Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eastern Box Turtle

Our State reptile and only true land based turtle.  While yes, we see snappers, Yellow-bellied Sliders and Painted turtles on land also, they are amphibious.  You will never see an Eastern Box Turtle in the water.....not intentionally anyway.

I put this one outside the fence surrounding the backyard on Friday.  Today is was back in the fenced yard again.  I guess he or she calls the backyard its territory so I left it alone.

You can see new growth (light colored areas in the scutes) on this one which will eventually turn dark.  Eastern Box turtle numbers have declined over the last several years.  Although they have a long life, they are slow to mature (7 years to full maturity), late to reproduce and the female lays few eggs.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jack In The Pulpit

One of our unusual native wildflowers.  It grows in a shady, bog type habitat.  Colors vary.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crowded House....uh, nest

You just have to wonder how and why the Great Blue Herons select a particular tree.  There were three or four nest in this one particular tree.  With the young ones getting so large now, you just have to wonder how there is room for all.  A bit of bickering between the young when an adult would bring in food shows they are getting a little nest fever.

It was quite some distance from where you could stand to photograph them.  400mm with 2x extender which meant manual focusing so they are not the best shots.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Down By The River

After several days of not even picking up a camera, my friend talked me in to going to the river for a bit this morning.  We had both hoped to photograph some Redstarts and there were plenty there but they were zoom-zooming every time they would fly and go deep into the brush.

We did on the other hand see plenty of Prothonotary Wablers.......

Northern Parula..................

and lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers hunting in the foliage.  All and all it was a pretty good morning with the only disappointment no American Redstart shots.  Another day.

Friday, May 16, 2014

To Kill A Mockingbird

Have you ever had a fly or mosquito that flew around you and just annoyed the crap out of you? That is the impression I got today as I watched this Mockingbird harass this hawk.  After the almost unending rain yesterday, all the hawk wanted to do was sit, preen and dry out.  She had been doing some serious preening for quite a while and had a couple of crows that showed a brief interest but quickly moved on.  After she had been preening almost 20 minutes, in comes a Mocker.

The Mocker harassed the heck out of the poor hawk so much I really felt sorry for it.  The Mockingbird got bolder and bolder eventually making contact with the hawk on several occasions.

After a while, the hawk had enough and the Mockingbird got too bold.  It jumped down right in front of the hawk,  She was already standing up and when the Mocker landed in front of her.....taps. It happened in the blink of an eye.

The Mockingbird tempted fate once too often and payed the ultimate price.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Double Dippers

Double the pleasure, double the fun.  The Gray Catbirds are a couple.  The Robins, not so much. The Robin on the left eventually pecked at the other letting it know she/he was there first.  These photos were taken yesterday afternoon.  Today there has been downpour after downpour so the birds are all getting a natural bath today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The raccoon made her appearance today which means her kits will be showing themselves soon.  I had so much fun watching the young ones last year and have been anticipating show time this year.

Early this morning I first noticed mom raccoon laying out of the hole.  She does this when she is nursing the kits.

She is a bit timid and when I sneezed, retreated in to the tree a bit.  She and  the kits last year quickly became accustomed to me sitting close by and taking photos and I was able to witness some fun play time between the kits.

About 1500 this afternoon she came out again. She seemed a little more relaxed with me watching and did not retreat.  I hope to see the kits in a couple of days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

White-breasted Nuthatches

While they are nothing exotic, the young ones have been quite fun to watch over the past several days.  They are full of vim and vigor having time to indulge in what seems like play.

The young ones have been very timid about going to the bird bath.  They have swooped by at it and sit on a nearby limb watching intently as other birds splash about.  After several days of just wanting to go in so badly, one gathered nerve enough to touch down.  It would dip its head in a little then turn around and dip its tail in.  As much feather fluffing that goes on after the least little bit of contact with the water is funny.

After barely getting in to the water, this one took up position on the deck rail and dried out in the sun.

Mom bird still spends much of her time looking for food and as soon as she finds something, the young ones immediately begin the begging behavior.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Blues (sort of) - Part 3

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  Busy, busy little birds never sitting still for long.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Blues - Part 2

The Eastern Bluebird.  One of our most beloved birds. Many of us place nest boxes in our yard hoping to attract them.  We are so accustomed to seeing boxes in various places that we forget that yes, they still do nest in cavity trees.

This couple selected a very precarious place to have their nest.  Last year this snag hosted two Brown-headed Nuthatch nests and sadly fell during a storm when the birds were still in it.  The bottom now rest in water and is supported only by the tree it is leaning on.

I worry when it comes time for these chicks to fledge.  No room for error or they may end up in the water.

There is another hole probably 18 inches above the Bluebird entrance where a Chickadee couple are raising their young.

These parents are certainly busy bringing food back to the chicks.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Blues - Part 1

Blue Grosbeak, male
Indigo Bunting, male

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summer Tanagers

Late yesterday afternoon I looked out and saw the Summer Tanagers had arrived.  A pair nested behind the house last year and after the nesting season, the adult female came to the bird bath daily.

There is no doubt that the male that came yesterday was a first year male.  I would guess he is probably from last nesting season.  A bit harder to tell on the female.

The male came first and what first caught my attention is that the adult male Cardinals were giving this bird heck.  Thinking first it was a another Cardinal until I saw the yellow on the wings and once it moved more in to the light I could see the color difference.  I am glad to have them back this year.  For sure he took after his Mom in enjoying the bath.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Green Heron

They can look a bit comical when their feathers on top of the head are tufted out.  They are  my favorite wading type bird.

Generally fairly elusive, this one sat in a tree yesterday and preened for some time before jumping down to wade in the water.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Prothonotary Warbler

Like a bright spot of sunshine perched in the trees, I look forward to seeing these birds each year. Depending on the light, they can look from a bright gold to an almost orange-ish color.

Their "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet" call is easy to distinguish.  Whenever I am in a wetland habitat and hear the sound, I begin looking.

Prothonotary Warblers are one of the two warblers that nest in cavities.  This one was making use of a Wood Duck box.  A mansion size home for a tiny bird.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Osprey Aerial Ballet

Courtship behavior of trying to impress the ladies, the Osprey gracefully ride the air currents.  Their chatter and calls fill the air with a symphony of sound.  A group of four were flying over the wetlands seeming to fly only for the joy of flight. They are fun birds to watch with impressive flight skills.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Black Bear

Late Friday night my friend and I decided to take a run down to the eastern part of the state on Saturday.  We left very early in the morning to maximize our day with hopes of seeing lots of good things.

Before we had gone a couple of miles down the road we started seeing lots of deer, opposum and raccoons all dashing across the road.  We took this as a good sign of things to come, that being that wildlife was active.

Not long after we turned on the road that would take us to our final destination I spotted some movement on the side of the road and hit the brakes.  A bear!  My friend and I both grabbed our cameras and started maneuvering trying for a good position.  We of course did not get out of the car.  As there was no where to pull off the road I just had to keep watching for a vehicle that might come up on us.

Another couple pulled up and the gentleman who was a local said that since a truckload of corn overturned in that area the previous week, he had been seeing the bear there on a regular basis.

It was a thrill to see one out in the wild and close up.  Black Bear range has been expanding in North Carolina and during spring, bears often wander outside their normal range. Information on bear range in North Carolina can be found here.