Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 15

Belted Kingfisher. Frankly, I was getting bored with taking pictures of kingfishers and was looking for different fare. However, this male caught my attention with what happened next.

Belted Kingfisher. SPLASH! I swing my head around in the direction of the creek and the kingfisher is rising from the water's surface with a catch! But, what it is? It begins beating it against the branch to subdue it, as kingfishers typically do.

Belted Kingfisher. My best guess is an American Toad is what's for dinner tonight.

Belted Kingfisher. The kingfisher is wary of me, even though I am on the other side of the creek and peaking through breaks in the foliage.

Belted Kingfisher. Definitely looks like a frog here.

Belted Kingfisher. The kingfisher would continue to work with its meal for another minute or two before downing it.

Great Blue Heron. This juvenile was perching at various places along the creek before this photo op. Juveniles seem to like to perch in trees. I don't recall ever seeing an adult perch in a tree along the creek.

Eastern Tailed-Blue. Here was another lifer for me, though the field guide says it is one of the most common of butterflies. Well, first it is SMALL! The entire butterfly could fit on my thumbnail. They fly fast and erratic, and close to the ground. However, once you spot one and then know what to look for, guess what? They are everywhere! Notice the two tiny "tails" sticking out of the bottoms of the hind wings.

Eastern Tailed-Blue. The orange chevrons on the hind wings near the "tails" are characteristic of this species. Again, hold your thumbnail at arm's length and that's the size to look for!

Red-tailed Hawk. The Hawkwatch platform on Braddock Bay may be one of the best places in the country for spotting hawks, but Maple Hill in Oatka Creek Park does just fine this time of year!

Red-tailed Hawk. Red-tails like to soar over the Hill hunting for game. They also like to perch at the base of the hill where they get an expansive view of the Hill while being sufficiently concealed from potential prey.

Red-tailed Hawk. Red-tails will persist into the winter on the Hill until the snows lie too deep over the ground for hunting.

Red-tailed Hawk. If the hawk is savvy enough, it will switch its hunting to nearby Oatka Creek once the Hill is unproductive. However, the attrition rate of young hawks is extremely high during the first two years of life. Only something like one in twenty will survive to their second birthday. If they make it that far, however, their odds of a considerably longer life climb significantly.