Tag: naturewalk

One of the many morning birding surprises: the green heron

So on my walk at Boomer Lake today I managed to spot the ‘secretive’ green heron.

Spotted the 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.

A little closer view of the heron, and spotted a grackle and a few red-eared sliders as well.

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.

Looking back towards the green heron

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?

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A Sunny Day Surprise: The Redheaded Woodpecker

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).

Redheaded woodpecker on a light post

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.

Redheaded woodpecker

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.

What is your favorite woodpecker?

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Photography Challenge Winner: the small & elusive pied-billed grebe

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.

Pied-billed grebe spotted 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).

Pied-bill grebe on the calm waters of Boomer Lake

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?

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Photography Winner: Turkey Vultures are back in the sky

So spring is here (more or less), and how can I tell?

Turkey Vulture in flight

The turkey vultures are back and soaring through the skies over Boomer Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Turkey vulture soaring over Boomer Lake

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).

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Photography Challenge Day 3: The Great Blue Heron on the hunt

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is a familiar bird–it’s the great blue heron.

Great Blue Heron at Boomer Lake

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.

Great Blue Heron starting to stretch out its neck

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.

Great blue heron stretching its neck and looking forward

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.

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Winner for Day 2 photography challenge: black-crowned night heron

So the entry winner for today’s photography challenge is the black-crowned night heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron spotted at Boomer Lake

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.

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Three bird pages are live: the loons. They also showed more details are needed

So there are another set of bird pages live under the bird tab.

I managed to the pages posted for the order Gaviiformes, family Gaviidae, and the common loon.

Common Loon seen on Boomer Lake

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.

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Photography Challenge Day 10–Great Blue Heron in a Tree

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the great blue heron. Usually these birds are wading in the lake, or perched on logs waiting for their prey—occasionally though, you can get a picture of one perched in a tree.

Now I almost missed seeing this one—if I hadn’t been looking for the songbird that flew into the upper branches of the tree on the other side, I would never have noticed the heron perched on the branch.

Great Blue Heron in a tree

I managed to also see another couple of herons on the short walk, and as I was heading back home—this guy/gal was still sitting in the tree, obviously waiting for a fish or something to swim around so it could have a morning snack.

The heron was still there as I headed home.

These guys are year round residents in the area, and they actually nest in trees, though I have yet to find the area where I would be seeing the nests—I think I know the area, but I’m not up to going that far back into slightly swampy areas just to try to get a picture or two.

They are considered to be symbols of wisdom, good luck, and patience in numerous different cultures. I like to think that when I see them on the walk—they’re reminding me to be patient working towards my transition into either industry or freelancing. I have strengths to lean into, and in terms of my weaknesses—I can work to improve them, or I can find someone who has those as strengths and ask for a helping hand.

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Update–realizing I’m procrastinating & catching up on the photography challenge: cormorants flying overhead

So I’m running a few days late with the photography challenge. Why? I think I bit off a little more than I could chew this week—I’m trying to complete two little challenges; one is a LinkedIn challenge (creating content, commenting on people’s posts, and connecting). Needless to say I’m a little behind on the challenge—I’m petrified of posting on the site (see my previous post), and trying to overcome that as well. The second challenge is a free 5-day challenge on Facebook (dealing with health/nutrition).

So the procrastination bug has bitten me hard the past couple of days—I sit staring at the computer, and then I end up going to sit outside for the afternoon, and try to get a numerous things done before bed.

Cormorants flying overhead

That now brings me to the winner of the photography challenge—which were some migratory birds flying overhead. On Sunday, I decided to take a mask and my camera and head up to Boomer Lake for a while.

While I decided to make it a semi-short walk

(round trip just over an hour walking), I knew that I should hopefully see one or two birds that may or may not be Canada geese or mallards.

As I was walking, I noticed that there was a large group of birds flying overhead. I stopped, looked up, and managed to get a good number of pictures of the birds. I had to wait until I got home and download the pictures to determine if the birds were ducks or cormorants (some that just migrate through, and others that winter in the area).

It turns out that the birds flying overhead were cormorants. Now are they the neotropical or double-crested? I would have to say that I’m not sure—the neotropical migrate through and the double-crested winter in the area. Since they’re so far overhead—I couldn’t tell the facial features (which are some of the best ways to differentiate between the two species).

Seeing these birds served as a reminder that I need to keep moving forward towards my goals—they move as needed between the seasons, locations, and so forth. Staying stationary isn’t beneficial in the long run.

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Photography Challenge Day 6: Who’s hiding in the brush?

Peek-a-boo, I see you….

So today was the first weekend in quite a few weeks that I was able to get up to Boomer Lake for my weekend morning walk. The past three weekends, it was either way to cold and chilly (temps in either the twenties or teens, with wind chills even lower), or it was raining/sleeting and I don’t enjoy walking in those types of weather conditions. Though I know I probably could have gotten some good pictures, but oh well. Maybe by next year I’ll work up the fortitude to be out and about in less than ideal weather conditions for doing nature photography.

So this morning, was a dreary, cloudy morning and not that many birds were actually out and about. There were the usual Canadian geese and mallards, but not that many other birds. That was why I was very happy to spot this guy/gal on my way back home. I’d just looked over towards the lake and noticed it’s beak.

The great blue heron won today’s award for best at hide & seek (though I know it wasn’t aware that the game was being played). I’ve noticed that these birds are great at blending in with the brush at the edge of the lake, and if you aren’t careful you can scare them out of their hunting grounds (if there is tall grass next to the walking path–been there and done that several times this winter).

These tall majestic birds are actually the most common heron to be seen in the United States. I’ve actually seen them catch and eat fish a few times on the walk, though I was amazed to also learn that they will catch and eat mice and other insects as well as fish.

I wonder if I will be able to get a picture of a young great blue heron this coming spring/summer? New goal……..

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