Sunday, September 17, 2017

091716 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Kites, Hawks and Natural History Just For You

                                                                  Mississippi Kites

                                                                Red-shouldered Hawk

                                                                  Wild Sunflower

                                                                 European Starlings

                                                                      Great Egret
                                                                  at Boomer Creek


08-27 through 09-03-17

This appears to be the end of our Mississippi Kites for the season.  They spent about ten days
at Boomer Lake and I believe we had ten or eleven at one point.  You may recall that I finally managed to get a few decent photos of juveniles this year, getting me one step closer to my raptor
collection.  I have a lot more to go, but eventually, I'll succeed.  I'd also like to improve upon the quality of the raptors, too.  Some were quite a distance away.

Our local Red-shouldered Hawks are back, and nest each year in a reasonable distance from the lake.

It wasn't close enough for a photo, but one of our Belted Kingfishers has been visiting the area for the past couple of days.  I saw two males, but not the female.  She will come around eventually, most likely when it is nearer winter.

A couple of evenings ago, some birding friends and I went to the lake to see some of our Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that roost elsewhere during the day.  We also saw several lovely House Finches, as well as a Western Kingbird that should have gone south.  I am assuming that this juvenile has been staying close to the young scissor-tails and was a late hatcher.  We will most likely have several late hatching birds coming through the area on their way south this year.

Not being pressed for time today, I managed a trip to Boomer Creek, where I observed my woodpecker entourage, as well as someone that has been interested in corvids for quite some time.  Actually, I have encountered several new birders recently, so I'm happy to say that the fold is growing.  A couple of us have been spending time teaching the joys of birding to those with budding interests.  Our biggest joys are when the new people get to observe new birds for the first time.

For those of you that have never seen one, I thought that the naturalists would enjoy looking at a cicada.  They are heard everywhere, but are sometimes a little difficult to spot.  This one flew right in front of me and landed on a sapling.  I just had to take a photo to show you.

Until next time!

090317 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Saturday, August 26, 2017

We Are Ready For the Fall Migratory Birds


                                                          Adult Mississippi Kite


                                                         Juvenile Mississippi Kite


                                                                Adult Mississippi Kite

08-20 through 08-25-17

The Mississippi Kites are pulling out of all the area neighborhoods to catch dragonflies and cicadas at Boomer Lake.  They are teaching the youngsters how to survive, and they know that the perfect place to do it is in the throes of our greatest body of water.

Several fine examples of both juvenal and adult birds are quietly hunting from the tallest bald cypress
and oak trees on the southeast corner of the property.  Since young birds have difficulty staying silent for too long, they manage to announce themselves, which makes it easy for me to find them.  There are at least three young birds that were hatched in this area.

Large numbers of Mallards are also in residence at the lake, and young Red-shouldered Hawks are also hunting here.  Plenty of Turkey Vultures are gracing the skies on thermals, and there are several Northern Flickers, Downy and Red-headed Woodpeckers, and the Yellow Warblers are coming through the area now.

The web worms are all over the deciduous trees, which means plenty of potential food with protein and we are well on our way with large numbers of rough-leafed dogwood for the migratory birds that will soon be at Boomer Lake and the creek on a well-deserved rest stop.

Keep your eyes on the skies and may the birds be in your sights...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mississippi Kites Come to Boomer Lake!

                                                                  Adult Green Heron

                                                                 Yellow-billed Cuckoo

                                                             Juvenile Mississippi Kite


                                                             Adult Mississippi Kite

                                                                     Ditto, a Day Later

080717 through 081917

Photos were few and far between due to high heat indices.  Quite simply, neither the birds nor I were out for any more than necessary.

As tropical as our state bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is, it has taken refuge elsewhere, as have the kingbirds.  These things happen.

But, by the same token, Mississippi Kites have come out of the neighborhoods and others are beginning to head south.  As a matter of fact, on Friday, we had nine of them at Boomer Lake, the greatest number that I have ever seen.  They were perching between a large oak and an even larger bald cypress tree on the southeast corner of the lake.

I had three juveniles in a tree with an adult.  As you can see, one of the juveniles was looking right at me.  Originally, I only saw the adult, and a passerby happened to see one of the juveniles perched over the adult's head.  I then scanned the tree and located the other two.  The youngster facing me was quite vocal, so that bird was easy to find.

I saw a juvenile Mississippi Kite in the air last year, but was unable to obtain a good photo due to the deflection of the sunlight.  This year's shots were so much better, including a shot of my juvenile calling the familiar, "PEE-teeeerrrrr!"  Notice the first shot of the juvenile with its beak open.

Other shots include the Yellow-billed Cuckoo from Boomer Creek on Aug. 11.  I saw my first juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker out there, too, but the photo is poor.  I believe that bird was hatched here, as it was still in the company of a parent.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Green Heron Clutch #5 Makes Debut In Nest on 072917

                                                              European Starling

                                                   First Green Heron Nestling, Clutch 5

                                                   Black-crowned Night Heron Subadult

                                                   Two Green Heron Nestlings, Clutch #5

                                                           Black-crowned Night-Heron

                                                        Green Heron Parent For Clutch 5

                                                             Green Heron Nestlings

                                                                      Ditto 080517

                                                             Black-crowned Night-Heron

07-25 through 08-05-17

This was a longer stretch than usual, but most of these days got hot very quickly.  With both black metal camera and tripod, it was difficult to keep sweat out of the eyes and any kind of comfort level.  Now that I have a few photos, I am proud to announce that we have another clutch of young.

It is unknown what happened with clutch 4, which I never saw.  I had a bird on its nest, but no young were produced.  It appeared to me that one of the Green Herons was a little young, so I am assuming that the male was not yet reproductively mature.  It was also possible that there was a malady or perhaps the nest was infested with something malicious.  Since we will never know, let us be grateful that we have young that I was able to capture at a very early age.

The first photo with clutch #5 was on Saturday, 07-29, nine days ago.  I could only see one bird at the time, and I am almost certain that we now have three nestlings, some of whom are now sitting on the rim of the nest, just itching to escape.  In order to obtained the photos that you see here, I have to have at least 12 mph wind gusts, enough to move both leaves and branches out of the way in order to view the youngsters.  Luck gave me a few shots over the past nine days.

I also believe that I missed seeing the subadult Black-crowned Night-Heron every day, but I don't think it ever left the area.  Going to the west side of Heron Cove each day has sometimes afforded me the opportunity to see the bird perched in a tree.  The photos tell the story, and I am grateful that this bird is allowed to co-exist in the area of the Green Herons.  If it returns as an adult in 2018, we'll see
if they are willing to allow it nesting space.

Even though it has been a terrifically hot summer in this part of the country, it appears that we'll see a reprieve in August.  Perhaps we can all get in some long overdue birding.  If the month is cooler, we might even see an earlier migration, as the days are shortening slightly.  Perhaps the cooler month will give us a push with a few early birds in the area.  I saw three Forster's Terns cruising the lake on Saturday, so we'll see what is in store for us this season.

Dr. Deb

080617 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Subadult Black-crowned Night Heron Is Greeted by a Green Heron Adult

                                                        Green Heron Juvenile, Clutch 1

                                                      Black-crowned Night Heron (Left)
                                                            Adult Green Heron (Right)

                                                              Bleck-crowned Night-Heron

                                                                      Green Heron Adult

                                                         Green Heron Juvenile, Clutch 1

                                                                Mallard Ducklings

                                                                 Green Heron Adult

                                                            Black-crowned Night Heron


                                                        Green Heron Juvenile, Clutch 1

                                                 Juvenile yellow-shafted Northern Flickers
                                                                            at play

Week of 07-10-17 to Present

A subadult Black-crowned Night-Heron came to visit this week, which I assume was last year's
second summer bird.  I believe this bird had been born on Goose Island two years ago, as the Green Herons evicted an adult from trying to breed at that time.  The night-heron clan is sometimes known to eat the eggs of other herons, which causes them consternation, so they generally will not allow them any real estate in many heronries.

Sometimes the Black-crowned Night-Heron will nest in the same tree with ibises, and occasionally they will be accepted by other herons.  They also don't discriminate against the birds in other nests and have been known to brood nests not their own.  Young birds will disgorge their stomachs if disturbed, quite like vultures, who do so at any age.

After a couple of days, an adult Green Heron came face-to-face with this subadult night-heron.  They both appeared quite surprised at the encounter and managed to remain quite close for a good fifteen minutes before Green Heron left the area.  I did my best to record the event, since our colony usually drives them away.  Evidently, the adult Green Heron felt that the night-heron meant no harm.

It is possible that the night heron has left Heron Cove, as I have not seen it there for a couple of days.

It was a nice visit, while it lasted.  Prior to the bird making its appearance on Monday morning, it was under the main nest tree on the west bank of the cove.  Since night-herons don't care for bright sunlight, it never stayed long in the mornings.  They usually tend to do much better at pre-dawn or twilight, retiring in the shadows.

There are still plenty of young birds all over the lake, including these two young Northern Flickers, who displayed their yellow shafts the entire time that I was in their presence.  They did the jousting play ritual, which is quite common for the species.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Two Rare Green Heron Rituals Await You

                                                                  Subadult Green Heron

                                                        Green Heron Immature Clutch #1

                                                                Ditto, Both on 070217

                                                         Green Heron Meeting, 070317
                                                          Prelude to Egg-Laying Ritual

                                                              Green Heron in Nest 4

                                                              Egg Laying Ritual Begins

                                                                  Green Heron Preens
                                                           Prior to Pair Bonding Ritual

                                                                Green Heron at Nest 5

                                                        Green Heron Pair Bonding Ritual

                                                              "The Stick Seals the Deal!"
                                                                      Bonding Accepted

                                                                 Great Egret, 070818

Week of 070117 to present

There is a lot to cover this week and a lot of excitement.

First, I obtained an adequate enough photo to show the nest 4 bird.  Thanks are to the graces of the wind, and her position.  The female stays on the nest overnight, then both male and female trade off positions during the day.

I have seen it before, but we also were privy to the egg laying ritual.  When all the eggs are lain, the male will inform the colony.  He begins by taking a high perch so that all may see him.  He then makes himself look large and mighty and sways back and forth a couple of times.  He then goes to visit all the birds on their perches, including any juveniles.  This bird then went in search of food for the female.

Soon thereafter, a new set of birds became a couple, and she accepted this male.  One of the birds is a subadult, the female.

We were later gifted with a Green Heron in nest 5, changing position.  This is another time to thank the wind and our illustrious bird on it.

Therefore, we have two active nests, at least one with eggs.  By now, we could have chicks in nest 4, but I cannot see yet.

Hope you enjoy what nature has brought, and thanks for viewing!

Dr. Deb

070917 SNP Edition, Life at Boomer Lake

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Green Herons Shed Light On Another Clutch!

                                                      Clutch #2 Immature Green Heron

                                                              Clutch #1 Green Heron

                                                                Clutch #1 Green Heron


                                                   Clutch 1 Members with Diamond Backed
                                                         Watersnake and Red Eared Slider

                                                                    Adult Green Heron

                                                                  Clutch 2 Green Heron


                                                       Youngest Clutch #1 Member



                                                               Sub-Adult Green Heron

                                                                    Adult Green Heron

                                                       Immature Clutch #2 Green Heron

                                                                     Ditto, Pose #2

                                                                       Ditto, Pose #3



                                                              Clutch #3 Green Heron
                                                   20' From Where I Stand at Heron Cove

                                                                 Great Blue Heron

Photos From 06-24(Top) through 06-30-17

The young birds are growing quickly, which you can see if you look at the feathery white tufts
atop the Green Heron heads.  The older they get, the less tufts are seen.

My biggest surprise came yesterday, when I saw that immature Green Heron nearly right over my head.  What prompted me to look in that direction, is that the adults kept calling, and naturally I was curious regarding the reason.  The youngster didn't seem to mind getting photographed.

Sub-adults now seem to be arriving for experience with parenting.  These are last year's birds, who are just shy of a year old.  If the rest of the summer stays as good as it is now, with plenty of food, they might have a clutch.  There is a possibility that breeding season might even last a little longer.

Our infamous Great Blue Heron, who lives on the Cove out of breeding season, is getting impatient
for his domain.  He has been coming by each day to sit for as long as he can.