Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness

Bufflehead Ducks on Ohio River
Yes, in Kentucky, March Madness means basketball. Well, don't shoot me, but I don't really care about basketball. 

Coots Looking for a Handout at Freeman Lake
But when the KY Bird List sends a notice about some cool bird that has been sighted, that's when I go into action. Get out the bins! Put gas in the tank! Buy a large cup of coffee at Thornton's! It's time for a ROAD TRIP! Yesterday Pat and Jane Bell said the white trout lilies were blooming at Bernheim, and Common Loons in breeding plumage were at Freeman Lake. WooHoo! That's worth a trip, so let's go.

Now, here's where the madness part comes in. When I left home at 9:30 this morning it was 22 degrees! Hey, it's supposed to be Spring, right? How about some sunshine, and warm breezes? Nope, cold temps, a few snow flurries, and a biting wind coming across the lake. BRRRRR! But when March Madness hits, I have to just suck it up, put on the long johns, and head out anyway.

White Trout Lily
 I looked online but could not find an answer to a pressing question in my mind this morning. When it's this cold, why don't the early blooming wild flowers freeze? Do they have some sort of anti-freeze in their sap? Dick is taking a botany class at U of L this semester, so I asked him to see if his professor knows. Look how small these trout lilies are compared to the brown leaves. They always bloom early and I usually miss them, but not this year! The bloodroot is still wrapped in its protecting leaf, like a child wearing a coat. When the sun comes out for a few days, they will open up for pollination.

Turkey Vulture Sunning at Bernheim Forest
This solitary Turkey Vulture at Bernheim looks pretty cold. Did you know they can reduce their body temperature at night, then sit in the sun to warm back up in the morning?

Common Loon - Freeman Lake
Common Loons were the target bird du jour at Freeman Lake. About 5 individuals swam there - waaayyyy out in the middle, of course. Got some great looks through the scope. I've only seen them in winter colors, and these were in the full black and white.

Pied-billed Grebe - Freeman Lake
The little Pied-billed Grebes swam closer to shore, and their stubby little beaks are unmistakable. I thought I saw some Horned Grebes with horns, but they were so far away I was probably just imagining it.

Red Breasted Mergansers
A small flock of Red Breasted Mergansers napped on the water. Although the wind was blowing fiercely, their head feathers always look like they are having a bad feather day. A little later, they all woke up and the males competed to see who could raise his head the highest as the females watched.

Killdeer at Freeman Lake
Couldn't resist two little killdeer. They are so seldom close and on the ground for a nice photo.

Duck Love
Freeman Lake is known for some of the oddest colored ducks you've ever seen. Now I know why. Duck Love was the popular activity on the lake today. Sometimes 3-4 males tried to mate with the same female at the same time. She was clear under water for quite a while, and I assume she can hold her breath for a long time. Hey, get a room guys!

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