Welcome to February everyone! Not sure how to feel about that yet. On one hand glad to be past the worst of the Polar Vortex which will hopefully allow me to get off that instrument from hell … the treadmill. On the flip side, I am officially one month closer to the 50K which translates to one notch higher on the stressometer. Oh, it also means the post counter goes back to zero so make that two notches on the stressometer. The best way to keep that under control is to start early and that means not a moment to spare. Let’s go back to the spoils from the Vegas trip last November.
This particular specimen is referred to as a Cinnamon Teal. Not a big stretch to guess how this Teal got its name. Linda and I were nearing the completion of the pond circuit at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve when we noticed an individual pointing above average glass towards the corner of a nearby pond. Talk about a dog whistle for photographers. We slowly made our way over there being very careful not to disturb whatever he was focused on. Eventually I made it to a point where I could see the area of water that was holding his attention. Excitement dimmed just a a bit as his rapid-fire shutter was waving at a Snowy Egret hanging out near the edge of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Egrets are pretty cool, but if there is one sure bet you are going to see at Henderson, it’s a Snowie. Out of courtesy, we hung back until he was satisfied with his shots – not sure he ever knew we were there.
Heeding the golden rule, I did get a few shots of the Snowy just to have it in the collection. On the last snap, something intriguing entered the frame. Dropped the camera away from the eye to get a broader look and immediately commented to Linda “holy crap, that’s a Cinnamon!” Had I been with Ron, I would have seen a significant amount of excitement (can’t remember if he has one of these or not), now with Linda a completely different story… more like an “eh” with undertones of “holy crap he’s going to be here awhile”. To her credit, I had just dragged her all over the preserve which has very little shade.
What she didn’t know is the Cinnamon was not a new bird on the list. I managed to get one in the tin while on a trip to Yellowstone National Park back in May 2013 (link here). This cuts the shoot time by a factor of at least 50%. New +1’s get a lot of extra attention in order to make sure a few decent shots make it back to the digital darkroom. Add in the extra time to really get to know the new bird (how does interact with its own kind, how does it mingle with other species, are there intriguing behavioral nuances. interesting quirks) and you are looking at a serious chunk of time assuming the target is gracious enough to hang around. Usually when that happens, Linda heads back to find something to entertain her. Not the case here, but it is a bird we do not get to see in our parts, so it did warrant taking some time to better the Yellowstone shots.
There is just something cool about birds with red eyes. This drake was probably thinking the same thing about me (sleep is optional in Vegas). Nearing the end of the shots, better get to some interesting tidbits. First off, this bird hangs out in the Western US and down into Central America. This one was likely just passing through as it migrated south for the winter (need to seriously consider that myself). I mentioned this was the male, the female and non-breeding males get the standard gray-brown wash. According to Cornell, the females are rather secretive with their nesting habits, preferring to construct them buried in vegetation providing protection from above as well as the waterline. She then builds tunnels through the vegetation to obscure the access. Clever gal.
That’s all I have for you today. Heading into a short month so expect to see a lot of posts coming early. Think I already have the one for the 14th planned if I can force myself to wait that long before putting it out (one of my new favorite birds). Stay warm everyone we’ve warmed up to 5F now but heading to a high of 25F tomorrow – grab the swimsuit and tanning oil, we’re in a heat wave.