Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Spring Birds!

It's that time of year again, the time when I've seen Tundra Swans out in a wet area in a big field near a town near here.  (It looks like I first posted pictures of these swans at this area in March 2010, and then again in April 2011

It was raining all morning, but I had no classes and no meetings, and it's supposed to snow again soon, so I decided to live the wild life (get it?  HAH!) and go see if the swans were there.  And they were!

Tundra Swans!
I drove out, and they were mostly in the field itself, rather than in the water.  And it was rainy, and I didn't want to get my camera wet, and I put on my doubler, which means I have to auto-focus myself, which is both slow and inexact, especially if I'm trying not to get wet, so this isn't the greatest picture in the world.  The cool thing about this picture, I think, is that you can actually see the yellow above the beak on the nearer bird's face.  I don't think any of my other pictures ever captured that.

I didn't stay long because of the rain, but I found another place with more swans (which is actually where this picture's from), across the highway and on a mud road.  And then I saw an eagle, but it was uncooperative and took off as I stopped to take a picture.

Red Winged Blackbird
I also saw another sign that spring's on it's way, red winged blackbirds, all staking out their space, trying to look hot and sexy for the females.

Having had success with the swans, I decided to go have a look at some of the biking roads, just to check out how they look (potholes and also gravel being my concerns).

Hooded Mergansers
And there, in a pond I ride by and where I've never seen ducks before, I saw my first really clear Hooded Mergansers in breeding plumage!   (I've thought I've seen them before, but never this sure or well.)

They're eye stopping, for me.  (I guess wood ducks are even cooler, so maybe someday for them.)

Blue-winged Teal
I also saw my first Blue-winged Teal!  I really appreciate when ducks are cooperative and show clear markings, and these guys really do.  The big markers are that white stripe on the face (smaller, but still visible on the female), the white hip patch, the darkish head, and the beautiful brown sides. 

Aren't these beautiful?  I took about a dozen pictures in the rain, but this is the only one that came out close to decent.

Do you notice how these pictures seem to show two male ducks hanging out with one female?  I guess it's that time of year for ducks. 

The American Goldfinches in my yard are quite suddenly sporting almost full breeding plumage, only the bright yellow still looks a bit dingy in patches, but the black head patch is now looking very sharp.  And there are robins in my yard again.

So maybe it is spring after all?

I'm sometimes fascinated by trying to figure out spring.  Last year, I posted about full blown (literally!) crocuses in mid march.  In 2010, I showed daffodils in early April and Crocuses in late March.

In 2009, it looks like I had crocuses up by April 16, which seems likely this year, too.


  1. Tundra swans! I love Tundra swans! I haven't seen them here yet, though.

  2. richard7:28 AM

    I was just going to say the same thing, but I saw a pair yesterday here in the south part of our state. Various kinds of cranes (sandhill, mostly) started settling in starting about two weeks ago as well.