Since returning from Missouri I’ve only had a few days where the weather and my work schedule came together to allow me to go birding. It’s been terribly windy around here the last few weeks, with a lot of very cloudy (but no rain) days. We did get a tiny bit of rain one day earlier this week, but not even enough to create any puddles.
The few days that I was able to get out I was able to get a few nice photos, so have a look at these.
There has been a marked increase in the number of Northern Mockingbirds in the last few weeks. My Sibley’s shows them as year round residents, but in the nearly two years I’ve been birding, I’ve noticed they get pretty scarce in the winter. I’ve only seen 2 since last fall until the last couple of weeks.
The American Kestrel’s have been around all winter, though. They are very colorful little raptors, with blue and reddish brown and white spotted feathers and a black mask. this female is not as colorful as the males, but is still a stunning bird.
I also saw a Say’s Phoebe the same day but was unable to get a good photo.
I think this is a Swainson’s Hawk (dark morph,) but I’m not absolutely sure. All of the ones I saw here last summer were light morphs. Also this day was another of the very cloudy, windy ones, so the photo is not that good. The wind seems to have him a bit off balance as he takes wing.
There have been lots of American White Pelicans on the lake this spring. One morning I counted about 70 birds off of Fritch Fortress. there was a day last fall though that there was over 150 of them fishing on the lake. I don’t know what purpose of the keel on top of the beak serves. They have them during breeding season, males and females alike.
Here is another bird that I’m not completely sure of the ID ( i say that tongue-in-cheek; as if I’m ever completely sure.) I think this is a Willet.
We saw some last year when we went to the Gulf Coast, but these are the first I’ve seen in the panhandle. There have been lots of shorebirds around the lake but they are usually in areas that are difficulty to access, so I rarely get close enough for good pictures. I’ve seen Greater Yellowlegs, Least and Western Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowichers and others that I wasn’t able to ID.
The most stunning shorebird at the lake so far though, has been the American Avocets. Stunning not only because of their long up-curved bills, striking plumage, and blue legs, but also because of their numbers. I’ve counted nearly 200 of them at times in the last few weeks foraging on the south end of the lake. This one flew up and landed near where I was sitting on the northeast end of the large pond in Spring Canyon.
More in the Galleries.