Saturday, November 16, 2013

Two weeks is too long. +2

On this dark and wet day in Minneapolis, I didn't wake early to go birding. Instead I slept in, had a great breakfast, and by 1pm was ready to go look at birds. It had been a full two weeks since my last time even picking up binoculars. To put this in perspective, the last time I had gone two weeks without birding was over 7 years ago!

Since there was a recent eBird report of 6 Gray Partridge south of the cities by only 45 minutes, I thought I'd go explore the area. I've looked for Gray Partridge only once or twice before, so calling them a "nemesis" bird isn't appropriate. More like a much overdue lifer. When we got to the location, the Great Western Industrial Park near Randolph, MN, it was dark and rainy... the exact opposite of what you want for taking pictures. To make matters worse, Gray Partridge are notoriously tough to find without snow (and even when there IS snow), and are often seen only in flight. Even if we did find them, I knew getting photos would be tough.

We walked the area where the Partridge were described from for a while, soaking our feet and pants, but no luck. As I turned to head back to the car, 5 birds flushed away from me. Gray Partridge! I rattled off a few pictures but, shooting at ISO 3200 against a dark sky isn't ideal. The photos leave much to be desired. Luckily, we saw where they landed. This time, when they flushed, there was a slightly better background. While these pictures may be the worst identifiable photos of Gray Partridge that exist, they are still identifiable.

Gray Partridge
Notice the rufous in the tail of both birds, and the rufous face, barely visible, on the top bird. No other game bird in North America will show these features. While Chukar have rufous in the tail, they lack the rufous face and are gray overall. I just barely pulled this off!

We decided to check Lake Byllesby. On the way, two male Ring-necked Pheasants were feeding along side the road. This is always a tough bird for me to SEE, so I was happy to have two very cooperative birds.

Ring-necked Pheasants
While the pictures today are far less than great, I'll take them given the conditions. Two new game birds for the year, and a long overdue lifer! New photo birds continue to get harder and harder to find. Stay tuned!

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