Friday, April 29, 2011

I Was Camping & The Osprey Was Fishing

I Camped While The Osprey Caught Fish I decided to go ahead with my camping plans At American legion State Forest despite a forecast predicting rain for the entire day on Saturday. I passed time during the day by reading, eating, and listening to the radio while I waited for the heaviest rain to pass. At about 2pm the I began to get a bit stir crazy so I put some rain gear on and took a walk along the Farmington River. I encountered two Hermit Thrushes during my walk that seemed to be monitoring my presence. They were flying back and forth between the woods and a patch of vegetation at the edge of the river.

I heard a bird calling in the distance but I wasn't quite sure what it was. Suddenly, an Osprey flew by me and landed in a tree across the river. It had a large fish secured in its talons which flopped around as the Osprey proceeded to consume its meal.
It was unsettling to see this sign posted right where I was watching the Osprey. It was a reminder to fishermen about the importance of properly disposing of fishing line. This is an actual photo of an Osprey (photo by Hank Golet) that shows an Osprey which was found dead hanging from a nest in Old Lyme.The poster may have been creepy but it was an effective way to get a message across.
I like to keep my camping recipes quick and simple. This is apple-chicken sausage and a single-serving pack of vegetables sauteed in olive oil. The sausage is precooked and sealed in plastic so it's easy to keep fresh in the cooler. The meal took about 10 minutes to prepare. It was pretty good and fairly healthy too.
I awoke early the next morning and was happy to find that the rain had stopped. I was anxious to see what birds the day might bring. The light reflecting off of the rocks let me know that plenty of sunshine was coming my way.
The woods surrounding the campground consist mostly of tall pine trees. The area was alive with the sound of birds. Finding them was a challenge and photographing them was a lost cause for me. Some of the birds I saw or heard were: Pine Warbler, Palm Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-throated green Warblers, Black and White Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Hermit Thrush. Common Mergansers would fly up the river, float back down, and then repeat the process. Belted Kingfishers rattled out there calls from select branches along the river. I could hear Pileated Woodpeckers off in the distance. Large oval holes chiseled into dead trees was another sign I was in their territory.
When I arrived home, My mother-in-law asked me what the unusual looking bird sitting on my lawn was? I was impressed that as a non-birder she noticed what turned out to be a pretty good bird to find in my yard. It was an Eastern Towhee welcoming me back home. 
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( I've been having a difficult time with blogger lately. There has been unwanted space between the photos and text that doesn't appear until I post it).-update-switching to new editor seems to have fixed the problem.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 Photo Moments In The Month Of April

1)Let's Start From The Top: This is a view from the top of Great Hill which one of my favorite hiking destinations in the area. It only takes about 20 minutes to get to the top. In the distance is a view of the Connecticut River. It's a good place to see Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, Common Ravens and a few migrants during the spring.
2) Eagle To Please: I've seen lots of Bald Eagles in the area during April. This young eagle let me get a little closer than I'm usually able to.
3) More Mockingbirds Than I Can Shake A Stick At: I have been seeing a lot of mockingbirds lately and they have been singing their hearts out. I heard one imitate a Scarlet Tanager pachang call the other day. I wondered if that means it was near a tanager recently or if they carry over songs from the year before. I also saw a mockingbird chase a after a robin who dared to steal fruit from the mockingbird's berry bush-fun to watch.!
4) Stick to peanut butter: I really wasn't all that interested in trying to find out how many mockingbirds I could shake a stick at so I came up with another plan. I tried to set up some perches near my feeders to see if a bird would land on it so I could get a close-up photo. As an added incentive for the birds, I smeared a little peanut butter on the branch. One titmouse did land on it but I wasn't quick enough to snap the shot. It's a good idea but I need to work on perfecting this plan so I'm not stuck with a bunch of peanut butter photos.
5) 100+ Great Blue Heron Nests In The Middle Of Somewhere: There is a fantastic heronry in the area that has well over 100 nests. On the dreary day that this photo was taken, I counted 30+ Great Blue Herons on or near the nests. The nests are spread across an island surrounded by water with trees screening the view which makes it difficult to get a photo showing all the nests. I'd probably have to be in a boat or a hot air balloon. I wanted to go back to try for a better photo but then came #(5 on my list.
6)The Annual Flood Of Route 17 In Portland: The Connecticut River starts way up in New Hampshire near the Canadian Border. Every year when the snow and ice melt in the states north of us, the river floods in Portland. This is a view from one end. If you live in Canada please don't run your garden hose this month!
7) The view from the other end: This is a view of the same road from the other end about a mile away. People try to drive through it almost every year-not a good idea. I was hoping that some ducks would wander over towards my truck but no luck.
8) What Do You Call These? I've found this giant fungus growing on a tree at the Abe Temkin Preserve. I've seen them before but don't know what it's called.
9) Close Encounter With Campephilus Giganticus: Legend has it that there is a giant woodpecker living in the state forest here in Portland. It is rumoured to be 36" in length from head to tail. They are very playful woodpeckers and love to chisel down trees when they have nothing better to do. Of course, there is a remote possibility that a beaver may have done this.
10) Three species of warblers so far: I've seen three species of warbler so far this month. First I saw a Pine Warbler, then I saw a Palm Warbler, and last weekend I saw a Louisianna Waterthrush. I didn't capture photos of any of them so I just used this old photo of a Palm Warbler.

That is a brief update of what I've been up to. I'm hoping to get a little camping in this weekend but the weather forecast does not look promising. Have you seen any warblers or other migrants in your area this month?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Birding Antique-Connection

I've always been interested by the idea of finding old or interesting things. When I was a kid, I used to collect coins and try to search for hidden treasures with a metal detector. I once found a metal object from the early 1800's that was worth 800 times its original value. That might have been an impressive find if it was something other than a penny. (The top photo is of a nutcracker that was made by the J & E Stevens Company of Cromwell, Connecticut in 1859).
It occurred to me that there are some similarities between birding and dealing with antiques. Finding a rare bird can be exciting just as finding a rare antique would be. A beginning birder may be excited about a new bird he/she has found only to find out it is just a common ordinary bird.
I've had similar experiences when I've brought something to be appraised and found out that it wasn't worth anything. I found this ashtray that was left behind by the previous owners packed away in my cellar. It wasn't particularly old but the unique squirrels holding the acorn design made it worth a few bucks to one antique dealer I visited.
This past weekend after spending some time birding at Hammonasset, I stopped into an antique/collectible shop called Every Day Treasures located on route 1 in Clinton. If you're ever out that way it's worth having a look inside. There's a lot of interesting items in there that are nicely displayed on two floors.
They had a lot of interesting items in there liked this wooden duck named Tracey.
I think this is some type of copper relief art. I like the way the ducks pop out of the painting.
After my visit to the antiques shop it was time to pick up the binoculars again and get back to the business of birding. Increased numbers of Hooded Mergansers have been showing up in the ponds and rivers around the area this week.
I've been finding Black Vultures gathered in trees behind the Taylor-Palmer preserve field in Portland. I see them there in the morning hours as they're getting ready for take-off. This one looks like it was trying to send a telegraph message to one of his buddies.

I've used up all of my inventory for now but I'll continue to be on the lookout. Whether it be a bird or an antique, you never know when you'll come across something rare or unusual.

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Here are some shows I've enjoyed watching this month : American Pickers, Pawn-Stars, and Storage Wars