Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Osprey (WBW)

1. Osprey_0038-kab Osprey in Charlestown, MA 8-12-11

When my friend Merry Robin took me to see Charlestown a couple of weeks ago, she also brought me down to the harbor to see what we could see. At Constellation Wharf I spotted three osprey flying around and diving into the river for fish. Osprey are fish hawks. They hunt and nest near all deep bodies of water, including the ocean. Unlike a Bald Eagle, which also eats fish, these birds have a white breast and body when seen from below with barred wings, blacks “wrists,” and a black mask on a white face.

2. osprey-kab Osprey: Length 23 inches, wingspan 60-70 inches

3. osprey-kab Osprey are found on all continents except Antarctica.

4. osprey-kab Osprey flying past building. Can you see it?

5. osprey-kab Osprey will often hover or “kite” over the water before dropping on prey.

6. osprey-kab 

7. osprey-kab Good-bye Osprey!

If you liked this bird please click on the photo below to see more amazing birds from around the world! Thanks Springman!


Read More about Osprey and view an interactive map of eBird sightings at:

All About Birds/Osprey

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aftermath Monday

1. Liberty St-kab Limb Down on Liberty Street, Andover, MA

On Sunday, august 28, 2011 Tropical Storm Irene came to town. She blew down trees and limbs, blew out power, and caused minor flooding in Andover, Massachusetts. In Connecticut, where some of my family lives, she arrived as a hurricane and blew out power all over the town of Colchester. While my Mom lives near the center of town and has city water and sewer, my sister and many others live out in the country and need electricity to run the pump which brings water up from the well, so they are without power or water. As of this evening it is still out and it may not get turned back on until September 5th! So, I count myself lucky and blessed, because all we had was a minor inconvenience.

2. feeders-kab Ballerina Sculpture and bird feeders inside hallway.

I spent three days preparing for this storm. I shopped for groceries and supplies. I went to four stores before I found a small flashlight, which I never needed. On Saturday night I brought in two of my bird feeders and all the furniture from my back porch.

3. rain-kab I left this feeder and suet out and the birds still came in the midst of the storm!

4. yard-kab Only a few branches down in the yard. Later on a couple big ones fell in the woods. By late afternoon the rain had stopped and I put my other feeders back up. Then, Gus and I took the dog for a walk on the quiet streets.

5. side yard-kab These were the trees I feared the most, for they are close enough to the corner of our apartment to hit us. Our bedroom is at this corner, but by nightfall all was well and we went to sleep peacefully. The air after the storm was cool and dry. I felt the cool breeze on my face as I drifted off to sleep listening to the music of the wind in the trees…

7. sky trunk-kab In the morning, the one piece of wood I wished would come down was still up in the tree tops…

8. surprise-kab …but Gus was greeted by this surprise as he went to walk the dog!

9. fallen tree-kab Apparently it came down during the night, and we never even heard it! Had it fallen the opposite way, it would have hit the house!

10. clean-up crew-kab Soon the road crews showed up and made short work of it. In less than 10 minutes they were…

11. done-kab Done!

Please come visit the new Our World Tuesday! site and if you feel like it, please participate!

Our World

Thanks Sandy, Sylvia, Gattina, Arija,and Lady Fi!


12. not a stump-kab Which one of these stumps is not a stump? Click to enlarge and see if you can see something new I saw at the bog the day before the hurricane! More details to follow in a couple of days…

So please come back!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Birds of Revere Beach

1. Herring gull-kab Herring Gull 8-19-11 Revere Beach

It’s been a very busy summer around here and my husband has every other Friday off. Usually we are heading out of town to somewhere, but on august 19th we decided to take a break and stay home. Or, at least stay in the state of Massachusetts. since moving here last year Gus has wanted to take me for a walk on Revere Beach. We went once in the winter, now it was time for a summertime stroll. So, we packed up the car and headed out.

2. Sand castles-kabI expected the beach to be crowded on this perfect beach day but to my utter surprise, it was not. We parked near the south end of the beach near Elliot Circle and walked northward along the sidewalk to the Pink Apartments. I was surprised to discover that these apartments have their own designation on eBird as a Birding Hotspot! Though we did see a few other species of birds, mostly we saw gulls. Over 200 of them. Other than pigeons, starlings and house sparrows, these are most of the birds we saw.


3. GBBG-kab Great black-backed Gull 8-19-11 Revere Beach


3. Semi-plover-kab Semipalmated Plover 8-19-11 Revere Beach


4. sanderlings-kab Sanderlings 8-19-11 Revere Beach


5. bonaparte's gull-kab Bonaparte's Gull 8-19-11 Revere Beach


6. immature GBBG-kab Immature Great Black-backed Gull 8-19-11


7. Ring-billed gull-kab Ring-billed Gull 8-19-11 Revere Beach

Most gulls take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to reach their adult plumage. In-between it can be quite tricky to decide which species of bird you are seeing. I am still learning my gulls but I think I got all of these right. When trying to identify gulls, one has to look at the size and shape of the bird, the size, shape and color of the beak, the eye color, the leg color, the head color and the mantle, or back of the bird. Then, there is the color of the wingtips and many other subtleties I have yet to learn. Still, I enjoy the challenge when its not frustrating me and you never know what might show up, like the rare Gray-hooded Gull seen recently on the beach at Coney Island, NY!

It is about 1.25 miles from the south end to the Pink Apartments so we figured we walked 2 1/2 miles on this day. All in all Gus and I had a fun walk on the beach with plenty of time left over to come home and relax!

Revere Beach is also known to have nesting pairs of Piping Plovers and while I looked for them, I did not find any. There is a very interesting article about Piping Plovers and conservation written for the Boston Globe Magazine a couple of weeks ago. You can read the article here:

The Curious Case of the Piping Plover

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Birds at Bog

As the summer winds down the population of birds at the bog is changing. Gone are the hordes of grackles and blackbirds. New birds are showing up even as the bog has gone mostly silent. From the end of July to the middle of August I was unable to visit the bog on a regular basis. However, since August 12th I have been there 4 times. 

With the off and on rain we have had the bog is currently full of water. Cattails and reeds are tall and green and in a few places purple loosestife dots the landscape. On August 12th I saw my first Black-crowned Night Herons at the bog. Since then I have counted one on each subsequent visit. Wednesday afternoon I walked down to the bog once again. It was amazingly calm and quiet. There were birds there, but I had to scan the trees, sky and water for them. Some birds I never would have seen if they weren't in motion. Chimney swifts and swallows cut through the sky. Mallards and Wood Ducks napped in the shallows or on downed limbs and tree trunks. I spotted a Great Blue Heron across the bog stealthily hunting in the shallows. A few phoebes flitted around close to the water hunting insects, pumping their tails as they alighted on their perches. 

At the north end of the bog I was delighted to spot a pair of Eastern bluebirds. A lone crow drifted lazily overhead while a Turkey Vulture tilted on large and dark wings. I was about to finish my count and leave when suddenly I noticed a larger bird heading straight for me across the bog flying in an undulating line. As I raised my bins to my eyes it gave its rattling cry. I tired to drop my bins and raise my camera for a shot but as the bird neared me it banked to the north and disappeared in the trees. I have been looking for a Belted Kingfisher here all summer and now I finally saw one! Species number 60 for the bog! 

Turning now I started walking along the pine-treed edge towards home stopping now and then to peek inbetween the trees in case there was anything else new to see. As I neared the south end of the swamp I climbed over the guardrail to for one last look. After scanning the water's edge one last time I looked up. There overhead a medium sized bird of prey flew, its belly and wings barred with gray, its wings pointed, its tail straight and square. My first impression made me gasp aloud. A Peregrine Falcon! This time I did raise my camera and try to get a shot. The bird glided and flapped and to my amazement, circled around and made one more pass over the bog before disappearing beyond the horizon. A Peregrine Falcon! I could not believe it! I NEVER expected that! Fall migration has begun. What a treat that was. Peregrine Falcon is species number 61 for the bog. Who knows what other species will show up over the course of the next few weeks. I did my very first bird count at the bog on September 30, 2010. I was there for 30 minutes and counted 12 species on that day.  At that time there were all kinds of warblers and sparrows migrating through. I hope the same will be true this year and I hope that I can identify the warblers in their fall plumages. I plan on taking the camera with me on a regular basis for now, because you never know what you will see. And, with Hurricane Irene on the way, I am wondering what birds will be there after the storm. 

BTW, though I had my camera with me, I did not get any good bird shots on this day. All the birds were too far in the distance for any good shots, though I did try. 

Here is the list of birds seen at the bog on August 24, 2011

  1. Mallard, 8
  2. Wood duck, 6
  3. Great Blue Heron, 1
  4. Black-crowned Night heron, 1
  5. Turkey Vulture, 2
  6. Red-tailed hawk, 1
  7. Peregrine Falcon, 1
  8. Ring-billed gull, 1
  9. Mourning dove, 12
  10. Chimney Swift, 10
  11. Belted Kingfisher, 1
  12. Northern flicker, 1
  13. Eastern Phoebe, 4
  14. Eastern Kingbird, 1
  15. Blue Jay, 1
  16. American Crow, 1
  17. Tree Swallow, 12
  18. Eastern bluebird, 2
  19. European Starling, 25
  20. cedar Waxwing, 4
  21. Song sparrow, 1
  22. Housefinch, 3
  23. American goldfinch, 2
Update 8-26-11: Went back to the bog this morning to count birds before the impending storm. Saw 3 new species for the bog and some are new to my Massachusetts Life List! I saw a flock of cormorants rise up in a tattered flock from beyond the eastern horizon. Then, as they circled and got organized they finally headed west and flew right over my head! I watched an immature Red-tailed hawk chasing ducks unsuccessfully for about an hour, and I saw my first Kestrel for the bog and for Massachusetts! Also, I did not know until I checked my eBird lists but the Kingfisher I saw the other day was a first for Massachusetts also! Hope to post an update with photos later. Now it's off to the store to buy a flashlight and batteries and maybe a bag of ice. I forgot to pick these up yesterday. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weathervane Sky SWF

1. weathervane-kab Weathervane atop fountain in City Square Park, Charlestown, MA 8-12-11

With the possible approach of hurricane Irene it seems only appropriate to have a weathervane as this week’s Skywatch Friday post! I photographed this weathervane atop the fountain in Charlestown's City Square Park 2 weeks ago. There were plenty of blue skies then, but…


2. frog-kab …perhaps this froggy is ready for some rain!

Happy Skywatch Friday!

I’ve also posted a new poem on Kathie’s Poet Tree: I Know What is coming.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bonaparte’s Gull WBW

1. bonaparte's gull-kab Bonaparte’s Gull on Revere Beach, Massachusetts 8-19-11

Last Friday it was Gus’ day off so we decided to drive over to Revere Beach and walk. The beach was surprisingly un-crowded, and almost deserted for a late, but warm summer day. As we walked along the beach we saw hundreds of gulls, but then I saw this beauty, a small gull on the sand at the edge of the water. Much smaller than the Great Black-backed, Herring, and Ring-billed gulls I had been seeing, this little bird has a dark eye, a black beak, and that funny little “ear” patch, a remnant from its black hood seen during the breeding season. Note also the pinkish-red legs. And while Laughing Gulls have dark eyes and a black hood, they are much larger and their beak is much heavier looking with hints of red or completely red and their legs are reddish black. But once the bird took flight the identity was completely sealed for only the Bonaparte's has those translucent outer primaries seen in flight.

2. bonaparte's gull-kab Taking Flight


3. bonaparte's gull-kab The elegant Bonaparte’s Gull


4. bonaparte's-kab Bonaparte's Gull 8-19-11 Revere Beach, Massachusetts


5. Bonaparte's-kab Here you can see the white outer triangle of feathers on the wing which are a key field mark for Bonaparte's Gull. This is my first Bonaparte's Gull in Massachusetts and the first I have identified all on my own. I have only seen them in two other places: at the Guntersville Dam in Alabama in March of 2010 and at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah in November of 2006.



(Click on the button to see more birds from around the world!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Charlestown, MA (MWT)

1. Bridge-kab Leonard P. Zakim Bunkerhill Memorial Bridge 8-12-11

On August 12th I went with a friend to Charlestown, MA. Though I grew up in New England I had never been to Charlestown and I know little about it. My friend, Mary, grew up in this section of Boston in an apartment over a store! She lived there for most of her life and played in the streets. She told me there used to be an elevated train that ran right down the middle of Main Street and right past her apartment. She told me that in the winter she used to open a window and throw snowballs at the passing train. How different her life was from mine when I was growing up. I lived in the country and slept outside under the stars in the summertime. I played in grassy fields and ran wild in the woods. Mary tells me she only saw grass and trees when her family went to the cape for vacation. I cannot comprehend this.

On this day I saw plenty of trees and even a few birds flying around the streets of Boston. Mary took me to a new park called City Square Park where we had a good view of the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. In the center of the park was a beautiful fountain with house sparrows drinking and splashing. Overhead a few chimney swifts flew and I even saw an American Robin hopping about on the grass! Later she drove me over to Bunker Hill, the site of a major battle during the revolutionary war. We had a very fun day.

2. fountain-kab House Sparrow on fountain.


3. me n frog-kab Me and my frog friend!


4. Frog-kab Froggy


5. Bunker hill-kab Bunker Hill Monument


6. Bunker hill-kab Bunker Hill with Colonel Prescott Statue


7. Prescott Statue-kabColonel William Prescott Statue


8. red house-kab Buildings across from Bunker Hill Monument.

After being out west for 6 years I am loving this New England Architecture!


9. Skyline-kab Two International Place, Exchange Place and Custom House

View from Bunker Hill of the Financial District in Boston.

10. Zakim bridge-kabZakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge as seen from Bunker Hill 8-12-11

I have just learned that with the passing of Klaus Peter there will be no more…

My World Tuesday!

Good-bye dear Klaus!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the Shore of Lake Ontario (SWF)

DSC_0069 Lake Ontario Sunset 7-31-11 @ 7:09 PM EDT

I hear the sounds of waves

crashing on the shore

mesmerizing me

pulling me in,

riveting me to this spot

with this sound.

I see the water gray and rolling,

white caps scattered on rising crests

all blending the the flat gray line

of a silver horizon.

Song sparrows serenade the day,

while gulls joust and cry over the waves.

Hummingbirds sip sweet nectar from the flowered bank,

a gentle breeze ruffles my hair,

then the Bald Eagle glides by

on wings dark and full of sky.

I feel the roots of my being release,

I feel my heart sprout wings!

Then I am flying, sailing, soaring,

above, along, beyond and back

to this green shore, brown cliff.

Where swallows nest in tiny caves

of mud and earth.

I am made of this same stuff,

this water, this earth.

I feel my roots sink down, drink deep, fill up

with love of this place, this moment, this now.

~Kathie Adams Brown (August 4, 2011)


DSC_0338 Lake Ontario Morning Fog 8-4-11 @ 8:46 AM EDT

Skywatch Friday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Fox, the Storm, and the Morning After

1. Lake ontario fog-kabLake Ontario 8-4-11

The morning after the storm a fog gathered on Lake Ontario as I packed my bags for home. I walked out into the cool, damp morning air listening to the birds of AMOC Camp for one last time. After loading the vehicle up I grabbed my camera and binoculars, a cup of hot tea and my chair, and wandered down to the shore cliff one last time. I stood on the cliff in the morning light, gazing at the transformation from last night’s storm.

2. battered beach-kabBelow me I saw Bank Swallow Beach tossed and turned and muddied, the water lapping brown and sandy against the accumulated debris. The little rocky beach where I had watched children playing just two nights ago was now gone. Big chunks of that bank now lay at the water’s edge slowly being dissolved into the lake.

3. the fox appears-kabSitting back in my chair I searched the bank and beach below for signs of life. As I sipped my tea I suddenly sat bolt upright as I gazed below me at some scraggly movement. A lone fox, tattered and battered, limped along the shoreline.


4. fox-kab Most of its fur was gone and its left rear leg appeared to be injured.


5. fox-kabIt sniffed the air as it trotted painfully across water-worn sticks and branches.


6. searching-kab 

7. searching-kab 

8. searching-kab 

9. a poor meal-kab Suddenly it spied the carcass of a seagull lying in all that debris and it fell on it ravenously. I had seen that headless carcass a couple of night ago, lying there in the muck and rocks. It was there on the beach behind the children. They played in the water, the dead gull unnoticed behind them. The next morning I saw it again, but by then there was little more than the wings left. Something had eaten the body. Now the poor hungry fox picked at what was left of the wings, then, carefully stepping over a few logs it found a fresh spring running down the cliff and into the lake. It drank the clean water from a little gully as it flowed towards the mud-ridden lake edge.

10. movin on-kab As I continued to watch the fox hobble over the re-sculpted shoreline I saw it scramble over an old tire, lying there in all that debris and it occurred to me that in many ways this fox is a metaphor for our environment.

11. up the path-kab It has been beaten down, polluted and forgotten. While nature struggles to survive against all that this industrial age continues to throw at her, the poor thing limps on, trying to feed. Trying to heal. Will the fox survive? I suppose that is really up to us and how much we are willing to do, and how much we are willing to change. In all its poor condition, I still felt privileged to have this glimpse of wildness. I think we need it for our souls. I know I do. I cannot imagine a world without nature and I plan to do my part to preserve this earth to the best of my ability.

It was a poignant moment for me on this last day and I found it very hard to tear myself away from that beautiful shore and that peaceful place.


12. my favorite stump-kab I will miss my viewing stump…


13. the view-kab …and the views.