My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Birds du Jour- The Menu is Scant

In the past week, we have had more visitors than migrants. High south winds are helping them fly well inland before they need to stop for a rest. But some of the breeding migrants have arrived are in the process of setting up housekeeping.

A few purple gallinules are around . We have a plethora of least bitterns.  I got a bad picture last Friday and a wonderful look Sunday.  I didn't bother with my camera because it was overcast and the winds made it hard to see even through binoculars.  Then I kicked myself when we got wonderful views of both a least bittern and a king rail, both walking or standing well in the open. (I had a friend visit today and of course we went birding. )

A  purple gallinule feeding on in the canal around Shoveler Pond

Least bittern around Shoveler's Pond

  Orchard orioles are everywhere as are the eastern  kingbirds. Some of the green herons just were passing through but one bird is already sitting on eggs in a dead tree in the Willows pond.

A green heron nesting in a dead willow

The new, handicapped-accessible rookery trail in the Skillern Unit recently opened. I visited it the evening it opened and  found thirty species in about thirty minutes.  Notable were a black and white warbler, a Nashville warbler, adult bald eagle, gull-billed terns, a sora right beside the viewing platform, eastern towhees and the first fulvous whistling ducks I've seen on the refuge This year.  I saw a flock of about forty, but a staffer who was working out there saw a flock of about four hundred. The following day, a small flock circled the VIS pond and two landed briefly.  I got a poor picture of them.

Fulvous whistling ducks on Shoveler Pond