Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Suburban Foxes

For a couple of years now, every night at the edge of dark, I would see a fox come down the edge of the yard, circle around through the woods, come out in my neighbors yard and trek back across the front yard and back into the woods.  It is a nightly routine that I enjoy, watching out the window trying to catch a glimpse and hoping she would stop for a while which she occasionally does.

Several weeks ago after catching one photo on the trail camera, it was evident that she had been nursing and kept hoping she would bring the young ones by.  Finally one night, she eased out at the edge of the woods with a young one with her.

During the last several weeks of setting out the trail camera further in the wooded area around the house to catch the fawns, I began seeing more and more of the foxes.  Always just at or after dark so unfortunately only trailcam shots but they have given me the opportunity to observe the interaction within the family unit.

The adult female is a pretty little fox.  Nice mask markings and a nice bushy tail.  She is the most visible at the edge of dark going about her search pattern  with a seasoned determination.  The male who I have only been seeing for about a year and on the rare occasion  is not as handsome.  His tail is a little on the ragged side and his mask is not as well defined.

There were three young foxes, two that I suspect are males hang away from the adult couple.  One of the young  is generally with the adult female.  I call her Yoda.    She is the far left fox in this photo.   The adult male at times tends to try and show his dominance of the two females which makes me mad but I guess that is nature.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Quick Sunday Morning

Very short morning out today.  Heat and humidty set in early making being outside miserable.  Successive days of high heat and late afternoon storms have provided perfect breeding conditions for the mosquitoes.

 Some young Grosbeaks that fledged this year were still in the area where their nest was and were out hunting insects.  Both looked miserable scratching and fluffing every minute.

Wet foliage from last nights downpour had the birds drying out.  Within 30 minutes I felt as miserable as most of the birds looked.

Can you say ready for fall?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trail Camera Photo Contest

I have really been enjoying my new trail camera and giving it a workout over the last two weeks.  My previous one had almost bit the dust after several years of hard work, abusive weather and the ocassional kick or nudge by wildlife.

For sure it is not high quality photography but it does let you get a glimpse of animal behavior without human presence.  I have been very pleased with the quality of daylight shots with the new camera.  When deciding on what to enter (limited to one photo), I had first considered some very excellent shots of the fawns.  After viewing the submissions however so many pictures of fawns that I went another way.  I did not particularly want to submit a night IR short but that is when some of the best behavior shots happen.

A late afternoon storm left me without power last night and I had a midnight deadline to upload.  At 23:55, a quick decision and upload.  Not one of the best but I tend to like the shots that show interaction or the meeting of different species.  There are some pretty good shots this year so if you get a chance, check out the entries here .  There is a category for US/Canada and international.  Can we really compete with the exotic animals?

I have noticed that when the deer are present and a fox comes up, the deer leaves.  When the foxes are present and the raccoons come up, the fox leave.  When the opossum comes up, everything leaves.  Poor things, if they had association thinking ability I guess they could quickly get a complex.

This is not the photo I entered but one that I like.  Probably should have put this one in.  Two adults and one juvenile fox.  For sure they don't stand still long and live up to sly fox.

Monday, July 23, 2012

An Unusual Year

From the exceptionally warm winter to what feels like an unusually hot summer, birding this year has also followed the unusual pattern. 

During spring this year, on a local level,  there were an unusually high number of Northern Parula in the area.  In the 20+ years I have lived at my current location, I cannot ever recall seeing or hearing them yet this year, they stayed for about a month.

Other birds that were/are locally present in higher number this year include the Eastern Kingbird,   Black-Throated Blue Warbler and Great Crested Flycatchers. 

Noticeably absent are the Common Yellowthroats.  Last year it was oh, another Yellowthroat.  This year, I feel lucky to see one at all.  What is strange, of those that I have seen, there have been far more females.

Despite what the thermometer says, I am already beginning to notice some very subtle signs of the impending fall season.  The  Dogwood tree leaves are already beginning to show faint signs of change.  Elderberries are rippening and the birds are having a field day.

Out Satuday morning for only the shortest period, I noticed that many of the Goldfinches appear to already be going through their molt.  The Goldfinch numbers have also been very high this year even though they are a year-round bird.

Canada Geese, although year round residents, their numbers decrease greatly during the summer months.  I can only assume they head north for cooler weather are already starting to return.  They vacated the pond beind the house in late spring but I am now hearing them coming in late in the afternoon.

The Wood Ducks have returned to the marsh area now that rain has refilled the water areas.  Unlike the Canada Geese, these are some that you are happy to see return.  Yes, I very much look forward to the fall and what will come through.

On the last unusual note, a gentleman that I work with kept telling me about a green bird that has been at this house for a couple of months now.  I asked that if he got a chance, to photograph it because I was very curious.  There have been a couple of sightings of Monk Parakeets in the area and that is all I could think of as a green bird.  Yes, that is what it turned out to be.   I know there have been concerns in some of the northern states where they have taken up residence and have a fully sustainable population.  It will be interesting to watch over the next couple of years and see if their numbers increase in the area. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Twins

This appears to be the year for twins.  I know of three sets within 5 miles of the house.  This particular set is a pair here at the house that I have been seeing for a couple of weeks now.  Before the rain this past week, much of the grasses were drying up and food supply was being depleted.

These are "city" deer and have a very limited area to find food.  When the doe started coming into the yard chomping on flowers and grass, I knew she was hungry.  Knowing that she was trying to nurse two fawns I felt sympathy for her with her thin appearance.  I could swing for a bag of corn and deer chow to help her along.  Over the past two weeks she has put on some weight which in turn I guess helps with milk production because the fawns are flourishing.

I have enjoyed watching out the window as the two young fawns run and kick up their hills.  Mom deer definitely has her work cut out trying to watch them.  One of the fawns is more adventurous than the other.  It will wonder up close to the yard and mom comes up and heads it back down towards the wooded area.

The trail camera has been doing a pretty good job despite the deep shade and that most shots are either early morning or late afternoon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Doe-a-deer, Buck-a-deer


Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's Just Too Dang Hot

I went out for a little while this morning but didn't stay long.  Successive days outside in the heat is taking a toll.  Within an hour out, a killer headache set in so it was a short morning.  The remainder of the day will be inside.  This fellow sort of sums up how I feel today.

Water is evaporating at an unbelievable rate in the marsh.  Spotty afternoon showers have had little to no effect on refilling the marsh and no water from an upstream lake is being released.  Ther Great Blues appeared a bit befuddled by the lack of water and soon departed.

What is a loss to some is a gain to others.  A young Red-Shouldered Hawk took advantage of a stranded fish and swooped down.  It must have eagle dreams.  I guess the easy pickings were too good to pass up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Nemesis Bird of the Summer

How appropriate that my nemesis bird for the summer is the Summer Tanager.  Despite my best efforts so far, less than desirable pictures have been all I could manage.  I headed out with a friend this morning to a location where he had gotten an excellent shot.  We heard one along the trail but arriving at the destination only got a quick glimpse of a female.

Late this afternoon I went to move the trail camera.  At this location, the adult male fully enjoys taunting me.  As I walk it will fly nearby and as soon as I get a good eye on its location, off it goes.  Curses!

I finally found the one area where I could always spot them.  After seeing the young ones there today, I can only guess that the adult male was leading me away from the location.  They must have nested in that particular area.  There were lots of young ones around this afternoon.  The males are in various stages of getting their orange feathers. 

I watched what I believe must be the mom bird.  She was hunting in the trees staying in the shade.  She had an entourage of young birds constantly following her still begging for food despite being adult size.

 So I will continue my quest during the remainder of the summer and hope for that one clear shot in good light.  Always good to have a goal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Bumper Crop of Bluebirds

Sunday afternoon I did a  rough count of the Eastern Bluebirds on my cousins farm and was very pleased with the numbers.  It is a Bluebird paradise!  I estimate between 50-60 young birds.  This trend has been evident in some other areas I visit and it is good news for the Bluebird population.

The "youngsters" were full of vim and vigor engaging in games of chase despite the heat.  Rest periods between chases were needed to cool.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Vegetarian Fox?

I was about a quarter way down the back bridge at the park this morning, looking more over the sides for the fawn than forward when I stopped and the fox stopped. Standoff.

I wasn't surprised to see the fox but what did surprise me was what it was carrying in its mouth.

It was obvious that the fox wanted to cross the bridge and I felt badly as I suspect it had young ones on the other side.  It timidly started forward then stopped.  I couldn't decide on whether to turn around or not but figured it would not cross even if I backtracked.

After at least 30 seconds of us facing off, it eventually turned and headed off.