Thursday, May 16, 2013

A new pet and more birds

Michaela and Danielle have repeatedly asked to get a horse and farm when we move. Christine and I have been unsuccessful in changing their minds, instead we've attempted to redirect with promise of a Beta fish. 

After a busy week I had the entire day to spend with Danielle.  I slept in her bed and watched cartoons in the morning and brought her to return keys and credit card at work one last time.  

Afterwards we stopped at a favorite birding location and happened upon 6 Cattle Egrets. I did not have my scope with at the time, so I quickly took identifying pictures and turned the Jeep around. To our pleasant surprise there was a 7th cattle egret that was right along the road on the way out. Of course we stopped for pictures. Our favorite photo was when it shook its feathers and appeared as a fluff ball. This was the first time Danielle or Christine had seen a Cattle Egret and they both thought it was extremely cute. So much so, that Danielle decided it would be fun to have one for a pet. I was elated to hear anything other than a horse, but this option didn't sound better and somehow we morphed Danielle's two pet requests into a flying horse.  Christine and I both agreed that if she could find a flying horse we would work something out as a pet.

With this close encounter finished my desire to observe the other 6 egrets in a scope waned and we made alternative plans for the rest of the day. We checked other birding location for shorebirds before returning to the cattle egrets.  Danielle was very interested in looking at the birds today, so I set the scope up at its lowest level and let her find them.  She identified a red-winged blackbird, duck (mallard), and something else (coot) for me after I started her off on a Great Blue Heron. Christine snapped this picture below on our walk back to the Jeep.  

We picked Michaela up from school and told her we had plans this afternoon as a family.

First we stopped by the golf course driving range and hit a bucket of balls. A junior golf bag just for the girls clubs was a hit, but neither girl seemed interested in hitting or putting in the heat. Next we went shopping for a picnic. The girls picked out fruit, sandwiches, chips, and drink. We had an early supper at Farmer's Park in Stockton. Rough-winged swallows appeared to be nesting in the old railway bridge and kindly posed for a few snapshots. I even took a nap while the girls played and we all returned home tired for bed.

This past week I've spent a fair amount of time out birding.  The woods are loaded with migrating Warblers and I suspect I'll try to get out in the coming days as much as possible. Earlier Christine and I observed this Great Egret struggle with his meal.  

On Wednesday I road with three excellent birders for a county big day. We tried to tally as many different species of birds within Houston county in one day.  We started at 1:30 in the morning and ended at 9 at night, finding 155 different birds along the way.  It was the first time I have done anything of the sort and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I found it particularly awesome asking the other guys about different sounds during the dawn chorus as birding at that time of day was almost completely by ear.

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