Saturday, October 12, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read All About It - Sat., Oct. 12

Once again, I headed out to Mitchell Lake Audubon's wetlands to do my 10K (6.2 mile) Volksmarch. At 8:30 a.m. the temperature was quite warm and humid with no breeze. Thunderstorms were predicted for early afternoon (50% chance).

Yellow jacket nest (click photo to enlarge for greater detail)
The first third of the walk is pretty boring, but once the path reaches the polders (ponds), many more birds appear.

Juvenile white-faced ibis and blue-winged teal.
Black-necked stilt
Two American avocets and a black-necked stilt.
Where I walked...this is between two ponds.
At one point, two caracaras (Mexican eagles) circled over me and I was able to capture one of these magnificent birds in flight.
Caracara, AKA Mexican eagle.
Butterflies in abundance right now
As I walked, I noticed the following sign, "Area Closed." Hmm, why would that be? Keep reading to find out what was happening.
Area closed for these folks.

I used my telephoto to take photos of the birdwatchers.
But what are they doing?

Whirring Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Flower on the right has a butterfly on it.
American white pelican in flight
American white pelicans
Aren't they amazing? They're huge.
Getting ready to fly off.
As I was walking along one of the ponds, a number of kids and adults were out pruning back shrubs, trees and vines. The goal: a better view of the birds from the road around the wetlands. They were from a local 4-H club. I thanked them for volunteering their time.

A basket of colorful work gloves for the 4-H volunteers.
The hunt for the Roseate spoonbill was a success today. At the Visitor Center I was told to look for the Roseate spoonbills hanging out with flocks of egrets; the spoonbills would be the pink ones. My photo isn't great because they were way on the other side of lake and I had to zoom in on them. But they are spoonbills!

Great egrets and Roseate spoonbills

Pelicans heading my way!
Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Two Caracaras.
American avocets and black-necked stilts.
A beautiful fluffy feather.
Plant ready to bloom at Visitor Center.
Back at the Visitor Center, I asked why there was a closed area. They told me the people are participating in "The Big Sit 2013!" an annual, international, non-competitive birding event. The object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard in a 24-hour period. Big Sits are happening all over the world this weekend. You learn something new every day.

For those of you who haven't seen the comedy, "The Big Year" with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, Bob and I highly recommend it. The movie is about bird watchers competing to see who can see or hear the most bird species in one year's time. And, yes, there really is a Big Year competition every year.

Next Saturday the Audubon Society at Mitchell Lake is having their Fall Festival with booths and information. Maybe I'll head over there. That afternoon, they'll be having a raptor show too. Cool.

This evening Bob and I went to our RV park's Steak Night. The park sets up big charcoal BBQs and everyone brings their own meat to grill. You pay $3.50 per person at the door for the rest of the meal: salad, salad dressing, baked potato with the fixin's, dessert, and iced tea or water. We grilled cod in tin foil which was very tasty. (I put a thin layer of mayonnaise on both sides of the fish and sprinkled ground cumin and garlic salt on it.)

We sat a table with three other couples who travel together. They are on their way home to California at the end of a 90-day trip across country, down the East Coast, and now across the southern states. Wow! 90 days to see the entire East Coast. That's a pretty quick trip.

Our forecast is for 30-60% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain for the next five days. We just had some heavy rain roll through and it sounded great on our 5th wheel roof. We'll see if the weather allows us to walk tomorrow.

Enjoy your Sunday. Travel Bug out.