Another Year

I'm 49 years old today. That means I have begun my 50th year on this earth. So far, so good :)
Posted by Picasa


A Bird Count Digest

Treebeard and I are keeping track of birds this weekend. I thought I'd give you an idea of some of the birds we see in or over our yard this time of year. The numbers below reflect the highest number of each species we have seen at any one time during the past couple of days:

Black Vulture - 8
Turkey Vulture - 4
Bald Eagle - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Red-shouldered Hawk - 3
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 18
Mourning Dove - 3
Barred Owl - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 3
Northern Flicker - 2
Pileated Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue Jay - 2
American Crow - 5
Carolina Chickadee - 5
Tufted Titmouse - 3
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Carolina Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 3
Eastern Bluebird - 11
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 2
European Starling 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Pine Warbler - 6
Chipping Sparrow - 33
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 22
Dark-eyed Junco - 20
Northern Cardinal - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 13
Common Grackle - 7
American Goldfinch - 24


We took a quick walk down to the pond today and added the following species:

Osprey - 1
Canada Goose - 2
Wood Duck - 1
American Woodcock - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Winter Wren - 2


One, Two, Three...

Are you counting the birds this weekend? You aren't!?! Why not? It's easy and doesn't take much time. Go to the Great Backyard Bird Count website for details and then start counting.


Another Thing


...from Sunday's ramble. Treebeard got this shot of a red-shouldered hawk. The hawks are quite active now, pairing up and mating. We heard several out over the pond on Sunday morning and all were very vocal. Wonder what they were saying exactly...
Posted by Picasa


Can You See It Now?


There is some pretty weird stuff going on with Picasa and Blogger lately. Pictures showing up for some folks and not for others, the program telling me I need to be connected to the internet when I'm already connected...I'm convinced it's gremlins or maybe web sprites at work.
Posted by Picasa


Gone Walking

Treebeard is off to his week of in-service refresher training tomorrow, so he and I are going walking for a while this morning. If we see anything interesting we'll let you know.

By the way, the tracks above were made by white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). Lately there have been hordes of them on the roads at the work swamp.
Posted by Picasa


And we're back. We showed great restraint and only walked about four miles...

Our ramblings yielded a variety of rewards. Here is a collage of a few things we saw this morning. Left to right, top to bottom: someone's building a home in a maple tree, mosquito fern on ice, cattail seeds, a dandelion in bloom, a hardy diving beetle swimming around under the ice, evidence of a raccoon who forgot to wipe his feet, a whopping big bunch of mistletoe on a skinny tree, dogbane seeds waiting for a breeze, and the muddy evidence of how flexible that raccoon's hind foot was.
Posted by Picasa


Bridge, Again

Another picture from the west bank of the canal (i.e., the swamp side). The bridge stays in this open position most of the time so as not to impede boat traffic. I had to hustle yesterday to get the bridge open when a Coast Guard boat suddenly appeared out of nowhere. They were on some sort of mission and were moving down the canal at a pretty good clip. One does not want to interfere with the Coast Guard when they are working, don't you know.
Posted by Picasa



For those who wondered, this is the bridge. I'm standing on the swamp-side taking the picture as the trucks bring gravel over to the construction site. The main part of the bridge is a barge that swings open and closed sort of like a door. I'll try to take some pictures of the bridge in the open position so you can see the bascules in the up position - such exciting stuff, eh?
Posted by Picasa


This Way!

A flock of ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) kept me company this morning as I manned the bridge. There were twelve of them: three females and nine males, all busy swimming and diving in the cold dark water of the canal. Every once in a while, on some signal only they could perceive, they would all take up at once and fly off. It didn't take long for them to find their way back though. Must be a fairly reasonable amount of food available for them here. Ring-necked ducks eat mostly vegetable matter with perhaps an occasional tasty little crustacean on the side.

We are expecting temperatures in the single to low double digits tonight - the ducks may be ice skating tomorrow ;)
Posted by Picasa


Oh Dear Me

Now I've done it, I've made the switch to the new blogger. I had to delete SwampStuff to do it though. Don't know how I feel about that. Anyway, it's done so now I just have to figure out how to use all the new stuff...oh dear.

Freeze Frame

Just outside my kitchen window a fight for survival is taking place. All the small birds are on lock-down. A downy woodpecker is sitting motionless on the sunflower feeder, a yellow-bellied sapsucker is as still as a statue in the limbs of a shining sumac, a white-breasted nuthatch is perched, head-down, on the telephone pole, dark-eyed juncos dot the limbs of the apple trees while a mourning dove huddles on a pine bough and a red-bellied woodpecker grips the tip of the telephone pole.

Some secret signal is being passed back and forth: DANGER! DON'T MOVE! At some point, one or more of the birds must have noted the silhouette of a hawk or perhaps it was some small sound that gave away the presence of the predator. Whatever the tip-off, the message was passed with lightning speed and all the potential prey species froze in place. Five minutes have passed and still no movement...

Ah, someone just sounded the all clear. The side yard is now filled with activity. Goldfinches, chickadees, white-throated sparrows, Carolina wrens , and cardinals have joined in. Everyone is busy scarfing down seeds and suet, stoking their internal furnaces to ward off the cold.

Uh-oh! Everybody just scattered! Not a little bird in sight. But out in the sumac, where the yellow-bellied sap sucker huddled just a minute ago, there sits a beautiful sharp-shinned hawk. Her talons and belly are empty though, too much cover available for the little birds to hide in. She's had no success this time and I feel for her - she needs a meal, too. Even though it may offend the sensibilities of some other bird lovers, I wish her luck in the hunt and I hope when she goes to roost tonight it is with a full belly.

(By the way, the photo is of a hermit thrush. I think I may have used this picture before. Treebeard took it from his truck window a while back.) Posted by Picasa


There Be Bears Here

How's this for a way to start the month? Sugar-frosted bear scat. Now I ask you, who else brings stuff like this? ;)

I was out in the snow working on a proposed trail today when I happened across this fairly respectable bear scat. It wasn't terribly fresh but it wasn't particularly old either. The bears have been fairly active this winter because there has been food available. The berries and seeds are getting scarce now so I suppose most of the bears are enjoying a nice winter's nap. I still kept my eyes open while I worked - it's never a good idea to startle a bear...

Who loves ya Posted by Picasa