Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recent Birds & Bug Photos

Tuesday morning I walked outside to see a Pileated Woodpecker perched on a pole along the edge of our backyard.

On Monday there was some raptor migration over our neighborhood. Counted about 45 Broad-winged Hawks, most of which were in two kettles. Soaring amid the hawks were 7 Anhinga and 4 Black Vultures. I also had an Anhinga and flock of 7 White Ibis flying east. A single Red-tailed Hawk was the only other raptor seen.

Watching for migrating raptors requires patience. Most of the time it's a bore, but it has its moments. Kettles appear suddenly, and just as quickly vanish. Numbers build, gain altitude, and stream southward. They tend to travel at great heights, and unless you are continually scanning the horizon for distant specks they are easily missed. Between kettles there are long lulls in the action, and most of the time I'm looking at nothing but sky.

We occasionally get big kettles here - by big I mean several hundred hawks converging on a single thermal. The vast majority are Broad-winged. I'm not sure why, but we just don't get migrating accipiters. This is strange, because the Smith Point Hawk Watch isn't that far away, and they get plenty there. Cooper's Hawk is common at Smith Point, but amazingly I still don't have one for our yard list. Swainson's Hawk is also long overdue.For a master of camouflage this praying mantis was certainly easy to spot against a white window frame. Must have missed class the day they gave lessons in how not to be seen.This is a Gulf Fritillary, one of our more common and attractive butterflies. Kinda like a Monarch, but different.If only birds were as easy to photograph as dragonflies. This Black Saddlebags posed for me on a stick atop our burnpile.


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