Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"All Birds Great & Small"

I attended the "Hawk Watch" seminar at the weekend at a Preserve in North East Illinois, that hails by the name of Volo Bog. I arrived with my son, Matthew, an hour or so before the event, to do some birding. The very first and last birds that I managed to photograph there, during the walk, were, by coincidence, the largest and smallest birds that visit this 1100 acre area. Hardly out of the car, a pair of Sandhill Cranes flew over us, from a nearby marsh, one of which is pictured below. In the Autumn some hundreds will migrate through here on their way South, and I have been fortunate enough to be here at that time in previous years, to witness this event. Having missed out on seeing the only Hummingbird regularly recorded here (in Illinois), the Ruby-throated, on previous visits to the USA, I'm glad to say I've now rectified that. In fact during the mornings walk, I saw at least 10, but I'm now beginning to realise how I might have missed them. I knew they were small, but not just how small! There are numerous insects and butterflies about at the moment--I have photographed many, they're hard to resist--and I noted a rather beautiful green 'insect' nearby, but I was struck by its' rather upright stance, and then the penny dropped! A Hummingbird! With its' rapid wingbeat and hover, it could so easily be misidentified as an insect. On the walk back, we saw several more, including one that passed me close enough to feel the draught and hear the hum of its' wings. But photographing them proved difficult until I finally managed to photograph this female, perched momentarily on a bush close to the seminar venue. Not a bad start to the day, followed by a very professionally run talk on Hawk IDing, by some of the best hawk enthusiasts in the US.

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