Saturday, March 19, 2011

Morning Migrants

An American Kestrel waits for the sun to peak back out

This morning I set out at sunrise to see what was around on the day before Spring.  I started at EPCAL since Low Tide wasn't due at Dune Rd. until the afternoon.  When I got on the runways a little after 7 I saw two bright white birds flying overhead and the photo below confirmed my suspicions that they were Great Egrets (moving northwest) which are the first of the season that I've seen.  I was hoping to spot some Eastern Bluebirds but was shut out - the same can't be said for Eastern Meadowlarks which were busy calling for mates and a couple of Horned Larks that are still hanging around.  On the Eastern runway a Savannah Sparrow was signing atop a small shrub.

A welcome sight to see the day before Spring
Turkeys are always a nice species to note at EPCAL:

It's amazing how skittish this species remains
This is easily the closest I've been to a Horned Lark and it gave me a pretty clear shot:

Horned Lark scavenging for food
A Savannah Sparrow was seen singing
On the raptor front were at least 7 American Kestrels busy hunting and hanging out.  I did not see a "pair" like I did in my previous post, but females and males were both present.  A few Northern harriers were lazily hunting over the grasses and a Red-tailed Hawk was also spotted - but Rough-legged hawks were unfortunately absent.

Just hanging out on a Rose bush along the Eastern runway

When I got to Dune Rd. I was disappointed to not spot any wading birds but after waiting around for a bit these American Oystercatchers showed up just east of the Ponquogue Bridge.  Aside from that things were very slow.  My backyard, however, has played host to American Goldfinches all morning which is always a nice treat - too bad they are so camera shy.

A pair of Oystercatchers hunting along their new territory
If you're like me and have a real love of raptors big and small - then you'll want to pick up a copy of Jerry Liguori's latest title Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors which features one of my Gyrfalcon photos.

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