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Tag Archives: birds

Despite the heat and the valley full of smoke, animals are abundant. There is a mule deer with twin fawns that we see around our hill pretty often. All the young birds have fledged and are learning to forage with help from their parents. Ken’s bees are still out collecting pollen and nectar from our garden flowers. I do wonder how the smoke affects these animals and if they have shortened life spans because of it.

March has brought us all sort of winter-like weather but I think that spring is finally settling in. Most of the snow is melted. For the first time in four months, there are deer walking around on our hill. It was a hard winter to be a deer in the valley. Wild Turkeys seem to be wandering around here too. Birds are selecting nest boxes and building nests. Tiny wildflowers are growing and blooming.

The big bird attraction at Half Moon Caye is the nesting colony of white-phased Red-footed Boobys and Magnificent Frigatebirds. The Belize Audubon representative said there were about 4000 boobys and 1000 frigatebirds. They do regular transects through the dense jungle to keep track of them. It seemed like a lot but I would not have guessed that many. In addition to the charismatic sea birds I also saw Great Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, Great Egret several kinds of warblers including a good number of American Redstarts. I wanted to suggest to them that they’d best start thinking about migration. There are a few that breed near the Methow River in late May and early June.

Some of the Red-footed Booby chicks were already two months old while some nests still had eggs in them. I did not see any frigatebird chicks and many of the males were in full display with their red air sacks inflated for everyone to see. They looked like awkward fragile balloons and I wonder if they ever poke them on a branch or get attacked by other birds. The boobys may lay two eggs but generally only raise one youngster to maturity. That means the weaker one may fall or get pushed from the nest. Sometimes a tourist will bring one of these unfortunate birds to the Audubon staff and they will attempt to feed and raise them and teach them to fish on their own. It’s often a futile attempt.

We were traveling pretty light with only carry-on baggage so I had to limit the amount of camera gear I could take. That meant I had no super zoom or camera with a long lens. So my bird watching was pretty intense but my bird photography was not. At Crooked Tree we had an opportunity for an early morning, three hour birding tour by boat. We were treated to countless birds, many of them lifers for me. We were lucky to see five Jabiru Storks! They are considered endangered mostly due to habitat loss.

Here are a few distant images of some interesting birds.

The weather forecast indicated about 20% chance of rain in the mountains yesterday. Around here, that means it’s not likely to rain. It was sunny and reasonably warm at home when the girls and I left for the 6500′ Freezeout Trailhead and the hike to Tiffany Mountain. The temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit and it was sunny when we started walking. Good weather for an uphill hike to the 8242′ summit.

In the burned forest (this is part of the Tripod burn from ten years ago) I heard and saw numerous birds, including lots of young ones with adults searching for food to feed the nestlings.

When we walked away from the trees, the sky was solidly overcast but still no sign of rain. Nearing the top, I started to feel occasional pelts of small hail. At the top, it was obvious that the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. We shared my peanut butter sandwich and I put on my extra layers (two coats, gloves and a wool hat) and tucked my camera away. Normally we would linger on the mountain top and look around for more birds and flowers and maybe ladybugs but not this time. It was hailing pretty solidly by then. And as we walked downhill it was soon raining. We didn’t notice the birds or flowers much on the way down. Still, it never got too cold and it wasn’t windy and I had the right extra gear with me. Overall it was a nice day.

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