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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Nerdy Birdy: Hansen Dam Riparian Birds

I love to go birding. I love the nature and the peace and the hunt and the challenge of getting a great photo of a bird. The combination of making an artistic photo and getting the technology of the camera in line appeals to both the right side of my brain and the left side. On top of the fact that I love a good challenge. Birding fulfills me in so many ways.

Today I woke up early, I kissed my still sleeping husband goodbye, I checked on my still sleeping baby and I left both of them at home so I could meet a group of birders. We met at the Hansen Dam Riparian Habitat, a large park I have never been too. The group was pretty big, most of them were experienced birders, and some of them I recognized from previous trips. Even though I haven’t gone birding in forever I brought my big lens. I knew I was going to regret it later in the day or tomorrow when my arms were going to want to fall off. That lens takes some serious muscles. But I knew I would regret leaving it.

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I really loved the various habitats at Hansen Dam. There was a ton of water, that always attracts birds, but there were various fields and even some stands of trees in numerous places. It was also a lot bigger than I thought it would be. We ended up hiking about 5 miles over the course of five hours and I was right, my back and arms were killing me by the end of the day!

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We got to see so many really cool birds, but even if we hadn’t I still would have had a fantastic time. I really really miss birding, it is something that I just need to keep on the backburner for a while, until I have my children and they get old enough for me to take off for a while. Or they come with me, which would be even better! Often while hiking with a group this large I take off for a bit on my own, especially if we see a very cool bird that I don’t have many photos of. I spent quite a bit of time behind with the Blue Grosbeak. The male this time of year is so beautiful and I don’t get to see this particular bird often. I was sad that I couldn’t get closer to the Lazuli Bunting. I have seen seven or eight of them but I have never been able to get very close. They are a super shy bird.

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I was super excited when we found a group of Rough Winged Swifts on some cliffs. They are particularly hard to photo flying, they are super fast, and I have never seen this bird perched. With the nests close by I noticed that one particular branch was being used as a favorite perch for many of the birds. Taking my time I got pretty close to the branch and then waited for a bold bird to land. I was happy to get such great photos.

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There were so many fun birds and I was estatic to get so many fun photos.

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While we were hiking we crossed a few cowbird cages. It is super sad. The cages are to catch Brown Headed Cowbirds, so they can be killed from the breeding habitats of endangered birds. Cowbirds never build nests, instead they lay their eggs (one every other day for 80-120 days) in the nests of other birds. The host birds take care of the cowbird chicks, often killing off their own offspring. By killing off one female cowbird approximately 240 native songbird young are raised in the area. The traps have proven very successful at raising endangered populations.

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Along with looking for birds, often over great distances, we often see other wildlife. Today we found the typical rabbits, and even a deer off in the distance. I got a nice photo of a swallowtail butterfly. But the highlight of the non bird variety today was the gopher snake.

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3 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

Beautiful bird photos. Pretty amazing you found the swift perching. Cool! I didn't know that about the cowbirds, sad.

Kelly Ann said...

Great photos! They have some really big birds there and I want to say they're Hawks but I haven't been able to find out. What lens did you use for these photos?

Rogue Woman said...

Hi Kelly. For this day I used the canon 500mm f/4 fixed lens. I also love the 100-400 canon lens for birding.

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