Posts tagged “travel

Sweet Briar Lake, North Dakota

Yes, you can hear the trucks in the background from I-94 but that is the only negative thing about this wonderful place.

Driving across country last summer, my husband and I were always on the lookout for nice, clean, free campgrounds.  We found a handful that we remember with fondness and this one tops the list.

Sweet Briar Lake was, I think, create by a dam, and it appears to be a good fishing spot.  But if you care about birds, this place is a bonanza.  From just our little spot overlooking the lake we watched white pelicans, double-crested cormorants and canada geese swim around and generally busy themselves, and heard red-winged blackbirds make their lovely background music.  Most likely a walk around the lake would have resulted in seeing more species but we were more than thrilled to just stay put and enjoy this peaceful display.

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Randall Davey Audubon Center, Santa Fe

My husband and I were a little disappointed about only seeing a couple of birds at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe but we went during the hottest part of the day in early May so we weren’t too surprised.

There were numerous finches at the feeder, a gorgeous hawk moth at some flowers, a squirrel keeping busy digging in the dirt, and an unknown bird foraging in the bushes and parking lot.

What makes this place special are of course the volunteers and the beautiful terrain including the hillside trails, and the gorgeous adobe buildings.  And the awesome bee hotel deserves a mention.  I’d like to go back someday when it’s a little cooler, perhaps in the winter when there are more birds around.


Salida, Colorado: Sands Lake SWA

The second part to the amazing May 2017 birding experience I had in Salida, Colorado was Sands Lake State Wildlife Area.  It consists of Sands Lake and a stretch of the Arkansas River – my husband and I spent about an hour walking the lovely trails and walkway along the river.

The lake has had a lot of effort put into it to be bird friendly.  Two islands naturally create a safe atmosphere for waterbirds like pelicans, geese and ducks.  And at least two nesting platforms have been put up, as well as a handful of (floating?) platforms scattered around the lake.

The most exciting sighting of the day was an American Dipper, a first for me.  And I even managed to get a decent shot of it.

We also saw a yellow-rumped warbler, several yellow warblers, cedar waxwings, and tree swallows in areas along the river and lake.  A memorable sighting was the pair of ospreys, one on a nest and the other perched on a light pole nearby.  Below are the rest of the photos.  Hope you get to visit Salida some day!


Salida, Colorado: Frantz Lake & the Arkansas River

Last summer my husband and I were able to take a 3 month trip from Texas to Alaska.  We spent most of our time in New Mexico and Colorado, in May, and both of those states provided some amazing birding.

Salida, Colorado was a birding bonanza:  Frantz Lake along the Arkansas River and the nearby Sands Lake (in the next post).

Frantz Lake is located on county road 154 near the Mt. Shavano Fish Hatchery.  Google Maps has it listed as “Franz” – a different spelling; I took my spelling from the sign at the lake.

County road 154 is a birding spot in itself.  Mountain bluebirds and tree swallows nest in the birdhouses that have been erected along the road.  Canada geese and mule deer abound.  *Click on the first image below and scroll to the right to view a larger image and see captions.*

Frantz Lake itself is a nice little turquoise-tinted reservoir next to the Arkansas River.  Here I found 2 grebes, a western and a pied-billed, common mergansers, and white-faced ibises (a first!).  Along with Canada geese, blackbirds and mallards.

A little ways away, by the Arkansas River, a red-tailed hawk flew overhead and white-crowned sparrows were foraging and flitting around on the dirt trail.

(Some of these images are sized 1920×1080 so can be used for that size monitor, I kept the copyright small.  I like desktop wallpaper with a lot of blank space so it doesn’t feel cluttered and a couple of these photos work well for that.)

It snowed while we were in Salida in the middle of May – it’s at 7000 feet – but that was the day we were leaving and the sun came out just a bit later, so no harm done.  🙂  Thanks for looking!

 


Wild Turkeys in Hawaii

Wild urkey on the Big Island of Hawaii

There are tons of wild turkeys on the Big Island of Hawaii!  They roam the golf courses and lava rock fields searching for insects, lizards, seeds, berries and anything else that’s edible and relatively small.   It’s a lovely thing to see.

The Wild Turkey evolved in America and was domesticated by Native Americans.  In the early 1500s turkeys domesticated by the Aztecs were taken to Europe and interestingly enough, their descendants were brought back to America by the pilgrims who soon found out their indigenous neighbors were raising them too.

They soon spread to China and in 1788 they were introduced from there to the Hawaiian islands. Over the years, more have been released, whether purposely or not, by ranches and farms and perhaps by people who wanted to hunt them.  Currently you can hunt them on the island along with pheasant, doves, francolin, quail, as well as introduced mammals such as goats, sheep and boar.

Turkeys especially prosper on the Big Island because of it’s dry grassy sloping landscapes, and as you can see, they seem right at home.


An Entwined Zebra Dove

Stage at Ala Moana Mall - Honolulu, HawaiiThe Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu Hawaii is not exactly a birder’s paradise.  If you’ve ever been there Zebra Dove on stage at Ala Moana Mallyou’ve probably seen the stage near the Waikiki side entrance.  On the day of my visit it was draped in red curtains that created a deeply textured vision of color on the floorboards.  Hence the photographs.

Oftentimes birds are there, probably because people feed them.  Mall birds.  Not exactly picturesque herons or majestic bluebirds.  More like zebra doves and rock doves (pigeons).  (Are pigeons, like, flying mall rats?)

But every one of those mall birds are just as worthy and deserving of life as any heron or bluebird.  So it broke my heart when I discovered that this little zebra dove had its legs entangled with some of kind of thread or very thin fibers.  The poor thing managed to walk but its appearance was disheveled, skinny, sickly.  The entanglement was taking its toll.Entwined Zebra Dove  You can see its entwined legs clearly in the silhouette photo on the left (click to enlarge).

I look back at that moment with regret.  I regret that I did not help that bird.  I Zebra Dove on Ala Moana Mall stagecould have found some big gloves and grabbed the bird and cut that twisted piece of twine that was holding it hostage.  That would have at least given it a chance.

As you can see it came right over to me, along with several pigeons, probably looking for a generous person tossing scraps.  It was close enough to me so that I could have done it!

But no, there were no gloves and I am not that gutsy.  Not that spontaneous.  And maybe it’s not a good idea to touch a bird that might be diseased or to take these matters into my own hands.

All I know is, we need to do more for the birds that are affected by our carelessness.

This is what a healthy zebra dove looks like, found right down the street near the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

Zebra Dove in Waikiki


“Planned Pigeonhood” in Waikiki

Pigeons in WaikikiIf you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the beautiful island of Hawaii you’ve probably visited Honolulu.  And if you’ve visited Honolulu that means you’ve probably been to Waikiki.  And if you’ve been to Waikiki that means you’ve seen the pigeons (a.k.a. rock doves).

Lovely birds, as special as any living creature, but not very popular with the tourists.

Hawaii is a common destination for Alaskans in the winter.  With an almost total lack of sunshine from November to February we pledge to ourselves that this winter we are getting out!  Hopefully it happens.  And there is nary a more direct route to full-on sunshine then the quick five or so hours from Anchorage to Honolulu.

Pigeon missing footThe pigeon on the very left is looking pretty mangy (click on the photo to see it larger).  There are so many pigeons in Waikiki, with no natural predators anywhere in sight, that they over breed and become a danger to themselves and people.  The photo on the right shows another pigeon from Waikiki, this one missing a foot and walking around a restaurant hunting for food scraps and somehow managing to avoid being clobbered.

So when I saw this posting by the Human Society about OvoControl, a contraceptive-laced food that property owners can feed pigeons, I was thrilled.  It describes how the manager of The International Marketplace, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Waikiki, chose to take a chance on the product and saw a 60% reduction in pigeons after 12 months. (It costs $9 a day to treat feed/treat 100 pigeons.)

Talk about an ideal non-violent and humane solution!  Maybe this will catch on in communities that are fed up with the overpopulation of this city-loving bird.