Category: bird watching

Photography Challenge Day 148: Baby Mallards (short post)

Well, this week there isn’t going to be a theme for the photography challenge. It could be due to my mood–but I can’t think of a challenge that I’m willing to do for the week. So this week will be random photographs–though they’ll probably all share a common location–Boomer Lake.

Baby ducklings

So on my walk this weekend, I came across a mother duck and her duckling wandering around near the sidewalk. They look so cute and cuddly (though I’m pretty sure they’d peck at me if I tried to cuddle with them). There were actually five of them grazing under the watchful eye of their mother.

While pairs are monogamous throughout the breeding season–it is the female that takes care of the young.

I’d notice that even the ducks around Theta Pond on campus have ducklings–though they seem to be a bit smaller than these guys. But thanks to the rain we got this spring–it’s been a good season for the ducks and geese in terms of raising their young.

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Photography Challenge Catch-up: Days 130 through 133

Well today’s photography challenge post is hopefully going to play catch up and starting tomorrow I will be back to doing daily posts. The last few days I just couldn’t decide on a photograph to share, and if I could decide on a photograph—I ended up with writers block and couldn’t figure out what to say with the photograph.

Thursday’s photographs are a #throwback photograph series to my whirlwind trip to London two years ago. I tried to cram a week’s worth of sightseeing into a few days. I managed to see quite a bit, but would love to go back and take a little more time and visit a few more places. So the photograph is one of the many that I took while walking through the Tower of London, and then visiting the Tower Bridge.

Tower of London, London UK

One of the things that I decided not to do while visiting the Tower of London was going up (and down) the stairs in the White Tower. I had decided that with all the walking I’d been doing through the day—I didn’t need to climb 204 stairs. Though I think it would be neat to look out from the top of the White Tower.

Tower Bridge, London UK

Looking back through the photographs has me itching to plan another trip somewhere, though currently I’m not sure where. I have several ideas of places I would like to go, I will just have to try and narrow the list to one for travel and then maybe one or two for networking.

Friday’s photograph is a #fungalfriday photo. This picture is actually quite old—I took it a little over two years ago, but that has been how long since we’ve seen this type of mushroom around the area.

Oyster mushrooms growing on a dead tree.

 This is an oyster mushroom—it’s one of the edible ones that grows on dead and dying trees. We use to have these popping up at least once to twice a year, but then the neighbor’s son moved into their place and sprayed herbicides along the creek bed and that spelled the end to our yearly collection of oyster mushrooms. I loved simmering them and then freezing them—we had quite a bit stored, but then used them in different meals.

I’d like to become better at identifying mushrooms in the wild, that way I know which ones are the edible ones and which ones are the ones that can kill you. Besides liking to eat mushrooms—I think they’re cool objects to photograph as well.

Mallards grooming themselves.

Saturday’s photograph winner is of two (of the many ducks) sitting on a log and grooming themselves. This is a log where if I manage to get up to the lake at dawn, I would usually see a great blue heron or an egret standing and waiting for their breakfast to swim pas them. Though lately since I’ve been getting up there after dawn, I’ve seen either the ducks or at times turtles sunning themselves on the log. I am going to have to try to start getting up earlier to manage to get up to the lake for some sunrise pictures.

Today’s winner of the photography challenge are the two pictures I managed to get of the sun as it was going in and out of the clouds this morning. It almost seemed like I was taking pictures of the moon moving in and out of the clouds—but we’re heading into a new moon phase—so it was the sun that looked so odd this morning.

Some dark moving clouds moving across the sun.

On the walk this morning, I noticed that there were numerous dark clouds rolling through the area—luckily no rain fell. But as the clouds rolled through, they managed to act as a natural blinder for the sun and gave the optical illusion of it pretending to be the moon.

The sun behind dark moving clouds.

With these pictures I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge. I’m going to try to take a new picture every day (either with the camera or my phone), that way something new will be posted (instead of picking a random photo out of my weekend work). Whether or not I manage to take a picture every day will depend mainly on the weather (temperature), and my mood—but hopefully the idea of a small walk will help spur the imagination and give me new photography ideas.

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Photography Challenge Day 120: An optical illusion (short post)

So the winner of today’s photograph challenge are the two sparrows feeding on the large suet.

Sparrows on the suet

What I love about this picture was the unintentional optical illusion that I captured.

You can tell the sparrow on the left is on the outside of the suet holder–but the one on the right looks like it’s in the suet holder.

The birds (and probably squirrels) managed to get one side of the suet eaten enough that when birds landed on the back end–they looked like they were actually in the suet feeder.

Now I’m just waiting to see if the squirrels figure out how to untie the twisters that are holding the suet feeder closed and run off with the suet.

How many other people have to try and squirrel proof their bird feeders?

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Photography Challenge Day 119: The common egret in flight

So I managed to get a walk around Boomer Lake in between the thunderstorms today. Considering both the time I went, and the weather I really wasn’t expecting to see anything other than geese, mallards, and the occasional turtle.

The common (or great) egret taking flight

So I was really happy when I noticed there was an egret on the far shore. Though before I could get a picture of it in the tree it took off towards an more quiet portion of the lake.

The egret heading towards the back of the lake

The egret could have just been in the area to just eat and then head back to the area where the nest and rest of the birds are-only a small portion of Oklahoma is in their breeding grounds (the rest of state including Boomer Lake is in the migratory area).

Though seeing this one, means that there should be quite a few come fall before they migrate south for the winter.

Some cool facts about the common (great) egret include:

They’re the symbol for the National Audubon Society.

They were hunted extensively in the 1800s for their long plumes (which were used to adorn women’s hats).

If it is a bad year for foraging/hunting–not all the young will survive. The stronger/larger chicks may kill off their weaker/smaller siblings (and it may also happen even during a good year for foraging/hunting).

Reference: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/overview

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Photography Challenge Day 115: Wild Bird Wednesday

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the wild turkey. It has been quite awhile since I’ve seen one in the area. This one was just chilling in someone’s front yard next to their bench. If it hadn’t moved it’s head, I would have almost thought that the family had put out an lawn ornament.

The turkey is back in the neighborhood

We have had turkeys through the neighborhood before (last time was probably about two years ago), when a group was going through someone’s front yard.

What are some cool facts about turkeys:

They’re able to swim—they just tuck in their wings, spread out their tail and start kicking.

They have a well known fossil record—fossils found in the southern US & Mexico have dated turkeys back about 5 million years.

Due to dwindling numbers in the early part of the twentieth century—birds were captured and released in different areas of the US to help repopulate those areas. Now they are found in all lower 48 states, plus Hawaii and parts of Canada.

There are only two domesticated birds native to the New World: the wild turkey & the Muscovy duck.

The domesticated turkey originated in Europe—after European explorers brought back wild turkeys from Mexico (where they’d been domesticated), and then when the English showed up on the East coast—they brought the domesticated turkey with them.

Reference:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Wild_Turkey/overview

I’ll be keeping an eye out for these guys this year–usually they really start coming through the neighborhood in the late summer/early fall. This one was obviously casing the neighborhood early.

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Photography Challenge Day 113: Following the leader, and other odd notes

So I did a mini walk up at Boomer Lake yesterday after the storms moved through the area. That meant that the humidity and temperatures were climbing, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and hardly a breeze.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be some large carnivore (fox or coyote) that is stalking the geese and ducks at Boomer Lake. The reason why I think this is that there are a lot of feathers laying around that should probably be on a bird (namely a goose), but aren’t.

An one-legged mallard.

So I’m wondering what type of shape the other animal is in–I’m assuming other ducks, and possibly geese came to the aid of this mallard (which is why it’s only missing a leg and isn’t dead).

Following the leader, the leader….

So I’d noticed that while there are a decent number of both goslings and ducklings—there isn’t an overabundance of them (especially goslings). But I have noticed that the geese (and ducks) without young have been gathering together during the days now.

A rather large grouping of Canada Geese

I’d say that I would try to get to the lake at night to get a glimpse or a photograph of the carnivore–but that isn’t going to happen. For one thing–I have no idea of the type of carnivore (and I don’t want to possibly be facing a coyote), and the other reason–I have no idea of the time (and I’m not going to be camping out at the lake trying to get a glimpse of it). So I’ll just have to make do with knowing that something is going through, and maybe catch a glimpse in the early morning (if I get back up there to get some sunrise pictures).

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Photography Challenge Day 107: The growing goslings and ducklings at the lake.

I’m going to more or less let the pictures speak for themselves today.

Young mallards with their parents

So the ducklings aren’t usually as visible during my walks as the young goslings are–probably because there aren’t nearly as many mallards as Canada geese at the lake. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this group swimming around the other morning.

Canada goose stands guard as the goslings bask in the morning sun.

This was about as close as I was willing to get to goslings (and parents) the other morning. I was able to walk down to the edge of the lake to see if turtles were out–but I wasn’t able to actually walk on the sidewalk. The geese had taken it over.

Another parent and young out swimming on the lake.

Well I know that these are ducklings and a parent. The only thing I’m not sure of is the exact species of duck. But it looked to have a good start at raising a good number of ducklings.

Goslings and parent grazing in the grass

It will be interesting to see how many more broods the geese and ducks have since it seems that they started a little early this year.

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Photography Challenge Day 106: The (not so) elusive killdeer

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). I’d have missed seeing this guy if I hadn’t stopped to take the lens cap off the camera and wonder what race I was going to be dodging on my walk.

 This plump plover is one of the few shorebirds that doesn’t need to be near a beach (though I’ve always noticed them around Boomer Lake).

Killdeer in the park
Killdeer in the park

Their diet is mainly insects (beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers), but will also eat spiders, earthworms, centipedes, snails, and will even “fish” for crayfish.  They can be found in fields (which may or may not be near water), and will follow the farmers plowing the fields to eat the grubs that unearthed.

They usually have one brood a year (though in the south, it can be possibly two broods a year) that ranges from three to five young (average is four). Both parents will incubate the eggs, and this ranges almost a month (24 to 28 days). Depending on location, parents may soak in water before returning to the nest in order to help keep the eggs cool.

The young leave the nest within a day of hatching. While they stay with their parents, they are able to feed themselves. They are able to fly roughly three and a half weeks after hatching.

Some cool facts about killdeers include:

They got their name from their call, which is a shrill, wailing kill-deer. They are also known as the Chattering Plover & the Noisy Plover.

They use the broken-wing act to lead predators away from the nest. Though since they nest on the ground, they have to be weary of other animals potentially stepping on the nest—so they try to charge the larger animals to get them to change directions.

They are actually proficient swimmers (both adults and young).

Their nests are quite small and bare to begin with, but are added to after eggs are laid. There was one nest somewhere within Oklahoma, where people found over 1,500 pebbles adorning the nest.

They can live quite a long time—the oldest recorded Killdeer was at least 10 years & 11 months, when it was recaptured & then re-released in Kansas.

References:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/killdeer

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/overview

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Photography Challenge Day 98: The western kingbird

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the Western Kingbird.

Western Kingbird sitting in a tree…

The Western kingbird, is slightly smaller than the American Robin in size. The coloring of the Western Kingbird is a combination of gray (on the head and back), yellow (belly), white (chest and throat), and black (tail).

You can see the nice yellow belly of the kingbird.

They feed on a wide range of insects including bees, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, flies, and even spiders (to name a few of their culinary choices). Depending on where they are, they may even supplement their diets with fruits such as elderberries, mulberries, and other small fruits.

It’s looking over its shoulder at something.

They winter in southern Mexico and Central America, migrate through Mexico, and spend the late spring through early fall in the western parts of the United States (including Oklahoma).

Kingbird on the wire….

When it comes to nesting and raising the young—the female will build the nest, but both parents will defend the nest and the tree it is located in (which consists of their main territory by the middle of breeding season). The female will incubate the eggs (usually 2-7) for not quite three weeks, and then both parents handle the feeding of the young. The young are usually able to leave the nest about two weeks after hatching. The biggest threat for kingbirds in terms of nestlings reaching maturity is predation—and this includes other animals such as snakes, squirrels, wordiest, and other birds that are able to get into the nest and kill (and eat) the young.

Now it’s looking over it’s other shoulder….

I would love to be able to get some pictures of fledgling kingbirds this summer—but I don’t wander the park enough to even begin to guess where they could have their nests. I’m also not in the mood to possibly irritate a couple of birds that have no problem dive bombing larger birds to scare them off. I’ll just have to keep searching the sky to see if maybe I can spot one sitting on a branch somewhere later this summer.

References:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Kingbird/lifehistory
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/western-kingbird

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Photography Challenge Day 90: Two Sparrows at the lake

So today’s winner for the photography challenge were the two sparrows that I managed to get a picture of two weeks ago on an afternoon walk.

One sparrow decided it didn’t want to sit for the photo shoot.

Unfortunately, I can’t really tell which type of sparrow these two are. I know that there are several different types that call Stillwater home during spring to fall months, but I’ve never really been good at telling them apart.

It is even more difficult to tell them apart when you’re looking at their back ends (as the most distinguished marking are usually on the front & head). I do know that the sparrows like to sit and fly through the tall grasses and bushes along the edge of the lake, so hopefully this summer I will be able to get some other pictures and maybe even determine which sparrow species I’ve been photographing lately.

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