Friday Banding & Birding

It was jam packed at Carpenter Nature Center banding on Friday. It was the day after Thanksgiving and many people stopped by--including a hilarious 4 year old named Dylan. She kept asking to band a bird herself. I was doing a junco when she came to me and said, "I was going to do that one!"

I asked if she took the banding class. She looked to the side and back at me and said, "Yes." Can't blame a girl for trying. My favorite part was a the end of the morning, she was leaving and we said, "Bye, Dylan, it was nice to meet you," and she replied, "Yes, it was."

The big excitement of the day was getting one of the oodles of pine siskins around the Twin Cities. Tom Bell banded this bird and he noted how fine their bills are--perfect for going into those thin slits on finch feeders.

The yellow is subtle on these little birds, mostly in the edging on the primary wing feathers and the tail feathers. I don't think we were able to determine the sex of this bird, but we did determine that it was a hatch year bird.

Ecobirder was also there, he's going to help Carpenter a bit with their website. When we were finished, I drove over to Douglas Point and found him taking photos. I left him peace, I know how I am when I get in a good groove. The weather was so warm, it was 40 degrees that I decided to go for a bike ride when I came home.

I decided to go over to Lake Calhoun to see if I could get a photo of the long-tailed duck in better light. Plus, I've been curious if I could take my whole digiscoping setup with me on my bike. Non Birding Bill and I were both feeling the effects of eating too much and he also joined me for the ride (as long as I promised not to spend an hour trying to get the perfect photo of a duck).

The light was awesome and waterfowl like Canada geese and hooded mergansers were up close...but not the long-tailed duck, it was WAAAY out on the lake and not worth digiscoping.

The light was so perfect that I hated to waste it and took a few photos of geese. I could hear joggers behind me say, "Why would you want to take photos of those ducks?" I wanted to turn around and point out the scaup and goldeneyes and say there's more out there than just mallards and geese, but did not. And of course, since I was birding in a public place, someone came up to me and said, "Hey, is that bald eagle still over there?"

"I don't know," I said, "I'm not looking for that."

"It was over on the north side, in that tree, the lighter one on the left there." He paused and I could tell by the look in his eye that he was waiting for me to move my scope on it. The eagle was out further than the long-tailed duck. I was not on the clock and I was focusing on a shoveler, I didn't move my scope.

"It's right over there," he pointed. "I saw it when I was jogging over there. It was just sitting there."

"That's awesome," I said, "I'm glad you got to see that." I could see NBB in my peripheral vision over by our bikes. He was grinning that someone was pointing out an eagle yet again when I'm after something else.

I showed him the shoveler in my scope and he showed about as much interest in the northern shoveler as I was in his eagle. I explained about the long-tailed duck and he seemed even less interested in that. Finally, he moved on.

It was fun to squeeze in another bike ride in early winter and it was fun to look at the waterfowl and I was only a tiny bit bummed at missing a good photo of the long-tailed duck. When I checked my email this morning I found this report from yesterday about the long-tailed duck from local birder Terry Brashear:

"The Long-tailed Duck was seen at 2PM close to the west shore, but an adult Bald Eagle came by and the group of Hooded Merganser and Common Goldeneye it was with took flight. It spent the remainder of the day out in the middle of Lake Calhoun till I left at 3:30PM."

Which was about the time NBB and I were biking around the lake. That stupid bald eagle that dude was trying to point out is the one that moved the duck so far to the center of the lake.

I'm shaking my fist at that bald eagle and saying in a tone like a villain at the end of a Scooby Doo cartoon, "I would have gotten that photo too if hadn't been for that meddling eagle."