March 26, 2016

I walked to Nathan Krestul Park this morning, binoculars in hand.  It was just before dawn, at low tide.  A Great Egret perched on a log in the water.  Two Tricolored Herons landed in the water nearby.  One was in breeding plumage, its bill a brilliant blue.  It caught several fish, charging through the water to nab its prey.  Red-winged Blackbirds and Commons Grackles called continually.  I could hear a Red-bellied Woodpecker drilling softly from time to time.  Far off in the swamp, a Pileated Woodpecker clung the top of a tall tree.  When a Red-tailed Hawk landed on the next tree over, the Pileated Woodpecker issued a warning cry.  A second Great Egret landed near the log in the water, displacing the first, who flew to a tree in the swamp where three juvenile White Ibis had just alighted.  A Barred Owl called from far away.  A female Wood Duck flew in, quickly disappearing the background.  The Pileated Woodpecker eventually flew off, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker landed in a tree a little farther from where the Pileated Woodpecker had been.  The Red-tailed Hawk turned its head and noted the new arrival.  Small flocks of birds flew overhead–probably Cedar Waxwings.  The Pileated Woodpecker called, unseen.

Back at home, there’s still the odd American Goldfinch who shows up at the feeders.  I’ve run out of sunflower chips, so it sits at the feeders with mixed seeds, as though perplexed by how to get the sunflower seeds out of their shells.  Meanwhile, the Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees pluck out sunflower seeds all day long, fly to a nearby branch, place the seed between their feet, and break open the seeds.

In the late afternoon as my better half and I were walking the dog, we heard Barred Owls calling.  It took a few minutes–new leaves are sprouting on the oak trees–but I finally spotted one of the Barred Owls high up in a neighbor’s tree.

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Barred Owl

After I spotted it–and it spotted me–it stopped calling.  Then it turned its head, tucked its beak into its ruff and fell asleep.  Even with its eyes closed, it heard me approach for another photograph.  Here it is sleepily regarding me:

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Barred Owl