Sunday, April 29, 2012

Salvaging Sunday

Hopes for a bright, clear Sunday morning were dashed early but I went ahead and went out hoping against hope.  What an absolute shame too because we had the chance to come upon the merlin several folks have been trying to document.  Well, proof is in the picture even though not a good one and four of us all took shots.

The Indigo Buntings were spectacular and unusually numerous and active.  I believe the overcast skies actually helped photographing the vibrancy of their blue.  It was a treat watching them.

Around 1400, the sun came out, blue skies and temperatures rebounded.  To go back out or not?  Blue skies were calling so off I went.  This turned out to be a very good decision.  Even though it was still very shady, where I was going, the birds were absolutely phenominal.  Northern Parulas were singing everywhere.  Warblers today: Yellow, Palm,  Black and White Warblers, Black-Throated Blue  and definitely heard a Black Poll.  In deep shade and not the best shot but I enjoyed seeing them all.

Moving on to check out an area further down the trail, a bright splash caught my eye.  At first I thought maybe a Cardinal until I heard.  I was so excited and afraid I would not have time to get the camera adjusted that I just flipped the camera to programed.  There it was, a Scarlet Tanager.  I have seen Summer Tanagers and this location but never a Scarlet.  Thrilled!

On a high and sun starting to get low I called it a day.  On the way out, I passed an area and could definitely hear chirping of little ones.  I saw the adult Phoebe fly in and stopped to look.  Wish the shot could have been better but I dared not do anything to disturb the little ones by moving branches to try and get a clear shot.  How sweet all of them lined up.  A good ending to what turned out to be a good day.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Gray Day - But Good Birds

April has been a most disappointing photography month.  Living and waiting for the weekends to roll around and on almost every single weekend this month there has been either rain or gray skies at least part of the weekend.

Today is the same.  Beautiful yesterday, cloudy and cool today.  I was not even going to go out this morning but decided to give it a go.  The birds were great, the photo'  Hopefully some of the clouds will move out tomorrow and the weather will improve. Next weekend is a work weekend so I am sure the weather will be lovely then.

 A Nutria was swimming across the pond when I first arrived.  There was discussion among several people on the bridge as to what is was.  Everything from the otter, beaver and muskrat was said.  I knew it was either the muskrat or nutria and after uploading the photo for sure it was the nutria.

There was one unbelievable tree.  Not sure what it was but the birds were flocking to it.  Three of us who were watching all commented that we had never before witnessed such a large gathering of Eastern Kingbirds together.  Probably 25-30 all taking turns flying in and out to this tree.  At least ten Gray Catbirds, some Cardinals, a Blue Grosbeak and Brown Thrasher also joined in the feast.

As one of the gentleman and I were standing checking out the area flooded by the beaver, a Wood Duck and Green Heron flew in.  Oh for the sun to be shining.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Birding From The Deck

Home a little early today and had some time to enjoy sitting outside.  I took the laptop outside and was listening to some bird calls.  Did the birds respond?  Oh yes.  What fun.  A little more light would have been fantastic but then you can't have it all.  The two that I have been seeing that I could not get to come up were the Black-Throated Blue Warbler and Redstarts.  The Northern Parula, Red-Eyed Vireo and of course the Great Crested Flycatcher were willing participants.

Probably the most fun was the flycatcher.  Some great shots of it turning and cocking its head and singing along.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hooded Warbler

Not the best shots as I was in deep shade.  Very little time to adjust before the runners buzzed almost taking out the camera and of course,  the bird flew.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Perils of Fledging

This afternoon when I arrived home I walked out on the deck as usual.  Both ear and eye were immediately drawn to a very tiny little bird on the ground peeping and quivering.  Flight attempts were unsuccessful.  The parents were on a limb above and from the tone of their fussing were stressed over the little one.

I watched for a while and became concerned as larger birds were coming in for afternoon visits to the feeder and bird bath.  Grackles that always arrive for a short time in the spring were circling around it so it was time for action.

I grabbed some gloves and walked back outside gently scooping up the little bird and placed it on a branch under the cover of a shrub.  A little later I watched and parents had located the baby from its peeping.  Hopefully, the little bird will make it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Great Crested Flycatcher

With its raspy call that carries far, the new bird in the trees today stirred up all the other birds.  A pair have been coming and calling the woods beside the house home for the last couple of years.  I heard that very distinctive call two days ago but could never spot it.  Today I answered back each time it called.  Before long, it came.  These birds seem very receptive to answering back and coming to investigate.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Green Heron

Arrival of the Green Herons is a sure sign good birding is about to begin.  The photos are deceptive as to its size.  This had to be one of the smallest Green Herons that I have ever seen.  There was a breeding pair at the pond last year and I wonder if this is an offspring of that pair.  It is definitely much smaller than either in that pair.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

So focused on hunting it didn't seem to mind that at times I was within an outstretched arms length from it.  I suppose that it was well aware that with a few flaps of the wings it could be swiftly and safely away.

 It was a wonderful opportunity to have a close up view and watch as it hunted.  At one point it stopped and turned to me as if to say yes, I see you there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nuthatch Nesting Update

I went by yesterday morning to check on the nuthatch nesting site.  The last time I was there I saw no activity and thought perhaps the nest had been abandoned.  Fortunately it has not.  I first noticed the activity on 19 March when the birds were working on enlarging the hole.  On 25 March, nesting material was being brought in.

The average clutch size of is five to six eggs with one egg laid each day.  Incubation period is approximately 14 days after the last egg.  During the incubation time the male will bring food to the female.  This appeares to be the activity going on now.  One or the other is never far from the nest.  The Chickadees are still showing great interest in the nesting site and were chased off a couple of times while I was watching.

The male would arrive with a goody in beak and stop outside the hole.  The female would either then come out of the nesting site as shown in the shots two and three or sometimes just take the food and disappear back to the nest.

Brown-Headed Nuthatches are monogamous and often permanently mated.  Their range is the south east US and Gulf Coast states.  They tend to be very territorial particularly during mating season.

Monday, April 9, 2012


At last the warblers are arriving.  I went out for a short time Sunday morning as I had a family dinner to attend at noon.  The day started out beautiful even though a bit coolish.  Unfortunately as birding was getting very good, they sky filled with clouds.  The cloudy skies didn't stay too long but I just don't like the way photos when their are deeply overcast skies.  I spotted a Palm Warbler Saturday but could not get a decent shot.  Sunday morning they were numerous and flying about hunting insects on the emerging leaves of the willow trees.

Lots of Yellow-Rumped Warblers massing together for their move north.  It is rare to get to see them in their full color.  When they arrive in winter they are already in their more brownish phase and usually begin departing before they have their full color for the mating season.

At one location I ran into a fellow birder.  We watched a small group of birds flying about and had some discussion as to what they were.  They never seem to settle into a place where they were not silhouetted.  The morning light was definitely playing tricks on their color.  After lightening the shadows some in PS, I could see what they were.  So Randy....what we were seeing was female Red-Winged Blackbirds.

Lots of sweet looking Field Sparrows.    They have such a gentle, soft look about them.

Moving on to the park, there were several Cormorants out.  Some swimmimg, some drying out.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What's Arriving

The first rain-free weekend in several and the temperatures have plummeted into the high 50's.  Crazy weather.  I had hoped for a very good day today but the wind has been blowing at a steady clip and not much was out.

The Barn and Tree Swallows have arrived and were active over the pond this morning.  They are lively, fun birds to watch and have a pleasant chatter.

My best find today was a White-Eyed Vireo.  I spotted it late this past week but the photo was poor.  Today it was singing away and there were several off in the distance that would reply.

A male Eastern Towhee,  with its almost metallic sounding song at times was out singing proud.  Even though they are year round residents,  I think they are quite handsome birds with their striking red eye.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Stroll

The morning started early after being rocked out of bed around 0230 this morning by a loud clap of thunder, followed by sharp and close lightning, wind and hail.  I cut the TV on to check for any weather warnings.  April tornados are not too uncommon so best to check.  Only warnings of a quick moving severe thunderstorm which was good.  First light brought a chance to survey any damage.  Lots of small limbs and leaves but nothing bad.

The weather cleared up a bit so it was an early out as more unsettled weather is possible this afternoon.  What I think is a young Red-Tailed Hawk had situated itself in a tree with good views of the surrounding field.  Quite a handsome bird I just wish the lighting would have been better.

I moved on to an area where the Black Poll Warblers hang out in the early part of April.  I heard and spotted what I am sure was one however all the pictures were mostly in silhouette.  They will be around for about two weeks so there is time to try and get a good shot.

In that same area there was lots of activity lower down in the trees.  What fun!  The Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are in.  They are fast, rarely sit still for long and are fun to try and  photograph.  They were doing what gnatcathers do best.

It was now around 0810 and the park was open so I headed that way.  Meadowlarks were in the fields and singing.

Mallards were out head down in the water digging out vegetation.  Walking on back with hopes of spotting the Wood Ducks.   A female Merganser coming off what I think was a nest.  She took a quick swim around before going back on land.