So today’s photos all have a central theme–birds flying overhead or flying away. It is a challenge to get a good picture of a bird as they’re taking off or landing on the water or a songbird flying between different bushes. Though this is one challenge I’m willing to accept–getting a good picture of a bird in flight (or possibly taking off or landing).
Since cormorants haven’t left town yet, I’ve managed to get several pictures of them in flight, taking off, and landing in the water. Now that I’ve seen where they roost, I know better than to make the assumption that any large low-swimming bird is automatically a loon (which is what I did when I first saw them on the water).
So here was one that was flying low over the lake, but around the little island in the middle of the lake. This is where they had found a tree to roost in (the geese were “nice” to share their island with the migrating cormorants).
I have enough pictures of the great blue heron that I’m probably going to dedicated an photography page to this beautiful animal. Since there are at least four herons at the lake, I have pictures of them hunting, standing, and in flight (as I’ve accidentally rousted them from their stations several times during my walks).
So the shovelers decided that they didn’t want their photos to be taken (or they decided to leave before the storms really came through).
One bird that this back for a good six months or so–is the turkey vulture. With living close to the lake, we usually always see at least one of them circling in the sky daily. Hopefully this summer I can get a closer picture of one.
One goal is to see how many different birds I can get pictures of–both perching somewhere and then in flight. With the migration season upon us again–there are numerous different bird species coming through and I’m thinking that a cool afternoon is the perfect time to walk around the lake again and explore to see what birds and other critters I can get pictures of.
Today’s science Sunday
post is brought to you by the migrating northern shoveler (Anas clypeata).
I saw several of these
ducks over the weekend while I was walking at Boomer Lake, and was able to get
decent pictures of them today. These birds winter in the southern states
(especially along the coasts), migrate through the Midwest and summer in the
northern states and up into Canada and Alaska. Theses ducks can also be found
throughout Europe and Asia (as they breed in the northern areas), and they
winter south of the border (where it’s warm—southern Europe, Africa, India,
southeast Asia, Central & northern South America).
Though it is hard to
tell from the picture, but those dark heads on the ducks with the white bodies
are actually a green color. I didn’t have my large zoom lense on me to really
get a close up picture of them. But you can see the red patch on the sides of
the four males—all of which are trying to court the same female duck for the
Some cool facts about
the northern shoveler:
Their bills are big
(~2.5 inches long) and shaped like a shovel (hence the name). The bill also
contains fine hair projections all along the edges that act as a sieve,
allowing them to filter out tiny crustaceans, aquatic invertebrates, and seeds
from the water.
They are yearly
monogamous birds. They form bonds on the wintering grounds and then stay
together until it’s time to return to the wintering grounds.
There is usually a
clutch of 9-12 eggs that are overseen by the female only for about three to
four weeks. The mother will lead them to the water and keep them close to cover
of the marsh vegetation, and the young are capable of flight somewhere between
fifty-two and sixty days after hatching.