I adore watching swallows dive and dip and plunge and swoop and swirl and sail and careen and soar and turn and otherwise rocket around. It just makes me smile. They look like freedom.
That day I also got a lot of good looks at Kestrels hover hunting. At the time, I had no clue that that was what I was watching, but a quick trip to the Hawkwatch (to pester one of the counters I knew would be there) answered all my newbie birder questions.
Yesterday wasn't as outstanding as was hoped for, but it was still a great day of birding for me. Three Sandhill Cranes flew by while I was at the Hawkwatch--first lifer of the day--the view wasn't outstanding, they were a bit far off, but it wasn't bad either.
Then someone pointed out a pair of Wood Ducks to me--second lifer of the day--they were also a ways off, but I got a couple pictures, and was thrilled that she had said something, since otherwise I would have missed it entirely!
The third lifer of the day was a Caspian Tern. I got good shots of it both yesterday and today.
After a while at the Hawkwatch one of the regulars I've been getting to know decided to go birding in the woods, turning the attention from raptors to songbirds. Things were slow up above our heads, so I joined her and she showed me Island Cottage Woods, which was a new birding spot for me. She showed me what Sapsucker holes look like: and put a name to a couple of plants I hadn't bothered to ID yet--May Apples and Trillium. Hermit Thrushes were everywhere. I suggest clicking on this first photo for a bigger look, and then admiring the camouflage this guy's got going for him Towards the end of our walk we got a special treat--a look at one that was only a few feet away, for maybe a good 45 seconds. It's always a thrill to get a close-up look at a bird, especially when it lasts for more than 2 seconds or so!
Today was a big day of migration: strong SW winds and hot. Lots of broad-wings. It was the first of "Bird of Prey Days" for BBRR, so there were tons of people there. There was an owl prowl in the morning, tours of the Hawkwatch, the Raptor Banding Station, and the songbird banding station, and presentations with live raptors (including a Golden Eagle) and live venomous snakes. Other presentations covered the endangered Short-Eared Owl in NY and the Raptor Population Index Project. Some of the day's pictures:
Some Great Egrets we had the pleasure of seeing today:
I got my lifer Golden Eagle today, and it honestly couldn't've been much better. It flew in overhead, getting closer and closer, but not too quickly (a lot of the birds today just got blown right over us in a blink because of the strong winds). Then it hovered above us and provided a fantastic photo op for everyone. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.
That wasn't the only lifer I got today while I was at the Hawkwatch, either. A few of the regulars around me suspected that a certain gull flying over the marsh nearby wasn't an ordinary variety. Then someone confirmed their suspicions and called out "Glaucous-winged gull!"
Tomorrow's the second day of BBRR's Bird of Prey Days. Here's a link to the schedule of events, if you're interested.
Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.