Monday, April 30, 2012

Common Yellowthroat

This male Common Yellowthroat spent a lot of last weekend singing away in this tree at RNWR.


Fernhill Wetlands has had some high water lately, so I decided I'd try Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve this past Saturday in hopes of seeing some interesting shorebirds. I stopped by Jackson Bottom on my way home from Fernhill Wetlands last weekend and noticed that the restoration work on the Wapato Marsh Wetlands was complete. This appeared to be great shorebird habitat.
Things were a little slow as I approached, but soon I started seeing peeps (mostly Least Sandpipers from what I could tell) everywhere. The ponds also attacked scores of Barn Swallows.
Peeps were the only shorebirds I saw for awhile other than a few Killdeers. But eventually I spotted some Dunlins. Though not uncommon, I've only identified Dunlins once before a couple of years ago, again, here at Jackson Bottom.
Initially they spent some time in a shallow area in the middle of a pond, then got quite active, flying around the area, disappearing for awhile, then reappearing.

Then, as I was pursuing a Greater Yellowlegs and a Spotted Sandpiper, the flock of Dunlins landed on the shore right in front of me. Hoping this would happen all morning, I remember thinking to myself, "Ok, don't screw this up". No sooner did I lift my camera, than they all took off. The image above is the best I got as they flew off.

But, for whatever the reason, they began circling the marsh again, making passes nearby a few times. Being a typical gloomy spring day, the low light made it difficult to get sharp images of them in flight, however the one above turned out reasonably well. That big black spot on their bellies during breeding season makes them easy to identify and makes for a handsome bird.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marsh Wren

This seems to be a good year for Marsh Wrens. Especially at RNWR. The area between markers 10 and 11 is thick with them. And since they are in fine Spring voice, they are much easier to find.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wilson's Snipe

One of my favorite places to photograph birds is along South Quigley Lake at RNWR. You can drive right along the shore and see birds just outside your car. And not just your every day birds, but Soras and Virginia Rails, not to mention great close-up views of Red-winged Blackbirds and an occasional American Bittern.
The only downside of this area is the amount of grass, weeds and cattails you have to shoot around or through. But if you are patient, and take advantage of the spring before the vegetation gets out of control, you can usually get some pretty cool pics.
Today, as I drove along the waters edge, I saw a Wilson's Snipe for the first time. Snipe are common at Ridgefield, but I've never seen one at this location. It was great to finally get some real close views of one as they are usually seen off the road a bit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eurasian Collared-Dove

It's getting more and more common to see Eurasian Collared-Doves on the way to Fernhill Wetlands, usually fairly nearby. They are typically perched on a power line and appear a little larger and paler than Morning Doves. Interestingly, they seem to be quite tolerant of me stopping and taking their picture. Most birds will fly as soon as they see you pulling over to get a closer look, but these Doves usually sit there for quite a while without being spooked.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Golden-crowned Sparrow

I spent some time looking for the reported Swamp Sparrow at Fernhill Wetlands on Saturday. No luck with that. I talked with a few bird(er)s who said they had seen it earlier in the morning, so I decided to try again. I even got my iPad out and played its call to see if I could coax it out. Still no luck. It's the first time I have every tried play bird calls to attract a bird.
Later, on the Dabblers Marsh Trail, I came upon a few Golden-crowned Sparrows in a small grove of trees. They weren't far from me but they stayed in among the cover of the branches, not giving me a clear view. So I decided I try my iPad on these sparrows. Much better luck, not only did it pull one out very near me, they also began to sing along with the iPad.
I tried the iPad again in an area where I regularly see Bewick's Wrens and it worked again, if only briefly.
Even with the success, I'm not sure I'll try this too often as it's usually frowned upon, especially with rarer birds, but it sure was fun. :-)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Say's Phoebe

This Say's Phoebe landed in my lap sort to speak. I was in my car taking pictures of a flock of American Pipits in a grassy field at Paramount Ranch in California when a bird landed on a post right next to me. To my delight it was a Say's Phoebe, the only one I saw the whole time I was in California last week.