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07 April 2010 @ 07:31 am
A Short Excursion  

Although Easter Sunday was another gorgeous summer-like day, I wasn't able to spend much time outside looking for wildlife to photograph. There were other things I wanted to do while the weather was still nice, including cleaning up my garden and taking my bicycle out for the first time this season. However, there were a few more places I wanted to check out before the weekend was over, so I got up early and went to the Richmond Lagoons. These large ponds are magnets for migrating waterfowl, and after failing to find any new dabbling ducks on March Valley Road, I thought that the lagoons would be a good place to check.

I could hear a few Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers calling when I got out of the car, and saw a couple of robins on the ground searching for food. I had never realized how much they resemble plovers when they forage this way. Like the plovers, robins will run a few feet while hunched over, then suddenly stop and straighten up. A moment later, they'll hunch over and run a few more steps. Of course, they flew away when I started walking toward them.

Brown-headed Cowbird

I followed the path to the first lagoon, eager to see the large flocks of dabbling ducks I assumed would be there....and found nothing. Not a single duck was swimming in the open blue water. I scanned the lagoon with my binoculars, and found a pair of mallards toward the southern edge of the lagoon and four Wood Ducks (three males and a female) at the very back of the lagoon directly across from the entrance. There were no Buffleheads, no Ruddy Ducks, no Blue- or Green-winged Teals, no Northern Shovelers, no Ruddy Ducks, no Northern Pintails. I checked the other two lagoons and didn't even see a Great Blue Heron. However, a couple of Tree Swallows were flying about, and I heard the familiar kill-dee! kill-dee! kill-dee! of a Killdeer shortly before witnessing it fly over. I left the lagoons, but before getting back in the car, I walked down to the edge of the Jock River to see if I could find any of the peepers and Chorus Frogs in the marshy area there. They remained well-hidden, but I was delighted by the arrival of an Eastern Phoebe which darted from tree branch to tree branch, flicking its tail and singing all the while.

Still hoping to find some waterfowl, I drove over to the Moodie Drive quarry ponds. As I was getting out of the car I noticed a few Brown-headed Cowbirds pecking on the gravel on the opposite side of the road. As these were the first ones I'd seen this spring, I paused to take a few pictures before pulling out my spotting scope.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

There were quite a few ducks and Canada Geese at the large quarry pond, but only a couple of species. The only dabbling ducks that I saw were Mallards, and the only diving ducks I noticed were Common Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks, all of which I'd already seen this spring. Disappointed, I left the large pond and started driving back home.

Along the way I noticed a good-sized bird sitting on a wire. I had already driven past it before my brain processed the image and whispered, kingfisher! I turned around, drove back, and pulled over onto the shoulder. Sure enough, it was a Belted Kingfisher, another first of the year. Because of instances like this, I have learned not to second-guess myself when it comes to identifying birds with only a fleeting glance.

Belted Kingfisher

I only managed to take one photo of the photo before he flew off, chattering in annoyance in typical kingfisher fashion. Still, seeing this bird made my morning, and made up for the lack of waterfowl I had set out to see.