Welcome to Week #42 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #42 challenge is Birds you have seen in the past two weeks. I hope you were able to go out and do some birding.
The feature image is a female Common Grackle who decided to join us for lunch uninvited.
Many of my shots are not crystal clear from this trip. Near the end of our 11 1/2 hours at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, I realized my switch had been flipped on my lens for stabilization. It was OFF! I don’t use a tripod and I’m a bit shaky at times. Regardless, we saw 46 species and picked up 11 new species for the year, bringing our total to 133. This was a light day compared to our trip there in January when we logged 73 species in 9 1/2 hours.
We spent the whole day looking for the American Flamingo with NO SUCCESS. The bird had been seen for 4 days straight prior to our trip. A front came in and who knows where that bird was hanging out. So we are clear, there is only one flamingo! I have shared the distant photo from when we saw this bird last year.
We only went on one birding adventure during our anniversary week. The weather didn’t cooperate for us to get out on the other days. We drove to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and hiked to the back ponds behind the tower where we found over one thousand shorebirds. Sandpipers, Plovers, Dowitchers, Dunlin and a few others I’m still trying to identify. I’m not real confident that is going to happen.
We saw one adult Bald Eagle and a juvenile in the nest yelling for more food. The nest and birds were too far away for my 200mm lens to reach. I didn’t bother to take any shots. If they are small in the binoculars, they sure are not going to come out in a photo.
This Greater Yellowlegs was foraging alone in one of the mudflats along the main road.
It was great seeing the Black-necked Stilts on this trip. They stick out like a sore thumb among other waders with their black and white feathers and pink legs.
The Black-bellied Plovers were found in the back pond with all those other shorebirds, however they were separated from the crowd and I was able to get a little closer to them along the shoreline. While photographing these birds, I heard a loud splash to my left. I noticed a pattern and whatever was under the water was coming in my direction. Time to go! It was an alligator in the middle of the pond. I rushed up onto the steep part of the bank and the gator stopped the pursuit. Whew!
While I was taking photos of the Black-bellied Plovers seen all around, there was a Dunlin behind the one Plover in the center. All of these shorebirds in this photo are in their non-breeding plumage.
We had set up our lunch with our folder chairs and folding tables near a small spillway along Lighthouse Road at St. Marks. It was somewhat chilly and breezy so we set up in the sun. There were no birds around until I opened the bag of potato chips. First came the male Common Grackle seen in the photo below. He started squawking and the female showed up seen above. He was hiding out over in the bush telling her to get lunch and bring it back to him. She was less than a foot from me at one point. I couldn’t even focus my camera on her with my 200mm lens. Both of these Common Grackles left empty handed because we didn’t even leave a crumb when we were finished.
This male Red-winged Blackbird was perched high in this pine tree directly above me. I stopped on the trail to take a few shots and listen to him sing. His red and yellow wing feathers were really pronounced.
Next time…Week #43 – Birds with chicks