Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mid-winter life at the Charles River Peninsula

I put on my snow boots and trudged through the CRP this afternoon. About 8 inches on the ground on average--sometimes over a foot. I tried to walk around the perimeter, sometimes balancing on old ski tracks, sometimes even sliding across the icy crust. Not much active wildlife but lots of evidence of past activity.

For example, holes in the otherwise smooth crust, far from the tracks of dogs and snow walkers like me. Upon investigation, pretty clearly outlet holes for something with underground/snow tunnels (meadow mice, I assume).

This dirty trail went between the exposed swamp water and a burrow at the base of a dead tree.

And I'm guessing an otter did this.

Finally, bluebirds. I was able to get extremely close (in fact, they practically flew into me). Pure sweetness.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random snow bird photos taken through windows

Puffed up goldfinch trying to stay warm.

Juvie cardinal discovering a stash of seeds under the snow.

Jet black male junco.

The pine siskins are still around. One spent the afternoon singing its heart out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Yes, I am a sweet little pine siskin, kind and


Well, nothing is sweeter than me, a little goldfinch, always mild and


A little tension on this cold afternoon between the turn-takers and the feeder hogs. The goldfinches and the siskins tend to tolerate each other but the titmice have been battling them all day long. The fiercest skirmishes, though, seem to be intraspecies.

Mallards vs Mergansers (Mallards win)

Mill Street in Dover runs along the Charles River. During the winter you can see many ducks and mergansers (common and hooded) seeking refuge along the banks there. The mallards and mergansers don't get along (the mallards exerting that "I'm going to swim towards you" pressure).

Pine Siskin

It's cold. Cold enough to attract the first pine siskin to my feeder.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snow Robins

Winter robins drinking from river ice, cedar snow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coastal birding

No point trudging through the woods and fields the day after a snow storm. Go to the coast for your taste of bird goodness. A brief trip to Marblehead scored a common loon, surf scoters, eiders, and a common merganser (seen through binoculars, poorly photographed). Back to Salem and its lovely powerplant just in time to catch this blue jay-hawk interaction. (click on images for more detail).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Birds I didn't expect to see in January.

I've (grudgingly) grown used to seeing robins and goldfinches all winter long, but I was a little surprised to see these guys this week:

Hermit Thrush

(I know, I know. It just didn't respond to my whispered pleas to turn around until it was out of photo range).


A whole family of them, hanging with the goldfinches and juncos.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More New Eyes Stories (Coolidge Reservation)

Coolidge Reservation, a Trustees property in Manchester-By-The-Sea, offers many gorgeous ocean views, especially if you come with new eyes, as I did this afternoon. Distant yet clear views of cormorant islands and diving bufflehead families.

And here's another story about the difference a pair of binoculars makes. I glimpsed a pair of ducks on a rock right off shore.

I moved to get a better view and spotted another.

Picking up the binoculars I immediately see the obvious thing I missed--a black and white eider drake. This is an eider family.

I watch for a little while and I see some movement. Little pigeon like shapes. Could these be purple sandpipers?

They moved up the rock (giving me better views). Why did they move, you ask?

Because of our last hidden creature, a black duck, who came to rest a while with the eiders.

(Note: I managed to simulate my experience through crop and zoom. The important point is--I wouldn't have "seen" anything to photograph had it not been for the binoculars.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blingee-d White-throat

Lily wanted to decorate the white-throat on the previous post so here it is (surprisingly tasteful, I think).
Add Glitter to Pictures

Panther Hollow

For as long as I can remember, my walks in Pittsburgh have always had bookstores at the end of them. This year, for the first time, I actively sought out green spaces. Schenley Park, while dominated by joggers and dog walkers, has some attractions for bird watchers (the white-throated sparrows are particularly abundant this time of year).

Indeed, there is active feeding going on (which keeps the cardinals close at hand).

My favorite view, was a pair of hawks, perched on a telephone pole high above Panther Hollow.

One of whom displayed a striking gap in its plumage when in flight.