Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

I was excited to see both familiar faces and some new ones at our walk this morning.  The weather was still warm & not quite as foggy as our last visit through the trails at Flax Pond.  I was pleased to hear that the mosquitoes were not too terrible in the cedar swamp, so we headed in that direction first.  If you've never been to a cedar swamp, there is something eerie and other-worldly about it.  It's typically very quiet and the forest floor is very damp, if not covered in puddles.  The majority of the trees have branches much higher up and I've always been curious as to why there are not more birds found in these areas.  The times I've visited both this cedar swamp, as well as the fancy boardwalked one near Marconi Beach, I have always noticed the lack of birds.  It's weird.  Maybe that's why it feels a little creepy almost when you're walking through a cedar swamp.  I know there's wildlife there, but there is not much of a trace of anyone.  It's kind of like a tree cemetery... I dunno.  We did hear some nuthatches in there and two or three curious Black-capped Chickadees as well, and I believe a frog.  It's very cool in there.

When we checked out Flax Pond this morning we first heard and then saw a Belted Kingfisher.  We were too far away to get a decent photo, but I was so pleased that we all got to see him, and hopefully everyone got to hear the tell tale call of a kingfisher in flight.  They are not shy about saying they are flying here and there, near the water's edge!

As we were near the end of our time together, I wanted to check out another area of the woodsy edge.  I kept hearing a peep coming from the low shrubs... when out popped not one, but two Chipping Sparrows.  SO cute!  We were able to get fairly close to them so I was able to get a few photos... though they were very well camouflaged, which the photos also reflect.   Just at the very end of our time together, we discovered a flock of blackbirds; Common Grackles & Red-winged Blackbirds.  They were providing the "Safety In Numbers" demonstration.  I was in for one last surprise though... one of the walkers, who I KNEW looked familiar, re-introduced herself as my CCD teacher from 40 years ago!!! It was a big treat, having my former teacher on a bird walk.  I LOVE SURPRISES!!!  It was wonderful to see you Barbara!

I also received one of the best compliments I have ever had.  Pat, one of the new comers this week said, "Even if I didn't like birds, I would love them after your walk."
Thank you Pat!  That meant so much to me and I like to believe the birds thank you too!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Blue Jay
American Crow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Mourning Dove
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird

Bird Nerds in the woods!

We visited the cedar swamp - which looks
much darker in person

Looking upward at the cedar tree tops

Many forms of vegetation are thriving in this cedar swamp, and
the nurse trees help feed the forest floor.

A distant, fuzzy (terrible) photo of a Belted Kingfisher.
I had to include this photo though...we were all SO excited to see & hear him/her!

Pointing out the Belted Kingfisher across Flax Pond

It is FUN to share the outdoors through birds!

Snail trails in the sand underwater in Flax Pond

Flax Pond mirrored upon itself this calm cloudy morning

I know it looks like a poop emoji, but it's a freshwater snail shell
When I looked it up to identify, the best I could find was
that it is probably a Chinese Mystery Snail

A photo of a mushroom, two weeks later...

This mushroom matched Loruso Lodge

Indian Pipe in its dark cold season colors

TOUGH to spot the two Chipping Sparrows in this photo...
See next photo for help

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Reminds me of a beautiful Beatles song...

Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds

Can you spot the Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in with the Common Grackles?
See the next photo...

Common Grackle

You can see the different iridescent feathers if you
look closely at this Common Grackle

Hydrangea, still blooming in October!
My surprise - BARBARA!!!
Next opportunity for the bird walk at Flax Pond: 10.25.17 at 9am $10/person
Click here to register.
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

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

We had the perfect-sized group today for a bird walk, though the birds were doing a great job dodging my camera.  It didn't help that I'd dropped it right before our walk though... woopsie.  Most of the photos I have from our morning are from the various landscapes we  experienced in just 90 minutes, which is part of our time together.  We're so spoiled with the different habitats we walk through on Tuesday Tweets, and when these locations are combined with the various bird sounds and sights... we get to share a unique natural morning.  It helps when nice people show up to share it as well, which is what just happens!

Blue Jays seemed to rule the skies this day, and we heard them everywhere we were.  We did spot a Northern Harrier gliding across Quivett Creek.  We've been so lucky with harrier sightings the past few Tuesday Tweets, so clearly there's hawk food around.  I would say that's good news for the ecosystem.  A raptor sighting is always a bonus, especially when the Ospreys have already migrated.  What a warm fall we've had so far and TONS of foggy conditions lately.  It was clear this morning though, and the bird nerds spotted a pair of Great Blue Herons on the marsh.  It's so very often we get a surprise finale bird or two... I feel it's our reward for our interest in the birds.  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Gray Catbird
American Goldfinch
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Cardinal
American Robin
Northern Flicker
Black-capped Chickadee
Eastern Towhee
Great Blue Heron
Belted Kingfisher
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Northern Harrier
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Downy Woodpecker
Beautiful blue skies ahead

Poison Ivy sure looks pretty this time of year

Looking south on Paine's Creek
We heard a kingfisher, but s/he flew out of sight, across the creek

Horseshoe crab shell marking the head of the trail 

Ring-billed Gull

Great Blue Herons on the salt marsh

Northern Flicker
Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 10.24.17 at 9am $4Members/$6Non-members
Happy Birding!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

10.4.17  Bird Nerd Moment - My street
Yarmouth, MA

I wouldn't believe this story if I wasn't a humble participant...

I received a voice message earlier today from a woman I'd never met, who she said the magic words "Wild Care", (a non-profit wildlife care facility in nearby Eastham that treats ill, injured and orphaned wildlife for release) so I was intrigued.  Her name was Jane; she explained she'd been looking for swallows throughout the Cape in order to successfully release a rehabilitated Chimney Swift.  This particular bird came to them from another wildlife rehab center.  His treatment took a longer time than the other Chimney Swift patients who'd been recently released as a flock by Wild Care.  Everyone who had cared for him was very concerned about his ability to thrive once released being on his own, which he really shouldn't be this time of year.  Tree Swallows are flocking now, fattening up for their long long migration to warmer areas, like Florida, Baja California and Central America... though Chimney Swifts, all 5 or so inches of their little selves, typically migrate to Northwest areas of South America (primarily Peru, Ecuador, Colombia & parts of Brazil)  Chimney Swifts have already left on migration.  They couldn't hold back the possible success of the many, for the needs of the one.  Jane was informed though, that if she could connect this bird with a flock of Tree Swallows, he would have a greater chance of survival while flocking with them on their migration.  The trouble is that most of the local populations of Tree Swallows have just recently left on migration.  Finding a local flock would be nearly impossible.  
As the Magic 8-Ball predict sometimes: OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD.

Here is the CRAZY part.  I returned Jane's call while walking my dog and leaving her a message... as I approached my own house just minutes later, I couldn't believe MY EYES.  There they were, about 10-15 Tree Swallows, performing their aerial acrobatics while fueling up on the insects they're instinctively designed to hunt.  The very species of bird Jane and this little swift were in need of, were OVER MY HOUSE.

Jane called back within minutes.  I told her about the swallows.  I gave her my address. Twenty minutes later, I was meeting and making a new friend, along with getting a peek at a Chimney Swift, UP CLOSE!  The precious little swift was ready to go!  I took a few pictures before he flew off, to meet his new flock, heading to warmer areas... in search of buggy food along the way.  

I was honored to be a small part in the success of this little life who was cared for by so many, giving back the gift of his healed and able-to-fly-again body,  thanks to the patience, dedication and kindness from the folks at Wild Care, Jane in particular.  
It's Jane's birthday tomorrow!  Happy Birthday Jane!  
Nature's gifts... there is no comparison... (double click photos to enlarge)

Thank you little Chimney Swift.  I'm so glad there's a nearly full moon to guide you.
Be safe.
Rehabilitated Chimney Swift
The blue dot on his head is from the initial wild life rehabilitator,
most likely for identification purposes

Chimney Swift

Jane and her patient
Those little specks in the sky I pointed out with arrows are Tree Swallows

Chimney Swift... ready to FLY!
Jane - I'm SO glad you called and that we met today!  I'm grateful that compassion and empathy are alive and well on Cape Cod, especially with regard to tiny, amazing, feathery packages.
Happy Birding!