Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Redstarts are Here!

Within the last two days in three different locations, I have caught a glimpse of what I thought was a Redstart.  Going back and looking at last year, it was late September before I started seeing them on a regular basis.  There were a couple of pair searching in a tree this afternoon and unfortunately, all my shots of the male were in deep shade.  The female landed in a spot of light just long enough for me to get a shot.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's Good to Be Green...ish

1.  Green Anole     2.  Cicada      3.  Differential Grasshopper     4.  "false" Katydid


Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Aerial Ballet

After another night of showers, the sun peeked out for a bit this morning.  I headed out early with high hopes for a good morning of birding.  The coolness of the morning hinted to the coming autumn season.  Before I reached my destination clouds were already once again moving in giving the sky an overcast milky appearance.

Attempting to dry out feathers, an immature male and a female
Common Yellow-throat were hunting in the willow trees.

I was surprised that several Northern Parula were in this morning.  Sure sign that migration is beginning.  I hope they will stay around for a bit.

A pair of Red-Shouldered hawks (?)were flying around and calling out.  They soon flew over the wetland area and began putting on quite an aerial ballet.  Four of us stood for at least ten minutes watching their show.  They were moving so quickly I was having difficulty tracking them.  The last shot posted here I was originally not going to post as they had moved out some distance from where I was standing.  When I realized the position of one of the hawks, I decided it was a keeper.

Notice the position of the hawk at the bottom of this photo.  Feet up.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Albino Fawns

A friend of mine shared a photo he took of two young albino fawns he spotted while driving.  I asked permission to use the photo after I learned that albino deer are not protected from being hunted in this State and sadly, not in most.

I guess my feelings toward albino creatures align with those shared by many Native American cultures, that albino animals are sacred and hold special powers.  That chance spotting gives rise to a feeling of excitement and wonder about nature.   I know it is purely a matter of genetics and recessive genes, but what a special treat to see twin albino fawns.   Mortality rate among albino creatures of all species is much higher than those of normal coloration.  I suppose that is nature’s way of ensuring only the strong survive and the best genes are passed forward.  With that knowledge, can we not let those that are around live in peace without mankind adding to their demise by hunting?  To take advantage of an obvious weakness seems very wrong in every respect.  Where is our compassion for a creature that has an obvious disadvantage?    

 After viewing many websites, I guess this has been a hot topic in many States for some time.  First let me say that I am not opposed to hunting if done legally and the meat is used.  To kill any deer just to cut off a rack is wasteful and shows a great disrespect towards the value of a living creature.   With fewer and fewer people hunting these days, and in this area, a lack of natural predators, I realize from a biological standpoint to maintain a healthy, sustainable herd, hunting needs to be allowed.  The sheer number of deer-auto accidents and seeing deer in unusual places is a testament to their growing numbers in this area.

Hunters with high powered scopes and rifles, compound bows and supposedly, higher intelligence have a greater advantage.  Is it really ethical to go after a creature that because of a fluke of nature has no way to camouflage itself?  Now if you want to go man against beast, using brute strength, speed and cunning, no weapons, and can then take one down,  that would be a fair match up.

 The excitement of seeing one standing in a field versus hanging on a wall; there is no contest.  I can only hope that the many hunters continue to believe a bit of lore from the Native American culture that it brings bad luck to kill an albino deer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Belted Kingfisher

The busy season of nest building and raising young has passed for another year.  The summer is all but gone with astronomical fall in the northern hemisphere beginning on 22 September.  Signs of migration are slowly but surely starting.  The lull of this period gives the opportunity to study and observe the year round birds.

The Belted Kingfsher (Ceryle alcyon) was busy this morning diving for minnows,  always coming back to one particular tree as its observation point.  The tree is out in the middle of the wetlands area flooded by the beaver dam.  Most of the small trees left in that area including this one were girded by the beaver and have already begun losing leaves. 

Fun myth on the Belted Kingfisher.  In Greek mythology. Alcyone (vr. of Halcyone) was the daughter of Aeolus.  Aeolus was ruler of the wind.  Alcyone married Ceyx and were said to be very happy.  At times Alcyone and Ceyx referred to themselves as Zeus and Hera which angered Zeus.  While Ceyx was on a journey at sea to consult an oracle,  Zeus out of anger threw a thunderbolt at the ship.  Soon after, Morpheus (God of Dreams) disguised as Ceyx appreared to Alcyone told of his fate.  Stricken with grief, Alcyone threw herself into the sea.  Out of compassion, the gods changed both Alcyone and Ceyx into birds, and yes, they were Belted Kingfishers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bad Day for a Dragonfly

Out for a little while Saturday morning but not many birds out.  A light drizzle started after about 30 minutes so I called it a morning.  Not much of interest out and then I walked by this spider web.  A dragonfly had flown into the web a little earlier and had done quite a bit of damage to the web trying to escape.

Neoscona crucifera, a member of the Orbweaver family made quick work of its capture.  This arachnid gets its name from the cross shape pattern on its back.  Non-poisonous to humans but deadly to insects.  The dragonfly in its web had a very bad day.  Cycle of life of preditor and prey.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Big Boy's Night Out

After my 12 day work week, I am glad to see Friday.  Expected strong storms for this afternoon thankfully fizzled out so I could get some grass cutting done.  Rain almost every afternoon for the last two weeks had the yard looking like a jungle.  I hope tomorrows projected rain will hold off so I can  get a little needed birding time in.  I feel like I will have to learn to use the camera all over again.

The last two afternoons when I walked down around the pond to put the trail camera out, I have spotted two Green Herons.  This afternoon they were being very vocal which is unusual.  I was going to walk back down with the camera but thunder started but eventually moved on.  I will defintely have to do a little scouting tomorrow.

With rutting season about two months away, the "boys" are already starting to be spotted more openly.  I have caught glimpses of this buck but he has normally hung back from where the doe and the fawns are feeding.  I have captured a couple of shots of the doe with the fawns chasing him away.

He is a fairly handsome buck and his rack looks more impressive than it did last year.  Right after this close shot, he nudged the camera enough to dent the metal box.  Guess he didn't like the little faint red glow.  Fortunately, no damage to the camera.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Experiment in Animal Behavior

Work over the last week and weekend has not afforded me any time to outside during daytime.  I had been noticing on the trailcam shots that there is no shortage of raccoons this year.  The young ones have been very fun to watch; rolling, jumping, playing and scrambling up and down the trees.

Animal behavior fascinates me and after a couple of weeks of the camera in the same location, I moved about 25 feet and put in the mix a new object of three pieces of limb tied together in a  teepee fashion.

The deer were the most spooked by the new object in the territory, standing back and sniffing with an outstretched neck and eyeing warily.  The fox showed some interest but no concern.

The young raccoons, as I expected, regarded it as a piece of playground equipment.  I was treated to several games of "King of the Teepee".

Thursday, August 2, 2012

See the Quick Grey Fox

The male Grey Fox
Finally a couple of late afternoon shots on the trailcam of the fox.  Not great quality but what can you expect out of 8MP's.   Sort of cool to see them out in the day.  The male was late Tuesday and the female late Wednesday. 
The female Grey Fox