Saturday, March 04, 2006

A few Spring Birds at Nine Springs

Yesterday evening on my way home from work, I made a stop at Nine Springs. My friend Steve recently reported that the Short-eared Owl was still there, so I thought I would try my luck one more time.

When I first arrived, the place was “raptor-central” with three Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk and a Northern Harrier. It was about an hour before sunset, so I decided to walk the perimeter trail – and heck, I could sure use the exercise.

I found a flock of American Tree Sparrows, a couple of Song Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. A large mixed-flock with mostly Red-winged Blackbirds also had a few Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds and European Starlings. They were getting ready to roost in the trees way in the back part of the fields.

There were hundreds of Canada Geese and several Sandhill Cranes. Near the back trail, I found some of their footprints in the snow and decided to photograph them:

About 10 minutes after the sun dipped below the horizon, I spotted the Short-eared Owl zooming across the field – what a beautiful bird! It perched on a fence post about 200 yards away from where I was standing. The owl didn’t sit still for long, though. It returned to the sky, performing some amazing aerial acrobatics. Since I was getting a bit cold and it was too dark to photograph much of anything, I decided to head home.

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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