Saturday, January 16, 2010
I could not miss the chance of being out in the beautiful weather. So I decided to make a short trip along the back roads for red-tails, kestrels and buntings etc. But actually ended up doing some 68 miles round trip!
My plan was to go to Lansingville rd and head north on Davis road return via Center and Ridge Rd, but ended up going up to Poplar Ridge.
As I was pulling out of the drive I saw columns of insects in the air that go in up and down motion in cold days, I think they are gnats, but am not sure were dancing in front of my car. May be that is what the brought the bats out.
Along Warren and Airport there was nothing noteworthy. Via Asbury I drove to Drake road. As soon as I turned on this road, I saw a hawk sitting some distance away. I slowly rolled my car down behind it hoping to get a picture in beautiful light. Though I parked some 50 feet away from the tree, I think the hawk was watching my car. As soon as I was ready to shoot a picture, the bird took off. All I got was tip of its tail. Great pic for Id quiz! Later I got a fuzzy in flight shot. It was nice Sharp-shinned Hawk.
I saw couple of Red-tails on the way none close enough to get a picture and a dozen of Robins and about 25 Mourning Doves (MODO). From Lansingville Road I headed to Davis road, there was couple more Red-tails and three flocks of American crows at various spots along the fields, two more groups of American Robins (about 15) and two more flocks of MODO on the wires. Nothing else no larks and buntings.
As it was getting late enough, I decided to try Rafferty Road, it was almost quiet till I went past Dixon, when I first hear a few Horned Larks, as I was watching them, a couple of hundred feet away a flock of about 120 Snow Buntings (pure flock, I had estimated 100, but based on photo there were at least 120). So I pulled along the road hoping to get some pictures. They came often close to where I was but then a passing car would spook them away. Sometimes they went to the middle of the field, but then came back sat closer to the road. I don’t know why they preferred feed along the road. As sun was getting lower and lower, I decided maybe I should walk down to them. I went slowly towards them, they fed some 40 feet away from and were starting get closer and closer when another car spooked and most of them landed on a tall tree. As soon as they landed on the top almost all started preening. Additional ones joined they also preened. At any given time at 50% were preening. So it is curious to me why birds preen in groups. I have also watched MODOs, if one starts preening others also do the same. Finally all the birds were on the tree. They sat and preened for more than 20 minutes. I started get cold. Then a small flock broke off the broke and started to feed again. But I decided to head little bit north and look for kestrels. In Texas one day we counted 89 or 92 Kestrels and they were everywhere, but they were so skittish they never posed for a photo. So I was looking for one co-operative bird. But I did not find a single one. By then I had reached Poplar Ridge Road. Therefore, I decided I might as well head towards the lake and see what is there on the lake.
I came to Aurora Boat House. There were many Goldeneyes and Mallards near the shore. I enjoyed watching a pair of Goldeneyes swim and fish together. They looked so beautiful and elegant, I wondered why male got such beautiful plumage and female became so different. What kind of genetic changes occurred in their sexes. I did see not any grebes!
But sun seemed to be in hurry to go to the otherside of the shore. So I stopped and took series of pictures of beautiful sunset.
After the sunset, I headed back to Rafferty to see if any owls show up, but found none. But it was a beautiful day and was worth being out there to watch the sunset!
Also in December I came across a huge gathering of Snow Geese on Route 24 on Dec 19 th. I am always interested in group dynamics and how individuals interact with each other. SO I took some videos and have up loaded one on to youtube. It is amazing to see while some are squabbling with each others, some are blissfully sleeping in that din. When they are angry with someone, they bite the wing feathers of the opponents. It so much looked like when we were kids, girls always fought with each other and when very angry would pinch each other’s arms. Snow Geese behavior reminded me of that. Snow geese seemed humane or the girls were like snow geese!