Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Morning Out

Since Monday was a holiday and happened to be my day off, I had today off which made it a nice long weekend. The temperature was already warm and expected to rise to mid 90's today so I had second thoughts as to whether much would be out but decided to go ahead out for about an hour. Not much out over the weekend so I figured today would be the same.

Was I ever wrong. For whatever reason the birds were really out today. I had been chasing a mystery bird for the last couple of weeks. I could not place the call and it would never come out in the open. Yesterday I got a quick shot but extremely poor quality as the lighting was in front of me. A new bird for my list, Yellow-breasted Chat so I was determined to get a good shot.

I heard it before I approached the back bridge and eased out ever so slowly. A couple of shots and it flew to a tree further back. It continued to call and I decided to start mimicking it. Well what do you know. It flew close to me and I stood and chatted with the Chat. I got so tickled that I could not whistle back.

A new Oriole was in today. A couple of not very good shots but until I can determine what and hopefully get a better shot I will hold in reserve.

Several juvenile Blue Grosbeaks were out hunting. As beautiful as they are as adults, while they are in molting stage with their mix of colors, not the best looking birds but fun watch.

The Damselflies are out with their iridescent colors ablaze. Unlike dragonflies, they tend to stay in a shaded area finding a little patch of sunshine.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Curious Case of Phoebe

Over the last two years, despite all efforts to discourage nesting, a Phoebe has succeeded in building a nest under the carport on top of the light. She has always chosen one particular side and only varied once on a second nesting when the nest fell down.

This year was no different. I thought I had successfully discouraged her from the light by placing a nesting platform on the side, but no. Back in March while I was gone for a couple of days, she had completed the nest. That being done, I was not going to disturb it.

Phoebe sat on the nest for a couple of weeks then suddenly, gone. As temperatures were still cool at night, I knew any eggs would no longer be viable. After seeing a Brown Headed Cowbird pair hanging around, curiosity got the better of me so I got the ladder and headed up. Not wanting to disturb the nest, I placed a mirror over fully expecting to see a couple of Phoebe eggs and a possible Cowbird egg. Nothing....no sign of anything. I double checked the carport floor but no broken eggs.

I marveled at the finely woven nest. The finest of grasses carefully woven forming an almost perfect circle. The outside of the nest had been carefully covered and hooked to the light with lichens and moss. All I could do was wonder. There is no way a snake could have gotten to the next and no signs of it being disturbed. I considered going ahead and removing the nest so I could paint a replaced piece of plywood that had already been postponed from the previous year double nesting but I just could bring myself to remove what she worked so hard on.

I did not see Phoebe again for a couple of weeks. Eventually, she came back to the yard area perching on her favorite spots then dashing off after an insect. This past Tuesday, I noticed that she was coming and sitting on the opposite light, sitting and just looking at the nest. She did this for a couple of days. On Friday when I came home, Phoebe was in the next and did the peer over at me as I was going in the house.

Today between periods of nest sitting and insect chasing, she would fly to a nearby tree where what I presume is Mr. Phoebe sits. They seem like an old married couple fussing with each other. I am very courious as to whether she has laid eggs or not but will not disturb the nest. I will just track to when I think they would hatch. Outcome to be seen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Arrived at work early this morning hoping to complete a couple of pending projects. Computer system had crashed and burned and it was going to be several hours before we were up and running. Having my camera with me I decided to go walking at the eco station next door to where I work. Took quite a few of the hawk in a tree and flying and once it landed on this post. I knew it was a mini-weather station but had no idea of the writing until I got home.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tribute to Motherhood - Tufted Titmouse

Over the last several weeks, I have watched a pair of Tufted Timouse go from building their nest inside a hollowed out limb hole to now, spending much of their time finding food for their young.

I get about two 15 minute periods in the afternoon when the sun shines directly on the opening. I try each afternoon to get that perfect shot.

The female of course seems to be doing most of the work as the male sits lookout over the nest while the female flies in and out. On occasion, he will find an insect nearby to where he is on watch and pass it over to the female. The task of feeding and tending to the nest however seems to fall on the female. Usually between her trips in and out of the nest, she will stop off at the bird feeder for a bite. I try to keep that feeder filled with high quality energy seeds.

I have to say, they are an extremely dedicated pair. This afternoon just after the female departed the nest, a Carolina Wren flew to a dangling limb close to the opening. The male quickly flew into action and promptly dispatched the wren from the area. The Carolina Wren couple is nesting very close and unlike the Titmice pair, both seem to hunt for insects together.

Several days ago when I went out keeping a discreet distance from the nesting tree, all the birds in the area became instantly upset. I began to feel bad thinking I was the cause of the upset but soon, I saw what the true cause. A hawk had flown in and bird chaos erupted. The sound of the warning calls from all the birds in the area was almost overwhelming. In a few minutes, some Robins and Cardinals seem to join forces to chase the hawk away. The female Titmouse who had been in the nest peered out looking all around to make sure the danger had passed.

I figure I may have one more week to watch. I can now see the little ones moving about a bit if I watch carefully when the mother bird first flies in. I hope after the little ones fledge, she will have a nice vaction. Like most mothers, she deserves a break after raising her young.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Green Heron

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Outstanding Ending to the Weekend

All I can say is the stars and planets must have been in perfect alignment this weekend. For just staying local, this has been a simply outstanding weekend. I won't even bad mouth the clouds that came in this afternoon. I needed the rest and if the sun had been shining, I simply could not have stood to be inside.

The morning started off a bit cool but the crisp air felt good. Glad though I had an extra emergency jacket stashed in the trunk because it was cooler than I thought once I got out. I left about an hour early before the park opens and hit a few places on the way. Once again, despite numerous attempts to photograph my nemesis bird...the Eastern Meadowlark, not a good one among them. It is a running joke with one of my friends.

On my first stop, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks were hunting a field hard. I thoroughly enjoying watching. They are magnificent flyers. The photo is a composite shot of several in the series. On the fence along the dirt road, Blue Grosbeaks seemed to be everywhere. They are just pretty birds and I like this time of year when they come in. Lighting was not optimal but what the heck.

I think the coolness of the morning kept many people from showing up at the park early. For at least an hour I had the park to myself. Lovely! No loud talkers or joggers or fast walkers to scare everything away. As I was going across the main bridge, I noticed something fly in. Although it flew in to the shadows, I recognized the flight silhouette. Green Heron. And then, another. I quickly set up the tripod. For 30 minutes I stood watching them. Definite courtship and scouting for nesting area was going on. If I could have hoped for one thing, better lighting would have been it.

As I walked down the trail to the back bridge, I passed an area of honeysuckle. It's sweet fragrance filled the air as sunbeams were warming it. I just stopped and inhaled deeply. Such a wonderful simple treat. Natures perfume.

Arriving at the back bridge, with the coolness of the morning, the birds were not very active yet. I sat down on the bench and scanned the trees with the bino's. Then I just sat. Enjoying the peace and listening to the sounds of nature. In a few minutes, I saw some deer coming out of the woods. I sat very still and ducked down behind the rail on the bridge. Finally I slowly and quietly moved to the camera. I got quite a few shots off before they spotted me. They all stood at first as if what to do and continued to munch along for a while. This young male finally snorted and stomped and they all took off. What fun!