Monday, May 31, 2010

Signs of Summer: Sea and shore bird special

Common Tern, Barrington Beach, Barrington, RI

It may seem a little early to be turning the focus towards the water, usually a woods-are-full-of-bugs summer activity, but the sea and shore birds are here so let's take a look.

A couple of interesting finds. First, the sora on the marsh trail at Plum Island are defying expected behavior this year and are walking around in the open. I saw this one in the medium distance, took its photo, turned and realized I had missed one about five feet in front of me ON THE BOARDWALK.

The black-bellied plover are in fine form this time of year, striking even from long distances. And what's that smaller salmon-colored bird near by? I'm thinking red knot.

Also on the marsh trail,
Blue-winged teal (yes, I see you, sleepy male)

and an approachable least sandpiper.

Some necessary egret shots:
A snowy egret from Plum Island

A great egret from the bike trail in Riverside, RI.

Plum Island ibis, glossy I believe.

and a Plum Island willet.

Last shore bird: house sparrow (Barrington Beach).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Brown Thrashers, Willow Flycatchers, and Cedar Waxwings

Willow Flycatcher, Plum Island, Newburyport, MA

You've got to love the in-between periods, after the warblers and before full-on June child-rearing. Plum Island was stuffed yesterday with sneezy willow flycatchers, silent brown thrashers, and zzz-ing cedar waxwings.

I chased this Brown Thrasher up the Stage Island path.

And this was the only cedar waxwing who would comply with my photo wishes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Snapping Turtles and Dragonflies

Snapping Turtle, Willow Street, Dover, MA

I noticed the car up ahead of me swerve into the opposite lane. Interesting. Then I saw why. Here comes the snapping turtle slowly walking, elephant-like, across the road. And then it decides it will keep walking in my lane.
Here's the video.

Eventually it did cross over, enabling this lovely shot.

CRP News: Dragonflies, everywhere. Also, the Trustees came down with a mower yesterday and cut nice wide paths into the meadow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fish nests [UPDATED]

Bluegill, Charles River Peninsula canoe launch, Needham, MA

Today, a move from bird to fish nests. There is a cluster of bluegill nests in the shallow water off the canoe launch at the CRP. If you look closely you can see a nest below--a rocky depression in the water.

I sat and watched them for a little while this morning. Somehow watching a fish create and protect a nest makes me less interested in catching one.

Also of fish interest, this little guy. Anyone know what it is? [UPDATE: Pickerel]

On June 1, the nests were gone. It could be Memorial Day canoeing, but more likely people fishing. This is the evidence.

Yes, I know, Alarmed Robin, this is not as bad as the Gulf, or (even worse) the environmental degradation in some of the developing world, but it is a continuing sign of a troubling kind of ignorance about our relationship with the natural world.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow, Millennium Park, West Roxbury, MA

Savannah sparrow, you're no clay-colored sparrow and your thin music sounds like a song sparrow run through a high-pass filter, but on a hot humid day, tall grass blowing in the small breeze, I adore you.

CSP Video Special

Sights and sounds of mid-May, mostly at the Charles River Peninsula.
In order: Wild turkey; great blue heron chased by red-winged blackbirds; yellow warbler; song sparrow waiting for me to go away as to not reveal nest; tufted titmouse begging; downy woodpeckers feeding chicks; family of canada geese.

Other CRP News: Yellow-throated Vireos continue. Line of oaks, second tree in. No bobolinks. Warblers: redstart, blackpoll. House sparrows, starlings have fledged.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More warblers! [UPDATED]

Bay-breasted Warbler female, Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Marblehead, MA

It happens quite often. I see a bird for the very first time one day and a day or two later I see it again. Today it was the bay-breasted warbler who flew into photo range. Below is a longer distance photo.

As always, quality warbler photos have been a real challenge this year (even the bay-breasted at top is out of focus if you look closely). Nevertheless, sometimes it feels good just to get anything at all. So here are some more warblers. Enjoy! [UPDATE: I added a few on May 28]

Magnolia Warbler, Marblehead Neck

American Redstart female, Marblehead Neck

American Redstart first-year male, Plum Island

Blurry shot of first year male Redstart showing odd markings

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Marblehead Neck

Closer shots of Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Plum Island

Blackburnian Warbler, Plum Island

Northern Parula female, Plum Island

Black-throated Green Warbler, Plum Island

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Plum Island (penguin perspective)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mid May at the Charles River Peninsula

Lady's Slipper, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

Someone (I assume a Trustees naturalist?) is monitoring the CRP nest boxes. That would account for the dispossession of the house sparrow's home, pictured below.

I can't say that I feel too bad, given the sparrow's aggressiveness towards other birds and their tendency to take over. On the other hand, I had come to admire the tenaciousness of this pair.

In other nest box news: here's the house wren that has taken charge of a box on the northern edge of the property (the last two years I haven't seen wrens in the boxes until their second brood). The box is stuffed full of sticks, as you'd expect.

And the bluebirds seem to be hanging on (though I saw tree swallows in this box later). This guy has a beetle that is a little unmanageable.

The female yellow warblers continue to be as visible as their fellas. This one was interested in a spider web. She may have been snagging caught bugs, though I know some birds use spider web filaments in their nest-building.

Other CRP news. I saw blue-gray gnatcatchers for the first time on the property this year. Also red-eyed vireo. (I almost celebrated an every-vireo year, but then I remembered Philadelphia. Still a chance in September...) The yellow-throated vireos continue. The bobolinks were not present this morning.