Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher (M) (Megaceryle alcyon)

For the past few months, I have attempted to acquire a pleasing and clear photograph of a Belted Kingfisher. I had observed their perching and hunting circuit behavior, spent hours in a blind at various distances and, on most occasions, came away empty. Kingfishers routinely thwart photographic attempts by always seeming to perch with at least one random piece of vegetation or tree limb between themselves and the camera creating a line across part of the bird. During winter, Kingfishers need open water to “fish,” and survive the season. This winter has been mixed, so far, with local waters cyclically freezing and thawing . This morning I headed out before dawn to scope my intended area and initially came away empty, so I opted for another location. I intended to return to my original area after a short while. While plodding along on the road, I spotted a Kingfisher perched in a tree. As I slow to a stop, the bird flew away, as they usually do — they don’t like too much company. Understanding that Kingfishers will use a fairly defined hunting circuit, I decided to return to my original area assuming this to be the same bird I had seen previously. As I approached a line of fence posts running adjacent to a pond; there it was. I approached as slowly as I could. Being inconspicuous is not a typically assigned attribute of my vehicle. To my surprise, he stuck to his selected fence post. (Sticky birds are those that “stick” to their perch, do not immediately take flight, and are somewhat tolerant of viewing or being photographed if approached cautiously) I was able to watch as it dove off its fencepost into the pond and returned with small fish numerous times. Persistence and patience…

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Here I am…Good-bye Facebook

If you are reading this, it just might be that you wandered over here after my recent FaceBook post. I wish things were different. I will most likely lose contact with some folks. Anyway, I’m over here and this really is a better platform graphically — although, I suppose, big pages are considered “old-school.”

A couple of year ago, I headed to the northeast Nevada desert in search of Sage Grouse Leks. Unfortunately, I did not find any Leks. Leks, if you are not aware, are the breeding display grounds for Sage Grouse. Males display and strut about, some launching attacks on other males. Females sit on the sidelines and select the male they want to breed with — keeps the best of genetics in the flock. The only thing a found of interest was this skull of a Desert Big-horned sheep. Life is tough in the desert: not a lot of water, food is scarce, and predators wander about, including humans. Kind of how I felt recently after a stroll through FaceBook.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi. During this week, I have been catching up on cataloging and culling photographs from 202 and a few residuals from the past couple of years. During 2019, I embarked on a marathon drive across the county to Florida. On the  return, I was close to Vicksburg and not having any schedule of plans, decided to overnight in the town. Touring the battlefield was an interesting experience. One the scene of a siege of the town, which was occupied by southern troops and townspeople surrounded by Union forces; the opposing forces mere meters form each other as they exchanged fire. A peaceful place now in comparison to the carnage and hardship experienced during this battle of the Civil War. Visiting in February, I was almost alone touring the battlefield. Lines of cannon, from both sides stood as a reminder of the event. Ironically, prior to the impromptu visit, I had just finished reading a book accounting in detailing the lives of soldiers and townsfolk (A Chain of Thunder, Jeff Shaara). A much different scene now with the juxtaposition of an elegant East Bluebird peacefully sitting atop the wheel of an almost 160-year-old cannon.

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Mountain Bluebird II

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) I generally don’t post successive photos of a particular species. But, in this case I couldn’t help myself. I was torn between the photo posted yesterday and this one — just could not decide which to go with. As a consequence, you get both. I like the translucence of wing feather from back lighting when it can be achieved. This one also has the addition of some nice rim light that shows quite nicely against the dark amber of the montane field background. Mountain Bluebirds use monocular vision to locate insects on the ground when they are fairly close, they turn their head and look at the ground with one eye. When their desired prey is farther away, they use both eyes, or binocular vision. You can see that this particular bird, which had just left its perch, appears to still be looking primarily with one eye as it flies. This produces a rather pleasing tilt of the head and bank of the body just prior to it diving to the ground.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) Yesterday proved to be an excellent day to spend in the higher country at elevations in excess of 10,000 feet. Temperatures were moderate and pleasant, but locating birds proved to be more difficult than anticipated. The mountains were awash with fall colors — the gold and flame-like appearance of Quaking Aspens illuminating in the sun was extraordinary. As the day, and traveling to find suitable and apparently absent subjects passed, a flock of Mountain Bluebirds was located in a montane area with an apparent abundance of food — there were too many birds to count. The next hour was spent watching and waiting for one to come close enough to provide a decent photograph. Research indicates this is most likely a typical post-breeding migratory flock. They may move up and down the environment in search of available food sources prior to migration. This particular bird is apparently a female. There were many male Bluebirds in the flock, but none came close enough to be photographed. While not possessing the rich cerulean to methyl to cobalt blue of male Mountain Bluebird, she is still spectacular in appearance, especially with the ethereal backlit primaries.