Solitary Sandpiper

I surprised a Solitary Sandpiper today, and he surprised me. Taking flight from right at my feet, he landed unusually close by for some photos. He must have determined from the high pitched noise coming outta me that I couldn’t possibly be much of a threat!

 

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House Wren

I was strutting along, minding my own business, when it occurred to me: I just walked past a bird!  So I moonwalked it on back down the trail, kick turned to the right, and sure enough there was a House Wren right there, frozen. “Hi buddy, what’s the matter wif ya’?” The old man walking by must have thought I was talking to him, as he quietly responded, “Nothing?” and hurried on past. I’ve never known a wren of any kind to sit that still and that quiet for that long, so I looked around for predators. There were none in sight. Had he never seen the moonwalk before? I dunno, but I got a few photos and went on my way, then he immediately got back to the business of being a noisy little wren. FYI: No moonwalking was actually done at the Celery Bog yesterday, and I don’t even know what a kick turn is, I swear!

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

With an iron claw, the Golden King of the north has ruled this land for several moons, but there is a new challenger to the cuteness throne. Behold the Ruby King of the south! Uhh, heh heh, I mean Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Was that too much build up? I feel like it was too much. Naw, look at that face, it was just the right amount! 

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Barn Swallow

Watcha’ doin’ little buddy? “Neft?” What’s “neft?” You talk funny. Oh, NEST, you’re building a nest! What are you building it out of? Hey, where you going!?! Sheesh, Barn Swallows are so temperamental. I wonder what they build their nests out of anyway.

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White-throated Sparrow

Such sweet birds are the White-throated Sparrows, that they’ll whistle softly in your ear as you search for them in the brush. This is the one bird each spring that I remember I missed, when I hear that song, and see those big brown eyes encircled in black and gold, and gray and white. How could I forget?

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Northern Parula

It was a dark and stormy night; the kind of night that forces all but the most heroic world-class wilderness explorers to seek shelter. The rain was coming down sideways; no, it was raining buckets sideways. Yeah, that’s it; and hail the size of… buckets! Yeah, hail the size of buckets too! And tornadoes… no, no, that’s too much. I went too far with it again. Sigh, it did sprinkle a little and there were a few specks of hail. I guess I could have just said the light was extremely poor for photography at the Celery Bog that evening and I still managed one decent shot of a Northern Parula, but what’s the fun in that?

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Tree Swallow

This Tree Swallow plopped down right in front of me the other day; I’ve never been closer to a swallow than this. She looked at me with those big pouty eyes, then looked down at my feet; looked at me again, and back at my feet. Being the astute observer that I am, I quickly deduced that she wanted the dried grass I was standing on, so I backed up a few feet and she hopped right down and grabbed some of that grass! 

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Turkey Vulture

“WHO’S a pretty bird!?! Who’s a pretty BUUURD!?!” Seriously, I’m asking, have you seen any pretty birds around here? Haha! Poor old ugly Turkey Vultures! I was exploring a heron rookery at the Weaver Family Nature Reserve, a NICHES Land Trust property on the Wabash River, when I scared up a dozen Turkey Vultures. They weren’t happy about being awakened from their afternoon naps and showed their disapproval by circling me slowly until I left. I wasn’t scared. Oh, and I never did find those pretty birds in the rookery.

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Eastern Towhee

When I make a right-hand turn onto Celery Bog Lane and immediately hear the “drink-your-tea” call of an Eastern Towhee, I’ve already won. If I don’t take a single shot that day, it doesn’t matter, because I’ve heard that bird. When I’m walking along in a brushy area and hear the “shiree” call, I’ve won again because I know there’s probably a pair in there and they’re in a really good, photographing kind of mood.

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Hermit Thrush

I’ve been trying to get a clean shot of a Hermit Thrush for years, so when I happened upon this little dude yesterday I went full horse tamer on him. “Easy fella, whoa, that’s it… hold it riiiight there.” He immediately flew down the trail fifty feet and I had to catch back up to him and start all over again. This time I tried a new tactic though, begging. “Puh-huh-huh-LEEZE!!! It worked! He parked it right on a perfect perch and posed every which way until he was sure I had the shot. If I was any closer he wouldn’t have fit in the frame. So, if you’re having trouble with skittish birds, try bird begging. It works for me, maybe it’ll work for you too!

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Palm Warbler

Woo hoo! The Palm Warblers are back! The first warbler I ever encountered was a Palm Warbler. I had made the decision earlier that year to actively seek out these amazing little creatures that I had previously only read about. So yeah, I get a little excited about seeing the first Palm Warbler of the year, and the second, and the third, and all the other warblers too!

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Osprey

Hey Ma, tell Pa sorry I put him on hold Saturday morning, but the Osprey I was waiting for, to take flight, finally did and he flew right over my head! Oh and Ma, tell Pa sorry I hung up on him a few minutes later when the Belted Kingfisher flew over! There were a lot of birds flying around at the Celery Bog last weekend.

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Squirrel Sunday

Woodland creatures big and small trembled in fear as the mighty T-Rex stalked its prey. With bone crushing teeth nearly a foot long, this ancient apex predator eats whatever he wants. See, it’s funny because of his tiny T-Rex arms. No? Sigh, okay, here’s a Red Squirrel at the Celery Bog.

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Double-crested Cormorant

Beautiful, amazing, elegant, inspiring. What do these words have in common? They’ve never been used to describe the Double-crested Cormorant. Or, they’ve all been used to describe my photography? Yeah, you’re right, probably the first one. These guys are so unusual looking, both floating and in flight, that it’s hard to look away while your mind tries to process what you’re seeing. And when a dozen fly over at once it’s sensory overload!

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Horned Grebe

It was a beautiful springtime Saturday afternoon so I knew the woods surrounding the Celery Bog would be filled with people. I was looking for Horned Grebes that day though, and I’ve got a super-duper double top-secret grebe spot that I guarantee nobody will- GAH!!! As I stood there in my secret birding spot, surrounded by screaming kids who were busily throwing sticks and rocks and anything that wasn’t tied down, into the water, a tear began to well up in my eye. But then, “Bloop”, a grebe popped up out of nowhere! “Bloop, bloop”, two more! Before long there were a dozen Horned Grebes diving and surfacing with fish right in front of us! It’s a really good grebe spot, just not much of a secret.

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

It seems like just yesterday that I was stuck on bird species photographed #149 at the Celery Bog and wondering when and who was gonna be #150. Well, that would be the Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Come to think of it, it WAS yesterday! Now, when and who is gonna be #151?

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Northern Flicker

“Whatcha’ doin’ muddy flicker face?” Is what I was saying when I realized a group of hikers had snuck up behind me. FYI: the #3 surefire way to be left alone, after talking to yourself and your imaginary friend, is talking to the animals! Be careful when using this technique, however, because photography is difficult in a straight jacket. Trust me.

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Great Egret

I’ve spent years working with Celery Bog birds like this Great Egret so they’d fly by close enough for me and my 400mm lens, but now that I’ve upgraded I’d feel like a jerk asking them to back off a little. So, I’m just not gonna say anything. This is a good problem to have!

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