Wandered a bit this week, spending Monday morning at McGee Lake in Potter Co., and this morning at Palo Duro Reservoir in Hansford Co. I didn’t see anything too unusual in my travels, but I did get some nice photos. McGee Lake may be the only playa in the panhandle with water. Most of it is waste water from a near-by meat packing plant. It’s all posted so the closest you can get is about a 100 meters away on Masterson Rd. on the east side. Nearly everything I saw was through a scope and so I didn’t get any photos of the birds on the lake and the shore.
The only thing I was able to photograph was a pair of light morph juvenile Swainson’s Hawks.
When I first saw them, I got a bit excited because I thought they might be Prairie Falcons. These are the first Swainson’s I’ve seen that didn’t have the reddish bib.
At Palo Duro there were dozens of Mississippi Kites north of the dam in an area that has lots of trees and a small shady pond and creek, including this
highly photogenic pair.
This one had the longest tail I’ve ever seen on a STFL, and he seemed quite proud of it.
I wonder if the tail is a help or a hindrance when it comes to catching insects. There might be some advantage to using the long tail as a counter-balance in tight turns, but in this case I think it might be more of a sexual preference on the part of the female, much like the Birds of Paradise in Papua-New Guinea. There are several dozen species of the Birds of Paradise, each more insanely colored and feathered than the last. The feathers and colors make movement awkward at least, and the colors do not provide any camouflage at all, making them vulnerable to predators. The ladies like it though and so the males shake them tail feathers for the sake of love. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology has an excellent series of videos you should watch.
I also got a couple of very nice photos of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The Cuckoo isn’t an unusual bird around here but he is very shy and hard to photograph. this si the third sighting I’ve made in the 2 years I’ve been birding and these are the first photos that can be used for anything other than ID purposes.
Palo duro Reservoir is the only place int the panhandle that I know of that Double-crested Cormorants nest. All of the guides I use, except audubon’s show DCCO as migratory birds. Audubon’s shows the area around PDR as a summer residence. Anyway, heres a photo of nesting Double-crested Cormorants.
More Bird photos in the gallery