Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Gem Worth Waiting For

This evening I arrived home from work and after visiting with Laura about our respective days, I poured a couple of glasses of Merlot, sat down at the dining room table and glanced out the window to the small pond I have in the back yard. Just then a small bird dropped from the trees to the water. And there it was. A bird I had never seen before. But not just any bird. It was a species that had captured my interest when I first began birding 34 years ago and had been one of my favorites since then. Not that I haven't looked for it before. Dad and I had looked a couple of times in northern Minnesota many years ago, I missed a female at High Island, TX, and only a couple of years ago we looked for a male that had been observed singing in the Pryor Mountains but I struck out each time. To tell you the truth, I hadn't really looked too hard for it in other places because I really wanted to see one in Montana and I hoped it would eventually be a male. Today it happened. All my work troubles and worries disappeared in the instant I saw the bird. After some exclamation to Laura that I can't remember now but probably went something like "Oh my God...." I ran to the car and grabbed the camera. I was able to get downstairs and into the backyard in time to watch the bird for about 30 seconds and get a few not-so-great photos before an incoming robin flushed it and I lost track of it in the trees. I waited for a while but never saw the bird again.

It is not often that I get to see a life bird, state bird, and yard bird all at once.

Here it is - a male Black-throated Blue Warbler. A gem worth waiting for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It could be worse.

I am not going to complain about my internet speed anymore. Check this out.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day

It was International Vulture Awareness Day a couple of days ago and I missed posting this on the actual day so I figured I would catch up.

I don't have many vulture anecdotes or stories to tell but I do have a few photos.

Turkey Vultures are the vulture I am most familiar with. They are increasing in numbers in the northern Great Plains and we have had over 20 soaring around town recently.

The other vulture that I have observed fairly often is the impressive Andean Condor. I would love to spend some time in southern Chile photographing these guys. For me, the quintessential Patagonia panorama includes an Andean Condor soaring with the Torres Del Paine in the background.

Then there is this guy. A vulture's vulture. I believe this is a Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres).
It was taken a couple of years ago at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO. One of these days I would love to see these guys in their native habitat.

Leopard Seal News

I guess since I am not heading south, the online news people are going to rub it in. This was posted on BBC Earth News. It is a series of photos of Leopard Seals. The article that prompted the photos was a paper in the journal Polar Biology from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff at Bird Island off the coast of South Georgia concerning their observations of a Leopard Seal killing and eating a South Georgia Pintail. There isn't much about the paper other than a couple of photos of the actual predation event, but from the paper abstract I was able to see that the note describes how rare the event is since most flying birds can evade Leopard Seal attacks by flying away. Perhaps this pintail was going through molt and could not fly. The authors also emphasize how opportunistic and varied Leopard Seal diets are and the seal they observed attacking the duck was individually recognizable and had been observed eating Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins as well as Antarctic Fur Seals.

This Leopard Seal and pup were hauled out on the pack ice last year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Albatross News

My favorite albatross made the news this week. Researchers on King George Island apparently found Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses breeding on a small offshore island on the Fildes Peninsula.

Researchers from Germany and the Czech Republic found at least two breeding pair and possibly 3 more unconfirmed nests. The nearest known breeding colony for Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is over 1500 km to the northeast on South Georgia Island. More here.

These photos were all taken on the western side of King George Island in December 2009.