There are several birds at the Bottoms right now that are just stunning. My friends, Dodge and Lorna Engleman from Salina and San Antonio are here for their annual visit. They are world-class birding experts and travel internationally several times per year to see new birds in their natural environment. It is always a special treat for them to stop by. Their efforts in conservation and habitat preservation are inspiring to all of us.
Dodge and I surveyed the Bottoms and found several birds that we thought were somewhat unusual. We saw Redhead and Ruddy ducks. There were Yellow Legs and some larger sandpipers that must already be on their way back south after breeding up north. It seems early for the fall migration to be starting. There are lots of pelicans and cormorants. Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds are numerous. Dickcissels cheerfully sing as we traveled around the area.
The two birds that make me pause to give thanks today are the Forster’s Tern and the Black-crowned Night Heron. There are birds-- and then there are birds. The grace and agility of all the terns (Black Terns are also a show stopper) is almost magic to watch. They swoop the water and pick up small fish and celebrate with acrobatics that make photography a real challenge. It is ballet in the air. Night herons (Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned) are shy and also difficult to capture in action. I spent about a hour and got about 200 shots of the terns-- maybe 10 will be good enough to share with you.
A good picture of a flying bird requires a camera with a fast shutter speed and a relatively fast automatic focus to get a crisp image. Ideally, the eye of the bird should be in sharp focus. It isn’t real easy to do. I have considered taking up video with the still images, but I can’t put that in the Tribune. You will have to go see them in action on your own.
I hope you have time to venture out and see these birds that are active and plentiful at the Bottoms right now. Nothing stays here very long-- that is the beauty of our marsh-- it supports so many traveling bird acts that we can hardly keep up. Enjoy our all-stars while they are here!!