Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation birding

Here are some photos from our vacation birding a couple of weeks ago. Although "birding" might be too formal a term for what we did since we didn't even have binoculars! (We do now.) We went out hiking with the hopes of seeing birds and identifying them.

These black-capped chickadees were the first birds we saw. They were building a nest on top of the tree:There were two cedar waxwings working on building a nest. You can see this one on top of some string:Here is a dark eyed junco. He (she?) was singing beautifully. At this location, there were some large binoculars attached to the boardwalk, so we were able to get a closer look:
At first, we thought these mergansers were mallard ducks. There was a pair of mallard ducks who approached us when we were on the dock (probably hoping, in vain, for a handout). These guys stayed far away. We noticed them diving (and therefore knew they were not mallards), so we walked around the lake and took more pictures. Comparing the pictures to our field guides, we could identify them:
This spruce grouse represented our scariest birding moment to date (though we have only been birding for a short period of time!) We had freaked ourselves out a bit by investigating a scary, abandoned house in the middle of the trail. Just as we reentered the trail, about 6 baby spruce grouses (grice? grouse?) shot out right in front of us, followed by this female.

She started displaying and making a horrible sound. Thomas and I screamed. We later found out she was likely pretending to be injured so our attention would be diverted from her chicks. I quickly snapped this picture, then we got out of there as quickly as possible as we felt bad about stressing her out and wanted her to be able to collect all of her babies.

I was worried about her, though there was nothing we could do at that point. How would she be able to collect all of her babies? How does she even know how many she has? Some of them seemed to go quite high -- what if they landed in trees? Thomas assured me everything would be fine, so that's what I'm choosing to believe.
Driving along the road, we saw this turkey, so Thomas turned around and I was able to get a picture before she disappeared in the forest:
Finally, a white-throated sparrow on a branch:
We saw quite a few additional birds, some which we could positively identify and put on our life list (yellow-bellied sapsucker, white-breasted nuthatch), and others which will remain mysterious, like this one:And many other that we couldn't photograph, including some mostly-black birds that sounded like bike horns! And quite a few birds of prey.

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