Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brrrrr and More Birds

Oh, what a glorious day it is!!   I think spring is flirting with us a bit.  I know she'll be arriving soon, but we can't be too optimistic that our winter is over just yet.  We may have another cool spell. 
I don't know why that rain/falling pressure indication comes from because our forecast for the remainder of the week is glorious. 

I went on a birding trip to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in north Alabama over the weekend.  It was very cold and there was still snow on the ground from a couple days before.  But with sunshine, you can conquer lots of hurdles.  We arrived on Friday afternoon and after checking in at the motel headed off to Cave Springs.  

We then traveled to another area of the Tennessee River where we watched sandhill cranes arriving to spend the night.  The light was wonderful and they just kept coming in small flocks. 

On Saturday morning, it was again very cold but bright and sunny.  We went over to an observation tower for a good view of hundreds of sandhill cranes feeding.  

While there, I also saw my first horned lark.  What lovely birds.  The refuge manager met us at 7:30 and then proceeded to lead us on an extensive tour of the refuge, including some gated areas not open to the public.  We had been hoping to see whooping cranes, as they had been seen in the area previously, but we had no luck until the afternoon when we had all but given up hope.  There in the distance were these glorious big white birds!!   We were so excited.  We were very far away, but with the binoculars and spotting scopes, we were able to see them clearly and enjoy the view.  We also saw them again from a different angle by traveling further along the river.   I have no pictures of them because my camera lens just isn't enough to pick them up at that distance. 

Four whooping cranes have been killed this winter in southwest Georgia and eastern Alabama.  An investigation is underway and I truly hope the perpetrators are found and prosecuted.  There are only a few hundred whoopers left in the world, and to have four killed needlessly is a devastating blow to the population. 

On Sunday morning, we were up and off again.  We took a road along the river and it was glorious.  We parked the vehicles and walked for the longest way, seeing many red headed woodpeckers.  I had seen them before, but never so many in such a small area.  Their heads were blood red and they were already having territory and mating disputes.  

While there, a flock of many thousands of grackles arrived and settled in trees and the field across the way.  Something startled the flock and they rose as one group with a great whooshing sound.  As they whirled and turned, the sounds changed but it was awesome!!! Then the flock spread over us like an umbrella as they tried to settle into the trees above us, before moving along.  

After a very satisfying walk, we checked out of the motel and headed back to the visitor center observation area.  We again saw many sandhill cranes in the early morning light and numerous sparrows.  A walk through the swamp rounded out our trip.  

It sure was hard to end our trip and start the long drive home.  My traveling companions and I broke up our trip with a stop at some ponds where we saw a couple hundred scaup and three Ross's geese  that flew in shortly after we arrived.  It made for a great break from a boring drive. 

I'm realizing now that I've downloaded my pictures that I did not have the settings on my camera where I had intended.  One of these days, I hope to get that routine down better.  DUH!!!  

Y'all take care. 

No comments:

Post a Comment