Saturday, May 30, 2015

SE Vermont Birding

I spent several mornings this past week wandering many of my favorite back roads in southeastern Vermont - narrow, remote, quiet - occasionally requiring use of the four-wheel drive - often with no other people or vehicles encountered. Relaxing and delightful - with many good sightings.

That said, the best sighting came when I stopped at my mechanics shop to find out why a check engine light had come on (no serious problem except for the cost :( . On the door jamb was this Luna Moth ...

Luna Moth

Luna Moth
In the Town of Somerset, high in the Green Mountain National Forest, a wildlife management area is a fairly dependable place for breeding Lincoln's Sparrow, an uncommon and sought after species for local birders. In the small area I surveyed, there were at least three singing males ...

Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrows are common to abundant on the wintering grounds that I visit (e.g., Heinz NWR in Philly). They are also commonly present at winter feeders in Vermont. As Spring comes, they disappear from those winter areas. High in the Green Mountains, their plaintive song is heard throughout the edges of the boreal, or near-boreal forests. A welcome sound ...

White-throated Sparrow
In the last 60 years, much of the farmland in Vermont has been abandoned and grassy fields have reverted to forest, with habitat loss for grassland species. Some extensive fields do survive in southeastern Vermont, and there the Bobolinks are still to be found. The bubbly song is happy and cheerful to the human listener. To the male, it is territorial warning to other males and an invitation females, and is accompanied by frenetic flight. These photos sort-of capture the energy expensive life style of the males ...



And finally (for this post) on a remote back road I encountered this Ruffed Grouse gentleman leisurely chomping away on dandelion leaves and quite unconcerned by the long lens I pointed at him. I assume the bird was a cock, since the hens should be incubating, or leading young about.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse
Good Birding ! !

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bank Swallow et al

On Saturday's Audubon walk in Hinsdlae (the last of five Saturdays), it was clear that the migrants had passed through while the residents were into full breeding mode with territorial singing and defense, courtship display, nest building, and all of the other activities associated with perpetuation of the species.

The highlight for me was the Bank Swallows whose in flight courtship was frenetic and exciting. Occasionally, they even came to rest, and presented a wonderful photo op. Bank Swallow is a new species in my photo library.

Bank Swallow
Bank Swallows

Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow
Back home in the back yard, those fascinating creatures, crows, continue to amuse and delight us as they sneak up on the dog food we put out for them, and go about their own form of family dynamics.

American Crows
 Evening Grosbeaks have returned for yet another year and another round of family raising. While it is considered "uncool" in some nature photography circles, to photograph birds with any evidence of human presence (roads, fences, roof ridges, or whatever), including bird feeders, I have not such qualms. The breeding presence of these colorful birds is in clear evidence at the beginning of the breeding cycle with courtship feeding, as seen here ...

Evening Grosbeaks - courtship feeding
Good birding!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Things with Wings - and Fur

This is a miscellany from our recent abbreviated trip to Philadelphia and birding environs.

I have photographed female, hatch year, and young male Blue Grosbeaks, but until my recent morning in Cape May, the adult male - a handsome specimen and melodic songster - has not come in range of my lens ...
Blue Grosbeak - adult male
Butterflies were beginning to emerge during our week in Philadelphia. The Eastern Tailed Blue (so small as to be almost a figment of the imagination) and the Silver-spotted Skipper were seen on the trails at the Schulykill Environmental Center in Philadelphia. The Spicebush Swallowtail was frequenting the butterfly garden at the Horticulture Center, West Fairmont Park, Philadelphia ...

Eastern Tailed-Blue
Silver-spotted Skipper
Spicebush Swallowtail
 In the "Fur" category, this Muskrat sidled up to the trailside in the marsh at Cape May Point State Park for a salad lunch ...

 And finally - neither winged nor furred, but fragrant and beautiful, was the wisteria in the woods of the Schulykill Center ...

Happy May!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ooops - I've got a red face

Ooops ... I was careless. The photo I labeled as Caspian Tern in the previous post is in fact a Forster's Tern taken soon after I shot the Caspian, and better than the Caspian. So I was hasty and did not look at it closely.

Here is the Caspian Tern.

Thanks to the alert reader who pointed out my error.

Caspian Tern

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Plans for a week of intensive birding went awry when my birding companion took a bad fall and sustained a severe arm fracture ... followed by emergency room, then surgery, then recovery.

Nevertheless, there were good moments before the accident, most notable of which were the terns at Forsyth NWR.

Forster's Terns were fishing along the auto drive. Combined with wonderful afternoon light, they provided excellent photo opportunities.

Forster's Tern
Forster's Tern

Forster's Tern
Forster's Tern
Forster's Tern
In the documentary category are the photos of Caspian Tern and Gull-billed Tern ...

Caspian Tern - NOT - in too much hurry to post
Gull-billed Tern (center - Forster's Tern)
Good Birding!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Veerys on the the Wissahickon

A bike ride along Wissahickon Creek was not only delightful, but surprising - surprising but the number of Veerys out in the open and unafraid. Clearly, they were not quite into breeding mode, but probably needed to refuel before beginning that arduous task. Other years I have heard them singing, but most sightings were limited to brief fly-bys.

The Wissahickon Creek is far and away the best place I know of to see and photograph Wood Ducks. Here is looks like she is inviting him ! ...

Wood Ducks
Swallows were feeding along the river - Tree, Bank, and a few very cooperative Northern Rough-winged Swallows ...

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Good Birding!!

And by the way, Check out my other photo blog, Exploring Philadelphia. It should be more active now that I am back in the city for a while.

Did you know that Philadelphia is the only major city in the United States that has a covered bridge within its city limits?

Thomas Mill Bridge
 Good Birding !!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Birding Heinz NWR

We are using Philly for a birding base for a few days. Began yesterday at Heinz NWR at Tinicum.

Highlight for me was the Bay-breasted Warbler which I have not seen for several years as it heads north to the boreal forest for breeding.

The bird was working high in the trees, so the photo is at best documentary ...

Bay-breasted Warbler
Of special interest was watching a Yellow Warbler visiting a local home building center, in this case an oriole nest. Nest seems in good order, as though it may be this year's nest. On other hand, no landlord appeared to chase off the materials gatherer, so perhaps the nest survived from last year ...

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler
Another highlight was to see this Baltimore Oriole shopping at his local Whole Foods market.

Baltimore Oriole and webworm nest

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
A few additional photos, beginning with Gray Catbird which was everywhere!

Gray Catbird

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

American Redstart

American Redstart
Good Birding!!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Spring Migration - Arrivals

Southeastern Vermont Audubon has done 2 walks along the old railroad bed at the Hinsdale Setbacks, listing species, and hoping to establish a baseline for future years.

Yellow-rumped Warblers have been the most numerous warbler to date, followed by Palm Warbler, and those are the only 2 which have provided photo ops.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Palm Warbler
On some occasions at the setbacks, Tree Swallows are been rife ...

Tree Swallows

After today's walk, I did my favorite type of birding - sitting on the back porch and watching the action around the yard. The new arrival today was the Rose-breasted Grosbeak ... at least 3 males. Girls haven't arrived yet.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
The Evening Grosbeaks are back in numbers (yet to figure out how many pairs). They are using the maple just off the porch to do their courtship (when they aren't emptying the feeders of sunflower seeds). The boys are displaying their fine grosbeak genes ...

Evening Grosbeak displaying

Evening Grosbeak displaying
 Finches have also been abundant, including Pine Siskins ...

Purple Finch

Finch Feeder - Purple Finch (female), Pine Siskins, American Goldfinch
I don't want to neglect the year-round residents who endured the tough winter, and are now singing the hearts out. Black-capped Chickadee is just one ...

Black-capped Chickadee
And to add the downside to all of this, there have been plenty of Brown-headed Cowbirds ...

Brown-headed Cowbird
Good Birding !! ... and more to come


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