Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birds Of Wisdom Are Up At Dawn

I've found that one of the surest ways to have a special experience is to arrive at your birding destination before dawn.
I believe that nature has doors to secret rooms that are locked once the whir of the human machine starts to permeate the atmosphere.
If you find a special place at the right time of day it can be pure magic.You are no longer just watching birds but existing in the same space connected in spirit by the same miracle of life.
                                                                                     (above photo of American kestrel)
Time seems to stand still as you look into the eyes of a motionless Green Heron and wonder- what's he thinking?
"Don't worry about what you can't do or haven't done yet-focus only on what can be done right now" says the wise old owl (Barred Owl ).
Was the owl offering me advice about one of life's challenges or was the Great Spirit using the owl as a conduit for communication?

Answers to questions such as that are best contemplated while you are deep in the woods at sunrise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

88.2 % Of Birders Suffer From Birding Boredom

It has been determined that 88.2% of birders suffer from birding boredom at some point during the year. During these periods of boredom, even the brilliant beauty of an Eastern Bluebird can be taken for granted. For me, It's usually after the excitement of Spring migration is over during the dog days of summer that I'm bitten by the birding- boredom bug. A lot of it has to do with humid conditions and excessive green foliage that make for less than pleasant conditions for active bird watching. 

Here are a few things that I do this time of the year that help to offset my birding blahs:

  • Birding near the shoreline: It's a great way to get away from the overgrown weedy fields and leafy forest trees. You get open views, cool breezes, and a nice variety of bird species at the shore during the summer. If you go early then you can avoid the beach crowds and a seafood restaurant is probably just around the corner!
  • Mixing your birding in with summer events: Birding doesn't always have to be front and center. I look forward to checking out summer concerts and events. Before, during, or after the event I look for birds near or at the location the event is taking place.
  • It's a good time to scout new locations: There are so many preserves and trails around that I don't get to during spring migration. Summer is a good time to check out new locations to see if they have any potential as a birding spot.You might even have an unexpected sighting of a rare bird species!
  • Yardbirds: I find it rewarding to take a break from birding to do a little yardwork. After the work is done  you can sit back with your binoculars, camera, and a cool refreshing drink to see what the birds in your own neighborhood are up to.
  • Leave the binoculars behind and grab the camera: It's a nice change to  hunt for birds with a camera without the weight of binoculars hanging around my neck.I still keep the binoculars within reach just in case though.
  • Take a break from birding: I'm a person of habits and it's hard for me to go the whole weekend without doing some sort of birding but I think it's healthy to take a break from it once in a great while. Taking that break helps me build an appetite to go birding the following weekend.
  • Reading books at the library or computer birding: If the weather is ridiculously hot then I find it's a good time to go to an air-conditioned location such as the library. I can catch up on reading birding blogs or check out some new books on birding at the library.
 Those are just a few suggestions but the main point is that if you find that you are one of the 88.2% of birders who have suffered from birding boredom then it may be time to mix it up a little. So where did I come up with my statistics you might ask? Well, there's a 99.3%  chance that I might have made them up. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Historical Main Street To Birds By The River

Once in a while I like to let my bike choose my birding trail. This time I started heading down Main Street in Portland and found myself checking out some historical sites along the way. I stopped for a break at our local civil war heroes monument.The brownstone is weathered and there are lichens growing on the hat but it's in decent shape considering it was erected in 1872. 
There are plenty of old homes and building on Main Street in Portland. I enjoy reading the names and dates. Ebenezer might have been a cool name back in the day but I don't think there are too many Ebenezers around now.
I made my first visit to the fire museum and talked to Sal about his fire truck. He found it abandoned and rusted out in a field and It took him 12 years to restore it. 

With a little imagination it almost feels like you're time traveling when you visit historical sites and talk to some of the old timers.
I took a left turn and headed down a dirt road past some farm fields. There were a few barns along the way so I took a peak inside and found some nesting Barn Swallows.
A juvenile Northern Mockingbird showed off its spots and sang an electric version of bird on the wire.
I found a peaceful stretch of Connecticut River shoreline at the end of my trail. There was a robin-sized bird perched on a dead branch at the top of a tree towards the end of the beach.
It turns out that it was not a robin but a beautiful male American kestrel. You don't see too many of them around in the summer and it is one of my favorite birds. It was the perfect way to finish my trip!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Little Red Cottage & Little Blue Heron In Guilford

As I was standing at a town boat launch in Guilford  looking across the water and saw a little red cottage on a nearby island. There was something about the bold red color and rustic style that captured my attention. After asking around, I learned that it was located on Grass Island. I drove over to a Madison boat launch on the opposite side of East River. There was a path entrance that squeezed between private residences and led me along the edge of the island to the cottage. I guess it can't really be an island if I was able to walk there without my feet getting wet.
The shack was built in the 1930's and acquired by the town during the 1960's. It's just an empty shell now but a nice place from which to view birds. Apparently, this building has been the subject matter for many artists over the years.
On my way back to the boat launch I found a Little Blue Heron in the tall grass alongside the entrance road. 
In the same area and I was able to watch and adult Osprey feeding their recently hatched young.
 The East River area was loaded with  dozens of Willets and they sure are noisy this time of year!
Curious Barn Swallows hung around the docks near the boat launch.
This a marsh that is near shell beach in Guilford. There were about 40 Glossy Ibis, an equal number of Snowy Egrets, and several Great Egrets mixed in as well. I don't know why the egrets and Ibises like so much about this location  but I seem to find them here every summer. I couldn't get close to the birds because the marsh is surrounded by an electric fence. Last year when I touched my metal camera tripod to the fence it produced shocking results but unfortunately, not the kind of results I was looking for.

During the summer months I rely on inspiration to determine which path along the birding trail I will follow. This time it was the little red cottage that helped point me in the right direction.