Wood Lake Digiscoping

So I headed out to do some digiscoping this morning. I didn't care what I would see, I just wanted to be out in some quiet.

I started at Wood Lake Nature Center and found some ducks still in their eclipse plumage. There wasn't too much action at first, I kept scanning the reeds hoping for even a great blue heron in good light. I stood and waited and thought to myself, just wait something interesting will pop up. As soon as I thought it, an adult red-shouldered hawk flew past--very cool, but not digiscopable. Then, a pied-billed grebe popped up out of the water--the closest I've ever been to one. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the grebe. The grebe paused and eyed me warily, I'm sure hoping that I hadn't noticed it mistake in resurfacing so close to a human. I wondered if I could get my camera off the scope and get a photo--it was entirely too close to digiscope. As soon as I moved, it dove back under water.

But, a female goldfinch was preening nearby and I was able to photograph her. I thought it was so cute that she was grasping a leaf for leverage to lean and get access to her wings--cute. I just love those little tiny toes grasping that leaf.

Speaking of goldfinches, Wood Lake has redone some of their gardens and the goldfinches were all over this plan. I'm not sure what it is, I'm going to guess prairie dock, but the finches were all over it. There at least three feeding on the plant in the above photo.

A male cardinal was perched near the finches. Take heart all you people with bald cardinals, here's proof that he feathers do grow back. If you notice, he's missing his crest but it looks like his feather shafts are growing back in. I got a question earlier this summer about a bald cardinal that looked like it had white skin instead of black. I wonder if that person was seeing the pin feathers growing in and not the skin? At a distance, several pin feathers look white. Here's a closer look at this male's head:

Plugs or Rogaine? No, it natural for the feathers to be growing back. Man, that's has to be a little uncomfortable to have a bunch of hard feather shafts emerging from your skin and fluffing out into feathers.

On my way out of the park, I spotted this Droll Yankee Big Top feeder. The bottom dish was supposed to be filled with black oil sunflower, but looked like it was full of grass. I took off the bottom dish and found:

A house finch nest! This is not the first time I've found a house finch nest in this feeder at Wood Lake. A few years ago, there were two nests side by side. One nest was empty and the other had smashed eggs inside. I'm not sure what that was about, was it two males competing for territory? Did the same pair build both nests? Who can say, but let this be a lesson to people who don't fill their feeders--the birds just may nest in them.