Yesterday, I woke up to 50 degrees and heavy rain. Today, I woke up to -4, but at least it was sunny.
This entry is going to have a combination of photo from both Clay Taylor and myself. Clay is playing with some mad new digiscopin' skillz. For example, he took the above photo using a Pentax K100 attached to a straight angled Swarovski scope and he hand held the whole system!
Clay even tried this technique while leading one of the river boat tours at the Connecticut Audubon Bald Eagle Fest and got the above photo of a rough-legged hawk.
I love this shot of the rough-legged hawk while it's in mid-hover, intently searching the ground for some unsuspecting small mammal. What a cool looking hawk. There were three hanging around on the Connecticut River--two light ones like the birds in these photos--and one dark morph.
Here are some great cormorants that Clay got on the boat--note how birds are still roosting despite the Nixalite placed on the rails? Birds always find away around that stuff.
So, I was haning out at the Swarovski booth for the festival, but the added bonus for me was being next to one of my favorite bird photographers--Jim Zipp (the dude with the beard on the left--that's Clay in the back in the green coat and hat). If you have any bird magazine subscriptions, you have more than likely seen some of Jim's work. As a matter of act, his blackpoll warbler is on the cover of the current issue of WildBird Magazine.
The temps Saturday and Sunday were in the twenties and thirties in Connecticut and if you combine that with being right on the river and standing in one spot all day--it gets chilly. But I get spoiled rotten with Swarovski. Clay and his wife Debbie have a heater that keeps the booth (and our feet toasty). This year there was even power in the booth, so we brought a hot pot and had hot tea and hot chocolate (I had some powdered miso soup and sipped on that). Combine that with the fresh waffles Clay make in the morning and the spaghetti dinner Debbie made at night, I was a well fed booth worker.
There are no shortage of characters at the eagle festival, here's a lady sporting a moose hat--I bet her head was nice and warm. She was tame compared to the woman who walked by wearing a fur coat dyed bright neon yellow toting a tiny dog with a light green fur trimmed dress. Another highight at the festival was getting to meet MsGeek--a blog reader and commenter--it's always fun to meet a blog reader face to face.
Taking photos of this ring-billed gull, I was reminded of my Dunkin Donut heartbreak of last year--none of the DDs in Connecticut make the creme filled donut that I used to get when I was a kid. We tried another DD and no, the vanilla creme donut was not available. Sigh.
I did see one interesting ring-billed gull feeding along the Connecticut River. It was a juvenile bird and had red patagial tags (I wasn't able to get a photo). The bird was far out and I thought I could read the number 41 on the tags. I can't find any info on tagged ring-bills apart from a study on gulls in Chicago--they may have to start sort of population control of the gulls. However, those birds don't have numbers on their tags. I emailed the Bird Banding Lab and am still waiting to hear if they know of anyone tagging gulls.
Speaking of tagged birds, when I was going through Clay's photos, I noticed one of the adult eagles had bands on both feet. Here's a closer photo:
See the tags?
We may not have see great numbers of eagles at this festival, but there were a couple of nests across from where the optics booths were set up. The nest in the upper right corner is the original nest--the male flew up at one point to feed. The nest in the lower left corner is the newer active nest. If you look close at the above photo, you can see a small speck of white--that's the female incubating some eggs.
Right next to the booths was the Connecticut River Museum. We ended up purchasing a day pass to the museum so we could use the restroom. There were port a potties in the parking lot, but when you're working out in the cold all day, that's really the last thing you want. The museum had volunteers stationed all over and were very strict about non paying members using the restroom. And at $4, it was worth it to have an all day pass for a warm restroom. I took a few moments to check out the actual museum and they had a cool HO train set on display on the top floor.
The best part of the display was the camera train. One of the cars had a remote live feed video camera that would transmit its signal to a tv, so you could see the minature town from the toy train's perspective--it was really, really cool. I could have spent hours watching this. Alas, I could see myself really getting into this hobby if I didn't have twenty million other things occupying my time at the moment. Life is just too full of fascinating projects and places to go.
And I wrap up this entry with one final photo of the really cool rough-legged hawk. Thanks, Clay, for the use of your images.