A wonderful morning. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I was watching a great blue heron come flying into the marina at Clinton Lake the other day, and to my surprise, she landed right in the water, picked up a fish, then flew off. It almost seemed like she was swimming like a pelican would. I have never seen one do that before. When she took off, she kind of did that running on water thing coots do when they take off super fast. It all happened so fast, but was amazing to watch. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Now that the ice is melting, we’re seeing many more great blue herons along the shore line. This poor fish is nearly as big as the heron. I thought she might not be able to take off, but she managed just fine. Click on pictures to enlarge.
It makes me sad that every morning for the past couple of weeks I have been reading about more sightings of snowy owls in the lower 48. I am afraid we are going to have another irruption year. The frequency of this is all about climate change, though I have not seen many writing about this, particularly in birding discussions (of course!). I so loved getting to see them when they were in Lawrence in 2012. However, I also learned a great deal about them and what I learned was heartbreaking. They are here because they are starving. They have little experience with humans and are vulnerable to attack, cars, planes, buildings, etc. Because they have so little experience with humans, people are often able to get pretty close to them before they fly away. This adds another layer of stress to a hungry bird who is trying to conserve energy. Please, if you see them, act responsibly. Observe these beautiful birds from a distance. Show some respect. If you see a snowy owl in distress, contact a rehabber who can help and while you are at it, make a donation.
Birding in the National Parks: Snowy Owl Invasion, Round Two
While I occasionally see Caspian terns at Clinton Lake at this time of year, I have never been privileged to get such a long look. This one kept coming back to the same spot and watching him/her dive head first into the water was just pretty darn amazing. Click on pictures to enlarge.
While we Kansans love to talk about how unpredictable our weather is, I do love it. It was in the fifties when I got to the lake this morning and the sun was shining. I was going down a path when the wind changed direction and the clouds came in. I think the temperature dropped about ten degrees before I got back to the car. It was invigorating, and beautiful. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bald eagles around Lawrence as I have this winter. I imagine it has something to do with very low temperatures in the north. Whatever the reason, I am enjoying watching them. Yesterday, they seemed to be on every tree at the lake. I witnessed some courting (locking talons and spinning downward). I saw a couple exchanging fish while in flight, which I think is also courting. I also saw an interesting game of “keep away” that involved nine eagles. While I do not know what they are thinking and communicating, I cannot describe this as anything other than play and it is wonderful to witness. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I went looking for warblers this morning and was rewarded with a Prothonotary. What cuties they are. There were several of them working the trees. I also saw quite a few of the little gnat catchers and a host of young barn and tree swallows. The weather was amazing. What a nice morning to sneak out. Click on pictures to enlarge.
He was very busy catching insects for a little one, but stopped to see what I was up to. Click on pictures to enlarge.