Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First of the Year Common Nighthawks

I'd head off to Sterling Peat with Alan this evening in an attempt to see the Cliff Swallows Bart and Dave had the evening prior as well as seeing a FOY Common Nighthawk.  Alan would be picking me up and it would be then we'd see about 10 in my yard and fairly low so I'd get my FOY at home and now know where I'll be tomorrow evening with my Pumkin Ale hoping for views just as good.  The photo above is one I got at Sterling Peat today.

We'd get there and run into Jean and her husband Donald and one of the first birds we'd hear was a Greater Yellowlegs flying above which was nice as I'd never see a yellowlegs flying so high in the air before so it was a treat to see them with their honking yellowlegs behind them and couldn't get over how large they appear in the sky with a pair of binoculars on them.  Peter Dunne refers to their flight as "overall angular and gangly with a long pointed bill and (usually) long trailing legs", which was exactly how it appeared.

We'd make our way to the area the Cliff Swallows were last reported and see two Solitary Sandpipers fly in close which was nice to get a good look at them with just the bins.

Digiscoped photo that shows off that gorgeous white eye ring as well as those pretty white spots on the back.

And soon enough we'd be treated to quite a few Common Nighthawks flying above and it would be then I'd be reminded just how difficult it is to photograph the little buggers.  Seriously, I thought taking photos of raptors in flight during hawkwatch season was challenging but it pales in comparison to these birds as their flight is zig zagged and choppy which makes for some challenging photo taking!

And my best photo of them all (same as my cover photo) but wanted to post it again as I loved how I got all of it's field marks in the shot including the white that can be found as the base of the primaries, the throat and end of the  tail.

And in between looking at the nighthawks, shorebirds and herons, we'd keep our eyes to the skies and snags for swallows where we'd see plenty of Barn Swallows, a handful of Tree Swallows but no Cliff Swallows.

Despite not finding any Cliff Swallows it was still nice to watch the sunset at Sterling Peat as it remains one of my favorite places to watch it in Years Past.  I'd also be bummed about not being able to get out there to try for the American Golden Plover as I was out straight with work this morning so couldn't get out of the office to try for it so was hoping Alan would get it in the afternoon when I could have taken a late lunch to try for it as it's a bird I just have to see but sadly it wasn't around of visible when Alan tried for it.  I often look through my bird guide the way many women look at shoe catalogs and ooh and ahh, but I do it with birds instead of shoes and everytime I see this bird my heart skips a beat and my breath pauses to take in its beauty so it's another bird I've been dying to see since I got my first Peterson guide in late 2008, but alas not this time I'm afraid so hoping for a storm to increase the probability! ;-)

Take care all.

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