Friday, May 31, 2013

Berkshire Flowers, Newt, Toad, and Potholes

 I made a visit to the Berkshires near the Mowhawk trail in Massachusetts. I did some birding in the area but I thought that I would post a few non-bird photos first. The first picture was taken in Shelburne Falls on a rainy morning. It is an old trolley bridge that was transformed into a Bridge Of Flowers by the Shelburne Women's Club back in 1929.
I found lots of Lady Slippers in the woods at a place called High Ridges. I was told that there were even yellow Lady Slippers growing out there but the pink ones were good enough for me.
I looked this up on the web and found that it was a Red-spotted Newt in the terrestrial eft stage. They spend up to 3 years on land before returning to the water. I may have seen these before but on this particular morning I counted 15 of them along one trail! I was afraid that I might step on one but they really stood out with their bright orange color.
  I found this toad hanging out in the middle of the night. I'm not sure what kind it is but I think it's an American Toad. 
Another attraction at Shelburne Falls were the falls themselves. There were glacial potholes in the rocks below the falls.
Here's a close-up of one of the potholes. 

I enjoyed my visit to the friendly little village of Shelburne Falls. They had a good breakfast diner too which is always a plus in my book. In the next post I'll tell you about a cool place called Hawley Bog that I visited along with some Berkshire bird photos to go with it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Family Of Foxes On A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

 I found this family of Red Foxes near a railroad track in an industrial area in Portland.
 One of the kits even wandered into a parking lot and then took a tour of landscaped shrubs around one of the factories.
It stopped and started to sniff the air as I moved in closer. When you think of wild animals like foxes you might expect to find them in a field out in the country but they've  learned to adapt to more developed areas in order to survive.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Forest Floor Turned Green By Magic Meteorite?

 I found this patch of ferns tucked away in a hidden area of Wangunk Meadows. It was a surprising change from the dusty, dirt roads I had just been walking on. It reminded me of a scene from a movie that I saw in the 1980's called Creepshow (IMDB) . One of the 5 tales was about a farmer who found a meteorite that covered everything with some sort of green vegetation. 
 In an area not far away this Tufted Titmouse was agitated by my presence and seemed to be trying to tell me something.
I wonder what he was trying to tell me? Careful now, this blog is rated G!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring Census Mystery Bird Makes Number 100

 I've been working on the Spring census for the town of Portland and having a blast! It's so much easier to look for birds in your own town because you know where everything is. If you want to add a Great Blue Heron to the list just visit the local rookery. Of course it doesn't matter if there are 150 herons there because you can only count 1. I also found one Great Egret at this sight which was pretty cool.
I visited some of the nature preserves but found more flowers than birds. What kind of flower is this? 
I can usually count on finding Peregrine Falcons around the bridge this time of the year. They like to spend time making friends with the pigeons before giving them the bad news. I didn't have any luck on this particular morning but it was a nice view of the river though. I don't know where the falcons are hiding but I still have until this weekend to find one.
You never know what you'll find this time of the year. I went looking for warblers and then just when I Least expected there was a sandpiper.

My most exciting moment so far came when I heard a bird singing a song at the power-lines. I was unable to get a good look at the bird because it was hidden back in some cedars. It kept repeating the same song but I had no idea what it was. I recorded the song and the members of Birdforum identified it for me. It's a White-eyed Vireo which aren't that uncommon along the shoreline but I've never seen one in Portland. Later I was able to go back with my spotting scope to get a decent look at it. Don't bother watching the video but if you listen closely you can hear the White-eyed Vireo singing which turned out to be the 100th recorded species for the Portland Spring Census this year. Update: final total was 117.
video

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Birding Along The Trail of Forgotten Cars


As I was driving along route 17 in Portland a dirt pull-off caught my attention. I pulled my truck in and noticed an unmarked dirt trail going down a steep hill. 
 I was walking down the hill, curious as to where it might lead, when I came across an old car full of bullet holes. I like finding old cars in the woods. They're like a historic sculpture with a story to tell. What happened on the very day that this car ended up in the woods? Who was driving it and what were those people like? It all makes for an interesting mystery to me.
I see these old vehicles as self-contained time capsules from a different era. 
There was a day when these cars were brand new off the lot. They probably spent some time at the local drive-in theater or other hangout spots. It looks like they're lined up for the parade.
When I reached the bottom of the hill I found a couple of nice surprises. This was my first Blue-winged Warbler of the year "Bee-buzzzz". 
I also found the first Brown Thrasher I had seen in Portland for a few years. It seems it is going to be a good year for Brown Thrashers . A couple of days later I found 2 more at Haddam Meadows including the one in the photo which popped out onto the road for a few seconds before going back into hiding.

Do you recognize the year, make, or model of any of the cars in the photos?