Monday, March 31, 2014


What a beautiful day it ended up being.  After a few light, lingering clouds early this morning the sky cleared to a bright Carolina blue.  Temperatures warmed fairly quickly and if you could get out of the wind, it felt really nice outside.

The Kingfisher couple were in the wetlands taking advantage of the warming waters that brought the frogs and small fish to the surface.  They were having a big time.  The male chased the female around but she really did not want a lot to do with him.  A couple of times he brought the female a small fish trying to gain her favor.

One one dive, the male came up with a frog and carried to a nearby tree where he proceeded to whip the frog against the tree over and over.  I felt sort of bad for the frog.  A heck of a way to go to be beaten to death.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Eastern Towhee

The hard rain has stopped but a fine mist has continued to fall all day.  At least it is fairly warm.  Off and on today I have watched two male Towhees displaying and vying for the attention of a female.

Tail feather spreading, wing stretching and high hopping appeared to be the main ways of displaying.  Several times the two males would take to the are in mock fighting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Get Ready, Get Set, Go

Oh to fly!  Have you ever thought about how cool it would be to be able to fly?  I have had my wings clipped the last couple of days waiting on a person to come to install a new hot water heater. No-show yesterday and first thing this morning I called Lowes asking where the service person was.  After four hours of no call back from Lowes, I finally left the house going back up to the store and cancelling the order this afternoon.

Hopefully tomorrow my brother is going to come to help me get a new one in.  I woke up Monday morning to find no hot water.  Seems like you just cannot depend on a business any more.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hunting Frogs

You normally don't associate hawks and water but this pair has learned the pond is a good spot for hunting frogs. They sat in a tree beside the pond watching for the longest time.  The male swooped down after a frog and took off in a minute with frog in tow.

The female sat in the same tree for another few minutes then changed position.  The sight of the frogs bobbing finally became too much temptation.  If the frogs won't come out of the water, then you go in after the frogs.

She tried on multiple attempts with no success.  Her moves became bolder and bolder with her ending up in the water several times.  At last success.  Not sure what she got but she flew to the other side under some brush.  I could see her pulling something apart so at least she got a meal.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ruddy Duck Dilemma

I went to the park this morning for a bit to see what was out.  Clouds started moving in earlier than expected so I didn't want to go anywhere far in case of showers.   Not too much was out.  I missed the shot of the beaver from underexposure.  One of those things when you swing over quickly just trying to get the shot.  Oh well.

As I was leaving there was a group of birders watching as a pair of Canada Geese was attacking a poor little Ruddy Duck.  I sat down the tripod and decided to see what was going on.  The group of birders thought the little duck was probably just sick but I could tell that it was caught.

When you see the little Ruddy Ducks just out swimming, you don't really realize how small they are.  Against the large Canada Geese they are dwarfed.    Several of us made some noise until the geese moved on.  The little Ruddy was in a predicament to where it was either going to fall prey to the geese, hawks or fox.  It just seemed an unfair way to go because of the hand of man.

I decide to stop in at the park office and talk with them.  One of them walked back out with me and decided he would get the canoe out and go over.  The little Ruddy was rescued and freed from the fishing line.  This kind of thing is what really bugs me about folks who don't dispose of broken fishing line properly.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hawk Amour - Mating Red-shouldered Hawks

I headed out as soon as the light was going to be fairly good where I was going.  I noticed yesterday that the hawks were quite active with courtship/mating and knew they would be mating for several days.  As I was walking I heard the distinctive call of a Indigo Bunting, my first for this spring and headed off to try and get a shot.  I stopped dead in my tracks when a Cooper's Hawk flew by in front of me.  I only got a couple of shots from the back when all heck broke loose above me.

The Red-shouldered pair had flown in to a tree and were keeping quite a fuss.  I wanted to maneuver for a better position but decided to stay still for fear they would fly off.  I was rewarded by the opportunity to see them mating.

After mating that sat side by side for a couple of minutes.  Female on the left, male on the right.

The male then jumped up to another limb and began boasting,  screeching out before he departed.

The female stayed for some time after the male left preening and watching the ground.

She then took off and went to the nest where she spent some time adjusting sticks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Has Sprung.....Finally!!!

At last we can say it is officially spring.  Today was simply beautiful with a bright blue sky and warming temperatures.  We will have a couple of days of nice weather before guess what...more rain and looking at the forecast for Tuesday, a possibility of more frozen precip?!  Enough already.

I didn't get out as early as I had hoped this morning.  I had to go pick up some replacement windows and wanted to get those in this morning.  I had all the windows replaced a couple of years ago and several had begun having a mold growing between the two panes of glass.  Not all were in but it is sure nice for a clear view on  those I replaced.

I knew not much would be out by the time I got to the park and then there was a school group but they were on the way out.  I walked back to the back and found that the pair of Northern Shovelers were still there.  I was having to shoot towards the light so they are not the best.

There was lots of courtship activity going on between this pair.  I got really ticked watching them taking turns seeing how much water they could splash.  They would follow the splashing with preening and stretching.  It is unusual for them to be here this late and I am hoping they may stay and nest.

The males are quite pretty now as they are coming in to their full breeding color.  I think I will try for a better shot tomorrow under more favorable light conditions.  I like when they show all the colors on the wings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wet, Wet, Wet

After three days of rain (including ice on Sunday/Monday), it has finally stopped this afternoon.  It is still very overcast but I just had to get out a little.  Both the dog and I were beginning to get a case of cabin fever.  I put her on the leash and out we went.

I just walked around the yard seeing what the ice damaged.  All the daffodils which were so pretty are bent over on the ground.  The camellias  also took a hit with the flowers turning dark.  What a shame because they were so pretty.  One of the bushes that the flowers seem a bit more hardy still have some pretty flowers.

All of the rain has been a boom to all kinds of fungi.  This one particular stick had several kinds growing on it that I thought was quite interesting.  I like all of the subtle colors and shapes.  With the projected warmer weather over the next couple of days things should come to life.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Searching for Breakfast

I went out fairly early to get in some last outside time before the rain.  It was not too bad out early but cloud cover has increased all morning and temperatures started falling.
Tomorrow is going to be a particularly raw day with more rain in the forecast until Wednesday. Much more and I am going to start looking at plans for an ark!

The hawks were out early trying to find some breakfast.  They are usually a bit on the shy side but today, this female who is still fairly young based on her color,  flew to a nearby tree  not once but twice.  At the second location, we looked at each other eye to eye so I know she knew I was there.  Maybe she was hoping that I would stir something up while I was walking.  It gave me the opportunity for a couple of nice shots.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Brown-headed Nuthatch

House building is in full swing.  Despite an old nesting tree that is filled with holes, I guess there is a need for refreshing and enlarging some of the pre-used holes.  A pair of BH Nuthatches took turns working on a hole taking small bits out.  One would work for a while then they would trade off.

I suspect there is a network of holes.  One would go in and then come out a hole on the other side and repeat the steps.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Preening

Humans do spring cleaning, birds do spring preening.  This Red-shouldered Hawk sat in a tree near the deck this afternoon and for 15 minutes sat and did some serious preening.  I could see fine feathers floating down as she would preen then shake.

This couple nested right beside the house last year and I am still trying to spot their nest this year.  They have been very active over the last couple of days flying and calling.  With the amount of time they have spending near the house I am sure they are nesting again this year.  I think I may have spotted their nest but really need to watch for a bit.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flashing Some White

Yesterday afternoon when I went out to give the deer some food they were waiting on me.   With the time change and it staying lighter later, I was a little late going down.  Most of them know me and know that I won't harm them,  They back off a few feet but wait for me to pour out the food in separate little piles.

Every now and then one will flash up a tail.  I think it freaked out a bit because some Canada Geese that were also hanging out at the feeding spot took off honking.  As soon as the geese alerted, up the tail went on one.

One of the young ones that was born last season just sort of stood there like what the heck is all the excitement about.

I am ready for things  to start greening up so they will have plenty of food available and I can lay off feeding them for a while.  There is just so little for them to eat in the winter that I sort of feel sorry for them and this winter was a hard one.  I guess if truth be known, I enjoy just seeing them.  They get food, I get to see them up close.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grackle Migration 2014

Looks like migration is in full swing.  I had gone down to my cousin's farm today to take a look at the hawks.  I was almost down to the nest when I heard such a ruckus of birds come in that I started back up to check it out.  Thousands of Grackles! There were a few Red-Winged Blackbirds that were also in with this flock.  They were like a swarm of locust first landing in a newly plowed field where some corn had been left for a wildlife plot.  The sight and sound was amazing.

Regardless of how I attempted to capture the numbers, a single photo could simply not portray their mass.  They alternately swarmed from the field to stands of Pine Trees.  When in the pines, bark rained down as they flipped it off looking for insects.

As they began to move in various locations I walked attempting to follow them.  I was quite upset as they moved towards where the hawks were nesting.  I could here the adults calling and starting jogging towards the area.  The adults were making attempts at keeping them at bay but finally left the nest.  It was ripped apart by the Grackles.  My heart just sank.  I started clapping loudly and the Grackles moved on.

A true example of strength in numbers.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Red-shouldered Hawks

Oh to be spring....well almost.  After a day and a half of almost solid rain and cold temperatures, the sun coming out today and temperatures in the mid 60's is an absolute treat. With mating and nesting in full swing for the hawks, I went out to check on a local pair of Red-shouldered Hawks.  I was very much surprised by their selection of a nesting tree this year.  Over the last three years they have always picked a tree with a good pocket area from the main trunk to where the branches start going out.


The nest this year looks very small and in a rather precarious position.  I have some worries that the nest will make it to fledge time.  Hopefully the adults will shore it up a bit.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

River Otters

The otters that have been coming through the park for the last several years arrive within the first two weeks of March and stay anywhere from 3-5 days before moving on.  I had gone Monday to check but no sign and then sleet came mid day.  I decided to go first thing this morning as the weather was going to deteriorate later in the day with rain tomorrow.  My gut feeling paid off.
Again this year the light was just horrible.  They seem to arrive when it is very overcast and by the time the weather clears they have moved on.  Following that pattern they will be gone by the weekend when nice weather arrives.

I did manage to get a few shots this morning though not the best.  They are delightful creatures to watch.

After I arrived home, I realized I had left something where I had been sitting so had to turn around and go back.

When I started across the bridge I heard noises and lots of splashing.  I could see that it was the otters and thought at first they were just playing.  Oh no....spring is in the air and those mating instincts were calling.  I only had my 100-400 lens with me but took a shot knowing it was almost too far away.  Where was the Tamron home, being prepared to ship back.  &(*&$@# auto-focus just stopped working!!!!  So much for that lens.