Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Painted Bunting!!

I did it!! I finally photographed a painted bunting!! After work today I decided I NEED to exercise. I'm so sedentary and FAT - so there's no time like the present. I stopped at home long enough to change clothes and put on sneakers - and I grabbed my digital camera and some binoculars. And off I went. It was a beautiful afternoon - not TOO hot and very sunny. I headed to Tree Tops Park, parked back by the park offices and walked toward Pine Island Ridge. Once through the gate, I turned left and walked down a horse path to a small lake. On the other side of the lake are houses, but on the park side are huge live oaks and lots of low bushy brush - just what painted buntings like. Last year, I saw one here, but couldn't photograph it in time. Sooooo - within 5 minutes of getting to the spot where I saw one last year, I "pished" - a term used by birders for the shushing noise that birds seem to want to investigate - so they come out and you get to see them briefly while they check YOU, the pisher, out. Almost as soon as I made my birder noise, there he was. The male is the spectacular one - blue, red, green and yellow. Their small size always surprises me, for some reason. I peered down through some brush and I could see him clearly through an opening in the branches - painted buntings are ground gleaners, and that's where he was. I couldn't believe it!! Last year, Dart and I went to tons of places where birders claimed to see TONS of painted buntings - and they were in hiding when we went to each place. I was SO frustrated. Especially when I would read the lists of the birders in the area - and they would invariably include "painted bunting" - and perhaps a number anywhere from 1 to 20+ - give me a BREAK already!!

But today was my blessed day - I'll post one of the best photos. Mr. Painted Bunting's wife was with him, too - the females are leaf green and very hard to discern among leafy bushes - they are the color green of parrots. But I couldn't get my camera to focus on her - besides, it was her mate I really wanted. I've photographed a female painted bunting before....

Here is my little friend - I bet he's the same one I saw last year in the same place. Birds frequent the same areas when they migrate....


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