Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Birding

The last couple of years, we seem to have started a tradition of birding during the holidays (no, we don't do the bird counts). Yesterday was really gloomy, so this year it's the "Day-after" Christmas bird trip. (Much better than going to the mall!)

We were excited to see Cara Cara again today (haven't seen any in a while) and in fact, one flew right across the road just as we were returning home. Unfortunately, we weren't quick enough to get pictures. However, there's something to be said for living right at the edge of the coastal prairie -- there are lots of good birding opportunities at this time of year -- and close to home. We saw a huge flock of geese flying, and were hoping to see some eagles -- but no such luck.

We started the trip with the kingfisher that usually hangs out over the part of the ditch that never drains -- right near the rice dryer. He was a bit nervous and flew a few feet away, but I was still able to get a good shot. He even turned to give a good view of his topknot!

One thing we have noticed lately are a lot more Kestrels in our area. We used to only see them when we headed for the coast. This one was right in the sunlight, so she looks a bit washed out.

Of course, you know that I am especially partial to birds of prey. You would think they would be less skittish up on a wire, but they get a bit nervous when a vehicle stops to look. Well, it is hunting season, after all, and there are plenty of geese getting shot at! I'm sure they don't realize they are protected.

Here's a Northern Harrier out in the rice stubble. Note the "owl-like facial disk" to quote Sibley's.

And of course, in our part of the world -- the most common hawk is the Red Tail.

It is amazing the amount of variation in these birds. This one might be Kriders (prairie variation). This poor bird was a bit nervous of us. Every time we'd stop, it would fly off to the next pole. We followed for a bit, but didn't want to harass it too much.

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