Sunday, April 27, 2014

Red-tailed Hawk

Patiently waiting and watching hoping to spot a potential target for breakfast.  I often wonder how many of us would go hungry if we had to capture our on food on a daily basis.  Their patience often amazes me.

This pine tree is prime real estate with clear view of two large fields.  Sometimes the hawk is there, sometimes the Merlin is there.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blue-winged Teal

I was quite thrilled today to see a pair of Blue-winged Teal.  Up until this year I can never remember them coming to the pond.  The three amigo Mallards that call the wetland area their turf seemed a bit disturbed by the appearance of the Teals.  They banded together and harassed them or maybe it was just curiosity but they sure made a point of swimming up to and around them wherever they went.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lesser or Greater Yellowlegs

The pond at the local park I visit regularly is primarily to showcase an old grist mill and provide nature education.  It serves as a native wildlife refuge and there is remarkably varied wildlife either visiting or that call the park and the area surrounding the park home.

Repairs on the mill have required that the pond be dropped below the top of the dam which has resulted in all but the deepest parts of the pond to be drained.  The resulting mud flats have brought in birds not normally seen or rarely seen.  It has become a treasure for shore type birds that wade in shallow water and search the mud flats for hidden treasures.

Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Killdeer and today the addition of either a Lesser or Greater Yellowlegs.

I have flipped-flopped back and forth between the Lesser and the Greater trying to compare their field marks.  They seem to contradict each other but I guess if I had to make a guess I would say Lesser.

Some of the things that I have been looking at is the bill length compared to the head size, the shape of the bill at the end, the banding markings and the shape of the bill in general.  There is so little difference between the two that unless you can make a comparison side by side, for an adult in breeding colors, they are very close.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sad Ending for Black-throated Blue Warbler

Exams this week and a paper to write have not given me any free time this week.  I took the last exam this morning and made it home by mid afternoon.  I was so thrilled to see some warblers finally arrive at the bath.  I went to clean the window in case I wanted to take some photos and could have just cried within about 10 minutes of cleaning, I heard a hit on the window.

I walked out on the deck and oh so sadly spotted a little Black-throated Blue Warbler.  I had hoped that it was not badly hurt and only stunned.  To protect the little bird I gently placed it on a towel in a small box and called a lady who is a wildlife rehabilitator to ask for some advice.  Unfortunately about an hour later the little bird passed.  I felt so guilty that here the little bird had flown thousands of miles during migration now this!  Needless to say, all screens are now down on the windows and those with only half screens have a sticky yellow post-it note on

To make the best of a bad event, during a program I attended tonight at the Museum of Natural History, I found someone to talk to and asked would they be interested in the bird.  Yes, they very much wanted it.  Fortunately I had left the little bird in the box to be buried once I got back from the program.  It is now safely wrapped, tucked away in a paper towel holder, wrapped in foil and placed in the freezer.  I told the museum that I would get it to them this weekend.  At least I feel a little better that it will now be used for learning and not just a waste of life.

Friday, April 18, 2014


The cool weather continues and rain is projected for the weekend.  I am beginning to think that spring weather is only a dream.  This afternoon as I was fixing some dinner, I watched a pair of Cardinals doing a little bonding action.  The male would go to the bird feeder and bring the female back either a safflower or sunflower seed.  A little beak action leads to bonding between the pair.  The male appears to watch the female to see if she was pleased with his offering.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Trail Cam Shots

I always look for something other than deer to capture on the trail camera for a yearly contest.  Part of the rules of the contest is that you cannot do any post processing.  It is whatever comes out of the camera.  It is only an 8mp camera so quality is only going to be so so.

The Woodchuck/Groundhog will be my subject this year I believe.  I am going to try several different positions and see which comes out the best.  I watched it for a while this morning via the binoculars and when there was a break in the rain went out to retrieve the camera.

I didn't realize however that the lens had a film on in so I cleaned it before setting it out again.  For my next  try I used two cables hooking it around the big tree to try a different angle.  Tomorrow will tell but I think I like the angles of this shot and will give  this one a try again with a clean lens.

That area appears to be a hot spot of activity.  The raccoon was there again but fortunately was not able to move the camera this time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Pine Warbler Couple

Rain is heading this way but we really need it to wash away the yellow coating of pollen.  The last couple of days with the wind blowing things are also dry and a nice rain should freshen things up.  The birds have steadily making use of the disappearing fountain to clean the pollen from their feathers.

 I got pretty tickled with this pair. They came together and both bathed for a minute then one flew off and sat on a limb above while the other bathed.  They repeated their visit three times.  Looks like it must have felt good to them.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How much wood can a Woodchuck chuck?

The trail camera position was a dismal failure thanks to a raccoon shifting the camera that I had placed in an already precarious position facing the Groundhog hiding hole.  I got enough shots of the raccoon's face to know he was the culprit.

I got a very poor shot with the camera this morning as I was walking down to retrieve the trail cam. It is extremely skittish and runs to the hole as soon as it sees you so this shot was taken from some distance away and the light was bad.

I changed the position of the trail cam and left it down low for several hours and have just changed it up higher and will leave it there for a day or two.  With rain in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday  perhaps the lower position would be better but I will shift it on Wednesday.

The appearance of the Woodchuck aka Groundhog, Marmot, Whistle-pig answers some questions I had about some small saplings that had been chewed off.  I was beginning to think that perhaps a beaver had found its way to the pond.

Speaking of beavers, the beaver at the park was out early snagging some greenery.  I only got a couple of shots before it went in to its lodge.

There was an almost noticeable feel of energy and excitement in the air today among the birds.  It is almost like someone opened a big bird cage door and let all the migrants out.   I have heard quite a few warbler songs today, the Great Crested Flycatcher has been screeching and what year round birds that had not already started their nest were working hard on them today.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I did not go out long this morning as I was trying to finish sanding and staining my Grandmother's pie safe that I had been stripping.  When my Grandmother passed, that was one of the things I wanted and none of the other grandchildren seemed to have an interest in it.  To the best the family can figure it is close to 90 years old.

A quick walk through at the park where I went to check the Bluebird boxes, I saw this Mallard and thought the reflection in the water was quite nice.

Just a few minutes ago I went down to put out some food for the deer and spotted two new creatures in the area.  Of course the scurried in to a hiding hole but I feel sure with the quick look I got that they are Groundhogs.  In all the years I have been living here I have never seen one around.  I came back up to the house to get the trail camera and clippers to try and fix an area to catch them coming out of their hole.  I know any night shots will be a white-out since I have it set very close but I am after day shots anyway.  Hopefully tomorrow something will be on the trail cam.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5+ Feet of a Not Happy Snake

Warm weather brings them out and this one was in the yard today.  It really did not like being disturbed and I really did not like it being that close to the house.  No, I didn't kill it but highly discouraged it from calling the yard home.  Where are the hawks when you need them?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

White-eyed Vireo

 The fun has begun.  New migratory birds are arriving daily.  Bird songs not heard since last season fill the trees.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Courting Kingfishers

After several days of feeling under the weather, I ran by the park just a minute on my way to school today.   I monitor the Bluebird boxes there and usually go on Monday but the weather was rainy yesterday.  Since my check last week one box now has two eggs and the nest has been completed in two other boxes.

I did a quick walk through just to see if anything was happening.  It was close to 10:00 so things had already settled down a bit....with the exception of the Kingfisher couple.

Their rattle echoed across the pond and they chased and talked to each other quite a bit.  Looks like the bond is being established so hopefully little ones later in the year.  They were so much fun to watch last year with the adults teaching the young ones.


Thursday, April 3, 2014


I met a couple of friends this morning to do a recon down at the river to see what had come in.  The clouds moved in much earlier than anticipated and a light drizzle every now and then so we did not stay long.  Driving down the dirt path to the river I had the window rolled down and it sounded like a symphony to my ears.  One thing for sure if you can't see them, at least you know they are present by their song.

Most were up in the trees and you can't get a decent shot against a gray sky background.  We did see and was confirmed by all three of us a Prothonotary, Northern Parula and I did manage to get a so-so shot of a Yellow-throated Warbler and a Common Yellowthroat that were closer to the ground.

Looking back at photos from last year, we are definitely running behind.  I think the cooler weather has delayed arrival.  I figure by next week if the weather holds, birding should be getting very exciting.

We had started back up towards the vehicles since a fairly good drizzle was starting when I heard the unmistakable sound of Wood Ducks coming in.  A local group has placed several houses in a swampy area near the river and it looks like a pair was going to make use of one.  Definitely not a very good shot but it was fast and I was not at a good vantage point.  Oh well, you have to try.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brown-headed CowbIrds

As sure as spring arrives and nest building begins, the Brown-headed Cowbirds show up and begin scoping out prospective nests to parasitize.  This pair showed up today and began intently watching. When they would spot what looked like nest building activity, they would move in for a closer look.
Sneaky little devils leaving the hard work of feeding to other birds.