Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It’s Starting to Get Exciting Around Here!

1. Crocuses k Crocus in the front yard 4-3-11

It’s starting to get exciting around here! You would hardly believe we had snow on April 1st! On Sunday the crocuses were blooming in the front yard with all the brightness of a summer sun!

2. Wild turkeys-k Wild turkeys in back yard 4-4-11

Then, on Monday when I came into the office to start blogging I looked out my office window to see a flock of 5 Wild Turkeys as they raced across the main road out front and ran down the side street and across my backyard. I did not have my camera in the office so, I raced through the house to the dining room, grabbed my camera, and ran out the back door where I stood on the porch and photographed these birds. The day was gray, the birds moving fast, and I was excited, so these are not the best photos I have ever taken but they are proof that I saw them and that makes species #37 on my yard list! I never thought I would see a wild turkey here in suburban Andover!

3. turkey 4-4-11 

4. turkeys 4-4-11 k 

But, the excitement did not end with Turkeys in the yard. On Tuesday I walked to the bog to do my weekly bird count for eBird as part of my site survey. When I left the house it was 61F degrees and overcast. The day actually felt warm and muggy so I am lightly dressed. As I near the bog I can hear so many birds singing and calling. What was a quiet place over the winter has now become raucous with bird calls. Blue Jays, Crows, grackles and red-winged blackbirds are all calling. Mallards are quacking and Canada Geese are honking. I am looking out over the bog to see what I can see and besides the waterfowl I’ve already mentioned I see a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Then, as I walk a short distance to the north end of the bog I am surprised to see something else. Something different is standing on a log with its beak curled into its wing. The colors are bold and striking. I see the white outline on the iridescent green head. I see a brownish-purple breast outlined in white. Is this what I think it is…?

As I stand at the edge of the bog trying to figure this out the wind starts to gust. Dark clouds roll in and soon the rain is falling but I do not want to leave until I know for sure! I tuck myself into the branches of a nearby pine and stare through my bins. I did not bring my camera with me which would help because I could take a photograph and look at it later in the comfort of my own warm and dry apartment! The temperature is dropping rapidly as I stand here in the rain. Finally the duck lifts its head and slides into the water for a swim. I can now see its whole body and my I.D. is confirmed. Species #42 for the bog is a Wood Duck!  And not only 1 wood duck, but a pair! I have been thinking this is perfect Wood Duck habitat and I was wondering if and when I would see any here. Well, today is the day, but I have no camera! Then, as I am looking around somemore I see a pair of swallows high overhead. Though they are silhouetted against the sky I see their white bellies and squarish tails and I believe I am seeing Tree Swallows! Wow! The First Of the Year for me and species #43 for the bog!

By now the rain is pelting down and the temperature has dropped 10 degrees. I walk home briskly and make myself a cup of Earl Grey tea. I have to run into town for some errands, but as I leave I grab my camera and bins. If I have time I will go back to the bog after my errands and see if the Wood ducks are still there.

5. American black duck 4-5-11 American Black duck in the bog 4-5-11

it is raining again as I leave the store and head towards the bog. I pull up alongside the curb and gaze out through the rain speckled window to see if the wood ducks are still there; to see if it is worth getting out of the car in this rain and cold. It is 5:15 PM by now and the temperature has dropped even lover to 41F! But as I look through my bins I spot them! They are here! I grab my camera and jump out of the car. I cross the guardrail and the pines and stand on the grassy bank taking pictures. As I enter the wonderland of the bog a Red-tailed Hawk glides overhead and disappears at the south end of the bog. I have seen it before and I am more focused on the ducks. In front of me are mallards. Beyond the mallards I see a darker duck standing on a log. An American Black Duck! then, out beyond them I see the Wood Ducks. 

6. Wood duck-k Male Wood duck in bog 4-5-11

First one male…then another! Then I see the females making it 4 ducks in all! Four Wood Ducks in the bog! This is so exciting! As I am watching them and trying to photograph them in the rain and the cold I suddenly catch movement of a small gray bird that isn’t a titmouse or a chickadee. It is low in the reeds at the edge of the bog. What could THIS  be???

7. Phoebe 4-5-11 bog Oh my goodness! An Eastern Phoebe! And not just one, but three! Three Phoebes! That makes species #44 for the bog and 3 new species in one day! My heart is racing now. It really has begun! I cannot miss a day at the bog. I know now that new things will be happening every day here. I must come back, I must!

8. bog 4-5-11kI leave the silver watery bog and get back into my warm car to drive home. I feel so thankful to live near this little bit of a wild place that is right here in the heart of the town, in the middle of suburbia. It is here in these small wild places that nature still hangs on bringing life to our concrete, steel, and electronic world. I find solace here, and excitement. I find food for my soul and a reason to get out of bed every morning. This is the exciting thing, the serendipity of what you will or won’t see today,and today I saw a lot! Whoopee!

Birds seen 2011 Year to Date Life Year Month
Total Species 392 82 27
Bog 44 34 17
Yard 37 30 15


  1. How utterly exciting and so beautifully written that I was spellbound. I am so glad you are enjoying the wild places in suburbia. Nature is so amazing.

    I have had a great reviving holiday away with a lot of exercise, walking and fishing or just gazing on the moving sea.So soul reviving that I lost 7 pounds!

  2. How exciting Kathie! I'm so glad this place is close by for you to enjoy, and the birds of course.

  3. I got all excited reading that, as if it were me adding new birds to my patch! (that's the sign of a good writer I suppose). You're awesome! Keep up the good work.

  4. Kathie, what a great post. It is neat to have turkeys running thru your yard. Congrats on all the new bog species. The wood ducks are so pretty. I have seen the Eastern Phoebe recently too. Wonderful photos.

  5. Hi Kathie

    Wow sounds like a great couple of days. Not only did you see some neat birds but you got really nice photos. I love seeing photos of turkeys and your pictures really show the colours well. All that and beautiful crocus. Just a great post


  6. Arija, I am so pleased to hear that you have had such a relaxing vacation. And to lose 7 lbs! Wow! I need to join you!

    Gaelyn, Tee hee! The birds and I all love it!

    Birding is fun, it feels so good to be able to get outside once again! I am beside myself with joy!

    Eileen, it almost feels like Christmas with anticipation. I'm glad the weather doesn't feel like Christmas however!

    Roy, I think so!

    Guy, thank you!

  7. A beautiful, provocative place. Gorgeous. I love the life there.

  8. WoW! What a great day you had. I love days like that!I haven't seen wood ducks yet this spring but I am hoping fot my first beautiful glimpse of that species any dayng soon, t. I love the joy you express about your sightings seen. You make me want to go jump in my car and drive to my favourite pond, but its too late in the day. Tomorrow morning will have to do! We are eagerly waiting for our Tree Swallows to return soon. I understand you excitement totally!

  9. Things are getting exciting out there-and so much more to come -Nice photos too!

  10. Great to see so much springtime activity working its way up to your part of the world. Great photos.

  11. Your counts are impressive. I am always happy to find a Wood Duck.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.