An early-evening trip to Beaver Swamp WMA produced some very interesting observations...
Upon stepping out of the car, one of the first birds I laid eyes upon was a very close Gull-billed Tern hunting over the vegetation, no more than 20 yards away. After a bit more searching, two others revealed themselves farther back in the millpond. I'd be interested in knowing where exactly these birds come from, as they seem to return to this spot each year...and if they nest nearby, where? Regardless, Gull-billeds are truly handsome birds, and that fact was only accentuated by the perfect lighting conditions this evening.
Walking down the dirt dike a few minutes later, I was startled by two shapes which suddenly exploded from under my feet- two Bobwhites, an apparent pair. Now, this is interesting because for years I never came across Bobwhite here, and in all actuality, the area seems rather marginal in terms of quail habitat. However, last summer there was a male calling from the direction of the old railroad tracks, so it's feasible that this pair was in attendance last year as well. After the birds flushed in different directions, they gave a varied series of contact calls, which was an educational experience for someone who has had limited, and increasingly rare encounters with this species over the years. Once I had moved a safe distance away, the male gave his full song a few times...very neat stuff.
Proceeding into the wet woods at the back of the dike I was again startled, but this time by a far larger bird, as an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron took flight from a tree on the left side of the path. This was the first time I'd ever encountered this species at this location, and was rather surprised by its choice of a roost site- a spot that seemed far more likely to be inhabited by a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
In other news, the local Bald Eagle family continues to thrive, even though one of the adults was given hell by one of the local Kingbirds as it passed through the tyrant flycatcher's domain en route to its own. Additionally, the 40+ Glossy Ibis milling about were far more than I've seen elsewhere since last month, two Wood Ducks flashed by twice, and there was a steady stream of Great and Snowy Egrets commuting back to their Atlantic-side colonies.
A great place on a great evening...that's what it's all about.