Last week I managed to get in a walk at Boomer Lake and as I was crossing the bridge on my way home I noticed that the grebe was swimming about.
I also noticed that it is showcasing it’s mating mark–the bill.
During the summer/breeding season, the bills of pied-grebes turn white with a black stripe on them.
The rest of the year, the beak is a more drab brown color, and there is no black stripe.
Since we’re in their year-round range, I had been hoping to spot one this summer. While I saw several during the winter, I have no idea if they were a mix of males and females, or all of one or the other. I will be keeping my eyes out again on walks, to see if maybe I can spot one possibly carrying their young with them for a swim.
The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.
Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.
They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.
I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).
I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.
So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:
As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.
I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.
Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.
And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).
So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.
Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day
So on one of my morning walks at Boomer Lake, I decided to check out the creek side of the lake (this is the area that is heavily wooded, and to get around you’re either walking through the woods or you’re out in a boat or kayak).
Walking to the ‘boat loading’ site, I decided to check on the one dead cottonwood tree, that I had spotted the pileated woodpecker on in the past.
Instead of seeing the pileated woodpecker or even a songbird or two–I managed to get several pictures of a northern flicker sticking its head out of one of the holes.
So now the question is–did the northern flicker take over the old roost of the pileated woodpecker, or was it just ‘checking’ out the neighborhood?
I realize that I may (or may not) spot a woodpecker on the tree during all of my walks, but it will be a spot that I try to check as often as possible throughout the summer to see if there it becomes a northern flicker nest, or if the pileated woodpecker is back looking for carpenter ants or termites.
Did you know that northern flickers tend to hunt for their prey on the ground–they go after ants for the most part, though they will also go after some flying insects as well (such as flies, butterflies, and moths).
Getting these pictures of the northern flicker poking its head out of a (possible) nesting site meets a partial overall woodpecker photography goal (getting pictures of them near their nesting sites), though the main two northern flicker photography goals are still getting one of them hunting ants, and then catching a butterfly or moth in the air.
Have you seen any woodpeckers this year? What’s your favorite woodpecker?
So on my walk at Boomer Lake today I managed to spot the ‘secretive’ green heron.
The green heron is a migratory bird that spends its summers in Oklahoma, and we’re lucky enough that there is usually a mating pair in town. Due to the start of the pandemic last year, I didn’t get in many walks at Boomer Lake during the summertime so I missed trying to get a picture of them last year.
I wasn’t expecting to see the green heron this morning–mainly because I was out ‘late’ (i.e. well after dawn), and usually these birds are roosting/hunting in the brush around the lake edges.
I was passing the area of the lake, that a birding expert refers to as ‘heron cove’ and noticed the green heron perched on a branch over the water cleaning its feathers.
I tried to move down the hill quietly so that I could possibly get a closer picture, and while I did get a little closer–I’m not sure if the pictures give it justice or not.
Within the picture series, I also noticed that I managed to get a picture of several red-eared sliders and a grackle. I’m thnking that I may try to explore a little more of the wooded areas around the lake to see if I can possibly spot the black-crowned night heron again, and possibly even the belted kingfisher. As all three of these birds are usually more ‘morning’ birds (best seen usually close to dawn), though I have managed to spot them later in the morning.
Bird watching and photography are two of the things I enjoy doing during nice weather. What hobbies do you enjoy doing durin ghte nice weather?
So I’ve realized that the photography challenge is going to be sporadic this year–I’m aiming for new photographs at least 90% of the time, and the other 10% will be older pictures, but on specific days (such as #waybackwednesdays, #throwbackthursday, or #flashbackfriday). It will be a sporadic challenge, as I am also trying to vary the photograph subjects as much as possible. Since May is also National Photography Month, I was aiming for daily photograph postings–but will be going with at least weekly entries.
The winner for the challenge today was a redheaded woodpecker that I spotted up at Boomer Lake at the end of April. While I know that they’re in the area–I don’t go specifically looking for them, as I tend to avoid walking through heavily wooded areas (I’ve developed an allergic reaction to ticks, so I try to avoid the areas where I know that I could come across them).
The redheaded woodpecker flew over my head and landed on the light post. Since it was a beautifully sunny morning (unlike the last time I got a photography of one), I managed to get a picture of it in all it’s redheaded glory. This woodpecker is named ‘redheaded’ because it has a totally red head–unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, which only has a pale red spot on it’s belly, but a red stripe down the back of its head.
I actually had my longer telephoto lens with me that day (but no tripod), but by the time I got the lens on the camera, the woodpecker had flown off. I’ll be keeping my eye on the various light posts, which seem to be landing spots for various birds (possibly to eat their snack or meal), and then the tops of dead trees (since that is where I spotted the first one a couple of years ago).
I’m also keeping my eye out for the hairy woodpeckers as well–they’re similar in shape, size, and coloring to the downy woodpecker. Therefore I may already have a picture or two–just in the wrong bird folder. I think that if one chore this summer–make sure that all pictures are correctly labeled for the various woodpecker species.
The winner of the photography challenge for today is the pied-billed grebe. This is a small grebe that is a year-round resident in central Oklahoma and I’m usually lucky to spot one every couple of months up at Boomer Lake.
It is also serving double duty in announcing that there are another series of bird pages live under the bird tab.
The weekend addition to the birding portion of the site includes the order Podicipediformes, the family Podicipedidae, and the pied-billed grebe. This is one of the seven grebe species that can be spotted within the United States and Canada; and is the only one that is found year-round in Oklahoma.
Over the past couple of years I’ve started to get better at getting a picture of the pied-billed grebe. Since they’re such a small bird, if they aren’t close to the shore it is difficult to get a picture (at least without a good telephoto lens and tripod).
One thing I’ve noticed about the grebes–they’re great at literally sinking out sight and then reappearing quite a awaays away, unlike the loons that dive (though the grebe will do that as well on occasion).
A goal is to possibly get a picture of a family of grebes sometime this summer, though that may mean possibly lurking around the cattails and tall weeds.
There are three other species that may be spotted within Oklahoma during the migratory season: the horned grebe (and this one may even winter in state), the eared grebe, and the western grebe. The last three grebe species that are found within the US and Canada are more regional specific: the red-necked grebe is a ‘northern’ resident (Canada, Alaska, and some northern states), the least grebe is a Texan resident, and Clark’s grebe is found in the western half of the US.
I’m going to try to get up to Boomer Lake more often in the early mornings–especially in fall and spring to try to get a peak of other possible grebes that are migrating through town. Though I should also possibly expand my birding area to another small area lake and see what species I can spot there as well.
Have you spotted a grebe in the wild? If so–where and when? Do you have a favorite grebe?
So spring is here (more or less), and how can I tell?
The turkey vultures are back and soaring through the skies over Boomer Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Turkey vultures are unique birds in Oklahoma–they are a year-round resident in the eastern half of the state, but are a migratory/summer bird for the central and western parts of the state.
I managed to get these pictures of one soaring over Boomer Lake earlier this month, but have also noticed them in the afternoon soaring over the neighborhood when I’m out in the backyard (and of course my camera is inside). Since they’re scavengers, they end up spending a lot of time looking/smelling for their next meal. I’m hoping that once the weather gets nice (and stays nice) I will be able to do weekly walks up at Boomer Lake, and maybe spot one sitting atop a dead tree again. Plus maybe be able to spot a young turkey vulture soaring in the sky as well (since they don’t really make nests, and they prefer to roost away from humans I doubt that I’d be able to get a picture of a young vulture near the home turf).
So the winner of today’s photography challenge is a familiar bird–it’s the great blue heron.
This was one of the first birds that I made a page for under the birds, birds, and more birds section of the blog. This is also one of my constant photography ‘targets’ when I’m walking at Boomer Lake. I may not always see one–but I’m always on the look out for one.
I’m always on the lookout for great blue herons at Boomer Lake for a couple of reasons: 1) there are several that fed/hunt at the lake, at one point I think I counted six different birds; 2) they’re usually in different areas of the lake–therefore different ‘poses’ are possible; and 3) they’re just majestic birds that I like to photograph.
I saw this one in the brush in one of the little ‘coves’ of the lake as I was walking across the bridge. I noticed that it was walking slowly around the edge of the ‘cove’ and looking down–so it was looking for something that was bigger than the minnows that were probably swimming around its legs.
While it stretched its neck out like it was going to strike and grab something–it never did, it just walked around, stopped and waited–probably for me to leave it alone to hunt in peace.
The great blue heron will probably show up several times throughout the photography challenge–especially as we move into summer and I manage to get at least a weekly walk in at Boomer Lake. My hope is that I manage to get enough pictures of them in different areas of the lake, that I don’t feel like it is the same ‘bird’ constantly–even if it may be the same heron a time or two.
So the entry winner for today’s photography challenge is the black-crowned night heron.
I actually have a birding page already dedicated to the black-crowned night heron, and can semi cross of the photography goal that I had set–which was to try to get another picture of the heron, but within the continental US (since the only other time I’d seen the heron, I had been in Hilo, Hawaii).
I was pretty shocked when I realized that I’d managed to get a picture of one during the day light hours (usually they’re roosting within trees/shrubs, though they may be active during the day light hours during the breeding season).
The black-crowned night heron actually migrates and/or breeds within Oklahoma, so I may actually be able to spot it again this summer (if it decides to stay and breed–and since I saw it during the day I’m going to guess that it may be breeding in the area), or possibly in the fall when it migrates back through.
The goal is semi-crossed off, because I managed to get a decent picture–the goal will be totally crossed off, if I can get a ‘closer’ picture, and while I did have my longer lens for my camera with me, I didn’t have the tripod with me that particular morning.
So, currently I rank this picture right up there with the great horned owl and white pelican pictures I got last year, as one that I’m ost proud of getting. It will be interesting to see what other birding pictures I can get this year, once I’ve gotten my vaccine.
As I mentioned on the Gaviiformes page–the limited amount of information present was due to 2 things–the first, there isn’t that much information on either the order or family, and the second was I didn’t want to be repeating the same information numerous times. I usually will repeat a little information between the order page, the family page, and then the individual species pages–but there just wasn’t enough to do that here.
Therefore the pages for Gaviiformes and Gaviidae are extremely short in terms of information and words. I think each page is less than 200 words, but it has also planted a seed of an idea–can I do enough research to be able to flesh out those pages? Because even if you google the terms–the wikipedia pages only contain the bare minimum of information. So that is something that I’m going to slowly start looking into over the next few weeks–seeing what information is out there, and then what is needed to fill in various ‘holes’.
There are four other loon species that can be spotted within either North America or northern Eurasia, and now one of my photography goals is to get a picture of each of them.