Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feeder Birds in Massachusetts

Chipping Sparrow in Yew bush 10-20-10
Since moving in I have set up my feeders and watched the birds come. Each new species I see makes me smile. At first I saw chickadees and Tufted Titmice, then Downy Woodpeckers and Mourning Doves started to arrive.

White-breasted nuthatch 10-19-10

Field sparrow 10-19-10

One morning I was surprised to find a Chipping Sparrow and a Field Sparrow at my feeder.  The Field Sparrow was only here for that one day but the Chipping Sparrows have been regular visitors ever since. 

Nuthatch and field sparrow arguing over the feeder 10-19-10

American goldfinch 10-20-10

 Soon the goldfinches showed up...

The squirrel helps himself to breakfast 10-25-10

...and then these gray pirates arrived! What bold fellows they are coming right up the pole and peering in my kitchen window!  They have no fear when I try to shoo them away unless I open the window, then they dash down the pole and run beneath the yew tree only to emerge and run back up the pole as soon as I move away from the window! 

Cute squirrel face and paws
  They are hard to resist but I can't have them eating all of my seed and scaring away my birds. So, what did I do?

How to outfox a squirrel?

Get a squirrel baffle of course! This is my first time using one of these and it really works. The squirrels are still here but they now run around beneath the feeder scrambling for dropped seeds.

Just add a baffle!

Chipping Sparrow 10-25-10

Maple leaf 10-25-10

I am enjoying my new home in New England.  Autumn is a glorious time to be here with all the fall foliage set off by magnificent New England Architecture. It won't last long but for now I am enjoying these pleasant Autumn days. Today was so warm that I opened some of my windows and only wore flip flops on my feet.  But I know that winter and snow are not far behind. This past weekend I bought new boots and warm shoes.  It's been six years since I have lived in the Northeast but I think I am ready for it.  For now I am really enjoying these northeastern birds!

New England Architecture with Autumn colors 10-25-10

Monday, October 18, 2010

My New Heaven

October 13, 2010

It is a perfect autumn day in New England. Crisp air, blue skies, brilliantly colored leaves. I have just returned from a trip to Connecticut to retrieve my 2 cats which have been staying at my mother’s house while we get settled into our new apartment. Though there are still boxes to unpack and closets to clean, it was time to bring them home. Now, after setting up their necessary things I abandon all the other tasks that await me and head down the road for a walk.

As I step out the door a pair of black-capped chickadees pop out of the hedge alongside the walkway. I am amazed at their boldness in being so near to me, and I smile at their tiny feathered forms so close and so sweet. They both give me a bit of a startled look and fly off to safety in a nearby tree.

I walk across a lawn still green from summer. The frost has not yet killed the grass. Silky grass leaves are interspersed with woodland flowers, weeds, acorns and small pinecones. Patches of moss cushion my feet. Dried maple leaves are scattered about randomly. I walk past towering pines, oaks, and maples. In the woods dead trees lean against the live ones. Tucked in amongst it all are quiet New England homes.

I walk the pavement down one such quiet street with brown leaves crunching beneath my feet. It has been so long since I have smelled these autumn scents and felt the autumn chill countered by the warmth of golden rays of sun. I feel as if I am walking through my past, yet also into someplace new. I feel as if I am in a time warp, or perhaps a tesseract, where the past has folded in on the present and I am experiencing both at the same time. Old memories rush at me, new sensations surround me. I am old and new all at once. I am enveloped by this experience and it carries me down the street.

It is 4:00 p.m. EDT and the children are out of school. They play in grassy yards and along the tree-lined streets. I see 3 boys playing ball in their yard, then pass two little girls in another. One of them is singing a song from the musical "Annie." She pauses for just a breath as I near, then decides to continue her song anyways. I smile inwardly at her lack of self-consciousness. I enjoy this simple moment. I wonder if I look strange to them as I pass by with my huge camera strung over my shoulder and my bins hanging from the other. I have a green fanny pack belted around my waist in which I am carrying my glasses, phone, and notebook, for I am on my way to a new location to count birds.

I discovered this place about 2 weeks ago right before we moved in. It is only ¼ mile from my apartment and though I had seen it over a month ago when we were checking this apartment out I had not really stopped to bird there. On September 30th I did stop and was amazed by what I found. A bog surrounded by forest spread out before me. In the middle of the bog dead trees and stumps poked into the gray sky. Along the roadside a line of eastern white pines had been planted and beneath them a flock of chipping sparrow fed. In their branches yellow-rumped and palm warblers flitted through the trees. Out over the bog blue jays, American crows and more yellow-rumped warblers flitted about. I saw three kinds of woodpeckers on that day. There were birds everywhere and I could not count fast enough. I have landed on my feet, I thought to myself. I now have a new location for my next Site Survey for eBird. I drove away smiling.

Today as I approach the bog I hear crows calling. Nuthatches honk in the nearby trees. Then a pair of downy woodpeckers flies across the road in front of me, lands on a tree in the woods and then flies back to the bog. Today faded blue skies arch overhead and the slanting gold light illuminates each brightly colored leaf. The trees encircled the bog as if in a warm embrace. I slip between the pines and stand on the edge of the bowl. This is “My New Heaven,” I think to myself. I sigh a deep sigh of contentment as I gaze out at my new world.

Last time I was here the bog was completely dry, but recent rains had filled it some and small channels of water flow like silver ribbons across the barren ground. Dead branches, twigs, and stumps are strewn about everywhere.

Dead trees rise like silver bones to the blue sky. I see bits of old bark flaking off and holes bored out by birds for looking for food and shelter. Once again the yellow-rumped warblers reign. It seems they are everywhere I look.

Far across the bog in a quiet pool I spot two Canada geese. Then, in another section I find 10 more. Eventually I find another small pond with more geese in it. By the time I am done I will have counted 21 geese on the ground and a flock of 12 that flew overhead.

I scan the skies for birds. I scan the trees and brush. A lone junco appears for a minute as it lands on a nearby branch, then dives back into the bog. Behind me I hear the voices of children playing, but there are as a fog in my mind. I am totally focused on this scene before me. I want to know what I will see next.

I am scanning the forest edges for hawks or owls, but I do not see any. I hear the cry of a northern flicker and then I spot a butterscotch colored bird on a stump with its tail cocked up at a 90 degree angle. Its brown back and head are broken by a thin cream colored line and I rejoice for I know that I am seeing a Carolina Wren!
The shadows across the bog lengthen before me. I feel the chill of night falling around me. I have been here for almost and hour. I know it is time to go home. As I emerge from the protection of the pines I step back into suburbia once again.

Gray pavement is my path home but overhead I hear a familiar sound and gaze up to see an American Robin high at the tip of one of those dead trees. Its rust colored breast positively glows in the light of the setting sun and it chatters at the sky, its body pointed west as if is it saying “Good-night dear sun. I will see you in the morning!”

Birds Seen at the Bog 10-13-10 (watched for 50 minutes)
  1. Canada Goose 34
  2. Downy Woodpecker 2
  3. Northern flicker 1
  4. American Crow 14
  5. Blue jay 5
  6. Tufted titmouse 4
  7. Black-capped chickadee 1
  8. White-breasted Nuthatch 2
  9. Carolina Wren 1
  10. American Robin 1
  11. Yellow-rumped Warbler 12
  12. Dark-eyed Junco 1

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Blogging Friends,

I purchased more photo space on Picasa Web Albums last night because I took a walk yesterday and I have many nice photos to upload and show you.  However, it takes up to 24 hours for the storage space to activate.  I just tried a few minutes ago and it still says I am out of my 1 GB of storage space. I have the post written and the photos uploaded onto my computer.  As soon as blogger will let me, I will finish the post and upload it!

It has been very hard to be disconnected from my blog.  I am so eager to get back at it on a regular basis. To make matters worse, when I tried to upload from blogger-in-draft they had a whole new format and it did not appear as if there was a link to upload photos from my computer. There were just 3 links (I thought) to upload from "this blog," "Picasa web albums" or "a url." I did NOT want to have to start uploading all my photos into Picasa and then access them from there. My time is precious and I need this to be simple and easy.  I am not a techie so when things go wrong with my computer it freaks me out. Anyways, I was writing my blogger eptitath when I tried again. I clicked on the upload images link and looked again.  There was a link that just said "upload" and to the right of it was a window and a buttton with the word "browse" on it. I clicked on the browse button on a whim and it brought up access to the files on my computer!  Hurray!  Now, I did go to the blogger Help Forum and read all kinds of answers about how to "work around this problem."  One person even suggested they would go get a Word Press blog.  There were suggestions to go back to the old format (if you know how to do that) or try a different browser or computer (why would that matter?). Still, I don't think it should be this complicated and no one ever said, "Oh, we changed the format. Just click on the browse button next to the "upload" link and it will give you access to the files on your computer." That SIMPLE answer would save many people frustration!!!!!!!!!!! (and tears).

So, Now I just have to wait (I hope) and soon new photos and old will be posting once again.

BTW, I wrote this whole post out to hopefully save someone else from all this frustration that I have experienced today. And just to vent. Whining makes me feel better! (and no, I do not want any cheese with my whine!) I so want to get back to blogging on a regular basis!

As for the birds, my feeders are up and the little birdies are visiting me on a regular basis now.  I am so happy!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kathiesbirds is Connected!

Yeah, I just got Internet service! My computers are up and running! It's a beautiful sunny autumn day here in New England, but I am busy unpacking boxes and cleaning the apartment. I bought a garden hook for my feeder's yesterday and I am now searching through boxes for the feeders themselves.  This is taking me way longer than I want it to.  I am adjusting to my new nest for now.

So far each morning I awaken to the calls of blue jays. Sometimes I hear nuthatches honking from the nearby trees. There are trees everywhere, oaks, maples and evergreens, birches, poplars and more.  I will have to learn the names of some of them.  I am enjoying the coolness and the green.

It has been my misfortune to be sick all this week, so it had been a bit of a difficult transition. At times I have been overwhelmed and broken down and cried. I feel I am on the upswing now and I hope to take a walk sometime this weekend and leave the boxes to fend for themselves. I have discovered a swamp or bog less than 1/4 mile from my house with tons of birds. I went there last week before I moved in and saw woodpeckers, sparrows, and warblers and even a lone eastern bluebird!

Back to work for now but hopefully I will be posting on a regular basis again soon and visiting everyone, old friends and new that I have missed.  I have so much catching up to do!

Oh, and there will be pictures again soon!