Saturday, April 23, 2016


Purple Martins

I was expecting a less than stellar weekend. Alan was supposed to have to work straight through and be in DC for the next couple of weeks with no breaks. Then last night he called, late, but on his way home. I figured he would be too tired to do much, but he was up bright and early and said, "Let's go to Montezuma."

And so we did. 

Blue-winged Teal

Best day birding ever. We saw so many thousand birds it was insane. 

At least seven. Or maybe eight. Or maybe more, Bald Eagles, hunting right under the observation tower where we were standing. They were so impressive and amazing and all, that I cut my hand on the tower railing, said ouch, and never stopped watching. Climbed down and discovered that I was bleeding all over the place....just made sure I didn't drip all over my stuff and went right on birding. Alan had to chase me down with a Band-aid.

Rusty Blackbird yea or nay?
 *Update:verified! First I've seen in decades. Identified them by learning their song and listening for them in groups of more common blackbirds

I am pretty sure I spotted Rusty Blackbirds. I have photos, and just need to get them checked out by wiser birders.


Talked to a fellow on one of the observation platforms that informed us about a lot of what he could see or had seen with his better than ours equipment. That is one thing I have missed...other birders to talk to like that. I am mostly self-taught (and thus personally to blame for all my bad IDs), and meeting someone like that was pretty cool.

What a day! What a place!

Saw Ruddy Ducks, the most improbable chestnut color, bobbing up from dives like so many bathtub toys. Cutest things ever. As always we are going to need help with one gull and some sandpipers. They are so HARD!

A tentative list of what we spotted and ID'd

Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Arctic Tern (according to the bird man...all I could tell is that they were medium-sized terns)
Greater Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper

Great Blue Heron
Lesser Scaup
American Wigeon

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Pintail
Ruddy Duck
American Coot
Wood Duck
Hooded Merrganser
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Osprey (Flying, as well as feeding chicks on a nest)
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
American Robin
European Starling
Common Grackle
Rock Pigeon
Northern Mockingbird
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird (?)
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Tree Swallow (thousands)
Barn Swallow
Purple Martin
American Crow
Some small sandpipers yet to be identified. Update: Dunlin, and I figured it out all by myself and then had it verified. Go me. lol
And probably more that I missed getting on the list because there was so much to see. 
What a day!

A Bald Eagle had just passed putting up hundreds and hundreds of ducks
You can see a few of them here


joated said...

Wow! You did have a great day! Ours was so-so with just 26-27 species and virtually no waterfowl on a chilly, overcast day with a pretty good breeze. Now I know where they all went.

Great pictures, BTW. Love the one of the Great Blue.

threecollie said...

Joated, it was the most phenomenal day I have ever experienced. When an eagle swept low over the swamp hundreds and thousands of ducks got up all at once. What a sight! The woods were full of small migrants. I saw something I really thought was a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but just didn't have time to chase it down. Plus that was when we were watching the eagles and I was bleeding all over the place. lol If we had had more time we could easily have added to this list, but we had to get home. We wanted to view the heron rookeries, but couldn't find them in the time we had left. Thanks!

Cathy said...

Joated took my words! Wow! What a great day! :)

Terry and Linda said...

What a stunningly wonderful day!


Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Wow! Now THAT's a great birding day! What a treasure to have the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. I'm so glad your birding buddy came home to go birding with you.

The Furry Gnome said...

Wow! Whata bird list!

threecollie said...

Cathy, best day ever! And all the better for being unplanned and unexpected. Even in Florida I have never seen so many species of birds in one place at one time. The weather was beautiful, if cold, and the refuge has been improved in several ways since our last visit. Just wonderful!

Linda, it was simply the best!

Jacqueline, I am too. It was so much fun. He is utterly patient and invested in getting good IDs on every bird we see. Thus it is great for me. We had a great time. Then last night he texted me a photo of a Ring-necked Duck he saw at his job site. A lifer for him....very nice

The Furry Gnome, best ever day in the field. I can't imagine what it would take to top it.