The past couple of days have been a bit crazy, but today certainly made up for it. Meeting with two girlfriends, we headed out to the eastern shore of Maryland, all for a Lark. The temperature gauge on the car read 3 degrees when we were nearing our destination, but the sun was out and we had bright blue skies.
The search was on for some Horned Larks. Keeping an eye out on the snow topped corn fields, we searched for bare spots where possible Larks could be foraging. Quickly I noticed a flock quite near the road. Quickly turning around, we donned our winter gear and stepped out of the car to watch these adorable birds.
They would set themselves in the snow, burrowing in a small bird hole. They would then bury their heads in the snow, and fling the snow, looking for little bits of corn.
They are named Horned Larks for a reason, as they have two bits of feathers that rise up like Devil’s horns. They rise and drop them quickly, so one has to be fast to see them.
This was a flock of about 25 birds, and we spent as much time as we could in the frigid temperatures before our fingers begin to chill.
We kept trolling the road in search of more birds that had been reported being in with a flock of Horned Larks. While driving around and not finding what we were looking for, a huge flock of Snow Geese caught our attention. They were flying around in circles, trying to decide the best place to land. There must have been at least 2,000 of them.
Following them, we found the flock resting on a corn field. Quickly setting up my camera, trying to decide how best to capture them. Off went a gun shot! Was there a hunter, Or were they just trying to scare them off the land? The Geese began floating up off the ground, in search of more friendly fields.
We saw them settle back down around the corner, so of course we had to follow them. Thinking that we may perhaps find a rare Ross’s Goose in the batch. We didn’t find the Ross’s Goose, but we did find two geese that had been banded. The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) captures and bands birds to track where they were from, and where they are going. A report has been submitted, but it will be a few weeks for us to find out where these geese are from.
As if the day wasn’t already super cool, we stopped at one more place on the way home. The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is well known in Grasonville, Maryland and is a wonderful place to find a wide variety of birds. I had heard rumors of a Screech Owl that had moved into a box near the visitors center. Arriving to the parking lot, we were greeted with a huge flock of Yellow Rump Warblers foraging in the ground. Of course, I had to capture “the Look.”
And the icing on the cake for a beautiful wintery birdy day? This adorable Screech Owl that was snoozing in the sun. Keeping his eyes slightly open to he could literally keep an eye on us, he just sat there happy as could be. It was mid-day and you can see the light became quite harsh, and there was a bit of heat haze. Perhaps another visit with better light is due.
Here’s to those small treasures that are in our world. Hope you have a great weekend planned! Bella
Thank you so much Miss Poutine
Beautiful photos and what a cute little one you captured taking off 😀
I’m a sucker for Horned Larks now. I’ll look for more, just for you Andy.
Thank you! I look forward to seeing 🙂
What an awesome day!! Where were the Horned Larks?
the Horned Larks are all over the Eastern Shore this week. These were found on route 213 heading into Chestertown, and down Route 544 and Leverage Road. Also heard there are a bunch leading to the entrance of Bombay Hook. Good luck hunting.
Thanks!! 🙂 If you want to see or photograph Meadowlarks, there is a flock of them that forage along the road leading to Blackwater’s Wildlife Dr. They mix in with a larger flock of mixed blackbirds, but are also found in groups of 2-8 right along the edge of the road in the drainage ditch. I’ve also seen several Kestrel hunting in the same general vicinity as the Meadowlarks. I haven’t gotten any great photos of the Meadowlarks with the 300mm lens because they’re so skittish, but they never fly too far off. With a 500mm lens you’d probably get some awesome shots. I’ve seen the Meadowlarks every time I’ve gotten to Blackwater since the beginning of December.
Lovely images again Em. Those Horned Larks are very cute……and quite fat….clearly they’ve not suffered too much over the Winter 😉
Thanks Mark, I loved watching them?
It was a great day of birding for you, and you brought back some amazing photos! Loved the larks and the owl!
The Larks were a first for me. I could have spent all day photographing them, but alas I was with friends and had to cut it short. Need a longer lens (than the 500mm) to get close to that owl.
Don’t you have a 1.4 extender? With the 500 mm it would result in 700 mm.
Indeed I do but it’s in the fritz.
superb photos Emily….I love the Horned Lark…we don’t have them here …
Aren’t they the coolest bird? I’ve been searching for them for months, and finally. And what a bonus, we saw over 100 of them in a various places.
Your photos are so gorgeous, Emily! Such a huggable Screech Owl. 🙂
I agree, I think we need a stuffed screech owl toy that we can hold and hug. 🙂
Beautiful photos, and I enjoyed reading the stories behind each photo.
Thank you so much Muddepaws. I just ramble on, surprised that someone actually likes what I write. 🙂
Wow, great photos!
Thank you so much Ms. Diplomacy. Appreciate your visit and comment and hope to see you back soon. Bella
Theses guys are cute!🐥
Thanks Ilex ! Now that January is done, are you starting to think of fun things like vegetable gardens?
I love bird pictures! And you capture them so well!
Thank you so much Judy ! BTW, did you see the Feathered Friends Photography meetup I created? Some will be up your way.
No I didn’t see it. Can you send me the link with the info?
Oh, lucky, lucky, lucky you!!! What amazing pictures! That one of the horned lark flying over the one on the ground is super cool! It must have been so difficult to time that just right! Wonderful technique. Keep sharing. 🙂
Fatima, those little guys moved so fast !! I couldn’t keep up, and I was with friends, so I couldn’t stay too long working on the best shot. I was kneeling in the snow. That didn’t bother me, but my fingers got cold really fast. Thank you for your kindness.
These are great, what an awesome day you had indeed! Starting off I like the yellow of the Horned Larks and definitely appreciate their little horns, adds to their character.
Then the snow geese, I’m always amazed to see such large flocks, especially of bigger, heavier birds like geese. I wonder though if when they take off in such a frenzied mass if they ever bump into each other, throw somebody’s flight path off but clipping wing tips, or maybe somebody closer to the ground gets a bit of a faster start than someone above it! If they were people we’d have a mess of accidents to deal with. 😉
Your blog entries show an incredible diversity of birds in Maryland. How far did you have to travel on this day? The warblers are kind of fitting with their yellow after the Larks, very cute too.
If I were you I’d be ecstatic by the time I reached the Screech owl, good work! What a moment. You’ve provided great evidence to the small treasures in life!
Aren’t the horns awesome? I was talking about the exact same thing about the geese too. You would think they would run into each other or something. Somehow, they manage it perfectly.
For this trip, it was an hour from my house – not too bad, on highways. So a bit of a trek. Well worth it though. The Screech Owl certainly was worth the effort.
Oh I almost forgot, I really appreciate the depth and dimension of the first shot of the Horned Lark. Well done!
LOL ! It was so hard to find a frame to demonstrate what I was watching. The ones with his head in the snow was kind of boring. 🙂
What incredible captures of this sweet little bird!! And in that cold, wow…