Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Snow Puddle Path Leading To Spring

It's been quite some time that I've been able to see what kind of bird activity their is at my favorite local patch. I thought that the snow might have melted enough that I might enjoy a walk through the meadows if I wore my waterproof boots. It turned out to be more of a struggle than I had bargained for. With each step, I sunk into a foot of snow followed by another 6 inches of water. I found this to be an annoying waste of energy. By the end of the walk it was the energy channeled from my aggravation that propelled me to the finish line.
I was encouraged by some of the birds I saw which was a preview of good things to come. I was welcomed by a lone Killdeer as I first entered the fields. I also saw 4  Great Blue Herons flying out from the direction of the local rookery. 
There were several Ring-necked Ducks, 18 Wood Ducks, and  Hooded Mergansers, and Common Mergansers gathered in an area where the ice had melted on the river but I made so much noise crunching through the snow that they were long gone by the time I got close to them.
A week later (this weekend) much of the snow has melted making it easier to get around. I was able to sneak up a little closer to those mergansers and the sun finally busted out from behind the clouds.
One Red-winged Blackbird announcing that Spring is on its way.
As the snow melts, little ponds are forming in the woods at the edge of the meadows where ducks like this  Wood Duck can hang out. I know the calendar says that Spring has arrived. It doesn't feel like Spring just yet but it's getting there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 Reasons I appreciate Cold, Miserable Winters

The month of February had record-setting temperatures and several feet of snow to go along with it. That kind of weather can affect your mood and force you to change your routine. You have no choice but to adapt to the situation. Although this may all sound bleak, I'm a believer that positive things can happen when you have to overcome challenges and struggles. 

Here are 5 reasons why I appreciate cold, miserable winters:

1) It forces me to put my usual birding routines aside and to think outside of the box: Lousy weather is what led me to a recent visit to a Butterfly Conservatory

2) Not matter how cold it is, I know that there will be Bald Eagles tending to their nests.

3) It's a great time to appreciate a good book or explore the Internet in more detail: If the weather is nice you won't catch me at home reading a book. If I'm stuck in the house I can read for hours and that includes getting more good information on subjects like birding or camping while daydreaming about nicer days to come. 

4) Taking a little break from birding might be a good thing: I'm not saying that I gave up birding altogether in February but my birding obsession was cooled off a little bit. It's always good to have a little balance in your life but I am definitely building up an appetite to get back into birding full swing once the weather improves.

5) A lousy winter makes you appreciate spring even more:
Even those who believe in counting their blessings can't help but take things for granted once in a while. It's part of human nature. If it was perfect weather 365 days a year I know that I wouldn't appreciate Spring as much as I do after a long, harsh winter.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is Winter The Best Time To Find Butterflies?

 I visited Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens up in South Deerfield,  Massachusetts this morning. Within footsteps from my car I was transported from a 15 degree winter morning to a miniature tropical paradise. 

It was humid and about 80 degrees inside so it took a while before my camera lens stopped fogging up. The main attraction here is butterflies and plants but there are also a few birds, dragonflies, and lizards as well. 
 The conservatory is not what I would call a huge place but it is absolutely loaded with butterflies! They're in the trees, in the flowers, circling through the air, landing on the ground, and sometimes, they even land on you! I believe this one is called the Owl Butterfly
 I think these two (above and below) are called Postman but I couldn't say for sure.

 These 2 are called Zebra Longwing
This is a Blue Morpho. I was trying to find one of these hyperactive giants on a flower but had to settle for one that landed on the decking.
The Cairns Birdwings were one of my favorites. The colors are much more intense when you see them live in a sunlit tree.

I'm not a butterfly fanatic and don't normally enjoy humidity but in the midst of a long, cold, winter this was just what the doctor ordered! My only regret is that I didn't plan for a longer stay. An hour just wasn't enough time to take it all in. I definitely plan on  visiting again next winter.

Note: If you plan to visit then be aware that they don't allow use of tripods or monopods. It's okay to take your own photos like I did but they don't anyone borrowing photos to post online from their website.