Thursday, June 20, 2019

6.20.19  Bird Nerd Moment
South Yarmouth

You can't tell me gulls aren't graceful.  I know, not all appreciate gulls the way I do.  I didn't grow up on the Cape, so for me, gulls were always a reminder of the shore and the sand between my toes, or the french fries between my fingers, with the salt air surrounding me.  When there are french fries about, surely... a gull is not far away here on Cape Cod.

Well there were no french fries today but a bunch of fruit and popcorn I had ready to go for a bunch of kids on a picnic table and as I was heading back to the car to get more supplies... I see this guy silently swooping in optimistically.   The camera was in hand so I got a few nice photos of her/him just before our conversation when I mentioned that the food was not up for grabs.  I did not bring it for the birds.  So the gull never landed, but continued to glide along effortlessly looking for another snack, seemingly used to the rejection.  I really like the photos I got, so I felt like sharing.  (double click to enlarge)

Herring Gull

Happy Birding!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

5.4.19  Private Walk - Historical Society of Old Yarmouth - Botanical Trails
Yarmouthport, MA

This is the fourth year the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth has asked me to lead a bird walk along the very green and lovely botanical trails that wrap around Miller Pond in Yarmouthport.  We were concerned for the weather, but it somehow allowed for us to fit our walk in.  We were immediately greeted along the way by a cheerful Song Sparrow, a curious American Robin and an early-blooming rhododendron!  Spectacular!   

The walk this year was scheduled a little earlier in May than in years past, so I was curious myself to discover the birds we'd encounter along the way.  There were some species I basically expected due to the habitat, and they did not disappoint, though we didn't see or hear any nuthatches.  That was definitely a surprise.

It is the time of year though when Eastern Towhees are calling out, looking for mates and establishing territories.  It is common for us to get some great views in and boy did we luck out!  I know the foggy weather was affecting some of the settings on my camera, so I didn't get too many photos.  The photos of the Eastern Towhees however, I am very pleased with.  We got quite a show!  I could not get great photos of the warblers who darted about at the top of the oaks and pines overhead, though we were fortunate to get to hear the pretty song of the Pine Warbler.  Calls and songs are the greatest way to identify warblers for me.  I could not confirm that we also saw a small flock of 6-10 of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  I thought it was awfully late in the season to be seeing them, but from the angles and daylight we had available, along with the behavior of the birds, they sure seemed to be the "butter butts" as another bird nerd called them.  : )

It was a nice way to get outside between the raindrops that somehow held off, and we had the perfect-sized group as well! (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
American Robin
Song Sparrow
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Northern Flicker
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse 
Mourning Dove
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Downy Woodpecker
Pine Warbler

American Robin - female
...welcoming us to our walk!  

American Robin playing Peek-A-Boo!

American Robin
Eastern Towhee - female

Eastern Towhee - male
Singing right in front of us... as if the greeter of the Pond Trail!

What a GIFT to be able to all see him this UP CLOSE!

Yellow-rumped Warbler... another Bird Nerd thought
Note the bill... a great field mark for birdwatching

Black-capped Chickadee

Sometimes the best you can get, is a warbler silhouette

Pine Warbler - male

Muted greens, greys and browns along the path

Red-winged Blackbird - male

Red-winged Blackbird - male
Puffing out his tail as he called out his territorial notes

A tree with a presence, a Post Oak... I think

A welcoming trail as we rounded the pond

Northern Cardinal - male

I just loved the silhouette of these brand new leaves against the overcast sky
Happy Birding!

Monday, April 22, 2019

4.22.19  Bird Nerd Moment - Judah Baker Windmill
South Yarmouth, MA

I think it's important, when you can, to sneak in some time with nature, even if it's from the comfort of your car.  How about looking out at a peaceful scene?  Does it help you to redirect your thoughts?  Does it give you the gift of living in the moment, if only for a few? I think that's what the scenery that is around us all the time, particularly on Cape Cod, can do for us when we take that time.  Aren't we lucky?  Cape Cod is a challenging location to financially survive and make a living.  It's a struggle.  I will justify the lifestyle and how scary it can be by the beauty we are surrounded by.  It's a natural benefit of being here, and making a living here.  

Birds are not typically as easily observed on a day when rain is doing its thing, but they're certainly still out there.  In heavy rain, particularly when it's cold, birds need to shelter in place.  Hypothermia and wildlife have their daily battle in the colder weather.  The air temperatures are oh so gradually starting to warm, and in my opinion, April is the longest month here on the Cape.  The blossoms begin to appear and the brilliant green new leaves contrast the mostly grey skies in the most artistic of ways.  We're all so anxious for the warmer weather, because let's face it... Summer is where it's AT on Cape Cod!  The BEACH!  It's the BEST!  April just takes forever for me.

This morning I needed the beach and the peaceful beauty, but I wasn't dressed for the chilliness in the air, so I parked at this lovely spot on Bass River to take in the view.  I could see Osprey hunting along the river and countless gulls in the distance. As I was stationed in this little parking lot, the local feathers began to show up and I just couldn't help but to photograph them with the camera on my phone.  I'm addicted.  I'm addicted to their wonder and to how close I can sometimes get.  Do they know?  Did they know I was spying on them from the car?  I'm sure they did, so when they got extra close, it just made me feel extra special.  Everyone deserves to feel extra special now and then, certainly when they need it.  Leave it to the birds and to nature to take care of you sometimes.  The sun often comes out if you give it the chance to. (double click photos to enlarge)

My list:
American Robin
House Sparrow
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

House Sparrow - female, camouflaging quite well and
looking like she's having a morning conversation with
the American Robin - male

American Robin - male

American Robin - female

American Robin - female
This is her definitely noticing me.  I was as still as I could be to get
these photos with my phone camera

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

House Sparrow - male

Common Grackle in the foreground - about to call out, which is
why s/he is starting to puff up
American Robin in the background

Common Grackle all puffed up from calling out
Isn't that a wonderful view of Bass River?
West Dennis Beach is in the distance

Common Grackle showing off his iridescent plumage, even under overcast skies.

Another pose...

So handsome!
One of the best field marks to look for with mature Common Grackles
is their brilliant yellow eye, which you can notice even at a distance.
They also have the longest tail of the common blackbirds.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

4.18.19 Bird Nerd Moment - Cape Cod Rail Trail
Dennis & Yarmouth  

Paying for auto repairs is just one of those expenses that you have to handle every now and then.  Typically, it is not the most convenient predicament, especially when you're talking about the unknown diagnosis on the car and the time factor that can be associated with such maintenance. Why the heck am I talking about auto repairs?!  I have been bringing our car to a local vendor now for months - shop locally applies to auto repair as well!  They've been very accommodating and helpful and only 2 miles away.  I thought, "Hmm....they are not far from the Cape Cod Rail Trail... I'll just drop the car off and walk home!"  Wanting to turn what would be a negative effect on my bank account into a positive for me with checking out this new trail was a good motivator.

As soon as I walked about 100 yards on the new pavement of the Dennis section of the Rail Trail, it started to rain.   Oh well.  This was the main reason I didn't bring my camera along, so my photos are from my phone, nothing fancy about them and the birds didn't provide too many close ups.  There are some great views along this stretch of the Rail Trail.  What a beautiful job they (not sure who "they" are) did!  It is freshly groomed in some areas - three new bridges included - and it's a very safe way to get from here to there, while enjoying peace and quiet even while traveling parallel to Route 6.  You DO need to be vigilant while crossing over the main roads though, but safety crosswalks and flashing lights are much appreciated safety features.

Seeing what other people sometimes leave in their back yards made me feel better about the mostly hidden clutter I shove behind our own shed.  What I loved most of all was the time I got to spend watching the bird behavior as they worked their morning magic across several habitats that the Cape Cod Rail Trail traverses.  I enjoyed it so much, I got an additional 2 miles more of steps for myself to walk back and pick up the car later in the day.  There were less birds in the afternoon, which is typical.  I can't blame them for enjoying a siesta after their early bird busy time. 

Cape Cod offers so many spaces where modern amenities mingle with natural surroundings rather gracefully.  Such locations offer a delicate balancing act of a secret habitat sneak peek, via accessible convenience.  The design of the Cape Cod Rail Trail has done that uniquely well. (double click photos to enlarge)

My list:
American Robin
Black-capped Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco (!!!)
House Sparrow
European Starling
American Goldfinch
Common Grackle
Chipping Sparrow - my first of 2019!
Northern Flicker
Hairy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal
Fish Crow
Blue Jay

American Robin

I SWEAR this was a Dark-eyed Junco!
I just didn't have my binoculars or fancy lens to prove it

I warned that the photos of birds were less than spectacular...
That is the first 2019 Chipping Sparrow for me

Red-winged Blackbird, overlooking Route 6

A southern look at Bass River

The bridge over Bass River dedicated to the late George Allaire.  According to Wicked Local's article)
Allaire, the former Yarmouth public works director, was largely responsible for initiating the enormous project.
Nice touch!

I've often wondered why these oaks wait to drop their leaves until the new buds form new leaves in the spring.
I believe it's in order to help certain wildlife build their nests.  Thanks to humans, a lot of leaf litter suitable for
nest building is not readily available this time of year thanks to landscaping and yard perfecting. 
The oaks have solved a problem for the wildlife... at least that's how I like to think of it.
Nests like this...

Mrs.(hard to see bottom left) and Mr. Northern Cardinal

A faint silhouette of a soaring Osprey heading back to the nest on the tower

Back to a more natural trail

Spring IS exciting!  These tiny buds are covering this shrub... ready to POP!

Arriving to the party early...Mayflower (Trailing arbutus) doesn't seem to care that it's April...
Happy Birding!

Monday, March 11, 2019

3.11.19  Bird Nerd Memory
Yarmouth & Brewster, MA

"O" is for Osprey, who will be returning to Cape Cod very soon.  March is typically a wild month here on the Cape with unpredictable weather and rollercoaster-like temperatures.  I know maybe it's silly to worry about wildlife, but it's just who I am.  It seems that within just a day or three of the Osprey's return to the Cape...usually right around St.Patrick's Day, 
there is a Nor'easter.  Where do they go?  How do they shelter themselves?  How do they stay warm enough?  How do they have the energy after thousands of miles of migration to build a humongous nest to prepare for the next generation?  Birds are survivors.  They are also sensitive to the changes in the ecosystem.  Be nice to the birds and they'll keep showing up as beautiful as they are.  

The Ospreys are on their way!  There is warm sunshine on Cape Cod today and it makes me anxious to hear the Osprey call and to see them soaring overhead.  Warmer air will be here to stay, but probably not until May.  The birds give us the hope of the changing seasons. 

I took these photos while on a bird walk in Brewster about four and a half years ago.  Our group was so fortunate to stumble upon a juvenile Osprey, looking large and posing for pics!  You can tell this is a juvenile by the pale-colored tips on the very edge of her feathers.  Mature adult feathers are completely black all the way to the edges. (double click photos to enlarge)

Happy Birding!