Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Peregrine Falcon Nest Box at LG&E

LG&E's Mill Creek Station in southwest Jefferson County is home to a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons.  They have a live feed of the nest where you can watch the family grow.  There are four chicks that hatched out in the beginning of April and they are growing fast. Be sure to check it out before they get big enough to fly out.  The nest can be viewed at http://www.lge-ku.com/falcon/.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Western Grebe In Louisville Area

Last week I was checking my BirdKY and IN-bird (sorry, I can't seem to find a link for this one) emails, and saw on both lists that a Western Grebe was being seen at the Jeffersonville, Indiana waterfront overlook! I went down there to catch a glimpse. Afterall, this could be my only chance to see one of these guys! Even when I went out west a few years ago, I didn't see one!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

Here he has his foot up out of the water. A very unusual looking foot, I must say! Kind of reminds me of an American Coot foot!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

 In this shot, he looks to be waving at us with his foot! He did this several times, I suppose he's just stretching!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

He opened his mouth like this several times, but honestly I didn't hear anything. Maybe just a yawn!

Western Grebe
Western Grebe

As of yesterday it was reported to still be in the area! When you click on one of my pictures you will find a map on my flickr site! I hope you all get a chance to see this rarity!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Unusual Ducks On The Ohio River

I have been reading reports on BirdKY of a White-winged Scoter hanging out on the Ohio River near the Jeffersonville, Indiana waterfront! I went down there in hopes of catching a glimpse of him/her. I was not disappointed, it was floating very close to the shore. I have seen various Scoters on the Ohio River in past winters, but I have never seen one so close to the shore. Usually, they are way out in the middle and not easy to get a picture of. 

White-winged Scoter by Karen Bonsell
Immature White-Winged Scoter

White-winged Scoters typically winter along the coastal waters and eastern Great Lakes. Every once in awhile they will stray further inland, and that's when we get a chance to see them in our area!

White-winged Scoter by Karen Bonsell
Immature White-Winged Scoter

There were also several other ducks in the area. There was a raft of about 9 Lesser Scaups, one female Ring-necked Duck and many Ring-billed Gulls!

Ring-necked Duck (female)
Female Ring-necked Duck

Scaup (?Lesser) (female & male)
Lesser Scaups (female on left & male on right)

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-Billed Gull

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Snow and an Old Rock Wall

There is an old rock wall at the back of my property... along with a barbed wire fence to keep my neighbors cows off my property. I decided to venture outside after some new snow to capture this beautiful old rock wall and I found something new! FERNS! I hadn't noticed them before... Freelensing rock wall with fern

 Everything looks so pretty with a blanket of snow on it...

 barbed wire + rock wall fence

Moss and snow covered Farm Rock Wall

I'm thrilled with my new little find of something else to photograph... that is apparently hardy in the winter. So, bundle up and go out and explore nature... see what you can find!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix Instant

If you have already watched every episode of Breaking Bad or the Office on Netflix instant and are running out of things to watch, try one (or all) of these nature documentaries.  There are many good documentaries to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites available on Netflix instant.  Here I will rate five recent films I have watched and let you know why you should watch them too.

The Life of Birds - 4.5/5

The Life of Birds is the gold standard when it comes to nature documentaries.  The ten episode series is written and narrated by David Attenborough, the man behind many great nature documentaries produced by the BBC and whose career spans 60 years.  The series gives an in depth look at every aspects of bird life; from different forms of flight to beak adaptations, from bird communication to the rearing of young.  Every episode is full of great examples of the divergence of bird adaptations and gives great insight into how and why these birds developed their specific traits.  The only reason this series doesn't get a 5/5 is because the filmography is a bit dated.  The series was recorded in 1998 so the quality isn't as good as some of the other series on the list.  That being said, the camera angles and up-close shots of bird behavior more than make up for the lack of high definition.  It would be great to see this series filmed again with today's technology.

Yellowstone: Battle for Life - 5/5

This three episode series by the BBC explores three seasons in Yellowstone National Park: summer, fall, and winter.  The series follows several different species through a year in the park and shows how they adapt to the extreme environments in Yellowstone.  We get to see all different kinds of interesting animal behavior, like American Dippers making their nests behind waterfalls and wolves hunting bison and fighting eagles over carrion.  Where this series really shines is the cinematography.  It is breathtaking.  In 1080p you get to see amazing details, so much so that you feel like you are experiencing it first hand.  Do yourself a favor and watch this amazing series.

Nature: Birds of the Gods - 4/5

Another David Attenborough narrated documentary, this film focuses on the Birds of Paradaise that live in the New Guinea rainforests.  Produced by PBS for its popular Nature series, this hour-long documentary investigates the many different species of Birds of Paradise and their amazing courtship displays.  We follow New Guinea researchers as they attempt to assess the bird populations and capture every species mating displays.  These secretive birds live amazing lives and are notoriously difficult to find and film.  This documentary does an amazing job at finding several species and gives great background information on their habits, evolution, and how females chose mates based on their intricate dances.

Ghost Bird - 3.5/5

This documentary is slightly different than the rest in that it looks at us, humans, and how we react emotionally and scientifically to the supposed rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  Do you can remember back to 2005 when the Cornell Lab of Ornithology claimed they had found evidence of a previously extinct bird the Ivory-billed Woodpecker?  The "rediscovery" was a worldwide story and brought hope that previously thought extinct animals could still be surviving under the radar and under our noses.  As we have come to know since then, the "rediscovery" may have been premature as no solid evidence since has been found and the original evidence has been called into question.  This documentary does a great job showing how different groups of people react to the news of the birds discovery and subsequent questioning of it.  This film could have easily warranted a 5/5 review, but in my opinion was much too long.  I felt like they wrapped up the story nicely and when I thought it was going to end it just kept on going.  A lot of the footage could have been left on the editing room floor and I feel they missed their chance to make a succinct, compelling documentary by letting it run too long.

Nature: Braving Iraq - 3/5

Another film by PBS's Nature series, this documentary looks at rebuilding wetlands in Iraq and the struggles the Iraqi people face in trying to rebuild the environment in the middle of a war zone.  A compelling subject to be sure, this documentary misses some opportunities to be better as they focus too much on their struggles of filming the documentary instead of the subject itself, Iraq's wetlands.  In an effort to eradicate Iraq's Marsh Arabs, Saddam Hussein drained much of Iraq's great wetlands that form at the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as they enter the sea.  After Saddams' fall, an Iraqi-American engineer attempts to restore the wetlands, wildlife, and a way of life for the Marsh Arabs.  The scenes showing the difference between the drained deserts and restores wetlands are amazing, as are the scenes depicting the fragile government and human conflicts that make tackling such a large project so difficult in a country being torn apart.  Less interesting is the filmmakers filming of themselves and the hard time they had making the documentary.  If they had focused on the subject more, which is so interesting and compelling, and less on themselves, the film could have been much better.  That being said, it was still great to see a part of Iraq few people know about and how healing nature can help to heal a country.

Have you found any good nature documentaries on Netflix?  If so let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Backyard Birding

Today turned out to be a huge day in my backyard! With the falling temperatures in the Louisville area, the birds had to find food and water! I decided to buy a birdbath heater this year, and I'm glad I did. It has performed very well thus far. This morning it was nine degrees, and although a great deal of it did freeze, there was a small area around the heating element that was open water. The birds really responded! I think they appreciated some fresh, non frozen water to drink!

Northern Cardinal by Karen Bonsell
Northern Cardinal (female)

What are you lookin at? (European Starling)
European Starling

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

I happened to notice a very small bird very high in my Maple tree. When I got a closer look, I could see it was a Golden-crowned Kinglet! This photo is somewhat blurry, but it gives you an idea of what he looks like. He also moves around very fast and erratically. I believe he was coming to the Maple tree to drink sap that was seeping out of the branches. He would come to the Maple for a few minutes then fly off to a pine tree in the neighbors yard! He did this several times throughout the day! 
Golden-crowned Kinglet by Karen Bonsell
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Another highlight from the day was the Red-breasted Nuthatch! These guys don't usually come this far south, but with the finch irruption this winter, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, though not a finch, is also a species on the move. I started seeing him in late fall and haven't seen him very often since, but it is my guess that he needed to find another food source with the cold temperatures. 
Red-breasted Nuthatch by Karen Bonsell
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch by Karen Bonsell
Red-breasted Nuthatch
A female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker spent most of the day in the Maple tree drilling sap wells. When another woodpecker would come near, she would chase him off. She didn't seem to mind other birds though. There were many birds and squirrels drinking from these sap wells, including the Red-breasted Nuthatch in the photo below the Sapsucker photo. 
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker by Karen Bonsell
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Red-breasted Nuthatch by Karen Bonsell
Red-breasted Nuthatch drinking from sap wells

I have been having a Pine Warbler visiting my feeders since early December. I didn't know what it was for a long time, but I showed the pictures to some of the members of Beckham Bird Club and they felt it was a Pine Warbler. This is a rare bird to be in this area at this time of year. Most Warblers migrate to Central or South America! I am noticing that I usually only see him when it's very cold or very rainy. This makes sense to me, as Warblers tend to mainly eat insects. He seems to like the suet and the black oil sunflower seed!
If you would like to see some of my other pictures of the Pine Warbler, click here. 
Pine Warbler by Karen Bonsell
Pine Warbler

I ended up seeing 23 different species in my yard today!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Long-Tailed Duck on the Ohio River

This morning I joined in on a field trip with the Beckham Bird Club to Garvin Brown Preserve. Since Garvin Brown did not turn out to be very productive, we headed down river to Cox's Park. While we were there we spotted a solitary duck in the water near the bank.

Long-Tailed Duck by Karen Bonsell
Long-tailed Duck (immature male)

It turned out to be a Long-tailed Duck! According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this duck breeds in the Arctic and winters along the coasts of North America. So it is a pretty rare finding in the Louisville area!

Long-Tailed Duck by Karen Bonsell
Long-tailed Duck (immature male)

I got a chance to observe first hand the "rare bird alert" process. Calls were made, and next thing you know, several more people were there to observe this beautiful duck! It was a pretty amazing day!

Long-Tailed Duck by Karen Bonsell
Long-tailed Duck (immature male)

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