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Heron Park, part 2 - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
May 20th, 2006
10:43 pm


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Heron Park, part 2
The rest of this set of pictures will be of various birds that I photographed.

Since this little park is called Heron Park, let's start with some of the namesake Great Blue Herons.  I took several of this one flying over, and decided to show this one because it's a slightly different angle than the usual.

And here's one wading in the lake, looking for dinner:

For my next subject, let's turn to the red-winged blackbird.  These guys are common enough that I think they may be a bit under-appreciated, but I seem to have fallen in love with them this year.  Here's one perching on a post on the boardwalk, showing off his striking eponymous wing patches:

Here's a redwing looking perky on a log in the lake:

And finally, here's a shot that I found really striking when I was reviewing the pictures.  I'm not sure it really comes through at web resolution, but I see a human look of contemplation in this bird.

Next, I'll turn to one of the most noticeable bird species in the park.  Tree Swallows were flying around the whole time I was in the boardwalk area.  (Actually, birder2 says that some of the swallows were Rough-Winged, but I think all of the ones I got pictures of are tree swallows.  I just might be wrong about this first one.)  For as long as I've been carrying a camera around, I've been trying to catch swallows in flight, and I've never been very successful, but I got a couple of pictures that are at least worth looking at at web resolution.  These are as good as I've gotten.

In this shot, the iridescent blue of on the back is somewhat visible.  This color all depends on the angle of the light.

Finally, I have a picture of one of the little guys while he was stopped, really showing off that shiny steel blue look.

The next picture is a somewhat emotionally significant personal first. which is why I include it even though it's not a great picture.  There is a pair of Bald Eagles that nest near Heron Park.  (Unfortunately, no longer close enough to see the nest from the tower.)  They didn't come close, but one of them did fly over, and I was able to take a few pictures, of which this is probably the best.  It's so small because those are all the pixels out of the 8MP image that actually had the eagle on them -- that's how far away he was.  But it is recognizably a Bald Eagle!  Woo hoo!

Next, here's a pair of House Finches that were nearly posing for a bird book picture, with the male and female next to each other:

In a slightly different part of the same tree as the House Finches at a slightly different time, this Yellow Warbler held still long enough for me to get a picture.

As we near the end of this post, I have another emotionally significant picture.  Back when I was but a wee sprat, I often tagged along with birder2 on birdwalks and other Audubon Society field trips.  The Red-Headed woodpecker was a favorite of mine, being a striking bird and also one with a distinctive enough appearance that even a little kid could confidently identify him.  And they were a common sight in the little patches of woods near Urbana.  For some reason, they are much less common today; in fact, yesterday was the first time I can recall definitely seeing one in years.  It's the first time I've had a chance to photograph them.  I'll share this picture now, because the way I caught the bird in flight looks cool even though it's not that great a picture.  I might be able to doctor it up to look better if I put real effort into it in Photoshop -- I need to get the red on his head brighter without the rest of the picture.  But I wanted to post today, so I didn't do that now.

Finally, I'll close this post with a picture of the Canada Geese.  If you compare with this post, you can see that this year's goslings are growing very fast -- they're as big as adult ducks now!

The astute reader will notice that, even though at the beginning I mentioned that the reason for this park was a breeding colony of herons, I haven't shown any heron nests or baby herons.  I do have some, and some other cool stuff too, but those are waiting for the next installment of this report, when we proceed Across the Road.  Because if I stay up another couple of hours working on this tonight, I will pay for it tomorrow when my alarm goes off at 6 for me to go take care of tigers.  Now it's time for a quick check of email and the friend's page, and to sleep.

EDIT: I had the image size tags wrong on the first red-wing picture, so it was in ThinVision. Take another look, if you care.

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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
I love Red Wing Blackbirds, too.
I'm a city kid, used only to robins, sparrows,starlings and crows.
On our forays into the countryside it was cool to see something as exotic as the red wings.
There is a song that features red wing blackbirds. Carol Ferraro used to sing it. You should consider learning it.

How bad has West Nile hit the bird population down there?

[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
When it first hit, I noticed that there were fewer blue jays. (The corvidae are the birds most susceptible to West Nile.) But my personal impression, not based on any science or even formal observation, is that they're back to full strength. I certainly didn't notice a decline in birds in general.

I have heard the song; it's a good song but it never really struck me as one I wanted to learn myself.
[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
The two heron shots are absolutely stunning!

A few autumns ago, we had one wandering through the copse of trees west of our house. We think he was spearing frogs nestled under the leaf cover.
[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
Excellent pics!! I love great blue herons...one of my favorite memorie's of my grandparents' home in New York is going to the river to watch herons wading.

This morning I went for an hour long walk on a bike trail here in town and saw a great blue heron flying overhead (I was out for exercise so I didn't have my camera with me), an Eastern bluebird, an American goldfinch, and a flicker. I was having fun with the birds...at the end of my walk when I turned around to go back to my car I stood on a bridge over the river to watch the swallows swooping around after insects just above the river's surface. It was a good morning.

Thanks for sharing the pics!!
[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
p.s. half a lifetime ago when I was in college (it seems a very, very long time ago) we were out doing some sampling in a marsh near campus; the area we were in was on the edge of a territory where yellow headed blackbirds overlap with red winged blackbirds. It was absolutely fascinating to watch them interact; it was crystallinely clear where the territories were. You could just about draw lines in the air because we could see the yellow heads flying and the red wings flying and when they'd overlap they'd scrimmage and then go back to their respective areas. Fascinating stuff! (Even when they decided they didn't like us out in our canoes and would swoop down on us!)
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