Tag Archives: birding
From the first time that I heard of The Biggest Week in American Birding, a birding festival on the south shore of Lake Erie in Ohio, I wanted to go. I had planned to go last year, but professional obligations kept me from attending. This year I was determined to attend. I rented a little cottage right on Lake Erie very near Magee Marsh.
I arrived rather late on Saturday evening, and I was pleased to have dinner with birding friends Dawn and Jeff Fine and equally pleased to see and meet other old and new birding friends.
The next morning I woke up early and headed for Magee Marsh. I was looking forward to attending a photo workshop with Christopher Taylor. I had followed him on Twitter for four years. I am an admirer of his work, and I was anxious to meet him in person.
Our little group of eight photographers set out along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, looking for warblers and other migrants.
There were many warblers in the trees, but many of them were in the shadows. This is a situation that I am not much accustomed to encountering in sunny New Mexico, and I struggled a bit to adjust my camera.
I seem to have a certain effect on birds when I attempt to photograph them.
This Palm Warbler was sitting prettily on a branch until I tried to photograph it.
We spent some time watching a Black-capped Chickadee feeding a fledgling still in the nest. Here is the nest, which was right on the boardwalk.
A highlight of the morning was seeing a pair of Great Horned Owlets that were almost ready to fledge.
Of course, being a handsome, successful photographer isn’t only endless birds and admiration. There can be fallout from standing under trees filled with warblers.
I am now four days into my personal Biggest Week. I have seen more warblers in three days than I have seen in my entire life, and I’ve even taken photos of some of them. My slow internet connection makes it difficult for me to do many blog posts, but they will come along in a few days. In the meantime, please enjoy Christopher Taylor’s beautiful photos here
On our last day in Kaua’i Eric and I decided to visit McBryde National Botanical Garden. The garden is close to the condo where we were staying, and Eric is very fond of any outing involving horticultural adventure. Almost as soon as we arrived at the garden I heard the distinctive call of the White-rumped Shama. After a bit of searching, I was able to locate it in a palm tree.
We wandered around the grounds, admiring the flowers.
There were beautiful orchids.
There were other lovely flowers as well.
There were lovely hibiscus throughout the garden.
We took a tram to a remote area of the gardens, which was quite beautiful. We walked along a stream through lush, tropical vegetation.
There were many Hawai’ian Moorhens in this area …
… and Cattle Egrets flying overhead.
I was fascinated by the multicolored bark of the Mindinao Gum Tree.
As we walked along the trail we saw more lovely tropical flowers.
I stopped on a small bridge to gaze at the stream …
… and realized that it was time to leave.
We made one last stop at Spouting Horn to watch the waves force water through the lava tubes.
This was where I had seen a lovely double rainbow earlier in my trip.
As we drove to the airport I was once again amazed at how quickly two weeks in Kaua’i had gone by. I can hardly wait to return next year!
A highlight of my annual visit to Kaua’i is a visit to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 when the land and the historic lighthouse were transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the U.S. Coast Guard. The ocean cliffs and open grassy slopes of an extinct volcano provide breeding grounds for native Hawai’ian seabirds and Nene, the endangered Hawai’ian goose.Kilauea Point gives visitors the unique opportunity to see Red-footed Boobies, Laysan Albatross and other seabirds in their natural habitat. In winter the National Marine Sanctuary waters off Kilauea are home to migrating Humpback Whales.
When you arrive at Kilauea Point the first thing that you notice is the astonishing numbers of huge seabirds circling around the point.
I love watching the Red-footed Boobies!
These birds, though ungainly and awkward on the ground, are lovely and graceful in flight.
The Red-footed Boobies are excellent fishers. The frigatebirds are less skilled and often steal fish from the unfortunate boobies. It is common to see frigatebirds chasing boobies.
For me, the most impressive birds are the Laysan Albatross. These huge birds fly so fast that they’re difficult to photograph. Most of my photos of them are not very sharp.
I was fortunate enough to have one fly right over my head. I was, at last, able to get a nice sharp photo.
By far the most beautiful birds are the tropicbirds, both red-tailed and white-tailed. They are enchanting to watch.
Nene wander on the grounds near the lighthouse. The official bird of the state of Hawaiʻi, the Nene is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi.
Nene have feet that are only half as webbed as other geese, and they have longer toes for climbing on the rocky Hawai’ian surfaces.
This Nene pair let me take a close photo of their darling gosling.
The recently restored historic Kilauea Lighthouse is a beautiful sight. The first phase of the restoration work was completed in November 2008 when the anchor bolts securing the lantern room to the concrete tower were repaired and replaced. The second phase of the restoration involved repairing the unique cast iron roof and lantern assembly and stabilizing the fragile lens. The final phase, which was finished within the past year, entailed repairs to the concrete tower, opening the closed vents and window openings, installing new windows, and removing some exterior coating to return the tower to its original appearance.
And did I mention that in winter you can see migrating humpback whales spouting from Kilauea point?
Here is a short video that I took at Kilauea NWR:
If you are fortunate enough to be able to travel to the beautiful island of Kaua’i, be sure to include a visit Kilauea Point in your travel plans.
I liked the light in these photos, taken at Laguna Madre Bay near Port Isabel, Texas on a cloudy day.
A highlight of my trip to South Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was a pontoon boat trip on Laguna Madre Bay with Scarlet Colley of the The South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Nature Center. We arrived at the dock in Port Isabel just at sunrise on a cloudy morning.
Six of us boarded the pontoon boat with Scarlet and Dan Jones, an excellent local birding guide.
As we cruised slowly around the harbor, Brown Pelicans seemed to be everywhere.
Black-necked Stilts waded in the shallows.
A Great Blue Heron was fishing in the harbor…
… and a Common Tern hunted overhead.
Black Skimmers were resting on the sand bars, occasionally making forays out over the bay.
Once we were out on the bay, we saw many wading birds:
I am always excited to see Roseate Spoonbills with their lovely pink color and prehistoric faces.
There were groups of Red Knots feeding on the sand bars in the bay.
As we headed farther out into the bay Rozzi, Scarlet’s dog, began to bark excitedly.
We soon saw the cause of her excitement …
… but I will save that for another post.