Northern Flicker

I love it when I get to say I’ve never seen more <insert bird name here> at the celery bog during migration season. That was definitely the case last week with the Northern Flickers; I bet I saw two dozen of them in about an hour. Granted, some of those may have been repeat sightings, the result of bird herding them down the trail, but still I’ve never seen more Northern Flickers during migration season! The flicker shown below is absolutely thrilled to be on the ground in his favorite habitat, rooting around in the leaf litter searching for food.

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Palm Warbler

Fahrrrrump frah dah daaaah! (that’s a trumpet) BEHOLD, the Palm Warblers are back! I don’t feel like a parade is overkill for welcoming back one of the first warblers I ever photographed, but I do feel ridiculous wearing this marching band uniform at the Celery Bog right now!

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American Kestrel

I’ve had a busy week photographing my top five all-time favorite birds in flight. Well, okay, two out of five, but that’s two more than I thought I’d ever capture flying around! And don’t hold your breath for flying photos of the Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo! This American Kestrel was perched on a wire just north of the celery bog as I stumbled and stomped my way toward him. He didn’t stay long though, no surprise there, but when he took flight he actually flew toward me for a second, which was just long enough to get one cool shot!

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Mink

I was in an area where, just a few years ago, I had spotted my first mink so I had mink on my mind when I heard a splash off to my left. I looked but there was nothing there, Probably a fish, I thought to myself very matter-of-factly, then I saw him. MINK!!! I couldn’t believe it, but what’s going on with that awful looking lion haircut!?! Ahh, I see, when he hopped up on that log he shook the water off his head; I had this vision of someone shaving him with an electric razor!

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Pileated Woodpecker

The best wildlife photographers in the world know their cameras inside-out and they can make any necessary adjustments blindfolded. Me, I mostly rely on blind luck. I was staring at a tree today, don’t even remember why, when a Pileated Woodpecker suddenly flew over. There was no time to look down at my camera and put it in “flying Pileated Woodpecker” mode but I knew I was two clicks of the dial from where I needed to be, so I hoisted my rig while simultaneously moving the dial and mashing down on the shutter button. Almost seems like I knew what I was doing!

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Red-winged Blackbird

You don’t have to be a world-class wilderness explorer to realize there ain’t no way this Red-winged Blackbird can take off with those stumpy little wings. Oh, I see now, he’s not trying to fly, he’s what we in the bird biz call an enthusiastic singer, putting his whole body into every little chirp!

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American Coot

Maybe I’ve got a thing for fluffy butts and bright red eyes, but I just love the American Coots. They’re always head bobbing around like cute little floaty water chickens, and there’s always a hundred of them so multiply that cuteness. I feel like the name Coot doesn’t suit these birds very well so I’m proposing a name change; I think they should be called Cutes!

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Tree Swallow

A group of Tree Swallows is known as a “stand” of swallows, as pictured below all lined up on a branch. That’s boring. They should be known as a “squadron,” also pictured below, in landing formation, but that’s already taken by the pelicans. Hmmm… could they both be squadrons? Would the pelicans really mind sharing? I think not.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Is that really the world-class wilderness explorer!?! I don’t believe my eye! That’s probably not how this sighting went down, more like Who’s the chowderhead giggling down there? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess, because I love me some Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, but they only spend a few weeks a year here as they pass through town. Or maybe I just really like the name sapsucker, it’s gotta be one of my top five favorite bird names.

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Red-breasted Merganser

I was just complaining about how difficult it is to photograph waterfowl at the Celery Bog because they rarely come over to the near side, and just four hours later I was there when this pair of Red-breasted Mergansers paddled over and said hello! Get a load of these two, I mean, isn’t that long pointy bill just the best!?! And those plumes? They are rocking those plumes! And red eyes, you know I’m a sucker for bright red eyes! I just can’t get enough of these two, I’m gonna have to start complaining more often!

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

I was walking along at the Celery Bog, going over my birthday list; let’s see, I want a warbler and a sapsucker and a catbird and a towhee and a bald eagle and some ducks! I wasn’t there five minutes when I heard a familiar voice singing Happy Bird-day to me, it was a Yellow-rumped Warbler! No, it was one, two, three… it was a dozen yellow rumps! Best birthday ever! It’s the little things, right?

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Muskrat Monday

Yesterday while the Bald Eagle was perusing his own personal buffet bar that is the Celery Bog, there was a muskrat sound asleep on a log. He would have slept through the whole thing, and I’m not so sure he didn’t, if his girlfriend hadn’t paddled on over there and tried to wake him up!

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Squirrel Sunday

Have I actually discovered a real water squirrel!?!? This little fuzzball has been living in a Wood Duck nesting box for at least two weeks now and that box is some fifty feet out in the water! There is a lot of impressive jumping from log to log and traversing partially submerged logs to get to his sweet new pad and he does get a little wet on his way out there. I feel like he’s gonna get a lot wet when he wakes up one morning to find that some of those logs have floated away!

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Bald Eagle

All was peaceful out on the Celery Bog this morning, then all of a sudden it wasn’t. Thousands of floaty water birds suddenly piled into one corner of the bog! I scanned the skies for what had to be a Bald Eagle… there he is. I think he was just browsing because he took one big lap around the bog and left to the east. Then all was peaceful once again. UPDATE: The Bald Eagle came back the very next day and I was able to get some much better photos; they’re posted below. He even perched for a while.

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Tree Swallow

The Tree Swallows arrived back at the Celery Bog a few weeks ago and this one apparently didn’t get the memo regarding photographer avoidance. He was perched nicely in a tree at the water’s edge, while they usually perch way out on the water in the fuzzy pixel trees, aka, crummy picture trees, aka… that’s all I got! Those trees are just too far away to get decent photos of tiny little swallows, but this tree is not.

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Blue-winged Teal at the Celery Bog

Sometimes things become too simple for world-class wilderness explorers and we have to kick it up a notch. I was shooting birds in flight today, BIF’s, and it was just too easy. First some giant geese went lumbering by, then some coots bumbled on past, piece of cake! A water squirrel slithered up to me to see what was going on, then my favorite little Northern Shoveler cruised by; finally a little bit of speed- still nailed him. Are any of you ducks up to this challenge!?!? Just then a Blue-winged Teal jetted out from the treetops behind me. That’s what I’m talking about, he must be going a hundred miles per hour, maybe a buck twenty five! I flung my gear around, blasting away the entire time, and got a dozen perfect shots of the speediest little duck you ever saw. I thought it would be interesting to watch that teal race a shoveler, so I called them over and explained the rules. The teal won by a mile!

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Red-tailed Hawk

The resident Red-tailed Hawk pair have a nest across the street and they like to perch in one of my trees. It’s a nice little escape for them; they’ve got a clear view of the nest from here and a sitcom happening on the deck down below. I was watching those hawks from the back window when the squirrels spotted me and ran up onto the deck. So I’m pointing to the hawks and the squirrels are looking at me pointing to their mouths! Meanwhile, up in the tree, the hawks were watching all this and just shaking their heads in disbelief, so I fed the squirrels and walked away. I’m sure gonna miss those squirrels. Just kidding, no squirrels were harmed in the making of this episode!

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