How about a post about eagles, that is lacking in pictures of eagles. Well, my friend and I did see eagles, in fact many times we even THOUGHT we were seeing eagles. We were joking that we are terrible birdwatchers and probably should keep quiet when going with the group of experienced birdwatchers with whom we have been traveling. Almost every big bird in the sky we thought was an eagle until we got a better look at it.
We saw osprey on a nest and thought they were eagles.
The little head poking eye level above the nest, glowing big eyes, well not an eagle.
The osprey nest was so expertly constructed and large, we were sure it was an eagle’s nest. Osprey in Niagara County are not experienced craftsbirds in nest-building. Their nests are such a mess, it is amazing they just don’t fall apart.
In Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge the osprey constructed a palace of a nest. So we did not feel too bad thinking we might had found an eagle’s nest. Maybe we were tired, but it was getting so bad that even sticks in the marsh became a bird sighting.
We saw this huge gull that we were unsure (might be a Herring Gull), but at least we did not think it an eagle. It was bigger than all the other gulls in the marsh. A few giant blackbirds (crows maybe) had me fooled for a few seconds. I’m not kidding, they were big. In my defense, the naturalist told me to keep an eye out for the darker juveniles and flying in the sun’s glare… OK, I know this was crazy when I shouted, “eagle”. I recouped my dignity quickly as I raised my binoculars to my face.
We finally did see three eagle’s nests but they were very high in the trees and far in the distance. I guess the welded platform along the road should have been a big clue it was an osprey nest, but hey, it was really big.
When in Doubt, Solicit Help
We whined our eagle woes to a local resident and birdwatcher. Taking pity, he helped us find the eagle nests, one shown below. You can barely see the mother eagle feeding the young. She is in the middle of the nest in front of the center tree limb. At least after seeing this, we were able to spot them.
Having had little luck on our own, we were lucky to meet this kind gentleman. We went to the Refuge on Thursday without our birding friends who were going on Sunday, a day we both had plans. So we did need to meet someone in the know.
Our new friend, the tour guide had us follow him in our car to the eagle nest locations. I have to say it really was exciting seeing the eagles through his scope feeding their young.
I did get a number of terrible photos of a Bald Eagle being chased by a hawk, so I might as well show one for proof. I am not even sure which type of hawk is in pursuit. It looks a little like a light-morph of some type.
See how pale it is? No red tail either.
If you are wondering why there is a Lesser Yellowlegs in this post, that is what I was shooting when we met the birder. He was also viewing them through his scope, then we mentioned our eagle finding dilemma. Lucky we did!
Yes, I can say we had eagles on the brain, but there was so much to see at the Refuge and those birds were equally as interesting. It is not often you see flocks of Tundra Swan and over 10,000 Snow Geese. You cannot imagine what this is like and had we not been with our “tour guide,” we would have missed them too.
Some of the big flocks were on private property and you can tell because a few were on flooded cornfields. The Snow Geese just went on and on in the image below. There was no way to show how far they extended without a tripod to do a panorama.
My friend and I were not too adept at identifying muskrat either. We thought they were beavers. That is a muskrat abode above, and of course we thought it was a beaver house.
We had fun even though we mistook many birds and animals for something else. On the 27th, we go with the birders on another trip to a birding hotspot. We decided to wait and be told what we’re seeing. At least we finally knew these were Northern Pintails and not Long-tailed Ducks below. Score one for the new birders.
Next up… a post looking at Lesser or Greater. A bit more on the introspective side, this post looks at lingering around the marsh. Then we stay serious with, Are You Playing Tourist?, a post looking at images posted. Does it even matter?