My phone rang at 8am. It was my husband calling on his way to work. “Hey, I think you probably missed the best photo op of the year this morning. There is a flock of Turkeys by Volpe Pond, and one is sitting on top of the sign! If you hurry you can probably catch it.”. Although the visual side of my brain tried talking my physical side into grabbing my camera and going, I was still comfortably in my pajamas, starting my first cup of coffee, and well, completely unmotivated. I had an important showing in a couple of hours and really didn’t have the time to race out and chase Turkeys…
The visual part of my brain wins every time. Out the door I went. I rocked the best bed-head on the planet wearing clothes I would not be proud to be seen in.
What I didn’t take into account was that everyone else on the planet was trying to get somewhere, and this pond happens to sit along one of the busiest crossings in town (duh).
I became that person in a car we all want to drive our cars into when we’re in a hurry. Cars honked and swerved around me while I slowly drove past the pond searching for my photo subject. No Turkeys…
What am I doing… I haven’t even had my coffee yet… As I turned around to head back home a friend texted me with the following: “What are you hunting?” I called her immediately and she laughed saying she was driving behind me wondering what on earth the person in front of her was doing, but once she discovered it was me knew I had to be on a photography mission (she was very kind not to tell me how annoyed she was as the driver behind me, but she didn’t have to). “I’m looking for Turkeys!”
That sort of inspired me to continue the mission. After all, I was out and who knows what I might see if I just take the longer route home.
Well… that decision turned out to be the start of one of the most incredible days of seeing all kinds of wonderful things – and it all happened in what seems like a matter of minutes. In the next 1/2 hour I photographed the following migrating birds which I hadn’t laid eyes on yet this year:
Wood Ducks. Yay! The Wood Ducks are back! “The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.” – Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Wood Duck Migration
“Northern birds migratory; southern females may be permanent residents. Movements of males variable; pairs form on wintering grounds and male follows female to nesting range, so a male might migrate far north one spring and only a short distance the next, depending on the origin of his mate for that year.” – Audubon
They show up and everyone takes notice, even the turtles. 😉
Gadwalls. “Migrates in flocks. Not a long-distance migrant, most wintering north of the tropics. Some southern breeders may be permanently resident.” – Audubon
American Widgeon. “American Wigeon spend much of their time in flocks grazing on land. Paradoxically, they also spend more time than other marsh ducks on deep water, where they get much of their food by stealing it from other birds such as coots or diving ducks. This duck was once known as “Baldpate” because of its white crown.” – Audubon
Pied-billed Grebe (one of my favorites). “The most widespread grebe in the New World, and the most familiar in most temperate parts of North America. Far less sociable than most grebes, almost never in flocks, sometimes found singly on small marshy ponds. When disturbed or suspicious, it may sink slowly until only head is above water. Rarely seen in flight. Often secretive in the breeding season, hiding in marsh, making bizarre whinnying, gobbling, cooing noises by day or night.” – Audubon
Here is a great link for identifying Migrating Ducks
As I was photographing this Grebe, I heard what sounded like a flock of high pitched shorebirds, but they were so high up I thought it was impossible. They must be Gulls…
Nope! Greater Yellowlegs. Another favorite, and I had never seen them flying so high up. I loved how the one on the bottom had its legs dragging, as if it knew I may have mistaken them for Willets.
The scenery was incredible, and it was becoming very easy to become lost in it – especially not having had that cup of coffee…
As much as I would have loved to stay all day to see what else came along, I had to get home, shower, and go sell that house!
Wouldn’t you know… just as I was walking back up to my car I saw what I had originally set out for, and they had been right behind me all along.
Soon, I realized that it was not meant to be the first time around, as I never would have had the incredible pleasure of seeing and photographing the other birds.
I closed my eyes for a minute and gave a little word of thanks… when I opened them, a little gift was on the ground at my feet.
I feel a little bit like “I dream of Jeannie” sometimes as I often have to instantly change into to my day-job-self in an instant.
This means looking far more presentable, neat, tidy and clean. Oh shit… I only have an hour.
After one of the best showings at the house I am selling, I headed back the long way home. Camera in the car of course.
One of the photography Groups I follow on FB is having a “Lines” challenge this week. Because of that the following made me stop & take notice. This is one of the wonderful things about those groups… I may not have noticed at all if it weren’t for the weekly challenge.
I love birds on wires. There is always one, however, who is not quite comfortable with the space. It feels crowded… this one I can personally relate to.
After photographing these Pigeons, my walk back to the car became a game of picking up feathers… Obviously one was not so lucky today, but to me the feathers represented another gift, which I was once again grateful to receive.
Next on the adventure front…
It was high tide, so my usual watering holes were absent of the wildlife I was looking for. The one spot I frequent every week had a ripping tide, a few songbirds, AND the mother of all wasp nests.
I come here weekly and had never seen this until today. It is fully active! These are Bald-faced Hornets – not your average Joe.
Check out the Wiki explanation… yikes.
What’s amazing is that the nest is so resilient. This was a fairly non-windy day, and the nest hangs on a channel 500 yards from the ocean. The nest was bobbing up and down like as if a child had discovered it for the first time.
Soon the wasps discovered me, and I was outta there.
Next, I drive to the Harbor where I find the Mockingbird I see every day. This time, it allowed me to video it while it sang away, practically bringing tears to my eyes. You see, this Mockingbird and I have a very special relationship. I have seen it every single day since mom died, usually perched in the same bush along the road where I walk and run.
SO, I would say that this was a pretty amazing day, thanks to that first phone call. 🙂
2 thoughts on “A Day of Turkeys, Migrating Birds & The Mother of Wasp Nests.”
What a beautiful, riveting account of an amazing day! The photos are, as always, fabulous, and I continue to appreciate having field guide info for background, interspersed along with the narrative of your adventures. BTW, wood ducks are so astonishing, and I always find the widgeon’s nose amusing (but not its thievery…). And the pied-billed grebe is just adorable. Glad you finally got your turkeys, the bonus humongous wasp nest, perfectly imperfect line-up photos, the mockingbird serenade, and of course your feathers. Thanks for taking us along on such an incredibly rich day!
Pat, please start your blog! You are spending too much precious time commenting so thoughtfully on mine, and people need to enjoy more of you! xoxo