Sunday, January 18, 2015

More Northern Pintails

I headed down to the Lake Mattamuskeet area yesterday to see what was around and do some scouting of a nearby area.  I am already looking ahead for new places come spring.  Saturday is not really the day to go but the weather was going to be fairly nice and with gas prices low, it seemed like a good way to spend the day.

I took so many photos I am going to break them into separate post so this one I will focus on the Pintails.  They were quite phenomenal today.  Constant take offs and landings meant there was always something to watch.  A pair of Northern Harriers steadily buzzed the marsh causing large groups of the Northern Pintails to take off, circle and land again.

It was a good time to practice flight shots.  I have gotten out of practice and that is what it takes.  The light was a bit better today than it was in early winter but is still takes practice to capture the shot when the light optimally captures the details of the birds.   I played with the background a bit on this photo.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Red-breasted Mergansers

Although it was very overcast today, I did go over to the park for maybe an hour.  Several Red-breasted Mergansers had arrived on the pond which is a new species for the park.

I stood for quite a while hoping they would finally raise their head but they moved around on the pond with their head tucked.

I got tickled at the one lone Ring-necked duck.  Not sure if it thought the black heads of the RBMs were one of its own or it was just hanging around with them.

Finally as I was leaving and crossing the bridge across the pond, I looked down and one of the mergansers was up however at that point I was fairly far off.

Hopefully they will stick around at least one more day since the sun is suppose to be out tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Flooded Beaver Lodge

Rain, rain and more rain.  I had no intention of going out today but after hearing the otter had been spotted at the millpond, when there was a break in the rain this morning I risked a quick outing.  I wished two things when I arrived at the park....I had taken the long lens and a wide angle lens.  I just planned on being able to move quickly between showers if needed so I traveled light.

No sign of the otters but there were beavers!  There has been so much rain that the beavers had been flooded out of their lodge.  Over the past several months they have increased the dome size probably making a two layer lodge but obviously the water breached the higher layer.

Several times as I was watching them one would go under but quickly come back out.  The two younger beavers spent much of the time swimming about while the two adults chewed on clumps of dried grass, twigs and eventually spent time grooming each other.

This is one of the younger beavers.  I saw two swimming together while the two adults were on land grooming.  The two younger are quite a bit lighter in color than the adults.

Hopefully the water will recede quickly enough they can get back in their lodge by nightfall.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cedar Waxwings

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Perplexed Song Sparrow

A Song Sparrow was slip sliding and pecking on the ice trying to get to the water.  It finally found a little island in the ice to stand on before finally giving up and flying off.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gathering of the Eagles

The winter gathering of the eagles has begun.  For the past couple of years a strong cold front seems to be the signal for the gathering to begin.

They began arriving in mass as the recent cold front was arriving.  I was unable to get out until today and there were by no means as many as the past several days but the numbers will fluctuate for the remainder of the winter.

The immature eagles outnumber the adults.  It is interesting to observe the various coloration of the     immature eagles based on their age.

A few shots from today.  Some are looking a bit ragged.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Brrrrr Cold

It has been one of the coldest days of the winter today and other than a trip to the mailbox and to put some bird food out, it has been an indoor kind of day.

The birds have been hitting the suet feeder and the water fountain heavily.  The pond behind the house has a light coating of ice and the bird baths are frozen so when the birds found the fountain running, it has been a steady stream of visitors.

I have been checking US temperatures all day and it looks like the jet stream is already pushing back up north a bit which is fine by me.  Hopefully I can get out a bit tomorrow.

Brown Thrasher

Eastern Towhee

Carolina Wren

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Green-wing Teals

My friend and I hit a new area early yesterday morning where quite a few Wood Ducks had been spotted.  We arrived at sunrise because we had about a 20+ minute walk to where we were going.  In hindsight we figured if we had walked another 15 minutes we could have gotten closer to where all the ducks were hanging out.

We saw one pair of Wood Ducks then they disappeared.  We were disappointed until we realized there were lots of Green-wing Teals out.  They were quite a distance out so the photos are not the best hence our decision to try again this coming Friday if the weather improves.  Next try we will walk farther down from where we were.

By about 1030, we were getting ready to walk back to the car when I realized I had not added the 1.4 extender to the 500 lens which would have given me 700.  I definitely was having a brain lock that day.

Anyway, I was able to salvage a few shots even though they are not the best.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Indicators of the Coming Cold Front

If you watch nature closely, you soon pick up that the birds seem to know when a major weather front or event is approaching.  Early this morning before it was light enough to try for a decent shot, large flocks of Cedar Waxwings, Red-winged Blackbirds and Robins were high up in the Sweet Gum trees.  There are several around the house which I dislike except for the fact the birds like them.

All day long, the flocks have flown from tree to tree picking apart the gum balls to get seed.  The Robins eventually moved to the yards and picked them clean of anything edible.  The Robins then moved on to a hedge row of holly shrubs.  Some of the Waxwings tried to come in but the Robins would chase them off.

The Robins gorged themselves on berries then would come drink for a bit then back for more berries.

The mad feeding frenzy always seems to take place right before a major change in the weather.  Who needs the weather folks!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hermit Thrush

We just had a thunderstorm with the arriving cold front so does that mean we are going to have snow soon?  Seems there are differences in the old folklore saying.  Some say within 7 days, some say within 10 days and I even saw one saying within 30 days.  Thunder on Christmas Eve meant it should have snowed by 2 January to meet the 7 days.  Well, since is was about 73 here today at one time, that definitely has not happened.

Late this afternoon I walked by the window just in time to see the Hermit Thrush leaving the suet feeder.  It flew to the top of a nearby perching post.  So what is a perching post?  I put up a post near the feeder with several dowel perches because some irresponsible people have allowed their cat and other abandoned cats to breed uncontrollably.  We now have a fairly serious feral cat problem in the neighborhood.  To protect the birds, I put up the post to keep the birds out of easy reach of lurking cats.  Needless to say, those of us that feed the birds are pretty fed up with it.  If you love your pet(s), spay or neuter!  Much better for their health and it stops unwanted and abandoned animals.

They are not the best pictures but I was already at ISO 1600 and still could not get much shutter speed.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bluebird Squabbles

It has been an absolutely miserable day weather wise.  Dark gray skies and drizzle have ruled the day.  Bird activity coming to the suet feeder has been very high.  I think the word on fresh homemade suet has been spread among the birds.

The Eastern Bluebirds have dominated the feeder off and on all day.  When they come, they come in a group.  All six could not quite figure out to all get on at the same time so after some ate, they would fly to the top of the shepherds hook and wait.  Sometimes though, squabbles would break out on the feeder when one got to pushy.

Other visitors included:  Red-bellied Woodpecker, House Finches, Pine Warblers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Cardinals.

The squirrel has spent the day trying to make it past the baffle.  After many failed attempts, one finally made it up today.  More adjustments will be necessary.  It has been interesting to watch them try and figure out a method to get past it.  I get so aggravated with these little devils in fur!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pine Warblers

I unfortunately started out the new year with a respiratory bug but have pretty much gotten over it now.  The first part of the week I really felt terrible but have been taking vitamin C and Echinacea and did a heavy wrap up to sweat out the bug.

Over the past couple of days I have been noticing quite an influx of Pine Warblers.  Being stuck in the house I decided to make up a large batch of homemade suet.  The birds really prefer it over the store bought and with cold weather coming next week, it seemed like an ideal indoor project.

Today while I was doing some work out in the yard (cleaning out bluebird boxes), I counted five Pine Warblers in the yard at one time.  With grey skies rolling back in today, they are certainly like a little spot of sunshine.

The Bluebirds have really been flocking to the homemade suet.  They would not feed in the caged suet feeder so I finally hung one of the free hanging access feeders back up.  It has been a battle with the squirrels but I think the new baffle I added today will help to keep them away.