this photo idea came off a lot better in my head than it did in reality
NOW UPDATED! with pics!
Middle Creek was soooo worth the long drive (~3 hrs), which of course is NOTHING compared to the "Horned Guan Death March" (lol) that Birdchick and Mike Bergin went on. Poor souls! I never would've made it up that mountain. They would've had to leave me there to die in the dust.
Still--it was a long drive, and I didn't know either of the people I was with, so you know my shyness was on display. . . . as if. Unfortunately, my brain snapped into "talk like your life depends on it!" mode, which means they got to hear all sorts of ridiculous Delia-lore. I won't bore you with it, but let's just say I think Maggie, Anne, and Deb (left to right) probably think I'm a psycho-clown:
Anyway--we arrived at Middle Creek around 3 in the afternoon, and I got my first look at Snow Geese and Tundra Swans! The official count was about 50K birds that day, which pretty much blew my mind. I even got video of a little swarm-up (a plane flew over and spooked 'em). [Can't get the video to "do"--grrr!!! Photos must suffice. Hmph.]
It was mind-blowing, seeing so many birds all in one place. There were dozens of people there too, all to watch this spectacle--which was neat.
I took lots of photos of the pure white geese, the pretty blue-morphs, and the huge Tundras. We also saw a Bald Eagle out on the water; he sat there for at least a half hour, just hanging out. We saw several baldies that day, all over the place, including one on a nest (no photo of that; we could barely make her out thanks to the fading light). We did not get to the see the Short-eared Owls that apparently EVERYONE ELSE on the listserv saw that day, but I did get to hear an American Woodcock! It was pretty dark, so there was no seeing them, but still--an ear lifer!
All told, I saw 30 species Saturday, and my lifers for the day were Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, Common Merganser, and the ear lifer American Woodcock.
OH--forgot to mention this yesterday: we drove around the trail and encountered this field of fake birds, which even featured some moving decoys flapping up:
What did it mean? How did it work? Upon closer inspection, we found the culprits:We couldn't figure out whether they were hunters or park-hired "attractors," working to get the birds over to this other section of the park. ?
On Sunday morning, I got up and despite the rain, I decided to visit Bald Eagle State Park to see if there were any interesting ducks or other waterfowl. The lake was waaaaaay down, which was weird to see; no idea where all the water went. I saw a flock of about 70 Tundras fly over at one point--on their way home to the extreme north, I guess. Wonder if they'd been at Middle Creek with me yesterday.
I saw a little raft of about 30 Ring-necked Ducks, 6 Redheads, and then 3 "mystery ducks" -- UPDATE: Not ducks! Hooded Mergansers in winter plumage!
Told you the pics weren't too great.
Oh--I forgot to show you this little "rescue kit": So you use that plank that says "ICE RESCUE" on it as a ski, pushing with your shoe'd foot, and then turn the plank over and it somehow serves as an anchor (I don't see how--there aren't any nails or anything on it to anchor it--blind faith?), then I guess you push that ladder out there (that part's not in the instructions!). Luckily, there was no lake, much less ice, so no one needed this mentally challenged Texan to help him out. Whew!
So--pics now here, and ID done. Meanwhile, how was your weekend?