28 June 2010

Banded Hairstreak

Just after complaining about not seeing many hairstreaks, I stumbled on this BANDED HAIRSTREAK. To rub it in... I found it right here in my urban neighborhood! Oh well.

27 June 2010

Back in IA

Since we've been back in Iowa, most of our time has been spent unpacking and trying to acclimate ourselves to the humidity of the midwest! Although most of my time will be spent indoors writing and doing analyses, I've managed to sneak outside a time or two. Target? Butterflies.

Recently at Doolittle Prairie in Story County, we came across a few things to snap pictures of. That includes this GORGONE CHECKERSPOT:


Perhaps our "best find" was this lone GRAY COPPER:

On the other side of the spectrum, there were no shortages of PEARL CRESCENTS:

Even some woodland species, like this QUESTION MARK, were out in the open, perching on the road:

19 June 2010

WCSP etc.

I'm not sure how reportable it is, but I was surprised to kick up a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW north of the refuge yesterday. As I understand it, summer records aren't too easy to come by in Nebraska:

About a mile down the road from the sparrow was a CASSIN'S KINGBIRD! This was my first for the county. Both of these birds were just north of Crescent Lake NWR along Rd. 181.

I have continued to find CASSIN'S SPARROWS lately as well. At the latest, I've heard at least 4 singing south of Crescent Lake NWR. Keep your ears peeled, a couple of them can be heard from "the" public road.

Lastly, I've seen many more DICKCISSELS here in Garden County this year compared to the last two. Is this an artifact of the wetter season we've been having?

17 June 2010

Crane, egret, etc

Despite the curlew season quickly coming to a close, a few new species showed up around Crescent Lake NWR recently!

First was a SANDHILL CRANE that Ashley initially spotted down by Crescent Lake proper. This was the first summering crane that I've ever seen in the area:

The same day, this SNOWY EGRET was also at Crescent Lake proper:

Once you start spending your days out in the Sandhills, it doesn't take long to become fascinated in all of the crazy creatures you come across. For example, these giant crickets have long intrigued me. Someone said they're called CAMEL CRICKETS. Can anyone confirm this?

The severe weather here always keeps us on our toes. For example, just yesterday we had another hail storm (our 4th this season)! We were out looking for curlews when we spotted several thin funnels forming here and there. Unfortunately, they weren't powerful and they didn't last long. Here is a bad picture of one of them:

Widely considered the rarest plant in Nebraska, we are lucky to be doing research alongside BLOWOUT PENSTEMON, a plant of the sandy blowouts present in this part of the state:

In closing, here are a couple pictures of a pronghorn fawn:

14 June 2010

Return of YTVI, etc

While I was watching an interesting empid at the refuge (see previous post), I was surprised to see this bird pop into view! This YELLOW-THROATED VIREO is NOT a common bird for western Nebraska. In fact, I found what I think is the first county record for this species about 25 days before this sighting. No, I couldn't tell if it's the same bird, unfortunately:

Another quirky species that blew in with the recent storm was this ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. June 12 is getting pretty darn late for this species in Nebraska. Also, this particular bird was REALLY skulky; much more secretive than I've ever witnessed an OCWA being before:

The last obvious bird that "blew in" with the storm was this YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. Interestingly, this is the first "Myrtle" that I've seen in several weeks whereas "Audubon's" have come and gone more recently:


I thought I'd post a series of pictures of a particular empid from the refuge.

I believe this is a good candidate for CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER. Any thoughts?

And no, I never did hear it vocalize. Must I leave this as "Western" because of the very slim possibility it's a Pacific-slope Flycatcher??? And yes, Cordilleran Flycatchers breed here in Nebraska, btw. However, this was my first ever COFL candidate for the refuge (which sits a bit south and a bit east of where this species breeds).

08 June 2010

Flycatcher madness

Well, ok, not really "madness", but I have been pleased to find both a singing ALDER FLYCATCHER and a singing WILLOW FLYCATCHER at the refuge over the last week. Here is the WIFL that was singing this morning:

It definitely wasn't on my "radar", but this RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH was an early-June visitor to the tall pine in the cedar patch:

Some of the mornings here lately have been on the cool side. This WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE was warming itself up:

Digressing from birds a little... I'm a big fan of the open skies here in western Nebraska. When the storms start to form, you'll be guaranteed some nice views eventually:

Digressing even more... Joel (who was visiting the project) and I stumbled on this Painted Turtle. You'll notice the notches in its carapace. Well, this marked turtle was captured many years ago by Dr. John Iverson (who has been doing turtle research here for nearly 30 years). The neat thing about this particular turtle is the fact that we found it over 3-4 miles from where it's been found in the past. Dispersal in action? Or did someone pick the turtle up and dump it somewhere else on purpose?

One word: VICTORY

03 June 2010

Cassin's Sparrows, etc

The birding at CLNWR has all but slowed to a standstill. Although it is June already, I was lucky to have a couple new birds for the season.

We had our first CASSIN'S SPARROW of the season back on 2 JUNE. This date is one day earlier than my previous early date. Unlike sightings in previous years, this bird seemed to be preferring a sandsage/grass habitat. Previously, I had CASP's only in yucca-dominated grasslands.

A first for the refuge for me, we also had a couple CALIFORNIA GULLS up at Goose Lake. I thought this species would eventually show up... but I think it was a lack of effort on my part instead that kept this bird off my lists the previous 2 summers.

A GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER continues to hang out around the headquarters. In fact, I took this picture from my porch:

I got excited when I saw this hairstreak sitting open-winged out on some sage the other evening. However, it's just the "common" GRAY HAIRSTREAK. So much for a wierd, sage-specialist: