It’s been a surprisingly colorful spring here in Hutchinson County. We’ve had some nice rains but the lake is still far from full with 9.6m at the dam (record high was about 31m in April of 1973, record low was April this year at 9m.) We’ve had to mow the lawn more already this spring than we did all last year.
There have been some very colorful birds around to go with this lush (to us,) green backdrop. I guess they are here every year, but I’ve never paid much attention. It’s pretty sad, really, to think that I missed 56 years of these beautiful creatures. I’ve certainly been trying to make up the lost opportunities, though. Other than the two 24 hour shifts that I work each week I haven’t missed very many days of birding in the last year. Even the days I work I manage to spend a few minutes wandering around the hospital looking at the birds. I’ve put 129 species on my year list-that’s only seven short of a species a day. Not too bad.
Here’s the birds:
I saw my 3rd warbler (out of nine that are common to this area) this morning at Cedar Canyon, a Yellow Warbler. There was a male and a female but I was only able to get photos of the male. The other two I photographed this spring are the Common Yellowthroat and the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Yellow seems pretty popular with these guys. Wood Warblers are amazingly hard to see. You’d think all the yellows and blacks and whites would stand out, but not so. They are very small and quick and when they are in dense foliage the colors look like sunlight filtering through the leaves. Evolution’s a grand thing.
The Red-headed Woodpeckers arrived sometime in the last week at McBride Canyon, which is just over the county line in Potter County. I live in a 4-corner’s area in Hutchinson County, Moore, Carson and Potter counties are just a few miles from my house. I had seen the Red-headed Woodpeckers out there last year (also saw some in Bugbee Canyon) and I was pretty excited to see them again.
Another new one for me was an Eastern Kingbird, also at McBride Canyon. There’s been hundreds of Western Kingbirds in the county, but this is the only Eastern I’ve seen. There’ve been reports on eBird of some Cassin’s Kingbirds, but I’ve not seen them, or if I have, I’ve not been able to tell them from the Westerns.
Cedar Canyon also has several Bullock’s Orioles, Orchard Orioles, a pair of Painted Buntings, dozens of Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, several Northern Mockingbirds and Cardinals, and a small flock of House Finches, and assorted Lark and rufous-crowned Sparrows, Northern Shrikes, Killdeer, Mississippi Kites and Turkey Vultures. On a clear, windless morning like today’s, Cedar Canyon is an Avian Mardi Gras.