Sunday, June 17, 2012

Black Tern: Sky-diving skimmer

Black tern, watching me watching him.© SB  
A row of black terns sat on fence posts along a marsh, watching as I drove down the gravel road.

The terns preened, then flew up and dived down to skim the water, then surfaced, took flight and landed back on the posts, where they dried and preened. Then they skimmed the air and water surface again. And again.

Black terns are easy to identify, as long as their gray/white wings are visible.

As All About Birds says, "In breeding plumage, nothing else quite looks like it."

There were a dozen or more black terns in this part of the marsh, along with at least as many common terns. (I stopped for a picture as a cloud of them flew over, but they flew to fast for me to focus.) 

The  black terns appeared to be catching more insects from the air than creatures from the water, but their hunting ground was over the slough. 

Black tern in flight © SB 
Black tern on the slough.© SB 

What is this?  Black Tern  
Location: Near Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo date: June 16, 2012.  


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Snowy Egret in Saskatchewan

In a slough beside a lake not far south of Regina, Saskatchewan — a snowy egret, hidden in reeds.

I was so startled to see an egret this far north that I drove some distance down the road puzzling over it, and then turned around in a farmyard and went back to see if I was imaging its snow white feathers at the edge of this Saskatchewan slough.

Snowy egret, near Regina, Saskatchewan © SB 
But I'm sure that's what it is, from the typical dark beak and yellow marking of a snowy egret.

I turned off onto the grid road beside the slough, pulled off onto the rough shoulder and took several pictures through the window of my van.

After a while, I had company — an RCMP car patrolling that section of highway pulled up alongside me. The officer rolled down his window and asked if I needed help.

"Only for bird identification," I said. "I swear there's a snowy egret out there — but I never expected to see one here!"

He laughed, and drove on.

Birds — and people — continue to amaze me.

The egret is well hidden in these reeds © SB  
A closer shot, taken with a long lens
from the nearby grid road 
© SB 

What is this?  Snowy Egret 
Location: South of Regina, in marsh east side of road, along Highway 6 (by grid road to Riceton).
Photo date: May 21, 2012.  


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