Harriers, Swans, and Muskrats

I’m finally getting out a bit more and enjoying the new camera! The Canon EOS R is so light and easy to handle. I’m still getting used to the differences between the EOS R and the 5D I used for so long, but I am loving it! The EOS R is excellent for these dark, foggy mornings. Considering just how dark it was on this morning, I am very pleased with these results.

Northern harrier
Geese and swans
Geese, swans, Northern shovelors
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New Camera Trials

I finally decided to replace my now very old Canon 5D Mark ii. The 5D has been a remarkable camera. It has been reliable in all the Kansas weather extremes, and I’ve dropped it more than once. This camera has been a hard worker for about 12 years. I’m trying out the Canon EOS R. While I have not been able to spend as much time with it as I would like, so far, it takes some pretty sharp pics. I can’t wait to be out more when the weather cools off a bit!

Great egrets and black birds in tree
Great blue heron standing in water
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Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher and Friends

I think it has been about two years since I last saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher. Good to see them again!

scissor-tailed flycatcher perched on blade of grass

We also managed very good looks at a sleeping barred owl and several deer foraging near the road.

Checked in on a nearby great blue heron rookery. They’ve moved back a bit more into the wooded area, so the pictures are not so great, but so glad to see they’re still there!

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Finally Fall

I’ve managed to get to the wetlands a couple of times over the last two weeks. I am so excited about the arrival of fall!!!!! Cooler weather means fewer insects, who seem to love dining out on me, and fewer people. Fewer people mean more critters to watch!

Deer in the mist.
Skunk running down a path.
Gulls hanging out at the marina.
Sunrise at Clinton Lake
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Hummers and Orioles

The back yard has been very busy the last few days! We generally get tons of hummers at this time of year, but I’m not used to still seeing so many orioles this far into September. I’m so glad they’re back! They disappeared for a while and I was sure the neighborhood cats had run them off. The hummers are eating the jelly, too! They are most welcome!

Ruby-throated hummingbird at jelly feeder
ruby-throated hummingbird perched.
ruby-throated hummingbird in flight
Baltimore orioles on jelly feeder
Male Baltimore oriole perched on branch
Possible female or young Baltimore oriole
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Hummer Dome

It’s that time of the summer when all the hummers are bulking up for the trip south. There is a great deal of jostling around the feeders. This hummer has staked out a spot immediately to the right of the feeder where he launches at anyone who gets too close to the nectar.

Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird
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Kansas Summer

It’s been another one of those unbearably hot Kansas summers, so I haven’t been to the wetlands much. On top of that, we’re now experiencing some seriously icky air quality from wildfires to our west. My heart goes out to all the beings dealing with this right now. I think it’s a good time to revisit some of my favorite photos and reflect on how things have changed this summer.

While we are starting to see more hummers as they fuel up for the trip south, I have noticed a significant decrease in the numbers of visitors. Going by what I am seeing on birding lists in this area, that is across the board in Kansas.

Ruby-throated hummingbird

On the other hand, there has been a significant increase in juvenile Northern cardinals of various ages. Obviously, this is not scientific, but it seems the increase is due to a reduction in cowbirds. I have seen very few cowbirds, and very few cardinal parents feeding cowbird fledglings. On a typical morning, there are at least ten young cardinals visiting the feeders. Sadly, there are also a couple of free-roaming cats in the neighborhood who regularly catch and kill birds in the yard. I am concerned about the neighborhood wildlife, and the safety of the cats. I remain astounded by the level of selfishness and privilege these people have, these people who know better, but choose to make the rest of us responsible for their cats.

Update August 11: This morning one of the cats was heading home at 5 AM. I am quite sure he had been out all night in this horrible heat. It’s sad all around. I made the mistake on a neighborhood email list a few years ago of asking people to keep their cats inside and someone sent me a threatening email off list. Since most of those people knew where we lived, I was concerned. We have an ordinance in our city that makes free-roaming cats illegal, but most of these folks just ignore that. I’m pretty sure the people responsible for the cat who is raising so much hell on our block are the same hipsters doing some kind of backyard animal agriculture. Their cat is as disposable to them as the farm animals they raise.

Young cardinal

The orioles have not been around for a couple of weeks, but I continue to leave one jelly feeder and oranges up for the catbirds, robins, brown thrashers, finches, house sparrows, and of course, bees. Usually, we do have orioles around until they head south, but between the cats and the Cooper’s hawk, I think they have found a safer place for feeding.

Young brown thrasher

To end on a more positive note, the house wrens successfully fledged!

house wren
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