Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hawk Watching - Putney Mountain

The cadre of hawk watchers who keep Putney Mountain the only full time hawk watch site in Vermont have maintained their dedication and passion in spite of a dismal (to date) hawk season. The lack of any strong weather patterns has kept the hawks from concentrating along the ridge. Normally during mid-September there are days when Broad-winged Hawks are counted in the tens, and even hundreds of birds, this year they have been counted by one here - one there - one way up there. On rare occasion there have been a few more birds at a time, but not often.

That said, there have been a few moments when an individual bird has provided excitement.

Bald Eagles always stir the blood of the watchers. This first year bird did that when it circled low over the watch site. A few minutes after this bird appeared, four adult eagles passed by, close, but not camera close ...

Bald Eagle (1st year)

The owl decoy has attracted the attention, and enmity of an occasional young Merlin, Cooper's Hawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk ...


Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
 This American Kestrel hovered briefly over the owl decoy, then thought better, and flew on ...

American Kestrel
While hawk numbers have been slow to accumulate, there is always plenty to been seen, and good naturalists to see it with. Just a sampling ...

Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-eyed Vireo

Great Spangled Fritillary

American Lady
Good Birding - or whatever else you may be doing!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Damselflies are a challenge! There is almost nothing to them. They are virtually wisps of the imagination. And oh my! what identification mysteries they can.

Jon Lamm's wonderful little volume, Damselflies of the Northeast, uses three different symbols on the page of each species to indicate whether the species can be identified with (1) binoculars, (2) in the hand, or (3) under a microscope.

These damselflies are all identifiable with binoculars so I am reasonably confident I have gotten them correct.

Eastern Forktail ...

Eastern Forktail 
 Fragile Forktail ...

 Fragile Forktail
 Orange Bluet ...

Orange Bluet
 Rampur's Forktail ...

Rampur's Fortail
 Vesper Bluet ...

 Vesper Bluet
Hopefully I will have Hawk Watch adventures to report soon.

Monday, September 08, 2014


I continue my interest in dragonflies and the combined challenges of finding them, photographing them, and identifying them.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer and Widow Skimmer, photographed July 29 at Wilson Wetlands, Putney, VT

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Widow Skimmer
The Cape May day trip on August 28 provided quite a variety of dragonflies

Blue Dasher ...

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher
Eastern Amberwing ...

Eastern Amberwing

Eastern Pondhawk ...

Eastern Pondhawk (female)

Great Blue Skimmer ...

Great Blue Skimmer (female)
Great Blue Skimmer (female)

Swamp Darner ...

Swamp Darner
Common Whitetail ...

Common Whitetail

Friday, September 05, 2014

Swallowtails - Giant & Tiger

During my absence from blogging, there were still occasions when I was able to take the camera into the back yard, or round about our locale.

In early August, Giant Swallowtails again came to our butterfly garden for feeding. This is the third year running that they have been in the garden. The large size brings immediate attention to their presence. They are a "new" species to Vermont,. The photos were taken August 6.

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail
Tiger Swallowtails love the cone flowers and lillies and are common visitors. Photos taken July 29.

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail
And just for a chance of pace, an Atlantis Fritillary, probably the most common butterfly in the garden this summer.

Atlantis Fritillary
Hope you are enjoying the end of summer!

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!


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