Monday, April 29, 2013

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts."
                                                                                                                     - Rachel Carson

Male yellow-headed blackbirds gorging themselves on insects.

We just had one of the best birding days EVER. The kind where you feel exhausted at the end of the day because of the sheer number of birds observed. Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on the Great Salt Lake is an important fueling stop for migratory birds, many of which have traveled from South America and are still headed further north, some as far as the Arctic. Phalarope, white-faced ibis, avocet, coot, great blue heron, great egret, cattle egret, stilt, white pelican, grebe, ducks, swallows, raptors, curlew, whimbrel, western kingbird; our senses were on overload.

One of the most amazing things we saw were flocks of male yellow-headed blackbirds in a feeding frenzy. I'm not that knowledgeable about the types of midge-like insects that live in marshes but whatever they were, there were millions of them. From a distance, the swarms rising up into the sky looked like dark smoke. Everywhere we looked, there were yellow-headed blackbirds on the ground eating these insects. We'd never seen so many of these beautiful birds all in one place.

Swallows collecting mud for their nests.

Clark's grebe enjoying a morning swim.

An avocet taking a well-deserved break after its long journey.

Unfortunately my artistic endeavors have hit a bit of a snag. I've got tendonitis in my right wrist (in three places!) and have to wear a brace for a month. I still manage to sketch and paint a little but my hand cramps up pretty quick. Hopefully as I get used to the brace that will improve.

Brace or no brace, there are important things that must be attended to.

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