Saturday, February 28, 2015

Freezing happily with Gabriel

The Audubon winter day trip to close-by frozen trundras!  We bundled up, we got in the van, and we were off.  Okay, let's get one thing straight right away.  We did not see any snowy owls.  At all.  None.  In fact, no owls of any sort!  Well, unless you count a quick glimpse Gabe may or may not have had of a short-eared owl flying.  However, we made up for it with the crazy number of raptors we saw!

We started off with a pair of rough-legged hawks.  Like you do.  There was an incident with a Cooper's hawk, but the rough-legged pair help their ground.
rough-legged hawk

They tend to be implausible.
rough-legged hawk

A kestrel tried to distract us, and then a mockingbird tried to distract the kestrel.
American kestrel, northern mockingbird

 At the water, most of the birds were far far away, but a few of them wanted to show off for us.
red-breasted merganser

This may or may not be an immature red-shouldered hawk.  It could be a red-tailed hawk trying to fool us into thinking it's a red-shouldered.  Anyway, we are pretty sure something is red.
mystery hawk
More water, more gorgeousness!  Look at this duck!  
long-tailed duck
horned grebe
 There was a great cormorant standing around for a while, and then it flew a few circles around us and landed near a double-crested cormorant.  There was a merganser nearby for some color.  Sadly my camera failed to adequately capture the moment.
great cormorant
Nobody knows quite why this pin-tail duck decided to try to pass itself off as a Canada goose.  Gabe ran into a birding blogger who pointed it out, we are all grateful!  You can check out his blog, which is amazing, at  Thanks Andrew!
northern pintail
And then, just when we were wondering if the freezing was worth the mostly empty water we were looking at, we saw these guys.  Red-necked grebes, which really perked Gabe up!  Apparently they are unusual to see, especially in numbers more than one or maybe two.  Seeing four was a treat, and they were nice and close. I spotted them, with my trick of turning my head to the left 30 seconds before someone else did.  They floated right in front of us, and then flew off, tired of the paparazzi.
red-necked grebe
Back into the van, to another spot, where we did not see short-eared owls.  But we did see this harrier!  
northern harrier
And this one too!  This is an adult male, which is called the Grey Ghost.  Why?  Because it's a harrier and they are bad-ass and get to have cool names, that's why!  
northern harrier
This grey ghost wants a mouse real bad.
northern harrier
Finishing up, we were all happy with what we saw, the amazing number of raptors and the ducks.  Oh, and there were other things too, I'm just still half-frozen so I can't give a good account.  Just before we left, with a sideways glance, Gabe found us this wigeon.  Great ending to a great day!
American wigeon

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