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Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Birds-R-Us

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.  Winking smile

I’ll leave you with my bovine challenge of the day to get to my survey areas…

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                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

35 comments:

  1. Don't they make an awesome spectacle of themselves?! We were so mesmerized by the flock yesterday that we burned through most of the day at Shoveler. Great little video, I love their symphony. Also spotted a second Vermillion over at Skillern. One of these days we shall cross paths!
    Judy, do everything you can to avoid surgery on that shoulder. Although it's a safe and generally successful mending job, the rehab takes forever. Very often you can restore to almost full, pain-free functioning with good P.T. and letting the shoulder rest as much as possible. Take good care of yourself.

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  2. That is so cool.....thanks Bob and Judy! Wrecks hurt his foot today so he is sleeping with us. We were viewing your video and he sure perked up when he heard the geese! And oh my the hawk....what a beauty!

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  3. The raptor posed so beautifully it could have been your pet! I loved the video of the geese - I've never seen that many at the same time. What a racket they make!

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  4. I'll be darned - the video worked! Great job on filming Judy and having the patience to see it through and get it in your post. It was worth it!

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  5. The video was amazing !!! Thanks for that ...... About your shoulder..... Try the PT.... Do your best to find one that specializes in shoulders ..... I was told EXACTLY what you were told by the Doctor after reviewing the MRI ...one exception, I have both shoulders in that condition...... Anywhoooo, the PT and a couple of injections have worked and I am very grateful how things have turned out.... So far so good, it has been two and a half years since I completed the PT.....over that period of time both shoulders have slowly but surely become stronger and almost pain free ....Wishing the same for you, Judy !!!!!

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  6. Glad to see MBZ stopped by to comment. When she sent me her photo of the flock of geese, I accused her of stealing your header ;-))))

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    1. P.S. meant to say ... the video worked ... worth the effort it took to get it embedded.

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  7. The video was great and really showcased that massive flock. Just beautiful.

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  8. Great video- very cool. I thought there were a lot when we were there.

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  9. Love the video. Thanks for figuring out how to post it. Sure wish the geese would have been around when we visited, but the video was almost as good as being there. Good luck with the shoulder!

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  10. Great video... sure brought back a lot of memories of the months we spent at the Bosque.

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  11. In the area of southern New Jersey where I grew up, Snow Geese are a common sight as they pass through on their migration. When they come through they are treated to massive areas of meadows, fields of corn and wetlands. Ideal!

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  12. The first thoughts I have on that hawk is a juvenile White-tailed Hawk. The wing tips and white breast patch.

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    1. Just looked into your gorgeous hawk in my Sibley's.
      With that breast patch and bluish cere, both...Vote #2 for juvenile white-tailed.
      May need to bug you for help on a big fella we found sitting on a pole. Haven't had a chance to go through the pix yet.

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  13. Talk about deafening with all those geese.

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  14. Beautiful pictures!
    Bird surveys are probably one of our favorite volunteer jobs. You never know what you might see.
    Teri
    markteri.blogspot.com

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  15. Gorgeous photos and video. I'm trying to learn how to put my videos on my blog. You're ahead of me on the process. What a gorgeous hawk, whatever species it turns out to be.

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  16. Loved the geese video--what would we do without Rick!!

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  17. Nice video:) If they had flown directly over your vehicle, I would guess there would have been a car wash in your immediate future:) I think I would get a headache trying to identify all those bird species.

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  18. Of course that hawk posed for you. It knew it was a special thing to be photographed by the Bird Lady of Blog Land. :c)

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  19. WOW! That video is just amazing. What an experience. Thanks so much for going through the rigors of posting it. I imagine they will all be way gone by the time we get there. No wonder you keep coming back to work there. That's a better "job" than any I've ever known of.

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  20. Great to catch that on video...What an amazing site that must have been!

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  21. You did a great job of sharing Bob's gorgeous video. Currently we have TWO hooded mergansers at Oke. I have seen a total of about 25 woodducks, ONE coot, and ONE gadwell. What's with ducks and this place anyway.

    And that reminds me - has the new visitor center opened? I really wanted to see the movie since I guided the videographer on two trips into the refuge to get the pictures.

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  22. Bwahhahaa I love your "The End" pictures!


    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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  23. Aw, heck, I couldn't get the video to work for me. Love to see it personally. You lucky gal, you!

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  24. Oh I loved the video, Judy. Reminded me so much of the first time I saw snow geese flying when I moved to Klamath Falls in 2002. It was breathtaking, like someone shaking out sheets before they make the bed. Cant wait to get there.

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  25. The video was great! The Harlan's red-tail sure is a grand looking raptor.

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  26. I wished I had taken a video of the Sandhill Cranes taking off at La Sal del Rey. What a beautiful sight and sound.

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  27. Can't get the vid to run now, but will try in a little while. Oh boy, what a beautiful hawk!!!! Great shots!!

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  28. That was so cool to hear and see! And I'm glad that big bird posed so nicely for you....and long enough for you to turn around and go back! Katie the dog was very interested in the video...she says thank you!

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  29. Hard to stump the bird lady of blog land :-) Let us know when you know for sure.

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  30. What a great experience! Thank you for sharing the vid & your experience.

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  32. Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog

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