Monday, March 17, 2008

Enjoying The Extra Daylight

It's such a nice change to come home from work before the sun goes down. I took a short walk on a trail near my house that passes by the Brownstone Quarries. The stone from these quarries was used in a number of landmark buildings including Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Haven. They are still in operation now but on a much smaller scale. I used to go swimming in these quarries but haven't done so for many years. They made swimming off limits here because of too many accidents. I haven't seen a great variety of species here but once in a while I'm surprised by something I see. I enjoyed a nice view of a Green heron here last year. Tonight the only birds that I noticed were Common grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds. They seemed to have quite a bit of communication going on from one location to another. They were also doing a little bit of the old puff up the feather displays.Knowing that I was about due for a post, I wanted to get at least one picture to add for tonight. It wasn't working out but this male Northern Cardinal finally posed for a picture from about 20' up in a tree. not exactly what I had in mind but at least the sunlight was hitting it

This weekend I stopped by the new Cabela's store in East Hartford, Connecticut. I was checking out some of the hunters blinds wondering if I might be able to use them to aid in bird photography and I came across this one. It kind of reminds me of what avid hunters might use as a baby stroller. It is called the Ameristep Chair Blind. It looks pretty small but I was able to sit inside comfortably so I figured for $60 I would give it a try.
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On Sunday, I went to Wangunk Meadows on the Glastonbury end hoping to get a look at some Blue-winged Teal which had been reported there the night before. This place is less than 5 miles from where I live. As I was entering the meadows, I had a nice view of a very noisy Pileated Woodpecker. I walked through the field a ways and then I saw an over sized mud puddle filled with Green-winged Teal. There were 50 or 60 of them in a little tiny mud hole. Now I can relate to the term "puddle ducks" I've heard some birders use. I set up my scope and started sorting through the ducks hoping to find a Blue-winged Teal. A male Northern Pintail caught my eye. That is one nifty looking duck and the name fits it well. I had one nice look at the pintail someone let their dog loose for a little run. Apparently, ducks don't care much for dogs.
I left this area but returned about an hour later. There was just a couple of green-winged teal in the puddle so I thought that I would try out the blind. It sets up very easy. You basically just open the chair and the blind falls into place. I set the blind up about 50 feet away from the puddle. Sitting inside was not a problem but the spot where I set it up was muddy. It was difficult to set the tripod and camera set up the way I wanted it. The next time I try this, I will definitely be more organized. Once I was inside, I could hear ducks flying by but I don't think they were all that fooled by the blind. Maybe it needed to be located near a tree or something to make it look a little bit more natural. One teal finally came in for a landing but I only took one blurry shot before it was off too. I will have to experiment more with this product before I decide whether or not it was worth it. It's definitely not going to be as easy as I thought.
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After leaving the meadows, I went to Pine Brook Bog off of Terp Road in East Hampton I counted 75 Ring-necked Ducks but I believe the total was closer to 100. I found it to be quite an awesome sight. There was a few Wood ducks there as well.

Great Blue Herons are starting to show up around Portland too. I think this photo was from last year at the fairgrounds. I know of an area where there is a heron rookery with about 100 nests. I'll be looking forward to checking in on them soon.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
What have you been doing to take advantage of the extra daylight?

17 comments:

mon@rch said...

Happy Saint Patrick's Day also! I have been very much enjoying being out with nature! Very cool blind and I need to go get myself one here one of these days! Great post and love the photos!

Tera Rose said...

I am glad you mentioned that your new hideaway looks like a stroller, I was thinking the same thing when I saw the picture.

With the extra sunlight I have started preparing my garden beds. Yesterday we found 6 small trees that will make a nice teepee for sugar snap peas that go in this week.

Love the blog AGAIN.

Cardinals may be common but they are on the top of my list as a favorite. I never tire of seeing them.

PA-Birder said...

I'll be interested how your blind experiment works out...extra daylight, I'm using it and every other hour I have to complete my doctoral dissertation which I need to have completed by April 1st (no foolin) Just had to stop by and see what you were up to.
Vern

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

STUNNING shots!!!

I am going to have to check out that blind, it's awesome, exactly what I need! Love that first shot, put it in a frame!

Sandpiper said...

Great post!! Terrific pictures! A friend of mine just got a blind like that, too. Seems like a good idea.

When you were out on Terp Road, you were in my old neighborhood. We used to own the property on the right hand side of Whippoorwill Hollow Road, which is very close to there...maybe one street away? Small world, huh?

Ruth said...

That blind looks quite comfy. But I could image the horror of my children if I dragged that around with me. I do prefer to walk around rather than sit even if I do scare some birds away. The extra hour of daylight is not a bonus here yet. After the equinox we will notice the days lengthening faster in the north. Right now they are shorter than yours still.

Patrice said...

Hi Larry,

Today has been our first nice day of extra daylight. The weather has been dark and drizzling. It does indeed feel good to come home from work in daylight! I'm eager to hear about your heron rookery observations.

Jayne said...

Ooooo... I covet that blind! That's just the thing I need to set up at the tree line behind my house to get some really great shots. Hmmm... Cabela's? I have a catalog around here someplace.

Cathy said...

I'm really intrigued by that blind, Larry. Do let us know how your further adventures evolve.

You sure live in a birdy area. Lucky duck.

Larry said...

Monarch-I can teel by your posts that you definitely have been enjoying being out in nature-that's great!

tera rose-Wow-I didn't realize that the gardening process can start so soon.-I have never planted peas but I do like them.

pa-birder-Sounds like you have your hands full.-I am still skeptical about the blind.-We'll see how it goes.

Aunt "B"-That's what I said about the blind-just what I need. Now that I have it-we'll see how it goes.-Yes the quarries can be scenic.

ruth-I prefer walking around too.-This will be a once in a while thing to do.

Patrice-I may try to video the Herons because they are at quite a distance from where I observe them.

Jayne-The blind does look tempting but I have some reservations about it.-It seems a bit flimsy and I don't know if it's going to work yet-time will tell.

Cathy-I will probably give it a real trial this weekend.-ha-duck indeed!

Mary said...

You DO live in a birdy area! I want to investigate a blind, too. Keep trying. I remember Bill of the Birds using his blind on a hot summer day. He thought he'd pass out from roasting inside. So, I guess it's good for fair weather :o)

Mary said...

Ooops. I didn't answer your questions. With extra daylight, I spend time outside with the dogs, birds, and fish. Working and playing. It's glorious.

Lana Gramlich said...

Welcome to the 1st day of Spring. :) I haven't had the opportunity to take advantage of extra daylight, personally. Been working too much lately. That'll be changing in about 10 days, anyway.
The quarry picture reminds me of a quarry I used to frequent up in Canada. Had some moving evenings alone there...great memories. Unfortunately they turned it into an overpriced subdivision since then. *sigh*

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
Hope you have some good birding adventures with your blind. Turkeys are the only bird we've ever had walk right up to the blind without any concern; deer seem a bit apprehensive, but as long as it doesn't move and they don't smell us they usually continue about their business. For songbirds (and maybe ducks too) it would probably be best along a treeline or next to some other brush/grass/weeds that would help break up the blind's outline a bit more.

Longer days means I get to watch birds in the backyard while eating my supper and still enjoy a walk before it gets dark. Happy Spring!

Kathiesbirds said...

nice post. I'll be interested to hear how that chair blind works for you nest time. No extra daylight here in AZ. We don't participate! It was strange to get used to last year but now I think I'm in the swing of things. It puts me 3 hours behind you now though. I have to remember that when I call family back east!

steadyjohn said...

More info on disguising the human frame for better wildlife photography.
http://www.cameraontheroad.com/?p=228

With that natural looking blind Larry, you'll soon have birds nesting upon you!

Larry said...

Mary-I guess finding the right type of blind and using it under the right circumstances are key.

lana-They were talking about building condos around our quarries but then it was registered as a National site.

ruthiej-Good advice-I have since learned that it isn't as easy as it looks.

Kathiebirds-Good for the Arizonans-messing around with the clocks every year is a pain.

steadyjohn-I will check that link out-thank!