Saturday, October 31, 2015

Birding With Ghosts

 I've always had a fascination with legends, folklore, and tales of the supernatural. I don't necessarily believe in any of the tales I hear or read about. My philosophy is that I am skeptical of everything but at the same time try to keep an open mind. 

In some cases there are historical events which led to stories about hauntings and other supernatural tales. It was an attempt to explain things that people didn't understand at the time. At one time people said vampires were responsible for symptoms we now know were caused by tuberculosis (consumption back then). During the time of the Salem witch trials, witchcraft was blamed as the cause of  some people who suddenly started talking and behaving strangely.It was recently theorized that those hallucinations may have been caused by moldy rye flour. Spoiled rye produces ergot which is a hallucinogenic. 

Science answers most questions but I don't still don't believe that we have all the answers. I am always curious even if there is only a small chance of something having an ounce of truth to it. I remember a commercial for Ivory soap that said it is 99 and 44/100 % pure. I always wondered what's in that other 66/100 that they're not telling us about? 

 The cemetery shown in the above photo is the site of one of those stories. I don't want to say where the cemetery is or what the story was about because there are still living relatives in the area that would prefer the story remain buried.
On this particular day I didn't see any ghosts,witches, or vampires. Only a Pileated Woodpecker in some nearby woods hard at work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Off-season At The Heron Rookery

This month I've been trying to find birds in my county that I haven't seen yet this year. I made two visits to the town heron rookery, Even though the herons left there nests months ago there were still half a dozen hanging around the area. The water has dried up significantly since the spring but I was pleased to have my first sighting of a live woodcock this year (unfortunately, I found a dead one in the spring). Last week another birder found a group of Pectoral Sandpipers here. I believe I saw a few this weekend but wasn't able to make the positive ID because they flew off before I had a chance to get a good look. Probable but not definite. Sometimes you have to let it go even though it hurts.
I did make a positive ID on a couple of yellowlegs  (not this one). Only a couple of months left with my county list stuck at 155 for the year. I'd like to crack the 160 mark for the years end. I like staying within the county. I've always been a fan of local sports team so trying to find as many types of birds locally is kind of fun. I don't have to waste much gas and it,s an incentive to discover new places within your area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Don't Look A Gift Bird In The Bill/Beak

I wish that I could tell you that I'm filled with joy and excitement every time I'm out bird-watching but that would be a lie. The truth is that there are days when I feel uninspired by what I'm seeing and wonder why I wasted my time bird-watching when I should be doing something else more important. I know from experience though that this is a temporary condition that is brought on by my current state of mind. Nature is always spectacular but we are not always receptive to the beauty it offers.

Looking back, I can remember the exactly where I was and what I was thinking when I took these photos. On the morning I took the photo of these Wood Ducks I was on my way to another promising birding location.Two male Wood Ducks were out in full display posing for me but I just had to get to that next spot. When I reached the desired location birds were nowhere to be found, other than a Song Sparrow or two.
 I came across this Red-tailed Hawk on another day when birding was overall slow. Red-tailed Hawks are so common that I didn't take time to appreciate this awesome bird of prey perched out in the open on a tree stump just a few feet away from me.
 Ho-hum-nice to see a Hermit Thrush as I was driving to the next birding spot. Little did I know that it would be the best bird of the morning.
 I was at a forest swamp the morning I saw a pair of Sharp-shinned Hawks. 
 They were chasing these bluebirds as  they were being chased by Blue Jays. At the time, I was disappointed that I had driven so far out in the forest but only saw 10 bird species. Looking back at the photos I realize what a privilege it was to witness nature in action.
It was a slow day at Hammonasset the day I took this photo. There was nothing new or out of the ordinary, I thought but when it's the middle of winter with a foot of snow on the ground I'll be dreaming of a warm summer day when I can see 10 Great Egrets gathered together in a marsh.

It's easy to miss what's right in front of us if we're too busy looking ahead.