Friday, December 25, 2020

What Was I Doing Last Christmas?

One of the holiday songs that is being played over and over this year is a song called "Last Christmas". I think the original version was by George Michael but I've heard at least 2 more versions of it this year.

Anyway, it made me wonder what I was doing last Christmas so I checked my photos and found out that I went bird watching that day. That is the boardwalk at Lyman's golf course.I found a Great Blue Heron that morning on an icy little patch of  a puddle that I could almost jump across.             Then we had a stare down and I think the heron won!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas Count During Covid

Fortunately, our ability to spend time outdoors has not been ruined by the covid pandemic. We had our annual Christmas count with a few changes: No carpooling, no group restaurant lunch break, and social distancing. We used masks to varying degrees but binoculars fog up when you're wearing a mask and we weren't going to do without binoculars.

The weather was just okay and the day was cut a little short due to additional snow showers. 

Included in our list this year was 4 Yellow-bellied Spasuckers and 2 Hermit Thrush as seen in the first two photos.
I'm not a fan of walking through the snow but it did burn off a few calories. We only had about 35 species which down about 10 species from our usual count but all in all it was a great day. It is nice to be outdoors and away from the constant barrage of  news.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Return Of The Hooded And The Hoodless

One thing I look forward to during the approach of cold weather is the return of the mergansers to inland lakes and rivers. The Hooded Mergansers have a nice contrast of color and do like to dive.
The larger Common Merganser is a little less flashy and lack the hood but one thing they share with their smaller cousins is that they too, like to dive. Both of them add a visual warmth to an otherwise cold, dreary lake.

Friday, December 4, 2020

It's Not Rare-Just A Blue Jay

I never take pictures of Blue Jays because they're so common, may people don't like their attitude, and they're less cooperative than they're worth. I believe that if they were rare birds, birders would travel the country to see one. 

It kind of says something about the way humans think. Always appreciating what we can't have more than what is right in front of us.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

I Spent The Morning Admiring Rocks

I went out to a place called Seven Falls State Park looking for a reported rare bird which I wasn't able to find. What I did find during my morning hike along the main trail was a whole lot of rocks.
Water tumbling down over rocks makes for nice scenery. 
This giant  caught my eye. It has a shape that and size that would make the perfect cabin for Fred Flintstone. They say a lot of boulders were carried along and dropped off at various locations during the ice age.
Seems likes something interesting and mysterious going on here.
I had to wonder who put together these nice structures? Why did they do it?  Do they have a purpose?  It must have been a lot of work.

I remember there was an episode of an old science fiction show called the outer limits in which the rocks communicated with each other. I wonder if the writer of that episode ever spent time out in the woods looking at rocks?


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

There Is Beauty In The Starkness Of Winter

The leaves have fallen and temperatures are dropping. Winter is just around the corner. 

Like most people who live in New England, I grow tired of the snow and cold of the winter season by the time February rolls around.
There is another side to the story though. I see beauty in the starkness of winter. The lack of foliage lets us see things that would have been hidden during other seasons. The air itself, seems fresh and clear with the smell of burning wood creating a flavorful contrast.

 Although the neotropical migrants are nowhere to be found, winter birds stand out nicely on the bare branches. I am looking forward to the raw simplicity of the minimalist season until April comes knocking at the door again. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Came And Went In The Blink Of An Eye

I'm glad I got this picture because the peak foliage didn't last long this year.
                Birds like this finch also showed their Fall colors.
This Yellow-rumped Warbler blended right in with the background except for a bright splash of yellow.

I love this time of the year but October came and went in the blink of an eye!   

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Visualization & World's Smallest Dinosaur Park?

I spend a lot of time poking around different areas looking for new places to go birding, hiking, and recently, potential dark sites for astronomy. 

Daydreaming and visualization about what I might see at a newly discovered location provide inspiration and incentive for me.

The photo at the top is of a tiny park that has dinosaur footprints embedded in the natural rock ledge. I came across this place once before but had forgotten about it. To me, coming across places like this creates a nice little side dish to add to a day's birding and sometimes the side dishes are the best part of the meal.As tiny as this park may be it has a feature that I really like about it. 
These are the original prints that have been here for millions of years in this exact location. There are no casts or anything protecting them. 
I can stand right where these magnificent creatures once stood and imagine what it would have been like to be here millions of years ago to observe them in their natural setting!Of course there are still many warblers still around too and they say birds may have evolved from the theropods-(carnivorous dinosaurs that walked on 2 feet).

(I have no idea if this is the world's smallest dinosaur park but it really is tiny).

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Through The Fog And To The River We Go

It was a foggy morning at the Wangunk Meadows along the Connecticut River in Portland. 
The fog slowly dissipated as the sun peaked through and reflected off of a spider web.  

Birds like this Lincoln Sparrow seemed to descend from the sky and land in bushes right in front of me.
By the time I reached the Connecticut River the fog was mostly gone. That is Gildersleeve Island on the other side. It's a popular place for Bald Eagles to nest during the winter.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Birds Raise Questions Of God And Science


When I'm all by myself birdwatching my thoughts tend to jump from wandering to wondering.When I look at a bird I think of things like God, science, and nature. Like many people I have contemplated the existence of God, the origins of life as it relates to the big bang theory, and the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution was always easy for me to wrap my mind around because it is a theory that makes sense to me to some extent.

Without saying what my religious beliefs are or are not I can say that I've always questioned what is in the bible. What is real?, what is history?, and what parts are just stories meant to explain things or convey and idea?, and the big one-Is there a God? If I used logic alone I would side with science because it does not fit together in an easy to understand format like the theory of evolution.

Then there is the big bang theory that says life was created from particles gathering together and eventually forming atoms which were building blocks leading to the existence of life. 

The big problem I have with this theory brings me back to birdwatching. When I look at a bird and see that it finds a mate, builds a nest, gathers food, communicates with other, and on and on a really big question comes to my mind. WHY? What is the purpose of living beings going though all they do to survive and procreate? It takes intelligence and motive to do this. It just doesn't add up. These are questions that I'll never have the answers to in my lifetime but it gives me something to think about while I'm out in nature.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Birds Like A Gallunile Don't Come Along Often

I was kind of excited when I read on e-bird that there was a species of bird called the Common Gallunile reported in my area that I had not seen before. When you've been birdwatching for a number of years you don't often see life birds in your immediate area.

I went out to preserved area that was mostly made up of overgrown habitat that was once the site of a Golf Course called Pistol Creek. There was a split pea soup looking pond not far from that site.

I spent some time checking in all the nooks and crannies of all the broken sticks. There was lots of Wood Ducks, a Sora and then finally...
a Common Gallunile which is a lifer for me right in my own county. Those don't come along too often! 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Paths Can Lead To Another World

It sometimes amazes me how our perception of the world can change so dramatically just by taking a short walk along a nature trail.  
This trail is a small section of what once supposed to be a trolley track. The tree-lined path leads you through woodland surrounded by marshy habitat. 
Shortly after I entered the trail I noticed how quiet it became. I could hear dewdrops falling from the trees and the sound of fluttering  wings as birds flew from one side to the other was so amplified that you would think it was being played through stereo speakers. The drone of insects buzzing combined with the sound of my own breathing made for a hypnotic effect. My senses became hypersensitive to every sight, sound, and smell. 
This area is also the site of a former mink farm.
A pile of twisted cages still remains as evidence of its existence from years ago.
( photo from previous trip)
I also saw many birds during the morning. I moved along at such a slow, relaxed pace, letting my senses do the work instead of stalking birds like a Paparazzi. 

 My favorite sighting was probably that of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I really enjoyed the banditry of chickadees conversing from strategic locations along the way while nuthatches chimed in with their nasal calls. I observed about 20 other species as well, but on this morning, it wasn't about what birds I saw or how many. For a brief period of time, I was able to step out of my world to become part of theirs and it's hard to top that.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Is Nature Too Slow Or Are We Too Impatient?

Back in the 70's there was no cable television, cell phones, or video games. As kids we had to find creative ways to entertain ourselves. I remember when this bridge was abandoned as a new stretch of highway replaced an old road. We used to walk out there just for something to do.
Surprised to find it still there, I decided to visit the area and bring my binoculars with me to see if I could find any birds around. This old place didn't seem to have the same mystique and aura that I remembered. After 15 minutes of seeing little more than a Mourning dove and a starling, I started to become impatient.
I was almost ready to leave but decided to stay a little longer to see if I could detect any shadows from the past. That was when two raccoons quietly emerged from the brush to look for food along the river bank.
Shortly after that a muskrat swam out to the middle of the river.
A flicker popped his head up from a broken tree trunk.
....and a kingfisher belted out a loud rattle as it landed on a dead branch.

Nature moves at it's own pace that we have no control over.
In this day and age we are constantly bombarded by changing news, and an overwhelming number of digital entertainment choices it is more difficult to slow ourselves down enough to allow nature to catch up and reveal its secrets to us. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Non-Resident Parking Just $75!

 I took a ride down to the shore hoping to find a particular species of bird at a particular town beach.I found the non-resident parking fee a bit steep at $75 and decided to turn around and head off in another direction. I'm thinking they wanted to keep out of towners out of town.
 So I looked around the area and found a crow. I didn't hear it but since I was down by the shore it may have been a fish crow.
 There is no shortage of Osprey down at the shoreline.
I headed back to my home town where there was a Great Egret walking the shores of an old factory pond right off the main drag.
There were also Canada Geese which don't thrill most birders unless there is a huge flock from which to look for rarities. I thought they looked nice in the mid-day sun.

Maybe I should have stayed in town. At least the parking was free!