GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT
This is another benchmarking post - how to know what's not googleable. Probably most succinctly described here.
I love that there are lots of programs out there encouraging benchmarking like the City Nature Challenge or this weekend's Great Backyard Bird Count: birdcount.org.
I've been extra busy with work on weekdays so I've been trying to make a habit of going to our favorite river spot every Sunday early morning with kiddo while K works.
I find a lot of value of going to the same spot (sit spot style!) often. Getting to know a place through the seasons.
Last week was exciting with some hawk drama. This week at the same spot we had kingfisher / egret drama!
Kiddo lead the way to the beach; I suggested we stop by the Almond Tree which we haven't been to lately. This tree is like a playground, it has many sprawling trunks and you can go "inside" and climb and be sheltered. The tree had just a few tiny new blooms on it and a lot about to burst. Other flowering trees nearby were fully bloomed out! I'm putting a pin here to find out what these other trees are.
We climbed around on the almond tree, checked out some animal holes that had been recently used - another pin: find out who lives in these large holes - and saw an oak titmouse flit into the tree with a nut in his mouth. A sapsucker flew in and landed on the tree for a few seconds too. And that's another pin: next time let's see if this tree has any holes from the sapsucker. My hands were pretty full with bucket and shovel for kiddo at the beach and bag with our breakfast in it and kiddo was climbing the tree so that didn't leave a lot free attention to take pictures or check these things out in depth!
We arrived at the beach to see a kingfisher sitting on the mid-channel snag. It was there for a long while and the egret came flying up and pushed the kingfisher off. The kingfisher eventually came back and flew towards the snag almost as if he was going to push the egret off, but he dodge around it and I realized a second kingfisher was flying after him.
We've seen this snowy egret quite a few other times. Today a Great Egret also came up and tip-toed under the snag where the snowy still sat. We saw it catch and eat a fish. A slippery fish! It had to snap it back up a few times. It was a treat for me to see these two side by side: the great and snowy egrets. I really got to see the size difference and coloring differences.
Kiddo loved watching the ducks and narrating their comings and goings. He lead us on a couple exploratory hikes and we saw the Ruby Crowned Kinglet where we always do, just as we go up the steep hill in the more wooded part of the trail. The kinglet was flitting from branch to branch.
Kiddo lead us on some deer trails and wanted to play chase in the grassy area up from the river. We stumbled upon a really weird skeleton there! I wish I had taken a photo but I want to go back and find it again soon and try to figure it out. It was a large-ish spine with a very flat maybe pelvis still connected, but that was on the middle of the spine? We were in the middle of an important game of chase and I still had my hands too full to pull out a camera! Shucks!
On the walk out to the car I got a quick peak through my binoculars at a black bird, maybe towhee sized, that had a crested head like a oak titmouse, but seemed to be all black. Perched in a tree maybe Phoebe posture? I can't find this bird in my Sibley's and I'm not even sure I saw it correctly since I was still in that game of chase but maybe it's a new-to-me one?
Lots of new mysteries to remember to go back and explore:
What was that skeleton?
What was that dark, crested bird?
Who dug those holes/homes under the almond tree?
Are there sapsucker holes in the almond tree?
What are all the flowering trees?