Thursday, July 28, 2011

Somes Sound in Green and Gray, Acadia National Park (SWF)

1. Somes Sound-kab DSCN0493 Sargent Drive along Somes Sound 6-12-11 Nikon Coolpix

On our last day in Acadia National Park we awoke to a steady gray rain and drizzle. However, we did not let that stop us from exploring the western arm of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. We had never visited this side of the island before, so after checking out of the cabin we drove along the coastline to see what we could see. This drive along Somes Sound is an “autos only” road and I could soon see why. There isn’t much room here. Still, I wanted to take some photos, so Gus dropped me off and drove ahead to see if there was a spot for him to pull off. I walked the edge lugging two cameras and my bins to get these shots. A gray day, but still lovely and cool.

2. somes sound-kab DSCN0494 Somes Sound looking west 6-12-11

 

3. somes sound-kab Somes Sound Looking North

 

4. Loons-kab DSC_0202 Common Loons in the water 6-12-11 Nikon D80 w/70-300mm lens.

 

5. gus waits-kab DSCN0499 Husband patiently waiting 6-12-11

I did not see a lot of birds at this location but I was very happy to find the loons. All the scenery shots were taken with our new Nikon Coolpix S4000 while the loons were taken with the D80 as stated.

And please Have a Happy

Skywatch Friday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blue-headed Vireo (WBW)

1. blue-headed vireo-kab Blue-headed Vireo Norridgewock, ME 7-9-10

Whenever we visit my in-laws in Norridgewock, ME I always try to do a bird count for eBird. We were there on July 9th with our son and grandson so they could visit their Grandfather. Since it was such a lovely summer day, we spent most of the time sitting outside in the yard. In spite of being ready with bins and camera, very few birds showed up in the 3 hours I sat outside! Around 2:20p.m. I heard black-throated green warblers calling from the woods surrounding the yard. I went off in search of them and while I did see some, they were too deep in the woods for pictures. However, to my utter surprise and delight, this little guy showed up and came rather close to the edge of the woods. I got the best pictures I could with my Nikon D80 and my 70 to 300mm lens. It is my first sighting of a Blue-headed Vireo in the state of Maine!

2. BHVireo-kab 

3. BH vireo-kab

To see more amazing birds please visit…

 World Bird Wednesday

Birds seen in Norridgewock yard July 9, 2011:

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  3. Blue Jay
  4. Black-capped Chickadee
  5. Tree Swallow
  6. Blue-headed Vireo***
  7. Black-throated Green Warbler

***My first sighting in Maine!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lesson Learned (MWT)

1. back porch My back porch with red cooler.

Last week I showed you my summer Sanctuary where I sit on my back porch and observe nature. I have seen so many critters in my backyard, including chipmunks, woodchucks, bunny rabbits, and red and gray squirrels.

2. gray squirrel-kab Gray Squirrel

The gray squirrels are the most prolific, most persistent critters in the back yard. There are more gray squirrels than red squirrels and while the red squirrels have a fiery and feisty temperament the grays show the least fear of me. They have learned to leap up straight to my bird feeders to get around the squirrel baffles and help themselves to seed.

3. critter feeding station-kab Squirrel and critter feeding stumps.

So, as a peace offering and deterrent, I pulled two stumps out of the woods and set them up at the edge of the lawn as a critter feeding station. I no sooner dump seed out here than the red and gray squirrels show up, along with an army worth of chipmunks. It doesn’t take long before all the seed is gone! I have also observed American Crows and Blue Jays eating at this location. One morning when I went to spread some seed I even found deer hoof prints in the soft ground in front of the stumps! However, I have yet to actually see a deer around here! On the weekend I bought some new squirrel food and decided I could just leave it in this red cooler on the back porch. After all, it is thick and insulated and the lid fits rather tightly. The seed was all in a plastic bag, so I had no fear of it tainting the inside of the cooler. I thought all was well. I thought wrong.

4. cooler on porch-kab On Monday morning when I went out the back door this is what I saw!

 

5. not snow-kab No, that is not snow!

 

6. chew marks-kabIt is the gnawed off pieces of plastic where a squirrel tried to get at the seed stored in the red cooler! How could it even smell it? I don’t know, but it did. And If I think squirrels are a problem, just imagine if there were bears around!

 

7. squirrely-kab So, lesson learned: DO NOT STORE SQUIRREL FOOD OR BIRD SEED IN COOLERS ON THE BACK PORCH!  After all, they have their woodland table…

 

8. back porch-kab …and I have my back porch!

And that’s what I learned for…

My World Tuesday! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bog Bird Explosion

1. COGR 11-2-11-kab Common Grackles at Bog 11-2-10

Note: All of today’s pictures are from my archives.

I didn’t mean to count birds tonight. Gus was walking the dog and I said I would go with him. But, then he said he was walking as far as the bog. “You are walking to the bog,” I ask? When he replies yes, I run back into the house and grab my bins, pad, and a pen. I set my funny birding hat on my head and head back out the door. I know that these next two weeks are going to be busy. “I’ll just squeeze in a quick 5-minute count,” I think to myself. I decide NOT to take my camera. Then I hurry to catch up.

It is still humid out on this Saturday night, but the temperature has dropped a little, so it is not too bad. At a few minutes after 7 PM the sun is already setting casting evening gold light across the lawns and trees as I walk down the street. We are almost to the bog when I finally catch up to Gus and Blossom, but then Blossom stops to do her business, so I pass them and hurry on.

MODOb 6-6-11-kab Mourning Doves at Bog 6-6-11

Before I even reach the edge of the bog I can hear a Red-tailed hawk crying. In the tall, dead snags that pierce the sky I can see birds perched on every available dead branch. It looks as if someone has tried to decorate the dead trees with bird ornaments! There is a low and steady cacophony of bird sounds. I pick out grackles and starling sounds at first, then hear the twittering of Chimney swifts and the chittering of Eastern Kingbirds in the midst of it all. I step up to look between the pine trees bordering the swamp on this side. Birds are everywhere! It looks like a bomb exploded and dropped birds all over this bog! I have been coming here for almost a year now and I have never seen so many birds!

Bog 7-4-11-kab Stirling Swamp 7-4-11

I start my count at 7:15 PM EDT. As I scan the trees and water with my binoculars I hear, and then see Gus and Blossom pass beside me. They are going farther up the road to investigate, but I am rooted to this spot. Well, not entirely rooted. I have to walk a few steps to get better views between the trees. I step over the guardrail a few paces up where there is a gap in the trees with a better view. I hear the descending rattle of a Downy Woodpecker as I start to try to separate out what species I am seeing. Common grackles  dominate the scene but they are almost equally balanced with European Starlings. I have not seen starlings here in months but suddenly last week they were here in droves! Now I have to separate out the body shapes from other blackbirds for there are young starlings as well as adults. While adult starlings are iridescent black with yellow beaks and whitish speckles on their backs, the young are a dull gray-brown with dark eyes and black beaks. However, their overall silhouette is the same: long pointed beak, chunky body, stubby tail. Common Grackles are larger, long bodied, longer tails that are wedge-shaped when they fly. The eyes of the adults are white but only the adult males are shiny, glossy, purple-black while the females are brownish like the young. The adult females have white eyes but the juveniles have dark eyes.

Juvenile RWBL 7-5-11 Juvenile Red-winged blackbird 7-5-11

Then there are the Red-winged blackbirds. Adult male red-wings are easy to spot with their glossy black feathers and red and gold shoulder patches which I like to call “epaulets.” However, the females look like large streaky sparrows, and while they usually stay low in the reeds, sometimes I do see them out and about, especially when they are trying to feed their persistent and begging youngsters! That is what I am observing tonight, but there are far fewer Red-winged blackbirds in this sea of blacks.

RTHA 4-11-11-kab Red-tailed Hawk Pursued by Crows 4-11-11

Soon a chorus of crows takes up its cries across the bog. I see a Red-tailed Hawk flying north pursued by crow, then robins take up the chase! What…? But before i can get a grip on that scene I feel one of my feet being bitten by something. I look down to see red ants crawling all over my left foot. I step back and use my notepad to swipe away the errant ants, then decide I will find a new spot for watching the birds. A few more steps to the north and I am looking between pines trees again into the open space of water, lily pads, stumps, trees and sky. And there right before me I see something moving in the lily pads. Oh my word, it is a mother wood duck with about 6 little ducklings! I have not seen wood ducks here since last spring! then, just beyond her I catch another movement and spot a Green heron fishing from a fallen and rotting log. His head snakes out like a spear, then swiftly retracts again.

MODOa 6-6-11-kab Mourning Doves 6-6-11

As I am totally lost in my world of birds Gus and Blossom came walking back. I know now that I will not be walking back with them. I tell Gus I will meet him at home and turn back as intent as a heron to count my birds. Mourning Doves are everywhere in clusters in the swamp. they perch on dead snags low and high and sing their mournful songs. Tonight I am seeing even more than usual, and have already counted up to 20 individuals.

Just then I spot something that I have been longing to see here but up until now I never have. There, bobbing along on another log, searching for insects or something is a Spotted Sandpiper! I knew they should be here! This is perfect habitat for them, but I have never seen one here! Now I am wishing I had my camera with me. I could get such a good picture of this bird and the Wood Ducks which are quite close. So many times the birds I see here are farther out in the swamp or silhouetted against the sky or it has been gray and dreary, or the lighting bad. tonight is perfect but I did not bring it. I did not know it would be like this. I did not intend to stay long. Yet now, here I am.

RTHA in tree 4-11-11-kab Red-tailed in dead trees at bog 4-11-11

The deeper, flowing water is far across the swamp on the eastern side of the bog. Usually I can find ducks or geese over there. I scan the water’s edge for birds and soon spot a Great Blue heron and some female Mallards. The Red-tails continue to cry from the north end of the bog where they have landed in a very tall but dead trees. The bare stumps have branches like ladder rungs reaching out on opposite sides of the trunks. the red-tails hop from one to another as various bird species harass them. At one point one of the red-tails flies off into the woodland of Den rock Park which is the northern boundary of Stirling bog. It isn’t long before I hear the resident Blue Jays take up their cries and the red-tail is back with its mate landing on a branch above it.

 

Juv AMRO 7-15-11-kab Then I see the Robins. They are everywhere and most of them have the spotted breasts of juveniles. Here at the northeast corner they are the species that is decorating all the tree branches. I see them fly out into the swamp and down to the water’s edge and back up onto branches again. In contrast to them a Mockingbird stands, its tail cocked high and long like mockingbirds do. A lone gull slowly glides through the faded blue sky and as the sun sinks behind the hills to the east a deep shadow falls across the swamp. I think the birds are starting to settle down now and I spot yet another Blue Heron hunting in the shallow water at the north end of the bog. Just when I am thinking all is peace and serenity, suddenly I hear “bang, bang, pop! pop! pop!. It sounds like gunfire but how can that be? This is a residential area. There are houses around this western edge of the swamp, a main road to the south and apartment buildings to the east. I conclude it must be firecrackers yet I can’t imagine why they are going off. Still, after a brief pause, the pop and bangs continue from across the swamp to the southeast and the birds start to take to the sky. Mallards fly up and circle and land. Blackbirds fly to different locations. Amazingly the herons just keep on hunting, unruffled by the activity around them.

AMRO bog 10-13-10-kab

I have been here for 45 minutes now and decide I have been here long enough. I have counted all the birds I can. Now I need to head home and tell Gus all about it and enter my bird counts into eBird so I can add a spotted sandpiper, species number 58, to the list of birds seen at the bog! (If you are interested you can see the complete list of Bog Bird Species in the sidebar.)

Birds Seen at the Bog tonight 7-23-11

Stirling St. Bog, Essex, US-MA
Jul 23, 2011 7:15 PM - 8:00 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Bog Bird Explosion! I only meant to do a quick 5 minute count but there were so many birds! Sunny, muggy, humid, 88F. Towards the end of the count someone was lighting off what sounded like firecrackers across the swamp to the southeast. It continued for a quite awhile and scared some of the birds up into the air.



20 species (+1 other taxa)

Wood Duck 7
Mallard 8
Great Blue Heron 2
Green Heron 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Spotted Sandpiper 1
gull sp. 2 2 gulls seen flying over, 1 large, 1 small
Mourning Dove 20
Chimney Swift 8
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 8
American Robin 30
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 35
Cedar Waxwing 4
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 50
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2 (
http://ebird.org)




Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gulls ‘n Roses

1. seagull-kab Acadia NP Herring Gull 6-12-11 Seawall at Bass Harbor

On our trip to Acadia National Park in June we had sunshine and shadows, gray skies and rain. Along with the weather, we also saw gulls almost everywhere we went. The majority of gulls were Herring Gulls in all stages of plumage, but I did see a few Great Black-backed Gulls, and a couple of Laughing Gulls along the way. 

3.. Herring gull-kab Acadia NP Herring Gull at Hull’s Cove 6-11-11

 

4. rose-kab Acadia NP Sea Roses 6-11-11 Acadia NP

 

5. Bluettes-kab Bluets houstonia caerulea 6-11-11 Acadia NP Roadside

 

6. Herring gulls-kab Herring gulls 6-12-11 Seawall near Bass Harbor Marsh

 

7. Laughing gulls-kab Laughing Gulls Seal Harbor 6-12-11

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Acadian Cool Blue Sky (SWF)

Cadillac Mt. Acadia NP-kab

Bar Harbor as seen from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

At the beginning of June Gus and I drove to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island off the coast of Maine. We went there to celebrate our 34th Wedding Anniversary since this was the place we went on our honeymoon all those years ago. After driving along the coastline we turned inland and upwards to the top of Cadillac Mountain. It is a relatively easy drive to the top and the views are spectacular. The wind was blowing quite strongly on this day and with the temperature dropping we were quite cold, so we didn’t stay long. After the long drive from the day before and having spent most of the morning and early afternoon watching birds and exploring the coast we decided to head back to the cabin for an afternoon nap. Good choice since the sky soon opened up and poured down rain. It was a lovely day all around!

Happy Skywatch Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flying Free

DSC_0266 My Front Door

It’s just a simple front door yet for me it is the door to my freedom. After nine months of being afraid to go out that door due to a threatening upstairs tenant I am finally free! I can finally walk out my door without fear of intimidation or reprisals. The tenant moved out on the 4th of July giving even more meaning to Independence Day for me. In the days that followed I often found myself crying for what I thought was no reason but now realize it was just relief that it was finally over. So it was that on this past Sunday night I found myself yearning for a walk, and while I often walk to the bog which is out the back door and behind my house, tonight I wanted to go for a walk into town.

I took off my flip-flops; laced up my sneakers, and boldly stepped out my front door into the muggy gray summer’s evening. Though it was after 7:30 PM there was still enough light for me to see and to walk. I did not take my binoculars or camera. In all ways I just wanted to be free. At this time of night on a Sunday evening the traffic is relatively light as I walk down the street towards town. I pass a park where children play soccer while family and friends watch. The cement sidewalk beneath my feet is shifted this way and that from frost heaves and tree roots. I must be aware of my feet or I will stumble and fall. I look at the houses around me, admiring the New England Architecture. I try to take it all in and absorb the feeling of this place. A little ways past the soccer field I come to a stone bridge that crosses the Shawsheen River which meanders lazily below. I feel that tranquility permeate my being as I walk on.

Down Main Street I stroll gazing constantly around me. Green trees tower over the street, over the rooftops, framing the sky. I hear the twittering of chimney swifts and look up to see them fluttering through the bits of open sky. Though their flight looks so erratic, it is also swift; thus their name and I feel as if my heart were flying up there with them. For most of the rest of my way home I will hear their cheerful twitters as I walk. Could it be that they are celebrating their freedom as I am?

I turn on Harding Street to High Street and then head home past Sacred Heart Park. The night is advancing now to twilight and I must hurry back. I feel the sweat beading up on me from all the humidity in the air. When I walk past the Soccer Fields of Sacred Heart Park I see a flock of robins searching for worms in the fading light. I am still amazed that I am walking free, that I can come back home to my own front door and open it and step through and be safe. And whenever I want to I can open the door and fly free again.

I intend to take many more walks now. Next time I will bring both bins and camera and record what I see. I feel I can finally get to know this town I live in, and perhaps get back to being myself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Summer Sanctuary (MWT)

1. summer sanctuary-kab My Summer Sanctuary

In the apartment where I currently live I have created a Summer Sanctuary on my back porch. Though I live in the quaint little town of Andover, Massachusetts and I live right on a State Highway, my back porch is where I sit and watch the many birds and other animals which find refuge here. The large 2-story house blocks the sounds from the main road and the many tall trees provide shade and sanctuary for all of us. I often come out here first thing in the morning to eat my breakfast, drink a cup of coffee or tea, and count the birds for eBird. I hope you enjoy this view of My World today.

2. flowers-kab Flower Basket Beauty

 

4. porch-kab Back porch seen from backyard.

 

5. porch-kab Interesting shadows

 

5. yard-kab Shady back yard view as seen from porch.

 

6. feeders-kab Bird Feeders on Pole in Backyard

 

7. woodland edge Woodland Edge with Finch Feeder

 

8. feeders-kab My Backyard Bird Feeders

 

9. squirrels-kab Critter Feeding Stumps

 

10. red-winged blackbird-kab Red-winged Blackbird under feeder

 

11. blue jays-kab Blue Jays in yard

 

12. Titmouse-kab Tufted Titmouse

 

13. red Squirrel-kab Red Squirrel

 

14. downy Woodpecker-kab Downy woodpecker waiting to drop onto feeder 7-19-11

And that’s…

My World Tuesday!

15. back porch-kab

And if you have the time to sit a spell with me,

Please drop on by at Kathie’s Poet Tree!

(where poetry is happening!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stormy Swamp Sky

SWF springbog 4-27-11-kab

Stirling Street Swamp 4-27-11 Andover, MA Nikon Coolpix S400

I just love the subtle colors and the moodiness of this photo of the swamp. I never got to post it in April when I took it so when I was going through my photos of the swamp last week and I came upon it I just had to share it. And please visit

Skywatch Friday

for more amazing sky pictures!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer at the Swamp

1. Waterlilies-kab Water Lilies 7-5-11

Summer days are upon us now and if I go to the swamp in the morning I am sure to see the water lilies open to the sun. The birds of the swamp have settled into their summer routines. Some have already raised one brood of birds and are starting on the next. Each visit to the swamp has something in common with the last visit, yet something is always changing. There is always something new.

2. CarliseStreet 6-6-11-kab On my walk to the swamp I travel down shady streets lined with maples and oaks.

 

3. chipmunk 6-6-11-kab Often the chipmunks squeal and scamper out into the street before rushing off into yards or the surrounding woodlands.

4. pflower 6-6-11-kab I pass a few wildflowers as I go…

5. Flowering 6-6-11-kab …and manicured yards with blooms aplenty.

6. Swampview 4-27-11-kab The swamp that looked bare and cold in April…

7. Swampview 6-2-11-kab …is now bursting with growth and green.

8. goslings 6-2-11-kab On June 2, 2011 I found this family of geese close enough to photograph with my Nikon Coolpix.

9. MODO 6-6-11-kab I am amazed at how much the mourning doves like the swamp. I see them here more now than I do at my feeders!

10. EAKI-kab I was so pleased when the Eastern Kingbirds showed up at the swamp.

11. EAKI 2-kabThere is a whole family of them there now and I love to watch their aerial displays as they catch insects over the swamp. I counted them here for the first time on May 3rd of this year. However this photo was taken on June 6th.

12. Flicker 6-6-11-kab The Northern (yellow-shafted) Flickers have returned as well.

13. flickernest-kab I saw the parents bring food to the chicks in the nest hole on June 6th and saw at least two little heads peeking out. However, on my last visit here on July 5th all the birds were gone.

14. CEWA-kab Cedar Waxwings also have put in a regular appearance at the swamp. Sometimes I hear them before I see them, but that just helps me find them easier!

15. cattails-kab The cattails are growing green and lush along the perimeter of the swamp. I have yet to see a marsh wren here however, or a common yellowthroat. I heard a common yellowthroat on June 24th from far across the bog but that is the only time and I have not heard one since. I have not seen any other warblers here though I have listened and looked.

16. BCCH 7-5-11-kab Chickadees are regular visitors. This one was a youngster I think as it tried weakly to sing the chickadee song. (7-5-11)

17. dragonfly-kab There are a fair share of dragonflies around. I was lucky to have this one land nearby where I could easily see and photograph it.

18. flowers 7-5-11-kab This sunny flower is growing along the bank of the swamp on the west side.

19. juv RWBL 7-5-11-kab Juvenile Red-winged Blackbird twisting to groom itself.

20. SOSP-kab What’s better than a Song Sparrow singing on a sunny summer’s day!

21. Swampview 7-4-11-kab This is a view of the Swamp on July 4th in the evening as a thunderstorm passed by. While I stood on the edge watching birds I heard thunder, saw lighting flash, and felt the wind wild on the water, but no rain drops fell. It felt wonderful. If you compare this photo to the one in the previous post you will see the willow tree is now a soft pale green and all the rest of the vegetation has grown so thick that the apartments on the opposite show are all but obscured from view.

While I am amazed at all the birds I have seen at the bog I am also surprised by what I have not seen. I have not seen any warblers, kingfishers, empids, or wrens other than the Carolina in the winter and early spring. The muskrats seem to have disappeared. I have not see them in over two months. There are not many ducks or geese here nowadays. I found one lone goose when I counted birds in Den Rock Park on July 5th which lies at the north end of the swamp. I did not see any from my vantage point on the west side of the swamp. Blue and green herons show up sporadically but I have yet to get a decent photograph of one here. The green herons are particularly shy and are often at the more distant points out in the swamp. I hope to post an updated list of birds seen at the swamp within the next few days either in a post or as a list in the sidebar. As long as I live here you will find me going back to the swamp to count birds.

And that’s…My World Tuesday!