Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Western Birds

In early July, we took our 11 year old grand-daughter to the national parks of the fours corners. It was not a birding trip, but from time to time birds posed for me.

In that monumental geography, most photography was with the 25mm-125mm lens - not so great for photographing birds. But a few did come within range of the lens, or presented themselves when I had the longer lens mounted. Here are a few samples:

Ravens were common throughout our trip - noisy and evident, as youngsters tried to prolong their dependence on parents. In some places, the ravens were prominent beggars. This young bird was in Petrified Forest NP - Common Raven

Petrified Forest National Park

Common Raven
from Mesa Verde NP - Green-tailed Towhee and Western Bluebird ...

Mesa Verde National Park

Green-tailed Towhee

Western Bluebird
from Bryce Canyon NP - White-breasted Nuthatch feeding young and Western Tanager ...

Bryce Canyon National Park

White-breasted Nuthatch

Western Tanager

Western Tanager
 from Zion NP - Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Ash-throated Flycatcher ...
Zion National Park

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Ash-throated Flycatcher
from Grand Canyon NP, North Rim- Black-throated Gray Warbler and Spotted Towhee ...
Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Spotted Towhee
On the last day of travel, I got a new bird, but that will have to wait for a future posting - hopefully soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Blogging Again

Solitary Sandpiper
After a three and a half month hiatus, I am back to blogging - hopefully with regularity. A few followers have inquired about my absence, and I thank them heartily.

Home projects consumed me during my blogging absence - getting them done took nearly all of my attention. But they are done, and I am finally able to return to doing the things that I enjoy in retirement: birding, photography, and learning about things with wings.

Two days ago I finally made my first trip of the year to Cape May from my Philadelphia base. Several hours of leisurely strolling through the state park and conservancy trails was a much needed tonic. The birds, butterflies, and dragonflies were almost an extra bonus.

I think the highlight of the day (other than just being there) was the Belted Kingfisher which hovered just a few feet above my head as it fished one of the ponds ...

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher
I never tire of sitting on a sandy beach and watching the Sanderlings chase the waves -  (true sand-pipers as opposed to the mud-pipers which would better describe most peeps) ...



... or finding a quiet spot where solitary contemplation is shared only with a Solitary Sandpiper doing its solitary foraging ...

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper
And what else can improve a perfectly sunny, warm summer day than standing on a causeway a few feet from a gracefully elegant Great Egret as it preens and then stalks with such focused attention and patience? ...

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret
Looking forward to a Labor Day filled with labors of love!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spectacular Backyard Birds

When bringing in the wash this afternoon, a Baltimore Oriole was singing amid the crabapple blossoms in the tree at the side of our home - spectacular!

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
Meanwhile, the courtship among the Evening Grosbeaks has been hot and heavy, perhaps due to there being (by my count) an extra male vying for the hand of a lady ...

Evening Grosbeak displaying
The courtship stepped up a notch today. Besides demonstrating his overall sexiness through displaying, the males have had to demonstrate that they know what to do when a youngster begs for food ... feeding of females has been more noticeable this year than in any previous year.

"Feed Me," she says.
("Perhaps he will know what to do with my young.")
The Indigo Bunting continues to appear off and on, and is heard singing in nearby trees.

Indigo Bunting

Few people will put the Common Grackle in the spectacular category, but the iridescence of the bronzed body and purple head are breathtaking this time of year. And if anyone reading this says that they don't like blackbirds, remember that blackbirds (Icterids) include grackles, red-wings, and Northern Oriole.
Common (Bronzed) Grackle

Good Birding!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Joy of S*x

Ah yes ... the joy of the Spring activity. A couple of bird walks this weekend yielded many warblers hurrying toward their breeding grounds, feeding frenzily, and singing lustily. Most were high in the canopy, but this Black-throated Green Warbler was closer to lens ...

Black-throated Green Warbler
The walks in the woods are marvelous, but for theatrical entertainment, sitting quietly on the back porch provides front row seats to drama, intrigue, and rivalry.

Five Evening Grosbeak males (perhaps six) are vying for the attention of four (best count) females, so there is sorting, accommodating, and liaisons to figure out. The guys are getting serious, with raised crest, raised tail, and flared wings becoming prevalent and insistent ...

Evening Grosbeak
 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (we have had five males and a lesser number of females) are gentlemen toward one another, but they have their moments ...

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
For shear truculence, there is nothing that can match the 1 gram package of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This guy perched 15 feet in front of us, until an intruder came along. He did his rapid "U" shaped display and totally cowed the poor rival who sped off - tried again - and again - and was driven off each time ...

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
By contrast, the dispute between Northern Cardinal males was almost gentlemanly, but no less serious ...

Northern Cardinals
Two transients made brief stops in the yard - welcome visitors not seen in the yard every year ...

Brown Thrasher ...

Brown Thrasher

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Not to be overlooked in the profusion of life bursting forth as the tiny gems at our feet, like the trout lily ...

Trout Lily
... or in the garden, the Crown Imperial ...

Crown Imperial
Listen to the birds ... visually consume the flowers ... celebrate Spring!!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Common Merganser Nuptials

My neighbor reported to me that a pair of Common Mergansers were courting on the gravel island in the river behind his home. I can see the area from my yard, so I have kept an eye on the area.

The truth was even more fun - one handsome drake appeared to be at the center of a love triangle, pursing one on the island, though a merganser on land hardly poses much of a pursuit threat. (On the other hand, she's not great at fleeing on land.)

Next he headed back to the water to impress a second hen ...

That's when the watching became really fun. To a lay observer, it looked like the two hens were displaying for the drake, or trying to intimidate the other ...


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