Field Shots of Notable Birds - 2016


Picture of a Long-eared Owl, roosting in an Arborvitae at Blandy State Arboretum. Picture taken March 12th, 2016. The bird had been in residence at that point for nearly 3 months and while perhaps not indifferent to the humans observing it, was nonetheless far more tolerant of that than this species is typically. You have to wonder what this owl's story is ... was it rehabed or something? Healthy but weirdly docile. In any event, a huge treat for regional birders to be able to see this beautiful animal.



Found and reported by Kurt Gaskill on March 19th, 2016, in a residential area just outside of Veteran's Memorial Park in Woodbridge. Phil Kenny and I hustled down there and saw it an hour later, in a large mixed blackbird flock on someone's lawn. The someone came out to see what was going on and we had a nice chat with him; bluebird boxes and feeders in the backyard, wife works for the Dept. of the Interior. So he was fine with the whole thing. On the bird, it shows a little white on the alula and primary coverts, which, with the limited expanse of yellow, would likely make it an immature (i.e. first winter) bird. Sibley only shows males with any white in the outer primary coverts at any age, but per Pyle, HY/SY females also have white outer pp covert tipping, just less than a male.



Pied-billed Grebe at Lake Fairfax Park on March 20th, 2016. Obviously not a rare bird, but it was very close in, providing nice photo opportunities. The bird did not really like my focused interest in its activities and would submerge when I was too close. I don't say dive, as it was in shallow water and it did this cool thing: it put its feet down, spread its toes, and then pulled them up. The effect was to pull the grebe straight under water in place, like it was on an elevator. Wish I had gotten a video.



Also at Lake Fairfax Park on March 20th, 2016 was this assumedly domestic duck. Phil Kenny and I had seen this duck last fall at extreme range and had digiscoped her, getting some blurry pictures. On this return visit, she swam over with a male Mallard she was keeping company with, I assume looking for a handout. So a much better picture. The feather pattern is very intricate and regular, which makes me curious about her pedigree. Incidentally, I'm identifying this as a female based on the lack of curled tail feathers and a female mallard-like quack.