Category: bird watching

Happy Fall (or Spring) Equinox–depending on where you are

So today is the first day of autumn (in the northern hemisphere). Depending on which day of the week it would fall (nice unintended pun there), I would go for a walk around Boomer Lake—or the closest Saturday or Sunday. Technically I could have tried today—but between the pandemic (I don’t trust the reporting of the numbers for where I live) and the overcast weather (which makes most pictures a little too dark) I decided not to do a walk. I’ve decided that even a short walk will have to be done fairly early in the morning (to avoid others), so I have a couple of choices in terms of mornings for a walk at some point before the end of the month.

Green Heron seen last summer at Boomer Lake.

I missed seeing all the little goslings and ducklings this year but I am hoping to be out a couple of times to catch some of the migrating birds (both the ones that stop for a short layover and those that winter in town) between this fall and the coming spring.

I’ve created a series of pages dedicated to my bird-watching hobby (Birds, Birds, and Birds is the ‘home’ page), and more pages will be added to the series, and pages will be updated as well (with potential additional pages added within to house some more of the photographs).

So far I’ve managed to make a page for the migratory ruby-throated hummingbird, the year round red-bellied woodpecker, and the year round great blue heron.

Migration of various animals (such as birds and butterflies) will start to pick up in intensity over the next few weeks—though if they summer further north, they may have already started their migrations a few weeks ago. Some animals base their migration on the amount of sunlight—so as the sun starts to set earlier and rise later, they start to head south.

Monarch (or Viceroy) Butterfly seen resting at Boomer Lake early last fall.

Over Labor Day, we actually saw part of the dragonfly migration (they were also being followed by kestrels and Mississippi kites)—though we haven’t seen any since (but that is understandable—it all depends on the direction of the winds for both that particular day and the few days leading up to the current day).

What is your favorite migratory animal??

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Update on site: Check out the birds!

So the website will be getting updated periodically (hopefully weekly, but definitely biweekly). I realized that I have several pages within the blog that I don’t add to consistently, and I’m hoping to change that fact.

First up—I decided to add a new page called Birds, birds, and birds. The topic of the pages associated with it is specific—birds. Since I enjoy doing bird photography, I decided that I would dedicate a page to the topic. I’m hoping that each week I can add a new page to the series.

Currently the only additional page that is listed is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I will also be updating the Travel page as well—and it may be alternating weeks with the bird page.

I will still be posting photography photos on the blog (and the photography page), but decided to also give certain subjects home pages as well.

In terms of the other pages—Fitness will have three additional pages added to it before the end of the year, and I will probably have several blog posts as well throughout the rest of the year.

Adding to the All Things Science page will be a little more sporadic (I’m hoping to add a page once a month, as it will be a fairly in-depth coverage of a subject), but also adding in some blog posts as well.

I’m also thinking of redesigning/renaming the Odds & Ends Bucket List—to the 150+ Challenge in 2002 days, and have both pages and maybe even blog posts associated with it as well.

In addition, I’m thinking of adding in a spirituality page that will cover my rediscovery journey to being a wiccan/pagan.

Finally, I’m hoping to get into a consistent mode where I’m adding to the site weekly (probably different topics), but at the same time helping to improve science education/communications; educate, and just help others who may also feel like they don’t really fit the mold of the current society.

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Photography Challenge Day 204 & 205: The Green Heron is still around

So the winner of the next double photography challenge is the green heron. This one (or these two) haven’t started their migration south yet, though they should be heading off within the next couple of weeks. Green herons migrate south anywhere from the end of August through October.

Well–we’re a little over halfway through September, so there is basically now six weeks until Halloween. I’m hoping to possibly get a few more pictures of them this fall before they head south, since I never seem to be able to get good pictures of them in the springtime.

Green Heron flying in the fog.

I managed to see them both mornings that I walked at Boomer Lake, though I saw them on opposite sides of the lake. On Saturday, I startled this one, and it flew past me to head into the little cove. Due to the fog, I lost sight of it once I turned around to follow it.

These guys blend right in with the dreary landscape, and if it had sat still and ignored me–I would have completely missed seeing it.

Green Heron flying across the lake

Sunday morning, I saw one of them flying from the little island towards the tall grasses that I had just passed. I knew that there wasn’t going to be any closer pictures this morning. Though I have to wonder where the other one is at–I’ve seen them as a pair this year. Even with the one I startled yesterday–I soon startled it’s mate/friend a few minutes later. I just wasn’t able to get a picture of it.

Though this is one thing that has made me happy this fall–being able to get a couple of good pictures of the green herons.

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Photography Challenge Days 202 & 203: The difference between sunny and foggy.

So the walks this weekend were polar opposites of each other—Saturday was totally foggy, and Sunday was sunny without a cloud in sight. Therefore the pictures for the weekend are going to somewhat showcase the difference between a sunny day and a totally foggy day.

Great Blue Heron sitting in the tree on Saturday

So the above picture was taken on Saturday, and I was actually surprised that I managed to see the heron through the fog sitting in the tree. Luckily I’ve been watching them enough that I knew where to look.

Great Blue Heron sitting in the tree on Sunday

Then basically the same location on Sunday, and either the same blue heron or another one was sitting in the tree deciding on when to go hunt for breakfast.

Then I managed to get a picture of an egret back in the creek area of the lake. This is one area that I want to explore a little more–but I need to get some hiking boots first, plus some decent pants as well (summer isn’t the time to be in the woods with shorts on).

Great Egret in the fog, on Saturday morning

So there is this one egret that I always see under this tree on the creek side, come fog or sunny weather.

Great Egret in sunny weather, on Sunday morning.

So even slightly unpleasant weather can lead to interesting pictures, especially when you can do an comparison shot within a few days afterwards. I probably could have tried to go back out Saturday afternoon and see what photographs I could have gotten–but these are roughly the same time but one on Saturday and the other on Sunday.

Something new to aim for–getting certain photographs in certain areas at roughly the same time each day (or each week) and then compare them to each other………..

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Photography Challenge Day 199: Odds and Ends

So since I couldn’t just pick one or two pictures to share today, the theme is odds and ends. Basically a little bit of several things–namely insects, arthropods, and maybe either some fungi or a bird or two. In other words–it will be mainly pictures, with a few words here and there.

Viceroy butterfly

I did see a Viceroy butterfly on my morning walk the other day going around Boomer Lake. It was just sitting on the one edge of the bridge soaking up some morning sun before looking for food.

Heron flying overhead

I’m also pretty certain that I got a picture of a green heron in flight. The body type is right for them, and they’re a dark color. It just didn’t help that they had the sun at their back, making it hard to see the actual green color of their feathers.

Red-spotted Purple Admiral Butterfly

I managed to get a good picture of an red-spotted purple admiral this weekend as well. Luckily I spotted one on the street (and there weren’t any cars coming).

Bee on the flowers

Our decorative grass is flowering, and that means I’m starting to see some bees in the backyard again this fall. It’s always nice to see them.

Creepy little spider

Then I noticed that there was this little spider spinning it’s web between the leaves of some of the plants.

So these are just a few of the other pictures that I took this weekend (and I still have others I can share). Most of the pictures are nature/wildlife, as that is what I’m currently most comfortable trying to photograph. Though this fall/winter I may start branching out and starting to do some architecture shots as well. But mainly I’m focusing on enjoying a hobby, and maybe figuring out how to fit in daily with everything else.

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Photography Challenge Day 196: National Hummingbird Day

Since today is National hummingbird day—the winner of the photography challenge is the hummingbird.

Hummingbird on the wire

There are currently over 300 species of hummingbirds in the western hemisphere with at 150 of them living within the equatorial belt (which is ranges from ten degrees north of the equator to ten degrees south of the equator).

hummingbird at the feeder

Of the approximate 150 species living outside the equatorial belt, there are only twenty-three that venture north into North America: Mexico, the United States and Canada. This is also usually only during the spring and summer, then they make the return flight south to warmer climates for the winter.

Then of the twenty-three species that make it north, they spread out to where you may only see one species in one part of the country, but if you head towards another area, you may see three or four.

For Oklahoma, there are three species that can be found in some part of the state: the ruby-throated hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, and the rufous hummingbird (though this one mostly just flies through).

Hummingbird sitting in the crepe myrtle bush

Though since Stillwater is in the north central part of the state (and probably could be considered north-east central), we really don’t see the black-chinned hummingbird as it is more common western part of the state (particularly in the southwest corner and the panhandle). So until it moves further east due to climate changes, we might get the sporadic one coming through—but for the most part we will mainly have the ruby-throated hummingbirds.

One goal may be to see how many of the other hummingbirds I can spot when I travel—though if I do any traveling into forests (specifically rain forests)—they will be extremely hard to spot, as animals have a tendency to avoid humans at all costs.

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Photography Challenge Day 195: The Green Heron (a short post)

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the green heron. I actually was able to get a good picture of the green heron as it landed on a tree limb at Boomer Lake.

Green heron sitting on the log at Boomer Lake

These birds are very easy to startle (compared to the great blue heron and great egret), so it was a surprise to see it on my walk—if it hadn’t flown from it’s original spot, I probably would have walked right past it.

Though as it flew past me, I did managed to get a picture–though with the sun coming up, and it being a dark colored bird, it does make for an interesting contrast.

Green heron flying over Boomer Lake at sunrise

Pretty soon, they’re going to start on their trip south to warmer winter areas (the gulf coast, Mexico, and possibly down into Central America). I’m going to have to try to keep an eye out for these guys, and move as slowly and quietly as possible as I’m doing it—so that I don’t scare them off before I’m able to get a good picture of them.

These are yet another species, that I’m going to have to be stealthy in terms of getting close to–or break out the tripod and larger lens for the camera.

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Photography Challenge Day 194: The red-shouldered hawk flying away (a short post).

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the hawk that flew off in mid-shot, but I still managed to get two decent pictures of it in flight.

Red-shouldered hawk in flight

I’m pretty sure that this is the red-shouldered hawk and not the red-tailed hawk, due to the red on the breast as it was flying past me.

Red-shouldered hawk flying into the trees

I’m wondering if I interrupted this one while it was hunting—as I had noticed it sitting on top of a light post, but when I got close to get it’s picture—it flew off towards some trees. I followed, but I didn’t notice the exact limb that it had landed on, so I continued on my walk to see what other birds I could spot.

They are hunters, and their prey ranges from small mammals to reptiles and amphibians. Though they have been seen to also eat other birds (including young owlets, sparrows, and doves).

They’re year round residents of the area, so I will be keeping an eye out for them on my walks to see if I can spot them in trees, on light posts, or just flying through the area.

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Photography Challenge Day 192: The young scissor-tailed flycatcher

While the adult scissor-tailed flycatchers may have started their migrations back south—the younger generation is still present, at least for awhile.

Young scissor-tail flycatcher

I noticed this one sitting at the top of a tree, and probably wouldn’t have paid much attention, until it stretched and I saw it’s tail. It was then I realized that I’d probably been overlooking the younger generation of scissor-tailed flycatchers the past few weeks.

I think it thought it saw something to eat….

While the scissor-tailed flycatcher is common in Oklahoma (we’re in it’s breeding area, and it is the state bird), during migration they actually wander and therefore can almost be spotted anywhere throughout North America. They winter in the warmer regions of Central America and southern Mexico.

Since they feed predominately on insects, I don’t think that there is a good way of trying to lure them into the yard during the year—they seem to really like the open spaces around the lake, and we lack that around the house. So I will just have to keep an eye out for them again in the spring. I will be looking for the younger ones again on the weekends and I will see how long before they do decide to head south for the winter.

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Photography Challenge Day 191: The birds…….

The winners of today’s photography challenge are the birds. Since today was a holiday (no work, :-)) that meant I had the time to go for another zen walk around Boomer Lake this morning. I managed to get several pictures that I will be sharing this week (in addition to other pictures I managed to get over the weekend).

Ducks, egrets, and an heron…oh, my

But today’s picture is of a couple of egrets, some ducks, and a heron (it almost makes me want to think of a bad, corny joke—but I’m currently too tired to do so). Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting the two in the background (the second egret and great blue heron), as I was focused more on the egret and ducks in the foreground.

Closer look at the one egret, and more ducks joined the picture.

As migration season kicks off, the limbs of the different submerged trees become prime spots to both fish from, and just generally sit on—so they’re usually always have something sitting on them—be it egret, heron, or cormorant (and sometimes the terns and gulls).

Currently the cormorants haven’t started migrating though (they should be here within probably two months or so—just as the egrets move further south), so the limbs will be having either egrets or herons sitting on them.

I’m going to have to start keeping a tally record and see who sits on the various branches and logs the most during my walks–the great blue herons or the common egret.

For today–I’d have the say the egrets were on four branches/logs and the herons were on two branches/logs.

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