Thursday, October 30, 2014

More from Cape May

Cape May is known as a premier spot for Fall hawk migration. The viewing platform was crowded with observers. The great thing was, one did not have to visit the platform for many and regular hawk sightings, as for example ...

Cooper's Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
A few more photographic samples of the day ...

American Goldfinch

American Coot

Double-crested Cormorant

Herring Gill

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackle
There were also butterflies flying - monarch, sulphurs, whites, Red Admiral, but only the Common Buckeye paused ...

Common Buckeye
Good Birding!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cape May Autumn Weekend

Cape May Bird Observatory had a stunning weekend for their annual event. I went to Cape May on Sunday, not for CMBO events, but just to enjoy the great weather, location, and birds. There were lots of birders, birding groups, and bird hikes, but also plenty of room to roam away from people and enjoy the opportunities the birds presented to the camera.

New for my photographic archives was a Eurasian Widgeon among a flock of American Widgeons in the state park ...

Eurasian Widgeon with its American cousins
In a year when photography has been frustrated by other demands and an inability to get out where the birds are, the day was refreshing and rejuvenating. A few examples of the wonderful colors and light in which the birds posed ...

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Song Sparrow

Eastern Phoebe

Brown Thrasher

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Dark-eyed Junco ("Slate-colored" with some "Oregon" hints)
Swamp Sparrow
More soon. Good birding!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autumn in Vermont

Many activities have prevented regular blog updates, but those are past and I have retreated to the quiet of our Philadelphia retreat.

Here's a catch-up on the last month.

Autumn in Vermont was the best in many years. Last winter was a throw back to pre-climate change conditions, aligning all the elements needed for a brilliant foliage season. The first half of October was one awed gasp after another.

along the Augur Hole Road
The Autumn of Spark's Barn
Most of the drive up Putney Mountain one early morning was through valley fog. Near the crest of the ridge, the fog was thinning as the autumn sun slowly warmed the air, creating a fantasy of light.

Dawn's Early Light
The mid-September Broad-winged Hawk season on Putney Mountain was dismal.Weak weather seasons did nothing to concentrate the flight along the ridge. The count was the lowest in years. The "second season" in early October when the accipters, falcons, and other buteos finally get themselves going, has been much better.

Birds often move quickly over the ridge without giving clear ID indicators. That was the case for this accipiter. The Cooper's Hawk seemed to have a "small" head. The photo shows a very full crop, disguising the size of its head.

Cooper's Hawk with full crop
 Hawk watchers on Putney Mountain also count Monarch Butterflies. In 2012, the count was about 1500 for the season. Last year, the crash in Monarch numbers noted by so many was reflected in the count: 19. This year the Monarch numbers are rebounding, with the count by mid-October being around 250. The photo below was taken in my yard on October 14; the Monarch Butterfly is sharing the marigold with a bumblebee ...

Monarch Butterly - mid-October, South Newfane
On Columbus Weekend, the Newfane Common is transformed for the Newfane Heritage Festival. 90+ artists and craftpersons create a tent city to display the creations. As chair of the Exhibitor's Committee, the organization and smooth set-up and clean-up occupies much time and energy. But the people are fun and friendly, and the event highlights the best of the Vermont life.

Newfane Heritage Festival
20 minutes from my Philadelphia retreat is the Heinz NWR. Made my first Autumn trip to the refuge yesterday.

The "wader gathering" I saw in mid-September was still going on, with dozens of egrets and Great Blues in attendance ...

Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets
Active flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere, joined by what seemed like an unusually large number of Palm Warblers ...

Palm Warbler
Waterfowl were congregating all about the impoundment, including dozens of Wood Ducks. In the vicinity of these three woodies were another three dozen ...

Wood Ducks
Now it is time to go watch a grandson play soccer!


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