Under the Lens

The last week has been miserably hot.  A high pressure dome has set up over us and we feel like ants under a magnifying lens.  Temps have been over 37°C for the last week and topped 41° twice.  There is no trace of the rains from a few weeks ago; everything is dry and brown.  Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful, though, from all the dust in the air. Occasionally, distant clouds flair as rays from the rising or setting sun back light them.  The high pressure dome is supposed to drift off towards the northwest and allow some cooler temps and perhaps even a little rain.  Good news for us, but I’m afraid the fires in Colorado will worsen because of it.

Birding has been a little slow around here, also.  I haven’t seen anything new since the sandpipers at the (now defunct) playa lake a few weeks ago.  I’ve been out several mornings this past week, but call it a day pretty early because of the heat.  I’m going to north Texas in a few weeks for a reunion so maybe I can get photos of something new.  I saw on ebird that someone in  Cottle County was seeing Pyrrhuloxia, Common Nighthawks, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and several other birds that I’ve not seen.  Cottle Co. isn’t far out of my way, so I might drive through.

Here’s the birds.

There are two types of Northern Flickers, both of which can be seen in Hutchinson County.  They interbreed frequently.  This is a Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker.  I also regularly see the Red-shafted variety.  There is a Gilded Flicker, as well, that lives in the southwestern US that builds nest in Saguaro Cactus.

Northern Flickers build nests in holes in trees, but will occasionally take over an abandoned Kingfisher or Bank Swallow burrow.  They usually feed on the ground on ants, digging into the mound to get at them and using it’s long barbed tongue to lap them up.northern-flicker-49-1280x825

I saw these Wild Turkey hens and their broods parading across the road through McBride Canyon at the Lake Meredith National Recreational Area.wild-turkey-28-1280x896

There are several young Western Kingbirds at City Park in Fritch.  the Western Kingbirds arrived in early May.  This guy was a part of a group of about 6 sitting in the branches of a small tree.  They fussed loudly at me, but seem reluctant to take wing.  They finally took off on a short hop to the next tree.  They didn’t seem to have much trouble with the take-off or the flight itself, but maneuvering for a landing on the tree branches in the stiff breeze seemed to tax their skills.western-kingbird-41-1280x853

Here’s a picture of a Northern Mockingbird that has just landed during a “skylarking” display.  Notice that his eyes have a protective nictitating membrane covering them in this shot.northern-mockingbird-45-1280x886

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