Yesterday started off a bit cloudy so we got a late start heading out to Antelope Island to see what birds we could find. There weren’t many along the causeway except for ducks and coots that always seem take off as soon a vehicle slows down near them. I did see a Northern Harrier with nesting material in its talons and that made me hope that I’d be able to locate a pair of them building a nest. That isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Once on the island there were some Red-winged Blackbirds that wouldn’t stay still long enough to focus on them and a Chukar that slipped down the side of a rock after I had taken just one frame. Things were looking like they were going to be slow… again.
None of the Loggerhead Shrikes were close enough to photograph so we pulled up to where some Black-billed Magpies have been busy nest building for the past several weeks. The thing is that there are often 15 to 20 minute intervals between the birds bringing in nesting materials. So we usually sit there waiting.
But not today. We hadn’t been there three minutes when I heard a distinctive call and I knew immediately what the sound was. I glanced up towards the sky and saw a very familiar shape winging its way towards us, then I saw another not too far behind.
The Long-billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) have returned to their breeding grounds! I would have jumped for joy but when you are inside a vehicle that can lead to a severe headache after hitting your skull on the roof. 🙂
It wasn’t long before I could see and hear several other pairs flying around in the sky and calling. I know I have said it before but it really is a sound you won’t forget after hearing it.
We found a couple of pairs of Curlews preening in the grasses and photographed them. I wish that the bird doing the wing lift in the photo above had been facing us but I take comfort in the fact that it is early in the season and there will be many more opportunities to catch that action.
For several weeks the cries of the Curlews will be heard over their breeding grounds and their displays both in the air and in the grasses will be seen.
It is great to have them back.