So far I’ve done the weekly waterbird surveys on the refuge by myself. Sometimes that’s a challenge as I have to write down the birds I’m counting as I’m looking through the scope. I’ve got it down to a routine, but this week a fellow volunteer asked to come along and record for me. I couldn’t pass up that offer!
Meet Lynn, my partner in crime for the day. I told her to pack a lunch, and we were off into the dreary skies and fog. Of course the weather guessers had forecasted temps near 70 and sunshine, but that didn’t happen. Since I’ll soon be gone for a week to Chicago, I wanted to do the count late in my work week, and then again the day after I get back for consistency.
Duck and geese numbers were down today in my moist soil unit plots, but it was a banner day for egrets and dowitchers. There was one big flock of snow geese as we traveled along, but of course they weren’t in one of my count areas. My estimate is that there are about 1200 geese in this photo that I took with my telephoto lens and it was only about 20% of the flock. I think you can click on the photo to get a closer view. Seen from afar, it sure does look like a pile of snow out there.
Occasionally a portion of the flock would take off as perhaps an eagle soared by or there may have been a coyote out there shaking things up. That’s when you get the jaw dropping view and deafening sounds of thousands of geese taking flight.
We stopped along the one lane gravel tract, lowered the truck tailgate, and hopped up to have our lunch surrounded by the marsh and all of its inhabitants. I’m a slow eater to begin with, and considering everything to see and hear, and of course chat about, it took us a full hour to finish our sandwiches. So much better than a restaurant or fast food place. It’s one of the reasons I treasure volunteering. I’m in my element.
At our last surveying location of the day, we finished the counting, and then Lynn noticed a coyote casually walking into the count area. It was pretty far off, but with the scope and our binoculars we spent about fifteen minutes or more just watching what he was up to. It was obvious that he was marking his territory in many locations. Then, he stopped to chew on a snow goose wing that he found. As he busied himself along the perimeter of the water, we just sat mesmerized by these National Geographic type moments. It sure was nice to have someone along today who appreciates these wonders as I do.
When I got home to the rig, I turned on the computer and there was a new post from Donna Cave about how she and Dennis had finally found some Whooping Cranes to see. They’ve been on the lookout for them as they are spending time camped at a couple of state parks in the Aransas, TX, area, and I was thrilled that she saw some. Donna is not a big birder by any means, but she enjoys all wildlife (except maybe alligators) and likes her encounters with birds. In comments on her blog, I have affectionately referred to her as a budding junior bird nerd, or Grasshopper (remember that show?) in her endeavors to identify birds that she sees. Well, I was in for a real shock as I read further.
She returned to the same field later on her bike and reported that she saw a plethora of young whooping cranes! Oh no! While the first collage definitely shows whooping cranes, this collage is of sandhill cranes. How could she have made that identification error? (Sadly, I must admit that I have made numerous bird ID mistakes, but don’t tell anyone, okay?) I was aghast!!!
I certainly cannot compete with Donna in the eclectic beauty of her ensembles, but really folks, I’m not sure what to do about this astounding blunder. I thought I taught her better! I’m leaning toward calling her Stink Bug instead of Grasshopper. What’s a person to do?? I await your input…
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy