Robert and I went to Hagerman yesterday for what they call “Super Saturday”- a day of workshops and presentations and tours. Learned a lot about shore birds. Saw some raptors from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center. Watched some expert fly-tying. Walked through the woods. Drove around the refuge. Wonderful day!
The presentation on shore birds will certainly help with future identifications, although telling the difference between some of the birds will have to be left to the experts. I’m an amateur and plan to stick with that status. I don’t have the memory or the keen awareness required to note the subtle differences between one sub-species and the next.
The raptors from the Blackland center were fascinating and yet sad. Each bird is an ambassador for the center because of a “physical or mental defect” that prevents them from being released back into the wild. When I heard that I thought “Mental? Seriously?” But then we were told that Pipin, a perfect specimen of a red shouldered hawk was raised by humans and does not know how to hunt. He thinks humans provide food! They call that “imprinting”. Once an animal is separated too long from its own kind and hand fed it can’t go back through the learning process of behaving the way it needs to in order to survive.
It was more than a “blustery” day on the refuge. I took many of these photos simply for identification, as in “yes, I saw these birds on Oct. 13”. They certainly are not worthy of “pretty photo” labels! Just too windy to hold the camera steady. At one point a gust of wind even pitched me forward! But I was very happy to see some of the shore birds mentioned in the presentation.
Robert and I walked through the woods for a bit. Not much bird activity because of the wind, but we did startle a doe and observe her for a moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo. I’m always hesitant to walk around with my camera “on”, but then once in a while I miss a shot because a critter gets away before I turn it on and aim.
The more often I visit the refuge the more often I want to return! There is always something different to see.
Be sure to visit if you get the chance.