Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Local Site

Last year I discovered a new birding site less than a mile from where I live: the Longwood Retention Pond. It isn't the greatest site, consisting as it does of just a large artificial pond surrounded on one side by some largely inaccessible woodland. However, I like to take a walk around the pond every couple of weeks because, like almost any patch of water in our area, it often has several wading and water birds. Another reason for visiting this site is that a pair of Bald Eagles has a nest in the trees - and who can resist watching Bald Eagles!

On Saturday morning my walk started with good views of a Loggerhead Shrike, a bird that I can never resist taking pictures of.

The utility wires were hosting White-winged Doves and Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as an American Kestrel (below).

A Snowy Egret was doing its morning preening at the water's edge.

One of the birds I was hoping to see was a Little Blue Heron which regularly hangs out at the pond. Sure enough, the bird soon joined the Snowy.

A Great Egret flew in, too, its plumage spectacular in the morning light.

I find it interesting how Snowy Egrets often hang out next to Great Egrets and/or Little Blue Herons. I suppose the reason is that the species don't hunt in the same way and therefore don't directly compete for food. Great Egrets and Little Blue Herons move stealthily and slowly, sneaking up on their prey. By contrast, Snowy Egrets tend to rush around in the water, stirring up prey with their bright yellow feet. 

The open area of the pond was quiet except for a couple of Pied-billed Grebes and Double-crested Cormorants. The edges had a dozen or so Killdeer and Least Sandpipers. While I was watching a Yellowlegs, I noticed a Wilson's Snipe wandering nearby.

On my previous visit the female Bald Eagle was sitting on the nest. This time she was on the nest again - but hardly visible - while her partner was perched nearby.

By the way, if you're thinking that the photo of the nest isn't very good, I agree. However, it's because it was taken from far away, in order to avoid disturbing the nesting birds. (Bald Eagles will abandon their nests if people approach them too closely.) Here's a picture showing the scene from where I was standing when I zoomed in on the nest.  

The trees and bushes around the pond had a selection of common birds: Red-shouldered Hawk, Orange-crowned Warbler, House Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Just as I was leaving, I noticed my final bird, an Eastern Phoebe which was fly-catching  from the top of a small snag.


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