My original plan for this afternoon was to go get tea with [ profile] ferrousoxide and to go to [ profile] 433's birthday party. Tea didn't happen because the place we want to go was pretty booked up when ferrousoxide tried to make reservations, and the birthday party didn't happen because rain was strongly predicted so 433 cancelled it. But evidently the storm ran it's course overnight, because today has been sunny and gorgeous. So with an unexpectedly free afternoon, I struck out to do some birding in the Roberts sanctuary, which is right by Lake Harriet.

I forgot my camera, which I would end up kicking myself for. I figured that most of what I would see would be warblers, and they are really hard to photograph. Not only are they tiny, they are constantly in motion. It's hard enough to get them in the frame of view of my binoculars before they are off, let alone get a picture of them. But I ended up seeing two great-horned owls and a cooper's hawk, all of which I would have had a clear and beautiful camera angle on. Oh well.

The long version.. )
I spent a significant portion of this weekend outside, which has been wonderful. Yesterday, it wasn't really ideal weather - snow flurries and wind. But I was antsy to get outside, so I just dressed for it and did about a 3-4 mile hike along the creek and part of Lake Nokomis. I hadn't gone out specifically to bird, but I can't not look for birds when I'm out walking. The first birds of interest were a couple of red-breasted mergansers on the lake. The second bird of interest was a little brown bird I spotted near where I get off the trail to head back to my house. It was teeny, so I momentarily thought 'wren?'. Then his little red crest shot up out of the top of his head, and I realized he was a male ruby-crowned kinglet.

Today I had a volunteer shift at the parrot sanctuary in the morning, but it was gorgeous out. We managed to finish up our shift a little bit early, so after hanging out with my birds for a bit I went out to hike and bird in a couple of places in the south metro. As I was driving past Diamond Lake, on my way to I-35W, I noticed a lot of birds on the lake and an older couple with a spotting scope set up with a tripod. I decided to stop and take a look myself. Most people in the birding community are really friendly and happy to share their finds with other birders. It doesn't hurt that I'm way younger than most other birders, and it probably also doesn't hurt that I'm female. In any case, the couple with the spotting scope were super nice and trained their scope on all the different types of birds on the lake so I could get a better look at them. There were common loons, more red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, and a bufflehead.

After looking at that lake, I headed over to the wildlife refuge near the airport to go see if there was any activity around an eagle's nest that is there. I spotted one immature eagle (I'm guessing s/he's about 1 year old) near the nest. Other than the nest, the coolest birds I spotted there were a pair of blue-winged teals. This is not an uncommon bird, and yet this was the first time I'd spotted and positively ID'd one. Also, when I was walking back along the trail, a lady stopped me and asked if I knew whether 'the huge thing in the trees' was an eagle nest. When I replied in the affirmative, she told her son (who looked about 10 or 11). It took him a little while to spot it, but it elicited a really enthusiastic "oh, wow!" from the kid. Believe it or not, I actually hated being dragged all over the place to look for birds when I was a kid. My siblings and I had a running joke about our parents always wanting to go look at 'pretty little bays' when we were on vacation, and to us all of the pretty little bays looked pretty much alike. So I was happy to be able to inject a little bit of excitement into the kid's outing with his parents. After that hike, I headed over to Hyland Lake Park Reserve, an area that I hiked and birded in a lot last summer and fall. Most of the birds on the largest lake were too far away for me to id, even with binoculars. But I know I did see some hooded mergansers, wood ducks, and mallard ducks. At one of the lakes, I spotted an old geezer with a spotting scope, and asked him if he'd picked up anything interesting in it. When he turned around, I realized it was a camera with a long lens, rather than a scope. He proceeded to talk my ear off about the duck he was looking at (a mallard, so not anything all that interesting to me), and wanted to tell me about his 57 pairs of binoculars. So sometimes it is a drawback that birders are super friendly. The only other things I saw of note were an egret and some brown creepers. There was word of there being a great-horned owl nest at this reserve - with a fuzzy little owlet on it even! But I was unable to locate it. It is supposed to be another gorgeous day tomorrow, so I may go look for it again after work tomrrow.
Tomorrow, if the weather is nice, I’ll probably go to the raptor center’s fall raptor release. It’s at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, which is about 30 miles west of Minneapolis. Kind of a drive, I know, but the fall colours are peaking! I have one ‘maybe’ on coming with, but if anyone else out there is interested in going I could fit more people in the car. I went to their spring release last year, and it was a nice event. It’s free, and they had many more education birds out there (that you can see up close) than I’ve ever seen at any of the other events or presentations that I’ve been to. Seeing rehabbed raptors released back to the wild is also pretty awesome.

And now some more bird geekery, since I’ve not had enough of that at all in this journal recently!! ;) )

Hawk Ridge

Sep. 23rd, 2007 11:31 pm
I'm back from my trip to Duluth. The drive there and back was pretty - mixed woodlands and wetlands, with fall colours adding bursts of colour here and there along the way. I arrived at Hawk Ridge right around noon. I had never been there, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. It was essentially a big scenic overlook, with lots of birders hanging out with their binoculars and their spotting scopes and their camp chairs. Right when I arrived, one of the volunteers was showing a sharp-shinned hawk to the crowd. My immediate assumption right off was that the Raptor Center was doing a presentation, but when I went over to listen I found out that they were doing banding that day. As they caught and banded raptors, they would bring them down to show the crowd before a donor released them. (The donor for this hawk was recruited on the spot - they only required a $20 donation to release a sharp-shinned hawk.)

I was seeing a lot of hawks flying overhead, but wasn't sure what any of them were. There were a lot of naturalists there today though, so I gravitated towards one that was sometimes calling out her identifications as they flew over. She told me that today they were mostly seeing sharp-shinned hawks, since there wasn't a lot of wind, and explained some of the characteristics I could use to id them. Then they brought up another bird from the banding station.

Pictures! )
Today I took a class through the local chapter of the Audubon Society on identifying hawks. It was a little bit dry, but the teacher had some useful tips on id'ing raptors that I hope I manage to remember. He also had a huge array of field guides and books, which made me want to improve on my little Audubon Field Guide (which I've had forever, but which has some pretty serious limitations when it comes to usability). I was the youngest adult in the class, by at least 20 years.

After the class we went on a short birdwalk near the Visitor's Center for the Minnesota River Valley NWR. The guide pointed out a bald eagle nest, which was huge, and we saw an adult bald eagle hanging out near it. It was pretty far away, but the teacher/guide had a really nice spotting scope, which afforded a nice view of it. I am really awed everytime I go out with experienced guides at how easily they identify the birds, often with just a quick glimpse with the naked eye. It can be a little bit overwhelming to realize how much I don't know. I can't identify very many bird calls and there are very few birds I can identify based on how they fly. My own personal moment of pride came when I spotted and correctly id'd a green heron. I've never been quite sure how to tell them apart from least bitterns; in my field guide the colorations looks really similar and I'm bad at estimating size. But the teacher showed me the plates from his field guide, from which it was clear that the coloration on the green heron is much more muted. I also got to look at the heron through the guide's spotting scope. As we were dispersing from the hike, the guide told me that if I ever have Monday or Tuesday mornings free, I'd be welcome to come out to bird with him. I normally work weekdays, but told him I could probably get take a day or two off this fall to go birding. I think I would learn a lot from birding with him (and other experienced birders) more.

After the birdwalk, I went to Magers and Quinn (a used bookstore here) to see if they had any good field guides for cheaper than Amazon would be. I picked up a Sibley guide, and a small Minnesota specific guide, a book about how and why birds sing (anatomical drawing of bird throats, woo!), a book on places to see bird for various raptors, and a couple of other guides. I came home, made some soup for dinner, and spent most of the evening skimming through the books.

Bird list for today )
I snapped a few pictures of my hair yesterday before I walked to Lake Nokomis:

Curly haired me.. )

I think I got more 'hi's from random guys than usual when I was walking to the lake, but maybe I was just noticing them more. I didn't end up walking around the lake, because it was looking like it might rain and I'd gotten hungry. So I walked back home and made dinner. (It's about a 2 mile walk even if I don't go around the lake - it's about 4 1/2 miles if I walk to and around the lake.) The curls had fallen out a little bit once I got home, but the hairstyle was still looking nice. While my dinner was cooking, I decided to play dress-up and hauled a bunch of my formals down from the attic. :) The light was bad by that point, so there are no pictures. But, this is kind of fun, this morning before I took them back up to the attic I shot a picture of them all laid out on my bed.

A color palette.. )

After I finished eating dinner and playing dress-up yesterday, I did end up going out and getting drinks at Psycho Suzi's with [ profile] sithlet. They have such delicious fruity drinks.


While I was on my way out to go to the bird sanctuary, I noticed this huge moth hanging out next to my house:

Read more... )

And finally, here are a few pictures I took at the bird sanctuary:

Read more... )


Tomorrow I'm going to the Renaissance Festival, so I should probably go get some sleep now.


Aug. 25th, 2007 09:28 pm
I spent all afternoon birding the Roberts Bird Sanctuary. I saw a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, which is a new bird for my life list. It's also an odd place for it to be this time of year - Minnesota's at the edge of its range for winter, and is quite a ways south of its range for summer. I thought they were a pair of cardinals at first, but looking at them through my binoculars it was clear that they had black beaks and lacked crests. I got a good look at both of them through my binoculars, but sadly, they weren't close enough to get a good picture. But I got some pictures of a few of the other birds I saw. I will be posting pictures from the last two days shortly (including some in-the-mirror shots of the curls from yesterday, for the 6 of you who were eager to see that).

List of birds I spotted today.. )

I want to take a warbler identification class sometime next spring through the Audubon society. There are so many warblers in Minnesota, and I'm so bad at identifying them. And on this note, I'm trying to do a better job about writing down when and where I see birds in and around Minneapolis. I'm really meticulous about recording what birds I saw each day when I'm travelling, but I tend to take a more laissez faire approach to what I see around town. I've started formally keeping a life list, and want to be able to record dates and locations along with species. So I'm going to try to keep a bird filter going on here, for such purposes. It will be more for myself than anything, but if you want in then let me know.



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