Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Bits (We know where Nemo is!)

One day short of three weeks ago (September 1st), the second turkey vulture chick fledged. Both Big Bit and Li'l Bit were seen in the area a week later. John Carton got pictures. Today my friend Bev and I went hunting. On the Missouri Turkey Vultures website we're known as backen and kben920.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

We arrived at the barn around 9 am and almost immediately saw a turkey vulture soaring overhead. It circled a bit and then left, headed toward the park, which is a mile or less east of the barn. On the day he fledged, we watched L'il Bit look long and hard out the north window of the loft. It's the top window in this picture. Considering he didn't know how far his wings would take him, he was smart enough not to launch from there. The bushes below the window are thorn-laden berry bushes. It would not have been a happy landing.

While at the barn, I snapped a picture of one of the nearby trees. A lot of the thumping noises we heard were likely the product of the branches hitting the tin roof.

This is the front of the barn. The hayloft door was the main entrance and exit for the turkey vultures. Don't you love the weathered look? The Parents chose a picturesque spot for the nursery!

We saw a couple of cicada shells on the door. We heard lots of singing cicadas while we watched the Bits on line. One of the chatters dubbed them "zizzers" from the sound they make. See the "writing" on the brick above the door? I think that's turkey vulture for "good-bye and have a great life."

Since there was no action near the barn, we followed the rough trail back into the woods behind the barn. The woods is dense with many fallen trees. We saw a lot of birds, including two woodpeckers that were having a gay old time playing tag in the treetops. The crows carried on a little bit and then disappeared.

As we returned to the barn area, we saw another turkey vulture circle overhead and disappear in the direction of the park. Bev spotted a couple of gorgeous beetles on a bush honeysuckle as we headed for the car. (If you know what this beetle is, please tell me via the comment box below.)

We drove east, toward the park, and saw a few vultures soaring. Just past the park entrance the road crosses a railroad bridge. In this picture you can see the rail line. The train sounds we hear on the web cam are from trains running along here. The hill behind the cars is the east side of the park.

From the road we spotted a turkey vulture sitting on the dark brown rail car. The tracks at this point are in a small depression with the road running high above. With little traffic on the line, this is a great place to catch some morning sun! The photo isn't very clear because of the distance, making it difficult to tell if this is an adult or juvenile.

When I got out of the van to get the photo, I must have triggered an alarm, as suddenly a venue of 7 or 8 vultures flew up from below the cars and headed eastward, toward the trees that line Salt Fork Creek. A little later we spotted a juvenile sitting on another rail car. Could this be one of the Bits? I'd like to think so. It appears to be about the age of "our" fledglings.

Attempts to get photos of the entire venue didn't turn out so well. They managed to fly between us and the sun, making it difficult to see. I deleted a dozen or more photos of clear blue sky, alas.

One of the birds flew west of us and I managed to catch him on the return flight. This photo and the one of the juvie made this excursion a definite success in my book!

Please note that I used a generic he in describing the birds as there is no way to identify gender by sight.

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