Today was my day for the water bird surveys on the refuge. As I make my way there along FM 1985 I’m used to seeing lots of red-tailed hawks sitting on the fence posts. As I passed one bird, though, it registered in my mind that it was a lot darker than the ordinary red-tail. What that computes to, for me, is to find a place to turn around and take another look.
Here’s what I found. What a beautiful raptor! But it had me second guessing myself. Initially I thought it was the Harlan’s subspecies of red-tailed hawk. This distinctive population is uncommon to rare, especially here along the coast.
Then I thought maybe it was the dark morph of a Ferruginous Hawk as when it flew; it’s tail was all grey. It, too, is rare in this area. There was no yellow on the beak, and the cere was blue (the area above the beak with the nostrils). I’m going with calling it a Harlan’s red-tail, but I’ll be checking with a friend for his opinion. At any rate, is sure was a beauty, and I was pumped that it so nicely posed for me.
As I began my surveys, I had to make my way through some cattle grazing the marsh, but I was happy to find that lots of snow geese had chosen to spend their day on the exact areas that I survey. Still pictures just can’t convey the experience of coming upon these humongous flocks. I tried to use the video feature on my newest camera so I could sort of bring this experience to my readers, but that was a disaster.
After I finished my surveys in this area, I returned to the VIS for a needed pit stop and to have my lunch. Fellow volunteer, Bob, asked if I had seen any geese and I told him that there were more than 10,000 geese in my areas this morning. By the look on his face, I knew that he would love to see them, so I told him to hop in the truck for a snow goose experience. He had his phone along and videoed this take off. Thanks, Bob, for letting me share your video and one of the joys of nature.
I hope it will give you some idea of the magnitude of witnessing this experience not only in the numbers, but in the sound of it all. I feel so lucky to be here and observe this as a regular occurrence. I had to ‘hang out’ with Rick this evening for quite some time to be able to get this video imbedded in my post. What a challenge that was! I sure hope it works for you to see and hear. If it works, listen closely and you will hear Bob’s exclamation of wonder.
It won’t be long before all these ducks and geese will be heading north once again in the yearly cycle of life. But I’m sure going to enjoy them while they’re here as winter ‘snowbirds’.
I’ll leave you with my bovine challenge of the day to get to my survey areas…
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy