Craziness and Flying

I'm in the process of trying to film some videos and in the midst of bird walks, banding, counting ducks, so there's been a lull in blogging.  Hopefully, I'll have some video snippets up tonight--or at least a photo of a purple finch!  Meanwhile, if you are not faint of heart, check out this link to a photo of some sort of mantis that has captured a hummingbird.  Not the first time this has happened or is this sort of thing just an insect related event, arachnids get in on bird eating too, but certainly one of the most in focus photos of such an event. lake pepin

Meanwhile, I have started a new project for the park service--counting ducks along the upper Mississippi River from a small plane.  I have a fear of flying, but it stems more from feeling a lack of control from not being able to watch what the pilot is doing.  In a small twin engine, I'm right there with him, helping him watch for aerial hazards as we fly below 500 feet to id waterfowl.  We were so low, as we passed boaters on Lake Pepin, they would wave and we would wave back.  I also had to giggle, I kept having the soundtrack from Wings playing in my head the whole time.


Not too many ducks moving through, but we saw TONS of American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, and ring-billed gulls.  It's the weirdest experience, I'm considered part of the flight crew for this and part of duties include pointing out potential hazards like towers, wires, and oh hey, five turkey vultures right overhead.  Our pilot is awesome and I'm looking forward to watching the the change in waterfowl along this stretch of river.  So, species we saw this week:

Trumpeter swans (about a dozen), Canada geese (lots), mallards (lots), pintail (few), green-winged teal (few), great blue herons (some), great egrets (flocks gathering for migration), bald eagles (overheard the pilot say, "We get out of our way for them, they don't get out of our way."), coot (a few), pelicans (tons), and cormorants (tons).