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When I learned of GreenRoots, I knew right away I wanted to get involved somehow. Despite the pale skin I got from my mom, and the tendency to get eaten up by bugs I got from dad, nature has been good to me. I wanted to do something, no matter how small, to give back. I figured the least I could do is get off my lazy arse and write a birding diary ;-)

A little over a year ago, I posted a diary about the Great Horned Owls that lived in a greenbelt next to my house. I had a Screech owl box, but the Great Horned Owls kept Screeches away. I've since moved out of that house and into an apartment, and my family has bought some land out in the Texas Hill Country (near a little town called Leander in Central TX). They're planning on building a straw-bale house on it, and living with as little environmental impact as possible.

#More over the jump

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I know I promised this last Sunday, but some extenuating circumstances in meatspace (car crash) got in the way. I know I'm not the most punctual or reliable diarist, but I had a good reason this time, dammit! ;-) No one was hurt in the accident, but it scared the shit out of me. I have to thank juliewolf, for posting one of her wonderful birding diaries to fill the gap. Now that everything is sorted out, back to the birds!

Last diary, I focused on wading birds, mainly herons. They were by far the majority of birds we saw. This time, I'd like to take a break from waders to look at some of the other birds.

These pics were taken by my father, at Loxahatchee NWR, and Merritt Island (I wasn't on the Merritt trip). Some were also taken on Grand Cayman, or Jamaica.

(For more info on each bird, roll your pointer over the images)

Black-Throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)

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Sorry for the long wait. I've finally got some new bird pics, taken on a birding excursion in Florida.

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area that includes the northernmost remnant of the Everglades. It is home to the Snail Kite, and over 250 other species of birds.

juvenile Snail Kite:
snail kite

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In the front yard of my house is a cluster of yaupon trees. They never have enough leaves on them to add much green to the dry yellow-brown Texas landscape in our little cul-de-sac. Even without much foliage, every winter these scrubby little trees find a way to put on an incredible display of colour: countless little red berries cover the usually bare branches.

Then in mid-winter, after we've had a good frost, the waxwings show up.

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Berries!

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This ties in to a mini-series of pre-election environmental/birding diaries that lineatus, juliewolf, and I are doing.

Birdwatchers for Obama

Most Kossacks are already familiar with the Republican Party's attempts to weaken or dismantle the Endangered Species Act. Palin's assaults on it are particularly enraging: she wanted Polar Bears taken off the list so her "Oil Maggot" pals can do whatever they want, and she wanted wolves off so she could have them shot from airplanes. I admit, I may be simplifying things a bit, but the reasons they want to get rid of the ESA don't matter. The only thing that matters is the effects it will have. Being a bird watcher in Central Texas, it's personal to me.

More below the jump...

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VOTE!!!!!

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I wasn't going to post TLW today, but lineatus didn't post Dawn Chorus yesterday, so to fill in the vacuum left behind I'm doing this special EMERGENGY!!! repost of an earlier TLW. This one was the first (to my knowledge) birding diary ever to make the Wrecklist. I've had some new owl encounters since I first posted this, so it's updated with the new stuff.

Owls are some of my favourite birds. I love how they always look like they've just been shot with a BB gun, I love the deep booming hoots late at night. I love the silent flights and noisy landings they make. My dad and I wanted to attract owls to our house, and Screech Owls seemed the easiest to lure in, so he built an owl house with a camera inside. That way, we could see if they laid eggs, and we could watch the chicks grow up.

This little fellow here is what we were trying to draw in.

From the title of this diary, you've probably guessed that our little idea didn't work as planned. Otherwise this would be a diary about screech owls.

More below the fold :: :: :P

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I know it's been a while since I last posted. There are a myriad of reasons for the temporary hiatus: ACL music festival last weekend, getting work done for classes, registering voters, and so on. In an attempt to make up for the time off, I humbly offer you this:

I'm going to try to return somewhat to the original style of The Left Wing, with fewer pictures and more first-person narrative.

More below the fold.

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Who missed me?

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I'm getting pretty tired of all the fuss about Sarah "Who the fuck?" Palin and the meta and 3-sentence diaries that invariably accompany these sorts of things. I'm posting this as a break for me and for all of you who choose to read and comment.

   For anyone who hasn't seen any of these diaries, these photos are my dad's. I can't take responsibility for them. My dad travels to India quite frequently, and he always makes some time for birding. He sees some incredible birds there.

These are the last of the photos he brought back (for now).

I'll try to provide some information on each bird.

Green Bee-Eater(Merops orientalis). As the name suggests, they are insectivores, mostly bees, wasps, and ants. When they catch a bee or wasp, they smack it against a hard surface repeatedly. This removes the stinger and venom. Bee-eaters only catch flying insects, and completely ignore landed ones. Green Bee-Eaters are also capable of identifying with behaviour of other animals, a talent they use to hide their nest entrances.

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I have a summer cold as I write this, so I'll just copy and paste the intro from the last one.

For anyone who hasn't seen any of these diaries, these photos are my dad's. I can't take responsibility for them. My dad travels to India quite frequently, and he always makes some time for birding. He sees some incredible birds there.

I'll try to provide so e information on each bird.

The Asian Openbilled Stork (Anastomus oscitans) its beak halves only meet at the tip. They use the beak to eat snails and mussels. The upper bill holds the shellfish in place, while the lower bill snips the good bits out, leaving the shell intact. (thanks to scrubjay for that info)

More below the fold ::  ::

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For anyone who hasn't seen any of these diaries, these photos are my dad's. I can't take responsibility for them. My dad travels to India quite frequently, and he always makes some time for birding. He sees some incredible birds there.

Like the Asian Koel:

More to see if you'll follow me over the jump...

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Last week's pictures were, to be blunt, not the best ones. I'm saving the best ones for last.

I'm not quite sure what this one is... <you could have your name here if you help me identify this. I think it's some sort of oriole>

Follow over the jump for more...

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Last time I mentioned that my dad travels a lot. He frequently flies to India on business. Of course, time is always set aside for birding.

He also brings back tons of pictures. Enough to last me quite a while.

Eurasian Spoonbill

::  More below the fold  ::

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