Monday, July 31, 2017

7.31.17 KidSummer Birding 101 - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA 

The next several weekdays will have me immersed in bird nerd fun at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History!  I have a new flock of young Bird Nerds I got to meet today for my KidSummer course, Birding 101.  

We're just getting to know each other and we'll hear more bird stories and answer more bird questions throughout the week.  Constructing birdoculars always gets me talking about recycling and reusing materials.  The less we all consume, which doesn't always mean eat, the better for our planet.  That also means it's better for all, both the birds and us!  I really do my best to impart the fact that there are so many uses for all of the items we need on a daily basis.  I love planting this mindful seed in the hopes that these youngsters will think twice about just throwing something away without first thinking of how it could alternately be used.

I was excited to get out on our first bird walk to see & hear who we would see and hear.  I'm always interested in learning which bird nerd knows which bird, their bird calls and what to look for when you're in search of birds!  We did have a "mystery bird", which I now believe to be a juvenile Gray Catbird.  The tricky thing with bird identification this time of year is that the youngsters look similar, but not quite like their mature adult bird parents.  It's not so much that the plumage (color of the feathers) is all that different when comparing a juvenile to an adult Gray Catbird, but see the photos below.  Maybe you'll agree that s/he looks slightly different & all puffed up, as in, still growing those brand new feathers out. (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
House Sparrow
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Crow
Gray Catbird
Song Sparrow
Osprey
Mourning Dove
Eastern Kingbird
Northern Cardinal
Black-capped Chickadee
American Goldfinch
Barn Swallow

Learning just how long certain materials like clothing, glass & plastic
last once they're discarded and if they decompose

This tree trunk is under natural attack!  It seems
beetles may have caused the initial damage, but something/someone
larger has continued to eat & tear away at this pitch pine.

Seeing the beetle damage up close on the bark

Getting closer to the saltmarsh

There is a Gray Catbird (or two!) in these bushes but they
didn't want to be seen!

Song Sparrow

Fiddler Crab on the marsh

Pointing out the crab

Osprey in the nest (the juvenile is on the left)

Osprey

Sea Lavender

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Northern Cardinal - male
He is bald looking here, due to probably
either mites or molting.

Happy Bird Nerds on a bird walk!
 
Gray Catbird - juvenile
(not the mystery bird I thought it might be)

Gray Catbird - juvenile

Found feather from a Northern Flicker

American Goldfinch - male

Young Bird Nerds using their birdoculars
to watch the American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch - male

Osprey on the nest
Happy Birding young Bird Nerds!  I hope I hear that you heard &/or saw at least one bird on the way to and from the museum!

Friday, July 28, 2017

7.28.17  Private Walk - Cape Cod Gymnastics - Mini Flip Day Camp
West Yarmouth, MA

We had the sun on our side for my return visit to Cape Cod Gymnastics for another bird walk!  I was greeted by some enthusiastic birdocular-wearing Bird Nerds!  I noticed some familiar faces as well as new faces, and they all seemed excited to head outside in search of some feathered friends.

Again, almost immediately, we spotted a sparrow as soon as we were in the parking lot. House Sparrows, both male & female were right nearby and conveniently perching on fences so the kiddos could get accustomed to using their birdoculars and focusing on field marks so they could identify bird species from one another.

We heard Fish Crows pretty quickly once we ventured onto Summer Street, followed shortly thereafter by an American Crow.  What's interesting about noticing these two closely related species together is that when they start making their vocalizations, you can absolutely hear the difference in their voices, which is the best method of distinguishing which species is which.

I have to believe each and every Bird Nerd on this walk will remember the song of the Eastern Towhee, "Drink your teeeaaaaa...".  We were so lucky to get such great viewings of an Eastern Towhee male calling out this very distinct call.  Once we headed back, I was distracted by what I originally thought was a grasshopper.  Nope.  It was a spider basically crossing the road and heading right TOWARDS US!  Yes.  I can be foolishly fearless when it comes to critters.  I have worked with a long list of animals and I majored in Animal Science. Arachnids however, will send me into complete body goose bumps and my fight or flight, goes straight to flight.  Yep.  They all saw my phobic reaction to the spider (no photo available!) who seemed to not want us on his/her dirt road.  I'm telling you, this thing was in ATTACK mode!  I can laugh at myself, after my goosebumps settled! So I did!  

I hope I get to see some of these gymnasts in the future to hear about the latest bird sighting they had!   Thanks again Jen for having me!  I really loved spending time with these sweet kids! (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Fish Crow
American Crow
Mourning Dove
Eastern Towhee
Great-crested Flycatcher
American Goldfinch


House Sparrow - female

House Sparrow - female

Mourning Dove

Great-crested Flycatcher (not my best photo of one!)

Fungus is not my specialty...these might be jack-o-lantern mushrooms...?

Eastern Towhee - male

Eastern Towhee - male
He was singing up a storm for us!

Eastern Towhee - male

Excellent birdocular technique

Comparing the bird seen to the birds in the guide

Bird Nerds!


Appreciating the wild flowers



Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Thank you again young Bird Nerds and thank you to Jen & Jason Watkins for the opportunity!  Thanks also to Lynn, Abby & Hayley for helping to make my visits even more fun for the mini flippers!

Friday, July 14, 2017

7.14.17  Private Walk - Cape Cod Gymnastics
West Yarmouth, MA

I have been fortunate to meet both Jen & Jason Watkins owners of Cape Cod Gymnastics, and we've known each other for a couple of years.  When my kids were younger, they had attended the Summer Mini Flips day camp program and loved it!  One day I asked Jen if she had any interest in me bringing the day campers along for a bird walk.  I know that the location of Cape Cod Gymnastics is right on Summer Street, which is heavily wooded and is a great habitat for birds!   

We scheduled not one but two bird walks and today was the first one.  The weather was rather gray and a little cool for July, and we had to dodge a few rain drops, but all of the campers were troopers.  We saw birds almost immediately as soon as we walked outside and we heard several species in the woods as we walked along Summer Street.  The young bird nerds were terrific and they used their patience and quiet to help locate the birds while we were on our way.   We had a great long walk, so long, one mini flipper commented that he felt like we'd walked to the "end of Massachusetts!".  

Just as I was remarking about how well everyone was behaving, as if a reward... a large bull frog was spotted right in the big puddle on the road!  Don't miss the photos below!  It was amazing to see and also a lesson in just how well and how much native species, (amphibians included!) adapt as needed in their habitat.  I don't think ANY of us will forget that froggy reward!  (double click photos to enlarge)


Our List:
Song Sparrow
House Sparrow
Pine Warbler
Eastern Towhee
American Crow
Osprey
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch

Comparing bird species in the bird guide

Young Bird Nerds!

Proper birdocular technique

FROG IN THE PUDDLE!

Spotting the frog



Song Sparrow


Bird walks are more fun with friends
Happy Birding!  I'm looking forward to returning in a couple of weeks to see and hear more bird species... and who knows what else?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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

What a MORNING!  I was hesitant to head out on this walk due to the impending potential of thunderstorms and rain, but we fit this walk in!  We only got a little rain at the end and by then, it felt refreshing.  When the sun is not so bright in the sky, it is difficult to see the vibrant plumage of so many birds, not to mention the hidden nature of so many.  Summer foliage provides great hiding for our feathered friends.  It protects them, but it can be slightly frustrating on a bird walk.  

SO many new faces on this particular walk and the enthusiasm seemed to span several generations.  It's always inspiring to meet a youngster who is equally enthralled by nature and the birds' wonders.  Hooray for a successful kindergarten teacher!  

At the end of the walk, one of the new comers asked how this walk compared to others. We saw juvenile American Robins,  juvenile Eastern Bluebirds and juvenile Tree Swallows all venturing out on their own in the world.  It was a special walk indeed.  I was so happy to share it with so many.  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Blue Jay
Gray Catbird
Song Sparrow
Osprey
European Starling
Common Grackle
American Crow
Mourning Dove
Barn Swallow
Great Egret
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Black-capped Chickadee
Pine Warbler
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
Ring-billed Gull
Yellow Warbler
American Robin
Common (?)Tern
Tree Swallow
Eastern Kingbird
Osprey & ospreycam

Bird Nerds!

Gray Catbird

Eastern Bluebird - juvenile

Eastern Bluebird - juvenile

Eastern Towhee - male

Eastern Towhee - male


Eastern Bluebird - juvenile

American Robin

American Robin - male

Song Sparrow

Enthusiastic Bird Nerd!


Tree Swallows 

Tree Swallows


Tree Swallows on the left, Eastern Kingbird in lower middle of the photo

Tree Swallows 


Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Mourning Dove

Tree Swallows, all lined up

Pretty as a painting

Mourning Dove
Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 8.22.17 9am-10:30am $4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!