Saturday, June 9, 2012
Hello friends and fellow "bird nerds." For today's installment I'd like to talk about a type of birding that is difficult for me (being much like a hummingbird or small child and not being able to sit still for long) called the "Sit and Watch" method.
This past week I got the privilege of getting to meet alot of our visitors during a national survey we are taking about the Refuge. I was posted at our Duckville parking lot, right before the Auto Tour Route starts, and spoke to visitors passing by about the great birding on the Refuge right now. In between visitors - I got to do a little birding all from one spot...and mand did I get lucky.
My normal birding instincts are to walk, hike, crawl or drive to find as many cool birds as I can...but this day, I had to sit and wait. It is a great change-up to really get to observe some great bird behavior - as well as some other wildlife passing by. First off, I got to see an example of kleptoparasitism. That is when one bird tries to steal food from another - usually between birds of same species - but sometimes by others. Eagles do this. Gulls definitely do. And on this instance, it was a Caspian tern harassing a Forster's tern for the fish the Forster's has caught. It was a noisy and desperate chase - with the Forster's winning and probably taking that fish back to hatchlings somewhere south on the Refuge.
Next I was amazed to watch a male Northern harrier snatch a barn swallow right out of the air and rocket off with it to the east, most probably - again - to a hungry youngster. It actually took me a few seconds to realize what I had just seen and I'm sure the smile was pretty large on my "birdnerd" face.
And as if that wasn't all great enough...I also got to see male Cinnamon teal fights, a long-tailed weasel "high-tail-it" (literally) across the road, Western kingbirds nabbing twelve-spotted dragonflies out of the air, and a bat roosting in the kiosk!
It's amazing what you'll see if you just stop and smell the roses - and watch around them too!