Birds

Spring On The Wing

Where has Spring gone? Seems like we just started looking for spring migrants and “poof” the entire bird world is having babies! Perhaps it’s a feature of growing older. Someone hit the “fast forward” button and I can’t find it to turn the dang thing off.

The Beautiful Brown-Eyed Woman is obsessed with the season as well. “We simply MUST get going with the spring cleaning!” “Oh, look! A spring sale on linens!” “I love all the fresh produce we’re seeing this spring.”

Truth be told: She DOES put a spring into my step!

Colt Creek State Park. Twenty minutes from the house and some wonderfully diverse habitat. Entrance gates and parking lots. Probably the best birding spots on the planet. Today was no exception. Vireos and wrens sang from the underbrush, fish crows grunted overhead, curious catbirds popped onto a limb to give us the once-over and Holy Moley! It’s a Summer Tanager! Not necessarily rare but seldom seen.

A slow drive along the park roads yielded squeaky little nuthatches, woodpeckers, a gopher tortoise, clear-whistling titmice, deer calmly munching their grassy breakfast and a nice selection of migrants as well as resident birds.

The peaceful setting of the park’s primitive campground was a perfect spot for breakfast. From a nearby large oak tree came the ascending buzzy trill of Northern Parulas, recently arrived from their winter resort in South America. There! Just above the pine trees a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites, also returning from the tropics searching for a suitably tall tree to begin building a nest.

It seems as if Spring no sooner arrived than it’s time for high temperatures and daily thunderstorms to begin the wet season. Summer is not far away. More bird babies to locate!

Hope I finish my spring cleaning chores before the season is over.

 

At the park entrance, we were greeted by a bright red Summer Tanager.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Below the tree where the tanager was perched, a nervous Orange-crowned Warbler probed every twig and leaf for the protein-laden insects he’ll need to finish his northward migration.

Colt Creek State Park

 

This White-eyed Vireo looks like she had a rough night! A little preening and a sip of morning dew should soon set her right.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Songs of more returning breeding birds indicated the park was full of Red-eyed Vireos. We finally found one willing to pose for a moment.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Central Florida only has two species of sparrow which breed locally. The remainder, such as this Swamp Sparrow, will soon disappear until the fall.

Colt Creek State Park

 

One little bird we have an abundance of in summer is the diminutive and active Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Colt Creek State Park

 

In our area, three species of vireo breed: White-eyed, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated (pictured below with a caterpillar(?)).

Colt Creek State Park

 

A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches were heard before our eyes could locate them. Ever squeezed a child’s toy rubber duck? Then you know what these pugnacious little creatures sound like. They begin breeding as early as mid-February here so this couple may already have chicks, which would account for them coming so near us to see if we might be a threat.

Colt Creek State Park

 

The clear whistle of the Tufted Titmouse can be heard at quite a distance and they’re usually the first to challenge us as we enter their area. During migratory seasons, they are also good indicators that other species may be nearby as they seem to act as gang leaders (okay, maybe tour guides).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Buzzy trills abound and Gini counted over a dozen of these colorful warblers as we drove through the park. Northern Parulas seemed to be everywhere, and that is just fine with us.

Colt Creek State Park

 

The photograph may not be that great but the feeling sure is! I seldom get to see this migrant much less have a chance to take his picture. The Northern Waterthrush has the characteristic stripes of the thrush family but is actually a warbler. Along with its cousin, the Louisiana Waterthrush, it walks along marshy ground constantly bobbing its tail as it pulls tasty morsels from the mud.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Carolina Wrens were calling throughout the park as they prepare to mate and are quick to respond to any intruders (that would be us).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Spring. Annual renewal. Migrants. Flashes of color. Exuberant songs. A fabulous time to explore the outdoors!

Oh. And, as I have just been reminded, a time to clean. Sigh.

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

Additional Information

Colt Creek State Park

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bosque del Apache – 4

Driving around the refuge before dawn was like saying good-bye to old friends. The now familiar peaks on the horizon were painted with light by the sun rising on the final day of our adventure. As if to give us a special send-off, wisps of clouds appeared and accentuated the impossible array of pinks, purples, blues, oranges and reds of a cold mountain morning.

We skipped the scheduled snow goose extravaganza and decided on a leisurely drive around the refuge for a few last minute impressions. Animals, birds, scenery. Was it all a dream?

Yes.

Within the dream, I imagined:

 

Sunrise.

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

 

A doe. A deer. A female deer. (In this case, a Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus.)

Bosque Del Apache

 

Snow Geese. Whether as a blizzard in the sky or lined up like some avian army in a corn field, they were magnificent to behold.

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

 

Small creatures, such as the Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco, filled in the details of this vast mural created by nature.

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

 

Occasional surprises (coyote encounters, skunk escapades, weasel pop-ups, javelina stampedes) kept us alert, entertained and content. (The javelina, or Collared Peccary – Pecari tajacu – resembles domestic and feral pigs but is a distant biological cousin.)

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

 

Unique desert plants (such as the century plant – Agave americana – below) and never-before-seen-by-me birds (like this dapper Gambel’s Quail) really provided a satisfying “sauce” atop our New Mexican feast for the senses.

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache

 

We departed the “Woods of the Apache” National Wildlife Refuge with mixed feelings. Regret for not experiencing even more (which led to guilt because we had seen so much); joy at having shared an unforgettable experience with someone we love; anticipation of reuniting with someone we love.

Bosque Del Apache

 

Our mixed feelings evolved into grumbling stomachs. We had skipped breakfast. Early afternoon: “Welcome To Texas”! The friendly sign meant one thing, El Paso and Texas barbeque! We made it safely back to Houston a little after 2:00 a.m. and my brown-eyed beauty looked better than ever! Gosh I missed Her!!

Thanks for putting up with the blogging equivalent of that crazy relative who makes you sit through those long vacation slide shows! You are now free to move about the room.

Oh, and if you should ever find yourself within a few thousand miles of New Mexico, remember the Bosque del Apache – and GO!

 

We hope you find your natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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