I have been unable to get out recently – I seem to have too many chores and errands to run in preparation for our baby. It is very difficult to reconcile being hours away from my wife this late into the pregnancy, so I have been taking whatever chances I can get to shoot around the garden and house. Today I spent a few minutes with this little fellow, until he moved and I realised he wasn’t dead!!
I took a trip out to Gilbert on Thursday of this week to see what birds are about. I wanted to scope out some areas of interest for a visiting photographer that I am meeting up with on Monday. Surprisingly I saw fewer Hummingbirds than I have ever seen before, but the Yellow-rumped Warblers seemed to occupy every hedgerow along the paths. It was nice to see that the Avocets, which returned recently, are getting used to a human presence. This allowed me to get some reasonably close shots. The Dowitchers and Least Sandpipers are doing their usual thing – head dipping along the shallows. They don’t seem bothered by humans at all! Lastly, it must be getting closer to Easter because all the Cottontails were hopping around the preserve. If I get my hands on one I’ll make a rabbit stew – just kidding. The fellow below posed for a good 20 shots before he hopped off.
That is how long it took to get today’s images. A thirty minute drive from my home to Arlington Wildlife Refuge only to hear the sound of chipping machines munching through the branches that were being trimmed from the trees. It was loud enough to scare off any wildlife… so I turned the car around and drove home.
On the way to Arlington I saw this Merlin and these 2 Red-tailed Hawks, I used my car as a hide and drove as slowly as I could toward them. The first sign of anxiety on their part and I stopped and started shooting out of the driver window.
On the way back to Buckeye I saw the Osprey and Black Phoebe, but also an American Kestrel and Belted Kingfisher that took to the wing.
All of these are fairly large crops, so the quality may not be the best. But they will suffice for identification.
Aside from finding my Burrowing Owls safe and sound this week I also had a productive visit to the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert.
The American Avocets have returned for a while and this is bringing out the photographers. The Canada Geese are still in Gilbert en masse and the rest of the gang are still resident.
As I was photographing the Avocets I was aware of some movement to my left and was quick enough to catch the end of some fighting action between 2 Least Sandpipers. These little birds are quite the little bruisers, measuring in at 6 inches! The fight was short lived, but brutal!
Here is a selection from this week.
About 6 months ago I was told of a location about 60 miles from me where there was a resident Burrowing Owl. I was really excited to go and see it – mainly because all the other Burrowing Owl locations I knew of were abandoned. The first was on the central grass strip on a freeway, the second set of burrows I heard about were at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve, a place I visit weekly (the only thing that outnumbers the burrows are the feral cats – the burrows are no longer inhabited), the third place I heard of apparently still has owls, but I have never seen them – at the end of a airfield.
So you can imagine the dissapointment when I visited my little-known burrow 2 weeks ago and saw signs of damage… and after 2 hours of waiting, there were no signs of the owls – not even the ever present sentry, that stands guard outside.
Today I decided that I would check the place out again. I made the 60 mile journey and was again disheartened by the absence of any life. I left and spent a couple of hours in a local park. But, at luchtime I decided to go back to the burrow and investigate further – maybe even creeping a little closer to see if there were any signs of carcasses, feathers etc.
I approached the burrow and was overjoyed to see 2 eyes watching me from behind the burrow mound.