Orchard Orioles (7 Photos)

On a trip to Folly Island, SC I had to get 30 feet off the ground for decent photographs of Orchard Orioles. Once elevated, the yellow and olive female was easy to photograph. She preferred to preen and sun on exposed branches. In the lower right photo, she shows off her specialized tongue, useful in gathering nectar.

The chestnut colored male spent almost all his time hiding in the canopy. When he did finally come into the open, he was so far away the quality of photos suffered. Still, a beautiful bird.

Exploring Quivira (11 Photos)

In the heart of Kansas, more than 600 miles from Gulf of Mexico, there are sand dunes and salt marshes.

Sand dunes and salt marshes.

These unique geologic formations are at the convergence of the eastern tallgrass and western short-grass prairies. Today there are few human inhabitants in the area, just a handful of scattered farms. Since the salt marshes are along the Central Flyway, what you do find are birds. Depending on the time of year, tens of thousands of birds.

In 1955 more than 22,000 acres became Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The region was already known as “Quivira”at the arrival of Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541, although the word’s meaning is lost to time.

The salt marshes are formed as water percolates up through subterranean salt deposits. Quivira has two primary marshes with other smaller ponds.

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Canada Geese and assorted ducks at Big Salt Marsh
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Big Salt Marsh
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Arm of the Big Salt Marsh

Wind blown grasses and reeds created interesting patterns. To no avail, I spent a good hour searching online for sources to identify endemic Kansas salt marsh plants.

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Narrow-leaf Cattail

The fauna between the ponds and marshes had its own pleasant yet muted colors and tones.

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I’ll post the initial photographs of birds at Quivira later this week.

 

Golden-crowned Kinglet (2 Photos)

golden-crowned-kinglet-2golden-crowned-kinglet-1In the winter Golden-crowned Kinglets are scattered across most of the United States. Seriously. This rather serious looking little monarch is found from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Yet it’s still a truly rare treat to see one, since the kinglets are small and spend a great deal of time amongst tree branches. The above Kinglet was photographed at Magee Marsh along Lake Erie in Ohio.