Saturday, June 26, 2021

Shirvan National Park - Azerbaijan

Shirvan National Park is 86 miles southwest of the Azerbaijan capital city of Baku, just west of the Caspian Sea, and encompasses 338 square miles. Much of it was previously beneath the Caspian Sea and is below sea level, averaging about 74 feet below sea level. It was initially Shirvan State Reserve, established in 1969, and was converted to a national park in 2003. It was primarily established to protect the goitered gazelle, which was nearly extinct when the Reserve was established and now has between 5,000 and 7,000 of them. 
The entrance to Shirvan NP. Note the gazelle at the top of the monument. 

A marsh area which we viewed from an observation tower. 

A western marsh-harrier flies over the marsh area. 

Some goitered gazelles with a rocky background.

More gazelles and the flatlands and vegetation. 

My best gazelle photo is of a male and the goiter on its neck is clearly visible (the goiter is only present during mating season). 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Western Burrowing Owl - Forrester Road (Again)

My third burrow with owlets, I previously saw one, was on Forrester Road. I saw the owls again this last Monday and as I drove up I saw five to seven owls fly up into the air together, some landed again and some flew away. The owlets are obviously flying now. The burrow is very distinctive because it has a curved piece of cement over it. Because these owls are now older I'm having a hard time trying to figure out if the photos I have are of the owlets or their parents. As I came across this burrow I realized that this chapter of my visits to find owlets is coming to an end. 
I originally thought this owl was an owlet, because of the way it was acting. But the more I look at it and my old photos, I now think it is a parent. It has lots of character. 

This is an owlet. Note that it is starting to get white on top of its head and develop the adult colors and patterns on its chest. 

I believe this is a different parent and a different owlet. 

This is the same parent as in the photo above. 

I believe this is another owlet that has developed most of its adult plumage. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Western Burrowing Owl - Owlets on Vendel Road

My tenth burrow of owls with owlets this year was found on June 21 on Vendel Road. Given the number of owls I've seen along this road, and the number of burrows, I'm surprised that these are the only owlets I've seen on it. I saw two owlets and both parents. One unique thing I saw with these owls was one of the parents flying into a field of greenery to the east, drop down to catch an insect of some sort, quickly fly out again over to the owlets and drop behind a bank to feed the owlets. Later I saw one of the owlets run along the ground to the east, across the dirt road, and then into the greenery on the field to the east. Earlier in the day I saw owlets that were a little bit further along, flying. 
The two owlets.

An owlet getting ready to run, ultimately across the road and into a field to the east. 

I got photos of the owlet on the road and across the road, but they were through the windshield of the car and not in focus. 

An owlet and one of the parents. 

An owlet looking up to its parent for food.

One of the parents in flight. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Western Burrowing Owl - Pellett Road 2 Redux

On June 12 I saw my fifth group of owlets, the second burrow of owlets on Pellett Road. There were two owlets and I saw both parents, one standing off aways and the other feeding the owlets. One June 21 I saw the burrow again, but this time I found three owlets and the one parent that was present was hunkered down in the burrow, much more so than the owlets, and it was not until I watched for quite a while that I saw much more than a portion of her eyes and the top of her head. 
Parent owl is to the far right. 

The owlet next to parent rises up, but parent stays down. 

Finally, parent rises up.

Synchronized head turning.