We spent last week at a beautiful rental house on the edge of Rough River Lake in western Kentucky. It was a week without internet just to connect as a family, visit nearby Mammoth Caves, and enjoy nature. The very first evening we arrived, a Chipping Sparrow was singing in the tree right off the deck.
That sparrow sang in that tree the entire week we were there. And now I will always be able to identify a Chipping Sparrow by its song.
The house sat atop of cliff–we had to go down 90 steps to reach the docks and the lake. The kids spent a lot of time swimming and fishing, so I would sit down there and watch them. Sitting on the dock, I could hear a bird call but couldn’t see it. My daughter swam over and found the source–a nest under the dock with 3 babies in it. We noticed a swallow flying nearby and realized she/he was trying to get in to feed the babies. I moved away a bit so she could reach the nest. It turned out to be a Northern Rough-winged Swallow–a new bird for me. I spent a lot of time photographing these birds. Here are some pictures of the adult bird.
On the last day of our trip, I was down on the dock when I noticed the adult bird fly to the edge of the lake and feed a baby. They had just fledged! For those of you who think photography doesn’t involve any physical activity, you should have seen me almost kill myself running up those 90 steps to get my camera and running back down hoping the birds were still there. When I got back, I saw the cutest little Northern Rough-winged Swallow looking up at me.
What spectacular luck to be visiting right when these birds fledged!
Between the staircase to the house and the lake, there was a little wooded area. I quickly identified a number of birds hanging out there. It was very difficult to photograph them because there was very little light in this area. It took all week, but I was able to get at least one photograph of each type of bird I saw. There were a bunch of Tufted Titmice.
There were also some loud-mouthed Carolina Wrens.
I kept seeing what I knew was a thrush but could not get a good look at it. Finally, the last day of the trip, I was able to get a few decent pictures. It turned out to be a Wood Thrush–another new-to-me bird.
Near this thrush, I saw this bird, obviously a juvenile:
This one really stumped me. I didn’t know where to begin trying to identify this little guy. Some friendly help from other birders on facebook led me to realize this is a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird–most likely being raised by the Wood Thrush.
There was one more new-to-me bird in this little wooded area. This bird wouldn’t sit still for long and didn’t come out in the sunlight much–but I was finally able to get a picture that allowed me to identify it as a Prothonotary Warbler. Very exciting for me!
We rented a pontoon boat for a day and traveled along the Rough River Lake. We saw lots of Great Blue Herons along the way.
We also saw a lot of Cliff Swallows.
I caught a quick glimpse of this female Wood Duck along the shore. I’m not sure what she was eating.
The highlight of the boat trip was watching this Red-tail Hawk with a freshly caught Copperhead snake. I gave you a sneak peak of this picture, but here it is again.
All week, we saw many vultures soaring overhead. There were a lot of Turkey Vultures like we see here in Michigan, but also a lot of Black Vultures–another new-to-me bird.
And here’s a picture of a Brown-headed Cowbird couple, hanging out while that poor Wood Thrush is fostering their baby!
I also saw a number of beautiful butterflies during our week in Kentucky. I’m having trouble identifying a couple of them–if anyone knows what they are, I’d love it if you told me.
One evening we were enjoying smores by the fire pit. While looking for the perfect marshmallow-roasting stick, my son found this box turtle. He was so much fun to watch.
Of course, the trees and the flowers this time of year were lush and beautiful. Here are a few of my favorite shots.
Going through all these pictures reminds me what a wonderful week we had. I love to visit new places and find new birds. Can’t wait for my next adventure.