The shorebirds are beginning to flock together, even as the summer songbirds are still plentiful. With the blue skies and bright sunshine, it was a wonderful day to spend at my favorite national wildlife refuge!
I didn’t see any unusual birds at Bombay Hook today. The ones who showed up, however, showed up in their finest attire, finding the best branches on which to perch, set against the best backdrops. All in all, it was a glorious day for birding.
This pair of Blue Grosbeaks were foraging in an old field that is filling in with second growth saplings just behind Davidsonville Park. The female Blue Grosbeak is very differently colored than the male, with just touches of the blue that makes the male so distinctive.
While the male primarily stayed perched on the tops of the saplings, the female foraged among the wildflowers close to the ground.
The male was a striking figure at the tops of the trees! According to allaboutbirds, Blue Grosbeaks migrate due south to reach their wintering grounds, which means that these two birds will shortly leave this area to fly down the east coast of the United States, and across the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Islands.
Bombay Hook has prime habitat for the Blue Grosbeak. They breed in shrubby habitat, favoring fields that are slowly converting back to forest. Much of the area at Bombay Hook that is open to car traffic was farmed from the mid 1700’s until 1960 when the land was given to the federal government. The Blue Grosbeaks nest and forage in the shrubs and saplings that fill these fields. On my ride around Wildlife Drive, I saw a dozen or more of these striking birds.
It was a year ago that I began taking photographs of birds, and it’s been a wonderful adventure to learn about the birds and about photography. This past Christmas my kids bought me a copy of Photoshop, and it’s been sitting on my computer desk waiting for me ever since. Last night, we finally downloaded it on my laptop, and I’m now beginning to learn the process of post-editing my photos. The top two sets of photos are my first attempts.
The Blue Grosbeak is the very first attempt. From that endeavor, I learned that patience is going to be the key. Hmmm… that seems to be a central theme in these birding adventures! But anyway, if I try to change too much in one step, I end up just messing the picture up. I was a little more patient with the Red-Winged Blackbird, although right after I got to this point, I tried a little bit more and ended up smudging black ‘ink’ all over the green background. (Smiling ruefully!) Oh well, this endeavor will keep me busy for awhile!!
The Blue Grosbeak is actually a bunting, it’s closest relative is the Lazuli Bunting. The Blue Grosbeak is distinguished from the Indigo Bunting by the double row of chestnut colored wingbars. They prefer shrubby areas and open land that is slowly reverting back to forests, with a mixture of grasses, shrubs, saplings and a few taller trees. While their beak makes them appear to be totally seed-eaters, their diet is actually a mixture of insects and grains. These two Blue Grosbeaks were both foraging at Bombay Hook NWR, one in a former farm field filled with saplings, the other in the scrub brush along the impound ponds along Wildlife Drive.
The destination for today’s day trip: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful day. Deep blue skies, puffy white clouds, temperatures most of the day in the 70’s. The weather was about as perfect as it could be. The birds were out enjoying the day as much as me.