I saw my first leucistic American Robin on Sunday afternoon on the way to Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest. I had just parked the car at Elawa Farm and saw the bird before I even got out of the car. I laughed because I had already seen a photo of this same bird, the day before, posted on a friend’s Facebook page. I’ve posted these on Flickr so you can click through to see them bigger.
Category Archives: Bird Photography Weekly
Here’s another Viera bird. During our first visit we heard a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk calling, over and over. The next day I watched an adult polishing off a meal on a post at the back of the wetlands.
More photos of this bird at my Flickr stream here.
When the meal was done, the bird joined another RSHA in a tree further from the road.
Later we saw this RSHA perched over the wetlands.
More photos of this bird at my Flickr stream here.
Red-shouldered Hawks range where we live but I have never seen one around here before. With so many of the birds at Viera and in Florida in general, you can get such good looks. The birds seem so much more relaxed and approachable. It was great to see these hawks at the wetlands. This was not a lifer but among our best looks at this bird (besides a couple of other times – in FL of course!).
This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly, hosted by Birdfreak. I love BPW because not only can I see great bird photos, but I can read the cool reactions people have to them. There might be a bird I would consider common that is a lifer for the poster. Yet other posts will be of birds that would be a lifer for me, taken in someone’s back yard. Then there are the familiar but far-away European birds that make me feel homesick for Holland. It’s always a great mix. Check out this week’s submissions. While you’re at it, why don’t you submit your own BPW post?
We returned home late on Friday from an 8-day road trip down to Florida to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis lift off for the ISS. The launch was scheduled for Monday, November 16th and, unlike last time we tried to view a launch, there were no delays and the Shuttle took off right on time.
Of course we couldn’t pass up the chance to do a bit of birding along the way. While staying on the Space Coast we visited Viera Wetlands twice and spent a day at Merritt Island NWR (which remained closed during our last Florida visit, when the Shuttle was delayed, and delayed, and delayed…). We took our time driving home and stopped at Great Swamp Sanctuary in South Carolina and even drove through Great Smoky Mountains NP.
To start off what will probably be a handful of blog entries about our trip, here’s my Bird Photography Weekly submission for this week. American Coots summer up here in Illinois, but we rarely get to see them up close. At Viera, they were tooling around in large rafts all over.
nom nom nom
The Ring-billed Gull is our most familiar gull here in northeastern Illinois. These photos were taken in mid-October when we finished up our fall foliage drive (through both parts of Kettle Moraine State Park in southeastern Wisconsin) in Lake Geneva. Gulls lined up on the empty piers, bracing themselves against the wind.
We walked out on to the pier and looked back at the beach.
Through our bins we saw a thin, long-legged bird standing alone, apart from the gulls and geese. An American Avocet. I mean, OMG, an AMERICAN AVOCET !! best bird of the weekend wooo!!
It stood still on the beach for a time, then scooted across the sand towards our pier, still very far from our group. It fed for a few moments when suddenly a person walking on the beach spooked it. The bird took flight over Lake Michigan.
We all watched it circle away from the beach. It turned back and I think I may have held my breath. It landed on the other side of the pier. It marched towards us until it was just a few feet from the pier. We got to spend some quality time with this life bird.
For more bird photos from around the world, visit Bird Photography Weekly.
On our drive back from Florida last month we took a detour to stop at the Unclaimed Baggage Center shop in Scottsboro, Alabama. On the way we stopped for breakfast in Ft. Payne, Alabama, where we saw a colony of Cliff Swallows.
They were perched on service wires and flying around a man-made stream. The birds also frequently made stops under a pair of small pedestrian bridges that crossed the stream.
These Cliff Swallows were life birds for us and it was a lot of fun to watch their antics.
Bird Photography Weekly is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday. Thanks to Birdfreak for hosting this great blog meme – go have a look!
Yard bird #20 scared away all of the other birds enjoying our feeding station.
Arthur noticed the feeder birds scatter and even the resident bunny high-cottontailed it out of the yard. Because of this Arthur was on the lookout for a hawk when Coop landed in the tree behind our yard. It had a look around and did a bit of preening in the tree.
Next it dropped down behind the fence for a few seconds and then flew into a tree in our neighbor’s yard. Just a few seconds after that, it landed on our fence where we oohed and aahed (more like “Where’s the ?$&#!?! camera!?” and “Try to get the scope on it!!”) over it for a short, precious minute.
There’s something light and feather-covered in one of the Coop’s talons, but it looks much too small to be an entire bird. Probably no more than 30 seconds passed from the hawk flying between the tree, ground, tree and fence again, so what’s in the talon and what was left behind (and where?) is a bit of a mystery.
We love our feeder birds – all of them! Welcome, Coop!
This is a late addition to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday and everyone is welcome to participate. Thanks to Birdfreak for hosting this great blog meme – go have a look!
Shrikes are sometimes called “butcher birds” because of the way they handle their prey. Yes, these small birds are actually predators but they lack strong talons to rip apart prey. Instead they use their hooked beaks to rip flesh off of prey which they first impale onto thorns or barbed wire.
We saw shrikes twice during our Florida road trip and both times we scanned nearby fences and trees for possible impaled prey, but we didn’t see any. That’s probably for the best – my old Golden Field Guide has an illustration of a Northern Shrike perched next to an impaled mouse and that’s almost too much for me to take.
For more photos of birds from all around the world, check out the other submissions for this week’s Bird Photography Weekly.
We’ve been back from Florida since Friday and I’m getting ready to publish a few posts about the bit of birding we go in while on the road. This Green Heron was one of my favorite sightings. We get them up here in Northern Illinois, but they are so shy here we almost only catch them when they fly over – like they’re in a hurry to get out of view. This one we saw at Viera Wetlands was strutting around like a rock star (and kind of looking like one, too).
Stay tuned for more Florida posts here in the coming days and be sure to visit the other great submissions for this week’s Bird Photography Weekly.
I’m digging into the archives for this one. The Pied Kingfisher was one of the most abundant species we came across during our visit to the Gambia in January 2007.
These guys are cute and noisy. We heard them almost everywhere we went if we were close to water. You can hear what they sound like here. We saw them perching in trees, where they would call one another, or, more interestingly, hovering above the water hunting for fish.
Here’s one relaxing on the rocks between hunting sessions.
This one appears to be taking the easy route – hunting from the side of a bridge. Scouting before going out there and hovering is probably a good idea.
This is how they look when hunting. They were so fun to watch!
Be sure to check out the other bird photos submitted for this week’s Bird Photography Weekly.