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Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Early signs of spring?

I know that spring doesn’t officially start for another month, but I’m beginning to see some signs that things are changing.  I was out today to do my weekly waterbird count.  In December and January, I could expect to count thousands of geese and ducks.  We’re more than half way through February now, and those numbers have declined.  In my seven count areas, I found only one goose today.  There are still some snow and white-fronted geese around, but nothing like two weeks ago.

To me, that means they’ve got hitch itch and spring migration has begun.  With all the snow storms still going on up north, I’m not sure how far these wanderers will get, but nature is on the move.  The lengthening days have triggered something inside these birds that compels them to seek out their northern nesting grounds.  Honestly, I’ve about had enough of winter, so I can rejoice in their leaving.  Those of you in the north, be on the lookout for those first robins too!

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In a month or so, the neo-tropical migrants will begin arriving after their arduous flight over the gulf from Mexico and Central America.  I’m thinking this young merlin will probably stick around and head north with them.

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It looks to me like this young fella/gal will make it through its first year and live to a ripe old age.  If you look closely at the top of its breast you’ll notice a slight bulge.  What that means to me is that it has recently had a successful hunt and its crop is full.  Since 80% of birds die in their first year, this is a sign that this bird has mastered the ability to find food.  Good to see.  This merlin is one of our smaller falcons, and catches small birds on the wing.

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Also still hanging around is this young white-tailed hawk.  It’s maintained a territory all winter near the intersection of FM 1985 and Pear Orchard Road.  I especially like this bird because it’s always willing to pose for me.  Winking smile

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I went into the VIS yesterday to get a little refresher on operating the little nature store there.  After over five years, the new VIS may actually open in the next month or so.  I certainly won’t miss the little shack we’ve been operating out of for so long.  The new VIS will command a wonderful view of the refuge from atop posts to keep it out of the way of hurricane water surges.  I’ll post some pictures once it’s in operation.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll go into Anahuac to the Wellness Clinic where I did my shoulder physical therapy to sign up for a monthly membership.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

27 comments:

  1. Good luck to all the birds who are heading north. I hope they find safe haven. Just a thought, but I've always been used to saying "VC"; what benefit does it bring to change the name to "VIS"? You obviously go to a Visitors Center to get Information, duh. Don't mean to be crabby, but I hate it when names or titles are changed and it doesn't make one bit of difference.

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    1. I believe a VC - Visitor Center is found at a National Park and a VIS - Visitor Information Station is at a National Wildlife Refuge. Other recreation area use these names but my experience is with Federal Parks and Recreation. Let's see what Judy has to say. Becki

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  2. I looked and looked but I can't see any bulge on that bird. Can I borrow your eyes, mine seem to be malfunctioning... :cO

    Glad you made it back safe and sound from the frigid North country! I was worrying that you might have gotten your tongue stuck to a frozen flag pole... ;c)

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  3. Mighty find photos today beginning with that header shot which is terrific. Seems today's birds were all posing for you. Sorry to hear the geese are leaving. I knew they wouldn't be there by the time we get to you but it's still sad. But then maybe I can learn some of the warblers if they are in your neck of the woods in April.

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  4. Wonderful pics of the Merlin. I think I can see the bulge. Especially in the pic on right. Sure hope he/she makes it for many years to come.

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  5. That Merlin is beautiful! I had no idea the percentage of birds that don't make it a year was so high.....that's so many. Makes me even more happy and privileged to see the ones I do.

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  6. Love the Merlin so proud.

    I had to catch up on your blog tonight. I thought the cup idea was fantastic can't believe she didn't get many comments. You maybe right snobs. Well you can at least tell her I thought it was great.

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  7. Thousands of the snow geese are here in the Skagit Valley. We have our Snow Gooser Festival this weekend--great opportunity for folks from the city to learn about our migrating birds.

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  8. Oops...those geese aren't goosing anyone! Make that the Snow Goose (!!) Festival! Your photos are fantastic--the bird world is so very diverse. I had no idea--thank you for educating me about that, Judy!

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  9. What would those birds do without a handy fence post to perch on? And just think how many photo ops we'd lose if it weren't for those handy fence posts!

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  10. Great bird pix, Judy. Makes me wish I was back there right now!

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  11. All us "birds" here in the South are beginning to migrate North..slowly. We finally have some great temps here and if it wasn't for family, I would love to just stay on the road. Good to be home, but the travel is what I would miss...

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  12. Wonderful pictures!
    Teri
    markteri.blogspot.com

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  13. Oh my goodness...80% die the first year. I had no idea.

    Great idea to keep those exercises going.

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  14. I'm ready to start migrating too!

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  15. The violets, bluets and sunbonnets have made their appearance at the MS Sandhill Crane refuge this week. Evidently some of the cranes are getting ready for nesting season too. Yay, spring. Now if we can avoid going straight from winter into summer, we'll be fine.

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  16. Just posted on my blog before checking on yours (got some birds!) and I guess we are both seeing signs of spring! So encouraging!

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  17. the bluets are blooming here along with the henbit so spring is indeed right around the corner...

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  18. I like your prediction better than that PA groundhog!

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  19. I like the pictures of the hawk and the merlin. They sure did pose well!

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  20. You always provide such interesting information. Loved the bit about the bird bulge.

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  21. Never heard or seen a merlin before, thanks for that. Looks a little larger than a sparrowhawk.

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  22. congratulations guys, quality information you have given!!! vietnam travel

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

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