27 July 2009

Kansas - 27 July 2009

We enjoyed a quick trip down to central Kansas over the weekend for a wedding. But for those of you who know me, you ought not be surprised to find that I kept my eye out for birds here and there as well. :-)

Just around the town of Hutchinson, there were dozens of egrets, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and even several Mississippi Kites. Here is a GREAT EGRET:

Stopping briefly in NE Kansas on our way back, we saw a few other things that we wouldn't normally find in Iowa. Things like BEWICK'S WRENS and PAINTED BUNTINGS. Although it kept mostly hidden and in the shade, here is a Painted Bunting:

19 July 2009

Caspians - 19 July 2009

Well, here is another post today!

I took a quick spin around Ada Hayden Park here in Story county.

The highlight were 3 CASPIAN TERNS that continuously squawked as they fished the lake. They were kept company by a half-dozen FRANKLIN'S GULLS. Caspian Tern is a very uncommon summer bird here in Story county (away from the big reservoirs/lakes). Here is one of the 3 terns:

Dragonflies, etc - 19 July 2009

Although I don't have many bird photos since last weekend, I thought I'd still write a quick update with some other random things....

First, I've been doing a little Breeding Bird Atlas work over the last couple days. Some things I consider interesting here in central Iowa included:

Willow Flycatcher (1)
Wood Thrush (2)
Least Flycatcher (1)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (1)
Bell's Vireo (5-6)

Secondly, I've photographed a few dragonflies over the past week. Below is a male Blue Dasher:

And this oddly-proportioned dragonfly is an Eastern Amberwing:

13 July 2009

Butterflies, etc - 13 July 2009

I decided to venture out in search of butterflies this afternoon. First I went to Brookside Park in Ames. Instead of finding butterflies (I only saw ONE the whole time), I was surprised to find a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER singing away along the creek. The only other singing birds were Red-eyed Vireos! At this point, I'm not sure if YTWA's nested there this summer? Pretty cool to have in town!

I later went to Ada Hayden Park in north Ames to continue my search for butterflies. In addition to a few birds like Sedge Wren and Orchard Orioles, butterflies were definitely out-and-about. Below is a BRONZE COPPER:

Another species that finally perched for me included a BLACK SWALLOWTAIL:

Also, I found another GRAY COPPER, albeit a rather dinged up individual:

Switching gears slightly to dragonflies, I also snapped a picture of a RED SADDLEBAGS:

And yes, lets not forget birds! Here is a male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD waiting to feed its chicks:

11 July 2009

NE Iowa - 11 July 2009

Ashley and I recently spent a day up in northeastern Iowa doing a little birding, etc.

Our highlights included 10 warbler species and a nice change of scenery!

One highlight in particular was exciting for me considering I hadn't seen this species in close to 10 years! Below are a couple pictures of a skulky (and difficult to photograph!) KENTUCKY WARBLER:

Another highlight included finding several CERULEAN WARBLERS:

Much more common than the previous 2 species, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS were findable throughout the stay:

And lastly, ever try to track down a singing WOOD THRUSH and get a picture? It took me a while!

Some of the other highlights from the trip included:

Louisiana Waterthrush (2)
Yellow-throated Warbler (4)
Prothonotary Warbler (2)
Veery (1)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (3+, including a confirmed breeding pair!)

08 July 2009

Mottled Duck - 8 July 2009

I went down to Saylorville this afternoon to chase a MOTTLED DUCK reported by Steve Dinsmore. Getting there around 2:30 PM, it didn't take long to find the suspected bird. At the distance I was at and with the afternoon heat shimmer getting worse, it was quite difficult to photograph. Here are 2 less-than-ideal photographs, neither records-committee worthy I fear:

If accepted, this would represent Iowa's 2nd state record of Mottled Duck. The first state record was found 3 years ago almost to the day. What's more bizzare, todays bird was nearly in the same location as the 1st state record!

This bird was still present when I left around 3:30 PM.

Least Bittern - 7 July 2009

One of my target species here in Iowa over the last couple days has been LEAST BITTERN. I had started thinking about it and realized I hadn't seen this secretive species in over 5 years!

Ashley and I headed to Snake Creek Marsh in Greene County and were not disappointed. Here are a few pictures from the venture:

07 July 2009

Ledges - 7 July 2009

Having not spent much time in Iowa during the summer months, I hadn't seen several of the breeding warblers here in central Iowa. Today we went over to Ledges State Park to see if we could find Yellow-throated Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes.

Shortly after arriving, we tracked down this LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH about 100 meters upstream from the first bridge:

It didn't take long before we heard several YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS in the sycamores along the stream. Overall, it was a very cool area!

Some other species we had at Ledges SP included:
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Parula
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Wood Thrush
Great Crested Flycatcher
6 species of woodpeckers

Not a bird but still stunning none the less, I snapped a quick picture of this Jewelwing:

I also couldn't help myself from snapping a few butterflies. Here is a Little Wood-Satyr:

...and a Common Wood-Nymph:

We also stopped a couple miles south of my house and had this cooperative BELL's VIREO:

05 July 2009

Weekend - 5 July 2009

Spending the weekend in southeast Iowa and northeast Missouri, Ashley and I had a chance to stop a few places that we don't usually get to. Below are several butterflies we encountered in Lee County, Iowa.

First is a Little Wood-Satyr. I'm no expert, but this looks to be the "Viola's" form. Any thoughts? Is the Viola's form expected in Iowa?

No one can complain with Red-spotted Purple's flying around either:

It was a good morning for Emperors as well. This is a Tawny Emperor (it later flew up and even landed on Ashleys arm):

And here is a Hackberry Emperor:

Perhaps one of the dullest species encountered today, this is a Horace's Duskywing:

Definitely one of the more noticeable species this morning were the Great Spangled Fritillaries. Here is one of the many we saw:

Turning to birds, southeast Iowa has great habitat for a variety of southern species. We had several species that we hadn't seen in central Iowa yet. Things like Wood Thrush, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Worm-eating Warbler. For example, here is a (bad) picture of an Acadian Flycatcher:

Another species we were after was the Hooded Warbler. We found a couple:

And lastly for this batch of photos, even a Scarlet Tanager came in for a closer look this morning:

02 July 2009

Back in Iowa - 2 Jul. 2009

It's been enjoyable back here in central Iowa the past couple days. Today Ash and I took a brief drive & stroll and found a few things to snap pictures of.

First is a Pearl Crescent, a very common butterfly:

New to my limited experience, we also saw many Least Skippers, a very weak-flying butterfly:

I was very pleased to finally come across a Gray Copper. This is an uncommon and local species of grasslands, etc:

Turning to birds, it had been over a year since I had heard/seen a Henslow's Sparrow. We tracked down several singing adults and I was able to snap a couple distant shots of one:

And although not uncommon at all, I still decided to snap a couple of this Tree Swallow since it decided to sit still:

Overall, it was a fun morning. Recently returning from western Nebraska, I was happy to see other grassland species such as Dickcissels, Sedge Wrens, Bobolinks, etc...