Wednesday, November 15, 2017

11.15.17  Yarmouth Park & Recreation Bird Walks - Flax Pond
South Yarmouth, MA

I've been looking forward to spending an hour with these new Bird Nerd friends I've made.  We all remarked on how the weather was much better this morning, with no rain to contend with.  This made us hopeful for more bird sightings.  I also wanted to check out a wooded trail that I've been eyeing for months, though I hadn't had an opportunity to walk the trail previously.  We all chose to brave it!  Well, it wasn't like it was leading us to any grave danger... and it didn't.  It turned out to be a trail that led straight to the newly fancy paved Cape Cod Rail Trail section in Yarmouth...exactly as I suspected.  I think it would be fun to lead a bird walk on the rail trail someday for folks who aren't interested in walking in the woods and/or need a level surface to travel on when outdoors...ambitions!

We did see and hear a few species while on our bright Wednesday morning walk.  While I was busy gabbing about something, a hawk was spotted soaring right up above us.  It was up high enough to make a positive ID challenging.  My suspicions from the field marks I observed, was that it was a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.  We discussed how to discern one hawk from another, and how fun it can be simply to know, which bird is which.

We had a really nice wooded hike, and what was interesting... we saw and heard more bird species as we walked on the edge of the property line of Thirwood Place.  The trail gets really close to the buildings and there are residents who feed the birds, so it makes sense.  Flax Pond is just through the trees as well, which is a wonderful water source.  I wanted to end with the pond this morning, because I'm always hopeful for migrant winter waterfowl... we were NOT disappointed!!! There was a Bufflehead male, just cruising and occasionally diving, like they do, along the surface of the water.  He seemed a perfect finale bird for our time together!  I hope to schedule more of these walks through Yarmouth Parks & Recreation.  I had such a fantastic time getting to know these sweet bird-loving Bird Nerds!
(double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Mourning Dove
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-tailed Hawk
American Crow
Downy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Northern Flicker
Bufflehead (!!!)
Our undiscovered trail

Bird Nerds!  Gonna miss you ladies!

The road to Flax Pond is Dupont Ave, and the new
section of the Cape Cod Rail Trail intersects with it.

Some type of obstacle course, presumably for
Flax Pond day campers.  

Downy Woodpecker - male

Hydrangeas are even beautiful when they've dried up and
lost their petal color

Can you spot the Tufted Titmouse in the pine branches?

A little assist...
 Bird Nerds!  I so look forward to our future birding escapades!
Happy Birding!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

11.8.17 & 11.9.17  Camp Wingate*Kirkland - The Hurley School visit - Cape Cod Bird Nerd Activities
Yarmouthport, MA

I was contacted by Will, one of the co-directors of Camp Wingate*Kirkland, to be a nature guide for a group of 6th, 7th & 8th grade students visiting camp, & coming from The Hurley School in Boston, MA.  I was very excited to be their guide as they took a break from the city, and adventured on Cape Cod for about 24 hours.  It can be a culture shock when people accustomed to an urban setting are suddenly surrounded by big trees, green fields and wonderful nature.  Time to run around! 

I was not expecting to necessarily see or hear too many birds, because our wonderful crowd was LOUD!  They certainly seemed excited to be in the green fields and the crunchy woods with their peers and some fantastic teachers!  My goal was for them to enjoy themselves, and to do my best to impart some nature knowledge, while sharing Camp W*K's incredible campus!

We brought along some bird guide books, clipboards with a bird behavior scavenger hunt, nature shapes... and some enthusiasm on our trek!  The weather was not so fabulous on Wednesday afternoon, so when we turned to the nest building activity, I thought it best to bring our group indoors.  Some impressive structures started taking shape.  See for yourselves with the photos below.  I'll admit... it REALLY bugs me to not be able to show the smiling faces and the looks of concentration while they worked together to create their nests!  I have to honor their privacy though, so I show what I can in the photos below. 

Thursday morning, the skies were blue, the air was crisp and we had another great escape in the outdoors!  The morning group was also able to take advantage of the abundant sunshine and they constructed their nests outside.  I love how careful they were when I showed them the actual nest with the egg in it.  The baby bird in the particular egg never made it, which is sad.  However, the beautiful egg left behind is an effective teaching tool, and the emotion it provokes, was proof that empathy is alive and well in the hearts of these children.  

I hope to also post some photos that the teachers took if they send any my way!  Thanks Hurley School students and teachers!  Meeting with all of you and learning what you know was so very rewarding!  Remember... it's COOL to be a Bird Nerd! 
(double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Fish Crow

Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk

Building the base for the nest project

A nice start

Working with the materials

One of these leaves is not like the others...

Red-tailed Hawk soaring overhead reward!

Working on their project outside the Art Barn


Happy Birding young Bird Nerds!
It was so good to meet you and to spend time with you!  Tell the Boston Pigeons, Peregrine Falcons & American Crows in the city I said, "HELLO!"
11.8.17  Yarmouth Park & Recreation Bird Walks - Flax Pond
South Yarmouth, MA

There are jobs that are dependent upon decent weather in order to assure things tend to go as planned.  Bird walks certainly lie within that category, for the most part.  The New England weather can be particularly temperamental and Cape Cod, being surrounded by ocean, can certainly make the day difficult to predict precipitation-wise.  There was a drizzle in the air today, but our walks here at Flax Pond are mostly protected by tree cover.  A little drizzle doesn't really hurt anyone, though cameras & binoculars are not recommended to get wet at all.  I figured photography would be limited. 

We Bird Nerds decided to brave it in more ways than just the wet skies this morning!  I had heard that there was a trail that wrapped all the way around Flax Pond and I'd searched the truthfulness of that in the summer while previewing other trails I was less familiar with on the property.  We'll revisit the words "on the property" in a minute.  The trail did seem to be a little dicey near the edge of the water, though we were definitely in a 'ready to be challenged' mood.  On we trudged, as the trail, well... trailed off... into what was basically someone's back yard.  Sorry someone.  We meant no harm and you have some really nicely landscaped flowers on the edge of your property.  We got back on the property of Flax Pond as quickly as our hiking boots would take us.  Live and learn.   I must admit it was REALLY fun exploring some unknown, and un-walked upon areas in these woods!  We had a ball and had no trouble laughing at ourselves while enjoying the morning, as the skies eventually gave way to a light rain.

We decided to head back toward and through the cedar swamp.  The muted colors truly shone through as we were surrounded by mostly browns and greys, with plenty of green this way and that.  When yellow leaves peaked through in some more dense spots, we had to pause to admire the natural contrast.
Birds?  Well... we did see one Blue Jay, and a raptor (I believe a Red-shouldered Hawk) did glide quickly across the pond, then even more quickly disappeared thanks to camouflage.  
This morning turned out to be more of a nature walk as opposed to a bird walk, thanks mostly due to the misty conditions.  We enjoyed our walk together and I look forward to sunshine to guide us next Wednesday!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Another view of Flax Pond - looking lovely in the fall

A view of Flax Pond beach from the "trail"

We used the trees to support us in our woody adventure!

So we saw Thirwood through the trees...I swear,
that's what the sign said & pointed to...

Pointing out the difference between Oak leaves in the
Red Oak group (left-sharper lobe edges) and White Oak group(right-rounded lobe edges)

We all deal with blemishes of sorts sometimes...
This odd overgrowth in the trunk is likely caused by a bacteria

The Cedar Swamp was mysterious this morning

Raindrops captured on the underside of a leaf

Another gall in an oak tree

Sweet Gum Tree showing off some fruity pebbles looking colors
We have one more Flax Pond walk scheduled for this season, Wednesday 11.15.17 at 9am Click here to register...
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

This morning was our first true chilly Tuesday Tweets of this season, so I really wasn't sure about the turn out of bird nerds today... to my surprise, we had a BUNCH!  With the full moon just over the weekend, the tides were extremely high and there was a lot of water still saturating the salt marsh.  Even though high tide was hours away, it definitely make me wary of getting back too late... so the pressure was on.

Almost immediately as we were crossing the board walk, we saw a Great Blue Heron in flight.  That's hard to beat!  Somehow though, we are often rewarded with bird sightings on Tuesday Tweets no matter what.  Sometimes it happens in the first five minutes, or the last.  Nature is only so predictable.  What is predictable is that the folks who join in on this visit to nature is their sweet good-natured spirits.  We had a bit of a Yellow-rumped Warbler show as we approached the meadow, and by the time we reached the shore, it was species after species!  Please don't miss the photos credited to Rick.  Thank goodness he was there to capture so many perfect shots because my camera started arguing with me halfway through our walk.  His photography is just amazing.

We were surprised to find the dune loop of the trail by the staircase flooded out, so we had to back track a bit over the sands, where we spotted all sorts of animal tracks, this way and that.  It's always interesting observing those messages they've left behind.  It's fun to draw a circle around a cluster of tracks to discern how many different species have crossed in a small area in a short amount of time.  I would have to say that our biggest excitement came from the Peregrine Falcon spotted on the other side of Quivett Creek.  As if in a performance, s/he took off soon after we all stopped to admire from a distance, and that beautiful bird of prey soared RIGHT over us.  Just GORGEOUS!  I haven't seen a Peregrine in years!  I reminded the bird nerds that they'd just experienced the fastest creature on Earth.  It's just not every walk on a beach you get to admire a bird superhero!  We made it back without being flooded out on the marsh... all good.  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
American Crow
Great Blue Heron
Shearwater ( I REALLY think it's a Cory's Shearwater from Rick's photo!)
Coopers Hawk
American Goldfinch
Black-capped Chickadee
House Finch
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Robin
Gray Catbird (!?!)
Great Black-backed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Black-bellied Plover
Double-crested Cormorant
Red-breasted Merganser
Peregrine Falcon (!!!)
Common Eider
Blue Jay
Northern Harrier
Northern Cardinal

Great Blue Heron flying off 
Cory's Shearwater - my best guess at ID
(Photo Credit: RICK)

Northern Harrier (Photo Credit: RICK)

Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-capped Chickadee  DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THIS PHOTO?!?!
(Photo Credit: RICK)
Don't miss the band on the bird's right leg - no doubt, one of Sue Finnegan's 

Not a great photo of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, but
I wanted to show the yellow that you can also see under the wing
House Finch - male (Photo Credit: RICK)

American Robin

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Bird Nerds crossing the dune trail
Deer tracks, dog tracks & gull tracks in the sand

Don't miss the Great Blue Heron tracks

Black-bellied Plovers (Photo Credit: RICK)

Checking out the shore birds (gulls, plovers, cormorants, eiders) in
the distance 
Black-bellied Plovers
Peregrine Falcon!!! (Photo Credit: RICK)

Peregrine Falcon (Photo Credit: RICK)

Peregrine Falcon (Photo Credit: RICK)

Peregrine Falcon (Photo Credit: RICK)
Brants (Photo Credit: RICK)

Common Eiders (Photo Credit: RICK)

Red-breasted Mergansers (Photo Credit: RICK)

Northern Cardinal - male (Photo Credit: RICK)

Northern Harrier (Photo Credit: RICK)

Beach Grass, also called Compass Grass because of the lovely circle created by the grass
as the wind blows it around itself in the sand

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 11.21.17 9am $4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!