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Friday, June 10, 2011

Yellowstone & Grand Tetons: NEW Birds

Birding near my home rarely turns up new birds. I was going out quite often before the first pregnancy but generally I would always see the same birds. Going on a trip like this let me find more new birds off my Nerdy Birdy List.

Finding one new bird is exciting, two new birds is rare but 11 new birds made me jump up and down in GLEE. Although there were a few birds on my list that I didn’t get to see... namely the Great Grey Owl, I was still super excited with that number. 11 yes sir I will take it!

Golden Eagles are known to fly in and around Yellowstone and I kept my eyes not only peeled for animals on foot this trip but also searching the skies. I cannot tell you HOW MANY TIMES I stopped to photo a bird only to end up it being a Red Tailed Hawk, a bird that is very common. The Golden Eagle is obviously much larger than the Red Tailed Hawk but seeing a glance of a large bird in the sky without anything to size reference it too resulted in a ton of false alarms. LUCKILY a few of those sightings actually ended up being the actual Golden Eagle.

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THE GOLDEN EAGLE

Perhaps because I was photoing anything and everything that looked like a big bird in hopes that it was a Golden Eagle I managed to stumble upon two other new hawks. Both the Northern Groshawk and the Swainsan’s Hawk were caught soaring overhead. Sadly I found no hawks anywhere landed.

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NORHTERN GROSHAWK

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SWAINSAN’S HAWK

Every time I go somewhere new on a trip I always preprint out the bird list and make sure to highlight the ones that are in that area that I haven’t seen yet. The Sandhill Crane was on that list and although there were not hundreds of this bird like there could be I did find two separate nesting pairs. The first nest was easy, it was situated in the middle of a small pond right out in the open. The bird was frustratingly sleeping EVERY TIME I DROVE BY except thankfully once. The partner who never generally strays far I never saw.

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SANDHILL CRANE

The second sighting was a little funnier. I saw the bird picking through some tall grass for food while driving. I immediately pulled over, grabbed my gear and hustled to the edge of the swamp. A bird I had seen only a few moments before had all the sudden disappeared. I searched the skies but no bird. So I took out my binoculars and REALLY looked. A few minutes later I found the bird neatly camouflaged on its very hidden nest.

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SANDHILL CRANE

Two minutes later and quite close to me I found its mate who was much less difficult to see.

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SANDHILL CRANE

Another new bird I found was the Barrow’s Goldeneye. At first I thought I had spotted a loon or an eider. With the males striking black and white pattern he threw me for a minute but once I took out the camera I spotted his shining golden eye.

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MALE BORROW’S GOLDENEYE

It is always a little sad to me that the men in the bird kingdom are always so much prettier than the women. I get why that is, the whole camouflage thing with the young but still makes me wonder.

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FEMALE BORROW’S GOLDENEYE

Near the goldeneyes I found a the Clarks Grebe. It was alone, without a partner that I could see and other than a few mallards seemed to have no friends. Although not an excellent photo it is still a new bird.

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CLARK’S GREBE

I knew that the Clark’s Nutcracker was in this area. It is the prefect habitat, mountains and evergreens but I could never find it. Despite keeping my eyes peeled for this large bird I still could not spot it. Funny enough when I stopped in the mountains to get a photo of some scenery he popped out right in front of me. There were 6 of them in this group and they had no problems coming close. In the 5 minutes they were there I got some great photos.

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CLARK’S NUTCRACKER

The Grey Jay was ‘that bird’. I kept seeing it so far away, I would chase it all over a hiking trail or a parking lot in a picnic area but it would never let me get close. Then on the last day I stopped at a rest area and there were two birds, close as can be and so docile. All that running around for nothing, these two were the perfect little models.

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THE GREY JAY

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THE GREY JAY

Two other new birds were difficult and it never got better. The yellow headed blackbird kept flying away from me, the closer I got the further it would fly away until it got to a point where I just stopped chasing him. I never did get that Kodak shot.

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YELLOW HEADED BLACKBIRD

The Black Headed Grosbeak was even worse but for a completely different reason. I only saw it once and it was one of those rare times I stepped away from the car without my camera. When I spotted him and after I made sure it was a new bird I ran back to the car grabbed the camera and started ATTEMPTING to shoot. The problem this time wasn’t the bird, he sat there patiently on his branch... the problem was the equipment. I just couldn’t get the camera to focus correctly and by the time I finally figured out the focusing issue the bird turned all poltergeist on me. I do know for sure it was a black headed grosbeak even if you can’t see the head in the photo.

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BLACK HEADED GROSBEAK

I think that the new bird that stole the show on this trip though was the Violet Green Swallow.

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VIOLET GREEN SWALLOW

For a swallow I got quite a few photos of the bird landed and with all the people running around the park these guys were pretty tame.

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VIOLET GREEN SWALLOW

I adore the striking colors; the green against the bright white and then the peeking of the iridescent purple on its back. Yup I am officially lost... you are GORGEOUS DARLING.

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VIOLET GREEN SWALLOW

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VIOLET GREEN SWALLOW

3 comments:

Jess said...

The violet green swallow is absolutely gorgeous. Yay for so many new feathered friends!

paul peggy zeus said...

Wow! 11 new birds in 10 days that's terrific! I'm not certain about the Northern Goshawk, the one I saw had an incredibly LONG narrow tail, but maybe it's a baby. Nice to catch those swallows at rest.

lilmansworld said...

WING!

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