Yeah, it’s been a while. Almost 3 months since any blog post. I’ve had rather major issues with Sjogren’s affecting my eyes, to the point that they’ve been so dry that my vision is affected. It’s hard to take bird photos when you can’t see! Thankfully I have some new “scleral lenses” that protect my eyes and keep them lubricated, and more importantly…I can see!
I dusted off the camera and went out for a couple of hours this morning. It was one of those COLD May days that we often seem to get in mid-May. 32 degrees, with a stiff breeze when I left this morning. That actually turned out to be a good thing, because some birds were behaving in a manner that they wouldn’t behave had the weather been warmer. We’ve had a wet spring, and there are a lot of wet fields and flooded ditches, so I was hoping for some shorebirds. Not much luck there, but it was a “birdy” day. Over a flooded grassy field west of Sioux Falls, I first came across a large flock of Black Terns. They’re not a species that seems to like the cold very much, and many were just sitting on the fence posts in the middle of the flooded field. As the sun rose higher and things began to warm about, they started to forage, flapping and dipping over the water periodically. They’ve always been one of my favorite species. With that dark breeding plumage, they’re so unusual compared to any other gull or tern you see around here.
Nearby at a very large grassy field, I was driving by slowly when I heard the familiar metallic tinkling of a singing Bobolink. Then I heard another. And another. The field was alive with Bobolinks, more than I’ve ever seen at one time before. Both males and females were present, but it did seem the males were more prevalent. At one point while I was stopped and looking around with my binoculars, I was able to see 15 male Bobolinks in 4 or 5 scattered little groups. It was a nice sight, given the issues Bobolinks have with loss of habitat around here.
Given that I wasn’t having much luck with shorebirds west of town, I decided to head to the area near Beaver Creek Nature Area, near my hometown of Brandon. It’s got some nice forested pockets, and in mid-May, it’s often alive with migrant songbirds. Warblers are the main attraction for me this time of year, and Beaver Creek didn’t disappoint. I only stayed for about 45 minutes given the cold, but came across a quite a few warblers, including Blackpoll, Black-and-White, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Palm, and Wilson’s Warblers.
A nice morning, and very good to get back in the swing of things!