Birding isn’t a competitive activity but I confess that I do get annoyed a bit when I read that someone has seen a bird in Hutchinson county that I’ve yet to see. I report my bird sightings to a website (www.ebird.org) maintained by the Cornell University Ornithology Lab. There aren’t many folks locally that use the site, but occasionally someone comes by Hutchinson County from another part of the state and spends the day birding. They post their sightings and if they see something that I haven’t, I get an email from ebird listing rare sightings and common birds that I may not have logged so far for the year.
I received an email the other morning that contained just such a message. Not only were there a half dozen common birds that I hadn’t seen, there were nearly that many more rarities for the area and, of course, I bowed up a little over it and headed out to the lake to see if I could find the birds. Part of the reason I get riled is that I spend 2 or 3 hours at least 3 mornings a week out hunting for birds and taking photos and then someone comes in, spends the morning birding, and reports things that I haven’t seen. A couple of rational conclusions could be made– I am just not that good at identifying birds yet and this person is much better at it, or the birds are transient and were just around on the day he saw them (a day, by the way, that I was working and couldn’t get out to the lake.)
I never found the birds. I really wanted to; five of them, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Clark’s Grebe, a Bonapart’s Gull, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, and a Cackling Goose would have been lifers. I saw Common and Hooded Mergansers that morning, but no Red-breasted, although they are difficulty to tell at a distance from the Commons. I’ve seen Western, Eared, Horned, and Pied-billed Grebes at Meredith, but I didn’t see any at all that morning. There are hundreds of ring-billed Gulls at the lake and I’ve seen Herring and Franklin’s Gulls before, but I couldn’t see anything but Ring-bills, no Bonapart’s that morning. I saw dozens of sparrows and hundreds of Canada and Snow Geese, but not a Lincoln’s Sparrow or Cackling Goose. Both would have been hard for me to differentiate from similar species; sparrows have such minor differences and the Cackling Goose is basically just a smaller, lighter, shorter-necked version of the Canada Goose. The others are birds I’ve seen around the county before, just not so far this year. Oh well, there’s still a long time left in the year, and like I said, it’s not a competition.
Here’s a few photos of the birds I did see.
At home the feeders have been swamped for the last few weeks with Pine Siskins
I took my first trip of the year up to Palo Duro Reservoir earlier in the week and saw lots of Canada and Snow Geese,
1 adult and 4 Juvenile Bald Eagles. Here’s a couple of shots of two of the juveniles. Never got a good one of the adult.
Several Northern Harriers. ‘This one is breakfasting on a Canada Goose frozen in the ice at the edge of the lake. I think he probably is just scavenging, it’s pretty big for him to have killed.
A pretty good week, actually, even without the lifers. (It’s not a competition, it’s not a competition, it’s not a competition, it’s not a competition,……)
More photos in the galleries