Wednesday, July 1, 2009

MIA - again!

Well, I've been missing in action again! Another whole month has gone by; I can't believe I didn't post anything during the month of June. Granted, we've been busy, but it seemed like the desire wasn't there as well. At least I've been trying to keep up with everyone else's blogs, and commenting now and then. I spent a few minutes going over my photos trying to find the last ones I posted. And now I realize I've got quite a few photos to share and posts to blog about.

The last post I mentioned going to our local county park where there was a "population explosion" regarding all the Canada geese we saw around the lake and picnic area. I mentioned in the first few sentences that Heidi and I went to look for nesting birds, namely snowy egrets and possibly great blue herons. We wanted to walk over to an area we had not checked out before. On our way we crossed over the creek by way of a pedestrian bridge. This area is known to have cliff swallows nesting all around the undersides of the bridge. And we enjoyed all the activity by the cliff swallows. They seemed to be quite busy, but we couldn't see them very well once they went under the bridge. As we continued to the other side of the bridge we could see quite a bit of activity on the ground. Swallows were flitting and fluttering all over the muddy ground. I saw one lone killdeer nearby; I wonder if this bird was preparing to build a nest, too.

If you click on the photos you can probably see a larger image. This photo, below, shows some of the flitting and fluttering activity, but I mainly focused in on the swallow in the lower right corner. This one was gathering little bits of grass.
Apparently, we were being entertained while these swallows were hard at work. They were busy making mud balls to take back to their nests they were building under the bridge.
Here is a closer view of these fascinating birds.
We finally made our way over to the eucalyptus grove. And, lo and behold! We actually saw great blue herons nesting! Can you imagine seeing these large birds way up high in the tops of the trees. They sure did look "out of place." There wasn't much activity other than seeing a heron here and there craning their beautiful long necks.
These birds were not necessarily easy to see in our binoculars, and it was even more difficult to get half-way decent photos. They definitely blend into the trees.
This one made me think of a sentry guard, keeping a lookout to make sure no predators invaded his territory. I do believe the females were probably incubating their eggs. I don't think there were any hatchlings yet. (This was back in early-mid May).
And if you can look closely, you will see this bird stretching his wings while his beak is barely visible behind the branch.
On our way back from the eucalyptus grove to the bridge Heidi and I saw this beautiful western bluebird. This is the very first time I have seen a bluebird in this valley. But then I don't have the "right stuff" in my yard to attract bluebirds. Maybe some day I will.
I love how this bird fanned his tail for us. He even let us get a good look at him from all sides.
As we were returning to our car by way of the trail we kept hearing this beautiful song bird, and then finally it made an appearance. I love hearing song sparrows. Getting a decent shot of this bird was a challenge, too. But here are a few shots I thought were decent enough to post.

I caught him in action here while he was singing.
As for nesting snowy egrets, we could only get a distant glimpse of white now and then (with our binoculars) on an island out in the middle of the lake. A nice well protected location for some snowies.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

The Western Bluebird is a beauty.Have never seen one in person.I too witnessed the Swallows gathering mud earlier this spring.This is quite a sight.

Mary C said...

Ruth, I reckon you'll see a western bluebird one of these days. I'm glad you were able to witness swallows "wallowing" in the mud earlier this spring. It truly is a sight.

Adam R. Paul said...

Very cool that you were able to see Barn Swallows gathering mud - it's a sight to be sure! PA Baylands features a lot of that in season too, as a large'ish colony nest under the eaves of the interpretive center.

And that's a very vibrant bluebird! They are usually successful in their attempts to evade my photographing them.

Kathiesbirds said...

Wonderful shots of the bluebird and swallows. It looks like you had a very successful bird walk!

Mary C said...

Adam, thanks. I know what you mean about certain species evading the camera! ;o)

Hi Kathie - yes, I'd say it was a successful walk that day, even if we didn't get much of a glimpse for the snowy egrets that we started out looking for. Oh well, something to try for next year.


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