Tuesday, January 15, 2019

1.15.19  Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA

Bird walks in January probably seem like an outlandish concept for many.  I get it.  It IS very cold outside, but as a New Englander, I just wear layers of warm stuff and then I'm good to go, as long as I keep moving.  

The wind chill wasn't as severe as we walked along the wooded of John Wing Island, but it was a different story when we reached the sands.  It's nearly impossible to focus your own eyes when winter winds are determined to make you teary-eyed.

We had several sightings ( and hearings ) of the local regulars, and some fabulous views of a female Hairy Woodpecker who seemed to be focused on finding some bark beetles for breakfast along the tops of the Pitch Pines.  I have to admit, I did not know that Hairy Woodpeckers have a broken eye ring ( a tiny circle of tiny feathers surrounding their eye which makes it look like a ring of white ).  It is clear to see so though, in one of the photos I was fortunate to be able to get of her.  She didn't seem to mind us so nearby at all, and she 
was fun to observe and listen to as she displayed the tell tale woodpecker drumbeats while working.  

I wasn't sure if the east side of the trail that crosses the dunes would be washed out as it often is, so I wanted to check it from the set of wooden steps.  The trail and wood walkway was in decent shape and passable, but we weren't opting for walking right into the icy winds along the shore.  I was so glad we paused there for a few moments though because as is so often on Tuesday Tweets, we were rewarded!  I have NEVER seen a Merlin on our hikes, and then all of a sudden, there he was!  Darting over the dunes and landing on the cedar trees, scoping out his sandy hunting ground.  He was quite a distance away from us, so the photos I got make him look like a blob at the top of the tree he was perched on. 
There was no doubt it was a falcon we'd seen though.  He had the angular wings in fast flight and I noticed the orangey underside as he did so.  Happy 2019, Bird Nerd Style!
(double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Blue Jay
Northern Cardinal
Black-capped Chickadee
Song Sparrow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Carolina Wren
Merlin (!!!)
American Crow
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
American Black Duck
Canada Goose

Song Sparrow

Not in the mood for photos - so s/he darted into the protection of the marsh

Black-capped Chickadee 

Hairy Woodpecker - female
Note the broken eye ring

Just as pretty in the shadows



The edge of the shore of Cape Cod Bay is starting to freeze. 
Does this photo make you chilly?

MERLIN!  The photos I got are admittedly sub par
I was just so happy to see him!  

Backside of a Merlin - Best my lens could do given the distance

I like to capture this view in each season if possible

Herring Gulls and American Black Ducks

Canada Geese
and if you look closely - you can see the Pilgrim Monument in the top right of the photo

Canada Geese

We came across one of Sue Finnegan's (Cape Cod Bander) mist net areas which runs
through the woods and parallel to the main trail

And what a trail it is!
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

12.11.18  Tuesday Tweets - Lee Baldwin Trail & John Wing Trail - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History   Brewster, MA

Brewster was beautiful this morning and we were prepared for the chilly walk, as there was abundant sunshine to solar power some warmth.  Woodpeckers and nuthatches greeted us with song as we began along the trail.  They were very busy flying this way and that, no doubt taking advantage of the seed and suet outside the Marshview Room of the museum.  
Song Sparrows also let us know they were about as they conspicuously gave away their locations as we crossed the saltmarsh.

We were ALL surprised to see and hear a Gray Catbird!  Cape Cod is within their year-round living habitat range but we so much more often associate them with spring and summer.  It was just weird to hear their call on a cold December morning.  It seemed to warm us all a bit from within, as the sound brought out memories of summer walks.

I somehow accidentally got an OK photo of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, who I could hear, but could NOT see in the thicket.  As we approached the meadow, I was very happy to spot about five or six Eastern Bluebirds!!!  I'd been waiting to see them this time of year and having to cancel a November Tuesday Tweets due to rain, I was afraid we may not get our glimpses in!  They did keep their distance and this time of year, while insects are difficult to find, the bluebirds do get their fill on Juniper berries. Juniper is abundant on these trails and getting to spot those sweet birds is always a crowd favorite!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Carolina Wren
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker
Black-capped Chickadee
Gray Catbird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow
American Crow
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Bluebird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Goldfinch
Great Blue Heron


Bird Nerds


Looking southward on the Lee Baldwin Trail


Blue Jay

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow


Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Not the greatest photo, but I couldn't even see the bird when I was snapping the photo
It was a surprise to get this shot

Northern Cardinal - male

Sometimes all you get are silhouettes


Yellow-rumped Warbler



Eastern Bluebird - male (on left)

Eastern Bluebird - male

Bluebird silhouettes

American Goldfinch - on the left
Yellow-rumped Warbler - top right

Yellow-rumped Warbler - on left
American Goldfinch - male - on right

Song Sparrow

Can you spot the Song Sparrow?

Camouflage magic!

Song Sparrow

Frozen Mud Puddle

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Marching through these leaves on the trail makes the BEST sound!

Poison Ivy berries

The museum's backside in the morning sun

Phragmites

Phragmites against the blue & clouded sky
Next Opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster, MA  1.15.19 at 9am 
$4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

12.1.18  Thornton Burgess Adult Nature Club - Green Briar Nature Center Sandwich MA
Double Ponds - Shawme Lake - Cape Cod Canal - Sandwich, MA

The Thornton Burgess Adult Nature Club was established by Elise Leduc and we led our bird/nature walk together.  Three hours is a lovely long time to get to spend outdoors, even when the weather is cold.  There is a benefit in not having to rush, and I took advantage of our time by including several locations during our bird nerdy morning together. 

While commuting, I had been noticing waterfowl on the ponds that lie on either side of Route 6A in East Sandwich, so I wanted to begin there.  Water is the biggest draw for cold season birdwatching on Cape Cod, and I wanted to include both fresh and salt water locations.  We then headed over to Shawme Lake bordering Sandwich Town Hall to try our luck there.  It was Swan City!  We also saw a small flock of Canada Geese, but the Swans were truly amazing to watch.  If you've never seen a swan fly, it is a vision to behold and we got to see it three times while watching these tame birds cruise right by us.  The behaviors they were exhibiting were also a special treat for bird nerds!  See photos below...

The Cape Cod Canal is a unique location that promises birds no matter what the season.  If you want to see Common Eiders, it is the place to go this time of year!  They form huge flocks and as our largest diving duck, they are fun to watch, to listen to when they take flight and to appreciate their plumage.  I'm always pleased with who we spot and get to watch as they dive for food and even compete for space on the open water!  We saw RAZORBILLS this morning and I was fortunate enough to get a few (too many!) photos of these unusual birds who are members of the auk family.  They will winter as far south as the New Jersey coast.  Spotting them was a highlight of our morning, as was some territorial Common Loon behavior, a Northern Harrier and even a Harbor Seal who bobbed for a short time along the canal. (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Hooded Merganser
Mute Swan
Mallard
Canada Goose
American Goldfinch
Great Black-backed Gull
Northern Mockingbird
Common Loon
Common Eider
Song Sparrow
Razorbill (!!!)
Northern Harrier
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Cardinal 
Black-capped Chickadee
Bufflehead
Carolina Wren
Red-tailed Hawk
Blue Jay 
Northern Flicker
Tufted Titmouse


Mute Swan & Bufflehead

Bufflehead & Mute Swan

Mallard pair

Mallards & Hooded Mergansers

Nest revealed 




Canada Geese



Mute Swan... here he comes!

I love the reflection in the water of his wingspan



Mute Swan juvenile
When they reach maturity, their wingspan ranges from 81-93 inches long











Mute Swan flotilla, on their way to defend "their" pond

Note the wing position.  This is aggressive behavior posture.  He is on his way to
force the youngster away...

Juvenile on the left, mature male on the right.
Note how the water has a wake in front of the birds.  They were paddling fast!

Guess who won?!

And the juvenile took off...
Northern Mockingbirds

Northern Mockingbird

The Cape Cod Canal is a fantastic spot for birdwatching all year long!

Common Eiders in the background
Common Loon in the foreground

Common Eider females and males

Common Loon

Harbor Seal checking out a Common Loon

Common Loon checking out a Harbor Seal

Much to our surprise, we even had a helicopter visit

The copter was delivering SANTA!


Razorbill!!!

Razorbill

Song Sparrow



Common Loon - about to dive

Phragmites

Northern Harrier - note the white rump at the base of the tail

Northern Harrier


Common Eider - female

Double-crested Cormorant

Common Eider - waterproofing her feathers

Common Eider - females

Common Eider - female, probably her first winter (note the white wing bars)

Great Black-backed Gull

Common Eider - juvenile male

Common Eider - female, stretching her wings

Common Loons - showing aggression



Razorbills

Razorbill on the left, Common Loon on the right

Common Loon

Razorbill

Razorbill

Common Loons

Great Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull

Common Eider - female
When the sun came out for a bit, I got a better photo

Great Black-backed Gull and Sagamore Bridge

Great Black-backed Gull

I swear, s/he was posing for the photo.
Note the pretty white spots on the wing tips when folded in

Razorbills
When you see a bird you rarely see, it is difficult not to take too many photos

Razorbills

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Northern Cardinal - female
Happy Birding!