The Mad Island Wildlife Management Area and the Clive Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve are both closed to the public, but access may be arranged on special occasions. When a White-cheeked Pintail was spotted on the WMA, someone was kind enough to organize such a visit.
May 3, 2014, a group of birders, myself included, relocated the bird. If you were to enlarge the picture below, you'd see the duck off by himself to the right of the larger group has a sharply delineated white cheek.
The White-cheeked Pintail is a vagrant from the Caribbean. There was some controversy over whether this one should be counted as a wild bird or if he is an escapee. I'm not sure what was officially decided, but I'm counting him on my life list.
One benefit of a large group of birders is more eyes to spot and identify the birds. A drawback is that we can't get very close. I got a good look at the White-cheeked Pintail through someone's scope.
Several people generously shared their equipment and expertise on this day. After I reacted with great excitement at seeing my first Glossy Ibis, they came and got me when they found another. I have found birders to be incredibly friendly people.
When I first arrived, I noticed several people in knee-high rubber boots. I asked if we were going to actually need to wade in the water and was a little confused when they gave negative responses. It wasn't too long before I realized the purpose of the boots.
The Western Massasauga Rattlesnake was vigorously making his presence known. "Be careful," someone warned. "A snake that size can strike 20 feet."
Snakes can generally strike half of their body distance, and this was certainly not a 40-foot snake, but I allowed him plenty of space anyway. That's what zoom lenses are for.
I found the Swift Long-winged Skimmer not far from the rattler. I hear tell of people that go "bugging" as well as birding. I already have enough expensive habits. I will photograph them when I cross paths with them, though.
At least 53 species were identified by our group. Most were too far away for close-ups. Above is a Canvasback, a lifer for me. He's the one in the grass not sleeping.
The Wilson's Phalarope, seen here to the right of a Lesser Yellowlegs, was another.
I'm linking up this week with Saturday's Critters.
8am - 1:30pm
Species Identified (53): White-cheeked Pintail, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Red-winged Blackbird, Redhead, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Blue Heron, Reddish Egret, Sora, Least Sandpiper, Willet, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Tern, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Seaside Sparrow, Northern Shoveler, Purple Gallinule, American Coot, American Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, American Wigeon, Boat-tailed Grackle, Canvasback, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Belted Kingfisher, Greater Scaup, Northern Bobwhite, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalarope, Chipping Sparrow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Whimbrel, Savannah Sparrow, Tri-colored Heron, Common Moorhen