Northern.*

It’s a beautiful day in Hutchinson county, near 7o°F, sunny, and as close to windless as it gets around here.  Earlier I went out to Fritch Fortress to see if the Bald Eagles were still around–in the last post I had mentioned that I hadn’t seen them.  They were there today.  I guess the winds had sent them hunting elsewhere that day.  There were also quite a few Double Crested Cormorants mixed in with the American White Pelicans.  They seem to enjoy each others company.  I had noticed them hanging out together when we went to the coast a few weeks ago.

I drove down the boat ramp road to the parking lot and sat looking out over the lake at the pelicans and cormorants.  This lot is only about 20 meters above the water and there is a lot of brush along the lake edge up to the lot.  It wasn’t terribly windy, but there was a good stiff breeze coming around the point and out there, in that breeze, was a Northern Harrier Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk hovering above the brush.northern-harrier-14-1201x841

He hung there in the wind, nearly motionless, for several minutes before darting down, out of sight below the drop off, and then flew back into sight and settled on some rocks not too far from where I was standing.  What a beautiful bird.

Another “Northern” (thus the title of the post) I’ve photographed this week was a Northern Cardinal male.northern-cardinal-19-1280x805  I saw him at Spring Canyon last week.  He was with about 12 or 15 Eastern and Western Meadowlarks and some Field Sparrows grazing in the grass (is a gas, baby, can you dig it) on the north side of the Stillin Basin.  I’ve seen a  few female cardinals around this winter, but this is the first male since last fall.

We saw several Northern Mockingbirds on our trip to the coast.  My Birds of Texas says that they are year round residents in the Panhandle, but I haven’t seen any around here this winter.

I took these shots of Northern Bobwhites a few weeks ago at Spring Canyon.  They seemed pretty interested in the sunrise.northern-bobwhite

 

Spring Canyon has also hosted Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and lots of Northern Flickers this winter, also.  I see the pintails and the shovelers mixed in with mallards in flocks of dozens, sometimes hundreds of birds on the south end of Meredith off of Fritch Fortress.  I always like to see them here at Spring Canyon, though because they are easier to photograph.

Northern Flickers are woodpeckers that reside here year round.  I’ve seen as many as 8 or so at a time a Spring Canyon have photographed them at all the places I frequent around Hutchinson County.  There are two sub-species–red-shafted and yellow-shafted, referring to the color of the feather shafts.  The red-shafted are common around here.

For more pics of the harrier and the other birds mentioned in this post check out the galleries.

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