Great Birding!

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Pretty male Northern Cardinal

Yesterday was a fantastic day of birding for me.  I was away this past weekend, and right before I left I received my new lens–the Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6.  I was so anxious to play with it, and I finally had a great chance yesterday.  It definitely took some practice–and I have more to do–but I was able to capture this beautiful male Cardinal in my yard.  The lens is long, and heavy, and learning to hand-hold it and get focused shots will take a little while, but it does have image stabilization and that will help tremendously.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and in the late morning I decided to drive down to the river and photograph some ducks.

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A male and female Mallard.
Correction: these are actually both males. The one on the left is a Mallard, the one on the right is probably a hybrid of a Mallard and something else. Thanks to The Birding Bunch for pointing that out!

All the usual suspects were there–Canada Geese (NOT Canadian Geese, as I learned in my bird class last night), Mallards, Mute Swans.  I saw my first Red-Winged Blackbird and Turkey Vulture of the spring.

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Canada Geese

I found a number of ducks that I recently learned about in the bird class I’m taking.  There were both male and female Common Mergansers.  Here is a picture of the female:

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A female Common Merganser

Love the hairdo!

I also saw a female Canvasback and a number of male and female Common Goldeneyes.  The Goldeneyes wouldn’t come close enough for a picture, but I love the one I got of the Canvasback:

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A female Canvasback

As always, there were squirrels all over the place.  But I did notice that they seemed to be licking the branches of the trees.  Why were they doing this?  Maybe they were licking water off the trees, or maybe some sap?  I have no idea.

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The best part of the day came after dinner, when my bird class had an owling field trip.  We were hoping to at least hear Screech Owls, Barred Owls, and/or Great Horned Owls.  The group leader was nervous–she was not very confident that we would even hear an owl.  But luck was on our side.  At our first stop, while it was still relatively light out, a beautiful Barred Owl flew in and landed in a tree very close to us.  S/he stayed for a bit, then moved to a tree a little further away.  I got a fantastic look at this amazing bird–a first for me in the wild.  The group then moved to a different type of habitat–more of an open field vs. a woodland–hoping to see a Screech Owl.  We weren’t having much luck when suddenly we saw a second Barred Owl!  It was quite dark by then, but by shining a flashlight near (not onto) the bird we could see it quite well.  The group leader was surprised to find a Barred Owl in that habitat and felt confident we wouldn’t see a Screech Owl with the Barred around.  We moved to a few more locations, but did not see another owl.  I was very happy with two Barred Owls–what a fabulous field trip!

It was a great day.  So happy to finally be outside for long periods of time with the weather getting better every day.  It’s been hard to believe at times, but I think spring might actually be here soon!

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This entry was posted in Cardinal, Ducks, Owls, Rails, Squirrels. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Great Birding!

  1. Crooked Tracks says:

    I love your photo of the cardinal. What a great pose. I’m sure that you will enjoy your new lens very much 🙂 Judy

  2. John Blair says:

    So neat that you got your new lens, Carol! This will really let you expand your Birding/Photography hobby is new and wonderful ways! Also, I enjoyed hearing about your owling field trip. How awesome to see such magnificent birds in the wild 🙂

  3. That is so neat you finally saw a wild Barred Owl. I’ve heard they are more curious than other owls, so will come out at times to check out the people.

    Those are two males, one a full Mallard and a hybrid of Mallard and something. It would have a full green head by this point. See the curled up tail feathers- this is a distinctive trait to male Mallards and their hybrids. Females will not have these. She will have blue on the wing, but otherwise kind of drab in color.

    I sure hope to see a Canvasback up close someday. We see a lot of the similar looking Redheads right now.

    • Thanks for letting me know about the mallards. That’s exactly one reason I wanted to start a blog–so I could learn from other people interested in birds. I had never noticed those curls above the tail before. I’ve seen one Redhead so far this year and they do look very similar to the Canvasbacks. Thanks for visiting!

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