Saturday, March 31, 2012

Early Spring

I think that that this was the fourth-warmest winter in St. Louis, and I certainly enjoyed it. Usually January-mid April is the worst part of the year, rainy, gray, and cold. But this year, it was warm and relatively sunny throughout the winter, and when march came it brought full spring with it. Things were just starting to get green when I left for Florida, and when I got back, I was amazed that all the bushes and small trees were leafed out and the trees were starting to bud. By now, everything is green and in bloom, which is one of the things I miss the most in winter. Of course, it's already been over 80 many times in March, which is worrying when you consider how hot St. Louis gets in the summer. But since I'll be in Michigan for the summer, hopefully earlier than ever this year, I'm not too concerned. Anyway, Because of the nice weather I went out to Powder Valley Nature Center last week, which has interesting topography that I think is fairly typical of this east of the Ozarks region of Missouri, with hills and steep gullies in between them. There was a red-tailed hawk sitting a ways down one of the slopes, and it let me get extremely close to it, which was great since I don't have many good raptor pictures. I think that this bluebird is probably at least related to the one I saw here last year hanging around the parking lot. This isn't the best picture, but I like how you can see a sort of blue eye-cover in it. I got an amazing shot of it last year, and I'm thinking about going back there to look for it specifically sometime soon, before there are too many leaves to conceal it. Enjoy the spring season!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Florida Birding

This was only my second time being in Florida in March, and I once again had a great time at Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay. Unfortunately, since I visited them during the middle of the day, there were not as many warblers around as I had hoped, only palm and yellow-rumped. However, I did see a male yellow-rumped in the middle of changing to his spring plumage, which was very interesting. Also of note was a roseate spoonbill, which I had missed last year. I'm not sure if that's because of the time of year (last year I was there over President's day), but it was nice to see one this time. This is the best picture I could get of it, but I like it because it shows the color and the unusual bill.
This baby alligator was resting with its two siblings. I remember the first time I was in Florida, at Loxahatchee NWR, I was about to touch the tail of a slightly larger juvenile alligator because I thought it was an intricately patterned feather from a hawk or turkey. Fortunately, I realized that it was attached to a small alligator, and took some nice pictures instead.

Although I usually don't want my pictures to have man-made things in them (the boardwalk rails in this case), I liked the light background and expression of this female red-winged blackbird.
I love this picture because it's similar to another picture I took of a cormorant two years ago at Wakodahatchee. Once again, this one was sitting on the railing, and allowing people to come as close as they wanted. When I took the previous picture, I had my 55-250mm lens, and it was a great opportunity since that lens had to be very close to a bird to get a frame-filling image. This time I actually had to back away to even be able to focus, but I think it turned out extremely well. I think the brown indicates a young bird, but it could also be a female.
And the other picture I mentioned. They're different color schemes and facing different ways, but I think they make a good set.
I spent about twenty minutes trying to get a flight shot of this bird, since it was following a set pattern, flying to a berm to get a branch and then flying back to put it on its nest. Eventually, I moved to a more advantageous location, where it was flying towards me for longer, and I could get a green background.

Things are starting to get very green around here, so I wouldn't be surprised if some early migrants showed up soon. Keep a good lookout!