We have all experienced swarms of small flies, or a herd of cattle, even seen a murmuration or two of Starlings numbering in the low thoisands as they swirl about at sunset approaching their roost. We often see a couple dozen crows, or 150 Canada Geese playing a round of golf at the nearest course. A hundred blackbirds cleaning up the big box parking lot or a flight of Robins working the lawn in October or March–typical. In fall it is not unusul to see several hundreed swallows over a lake or river as they work their way south, bugging along the route. But we rarely see thousands upon thousands of birds, mostly large, many trumpeting their presence. But that’s what awaits you in Klamath Basin in late winter. Small patches of open water crowded with ducks and geese and swans. Levees that offer viewing height lined with raptors. A tree with four or Bald Eagles, a carcass with a half dozen and their usual Raven entourage, waiting for scraps. The sky cross-crossed by myriad flocks of waterfowl seemingly headed in random directions and all at one time. A thicket black with blackbirds of three or more species.
This angle of the photo shows the blunt forehead and heavy neck of the Rough-legged Hawk.
Ferruginous shows off his big mouth, politely referred to as “big gape.” Chris Christie would love a mouth like that. This is an especially pale individual.
The swans are Tundra swans though there is a Trumpeter or two in the crowd and we hope to find them tomorrow, on Day #2 of Dallas Does Klamath. Check the blackbird flock for Yellow-headed hiding in the dried weed stalks.