broke his fall.  Here is a poor shot of right before he fell.  He tried to hop up to the nest but there wasn't enough room to get through the branches.  Soon after that one of the adults returned to the nest with a fish.  The newly fledged eaglet missed a feeding but it appeared he was unharmed by his fall.  My guess is the other two probably fledged later in the day.  The next visit there was no eagle activity around the nest.  They had probably moved up or down river from the nest. 
The adults continue to feed the fledglings for at least a few weeks until the eaglets venture out on their own.  They must learn how to scavenge, hunt for themselves and master the art of flying.  
The first year for a eagle is very hard with only about 50% surviving to see their 2nd birthday.  Best of luck to all the fledglings!  

The end of season is always a little sad and exciting.  This year is even more bittersweet as I move to a new area of the country and say goodbye to the amazing Bald Eagles of the Capital Region.  The eagles of Dane County Wisconsin will have a tough act to follow but it will interesting to compare them with the eagles of Colorado and New York that I have observed previously.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Wildlife Around The Nests

Great-blue Heron

I take a number of non-eagle pictures around the eagle nests.  All the nests are on prime real estate on the rivers and streams around the Capital Region of New York.  These areas that attract eagles to nests also attract other wildlife.  I have been trying to figure out how to post these pictures.  I guess, I will let them speak for themselves with a little commentary...

Right after, the heron took off to find a more private spot.

I have seen a lot of Beavers this season.  Off course, these guys love the water.

I almost tripped over this Snapping Turtle sunning itself in the grass.

Other birds are nesting and raising their young too during the long breeding season of the Bald Eagle.

White-tailed Deers are a common viewing at the nests.

This Northern Mockingbird was very cooperative and posed nicely on the top of a lighthouse lawn ornament.

Colorful birds like this Baltimore Oriole help to pass the time when the nesting season isn't particularly exciting.

Happy Birding!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Feathers on Friday for 6/9

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Happy Friday!  It's been a rainy few weeks here in Capital Region of New York.  It doesn't seem to have bothered my backyard birds though.   The pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds don't seem to mind the rain either.  I noticed an interesting behavior that the above male was doing.  He was constantly sitting on the the railing of our back deck near the feeder in the rain.  At first, I thought he might be sick or injured as I have never seen a hummingbird stay in one place that long.  I pulled out my binoculars for a closer look.  He was actually drinking the rain water.  I could see his little tongue going in and out as he caught the raindrops falling.    

Here is him sticking out his tongue and flapping his wings.  Now that the weather has gotten drier, I just see him at the feeder.  I feel like there is always something new to learn in the world of birds.

Here is the female perched on our feeder.  

Have a great weekend! It looks like finally, we will get some decent weather here so enjoy it! 

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