Friday, March 28, 2014

You Might Be a Redneck if... and other Red-fronted Birdie Dudes this winter

The horrible winter here this year kept us indoors for most of it. Yes, we are "fair weather birders". But I always watch the weather forecasts and birding reports, and found a few occasions where it looked promising for an adventure.

My thoughts are now turning to The Biggest Week in American Birding, but I wanted to get out some more pics from this winter.

Besides the amazing spectacle with the Long-tailed Ducks I reported earlier, I also shot my best ever pics of Red-breasted Mergansers on that day. We have hardly ever seen them and they came up close and personal. Great day!!! I add a few more pics here. I have many more pics of both male and females (including many "bird book pics"), but worked on a few of my favorites to share now.

I took a ton of pics of the birds, but need to note that this behavior I call "snorkeling" is not from only one series of pics, but was a common behavior as I watched this bird! Indeed, I think the bird cruised along with head under water looking to see if it were worth diving for prey. Very fascinating!!!

Red-breasted Merganser shakes it off

What's up? Duck?
RB Merganser snorkeling

RB Merganser snorkeling

Close up for Judy. She loved their hairdos! I love this shot!

And I think my most amazing shot shows a film of water surrounding the head!!!
Indeed!!! An amazing day!!! I have hundreds more pics of Long-tailed Ducks, Mergansers and their feathered brethren, but at least I shared some of them! (What will happen to all our pics when we die? I suspect they will be lost. At least I try to share some memories as I move along ...)

And, then on another amazing day, I shot some quite decent pics of a Red-necked Grebe feeding on Yellow Bullheads at the North Dam at Stony Creek Metro Park. Thanks to Carl Bachtel for identification of the fish! (BTW, if you follow the highlighted link to Carl, you will see him talking about how to get kids into fishing. I love it! It really applies to birders as well! We go out to "catch" something, and just need to get the kids prepared with the right equipment - accompanied with preparation, understanding, guidance, and patience on our parts!!!)  )

This bird (Good Grebe!!!) was possibly the most photographed individual member of that species ever. Local birders had reported it there several days before we went, and the bird stayed for maybe two weeks after and left fat and happy. I surely appreciate my Facebook Birding Michigan friends for their posts telling me about great birds!!!

Yes, when we went, the day was above freezing, but the wind off the frozen lake (the dam was about the only open water) was positively frigid! But even with the shaking, our stabilized lenses allowed some decent pics from the top of the dam. It even was so cold, my intrepid wife and companion Judy retreated to the car before I did! First time! But she had fun and saw her lifer first!!!

Red-necked Grebe with Yellow Bullhead

"Darn thing is not cooperating!
I'll smash it a few times on  the water to loosen it up."

"Now if only I can swallow it without those spines getting caught in my throat!"

Just thinking. I wonder if anyone named this guy! I have not seen anyone do that yet, so I think I will name our wonderful visitor "Jeff" after Jeff Foxworthy and his gang who inspired the title of my blog. Now our local Red-necked Jeff is even more personal!

So as I was thinking about rednecks, I also thought about other red-fronted birds. A large amount of reddish coloring is fairly rare anyway, but especially in winter.

Here are a few pics of the American Robin that visited our deck a couple of weeks ago. Many people think of Robins as the first sign of Spring, but we usually see them here all winter. I guess there are enough berries or other fruits left on our trees to help them, and a river runs behind our yard for fresh water. But I know they are sure happy to see grass again, and maybe soon the earth will thaw enough to bring forth their favored worms. By now, the Red-winged Blackbirds have come back. These are my first avian sign of spring.

And we had occasional visits from our year-round House Finches. I keep looking and hoping in winter to get a rare glimpse of a Purple Finch, but no luck this year.

And no discussion of red-fronted would be complete without the Cardinal. The following pics were taken while snow was falling and the light was yukky, but I'll take them! (Oh. That's right, I really did take them ...)  :)

Male Cardinal eats while snow falls
Oh. Oh!
I am eating and flashing my gals and this guy shows up!
Bombs away!!!

Lady Cardinal - the object of desire?
"Hey guys, I am trying to eat here. Stop showing off!!!"

Hope y'all liked my "redneck humor" and pics!!!
- "Dr. Bob"

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