Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Hour at the Park

I went to a local park near downtown Worcester yesterday on my lunch hour. I was expecting a lot of bird activity, but everything was strangely quiet. I scanned the pond for waterfowl and all I could see were two Mallards floating gently on the water.

As I ventured around the bend of the pond, I saw the two Mute Swans near some cattails in an area which would be difficult for a human or to access. One stood still in a pile of dead cattails and I knew she was on her nest.

I was very far away and zoomed to full capacity for a photo. As I did this the male swan started coming my way. He didn't look bothered by my presence, but was determined to let me know this is his domain.

I stepped back a little to give him his space and he proceeded to behave in a manner of a swan as my camera clicked away.

I started to walk away to see what else was out there and he gracefully followed. When I stopped to take a photo of something, he stopped to drink water or eat grass from the pond.

Finally he floated back to the nest to be with his mate.

She waited oh so patiently for his return.

On my way to the car I saw a Red Winged Blackbird perched on a cattail and figured one more picture wouldn't hurt. I drove away and the blackbird sang.

Watery Wednesday-First Spring Rain

There was no espape from this rain!

Sunday was our first official spring rain. The goose above didn't' seem bothered by it at all. The pond was a lot choppier than usual and it made nice ripples in the water.

This wet female mallard gets out of the pond to dry off some.

Soon the male follows.

The Great Blue Heron looks down on the water from a tree branch at the wetlands in Grafton. This was another area of water I went to on Sunday.

Here is a picture of the wetlands. The water continues to be a little low in some areas. Pretty soon these wetlands will be a haven for birds and there will be ducks, geese, herons, and woodpeckers with their babies all around the area. Water is the essence of life.

Many birds were in hiding because of the rain so I took the time to play with the micro feature in my camera. A spider web glistens with raindrops and light.

Another picture of the web but in black and white. Even without color it is still lovely.

The dried up berries take on another light with raindrops.

Water diamonds on a bare scarlet branch.

Queen Annes Lace from last summer.

And finally the rain got so bad I ran to my car to escape its fury. The rain was hammering the roof and the drops clinged to my windshield. I decided to take a picture to remember our first spring rain.

For more Watery Wednesday pictures go to- Watery Wednesday

Monday, March 30, 2009

Make no Bones About it

I love bird photography. I take all kinds of pictures but my favorites are when they are so engrossed in a task that they don't mind my presence. This is when instinct takes over fear and they go about their task as if I am not even there.

A perfect example of this are these pictures of the Common Crow. This reminds us that they are indeed scavengers. It is something I sometimes forget because I am so used to seeing them eat bread, dog kibble and corn.

Here is one eating some kind of bone. I am not sure if it was a bone of an animal recently killed or someones leftover fried chicken that somehow made it to the area they decided to dine at. Notice it looking at me as it holds the bone in its claw.

They use them just the same as the ever familiar chickadee does when it opens a seed.

There was no sentry perched on a tree to watch for predators so the crow would often scan the horizon in search for hawks or owls.

Soon another joined in for a romantic dinner for two.

Here is the perfect example of the scavenger in the crow. It looks as if it is trying to get the bone marrow or any trace of meat that may be leftover.

Finally it decides to put the bone back down and try it at a different angle.

Finally they had their fill and headed home to roost. Just as I was about to leave a Coopers Hawk glided by reminding me how remarkable nature is. The bird gets that bug the raptor gets the bird and the scavenger gets the rest. It is indeed the circle of life.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday was Duck Weather

Birding was difficult today due to the rain but I was determined not to miss the opportunity before I start work again this week. I went to quite a few places and all were close to impossible to bird, especially with a camera because you don't want to get it wet.

I finally decided to go to Briely Pond in Millbury and try my luck there. I knew this would be the ideal place to be today because I could bird in my car if I parked my car diagonally which was fine because no one else was there so I could take up all of the parking spots.

I got there and all I could see were Mallards and the usual Gulls. Drat, I thought, the same as usual. I thought about going home and then remembered that my youngest had a sleepover last night and they would be up by now playing music and video games and changed my mind real quickly. I decided to make the best of it and watch the ducks for a while.

The picture above is the closest I have ever gotten to a Mallard. He actually got out of the pond and very close to my car. I zoomed in on him and was afraid to breathe out of fear he would hear me and fly away. Finally he did hear me and looked at me in an accusatory manner. I couldn't help but laugh as he belted out a loud quack and flew toward the pond.

Bye Bye birdie!

After a while the Mallards grew comfortable with my presence and decided to hang out by my car the entire time I was there. Here they are in their glory. The male is grooming himself.

Another Mallard was grooming himself as well.

And we cannot leave out the misses, here she is grooming herself as well. Look at the lovely orange underneath her chin, I never knew they had that before.

Speaking of other male Mallards, I got to see some serious arguing amongst them whenever one got too close to the others territory. Here is a picture of one of the males going after the other. They did this the entire time I was there and it was fascinating to watch. I have always thought of Mallards as the gentle types so it was interesting to see them behaving differently than what I am accustomed to.
Another action photo!
A male Mallard flys away from the other to avoid a fight.

Another male Mallard did this dance of sorts to fend off a potential attacker. Interestingly enough, it worked.

Finally the rain turned to mist and the waters were calm. There was no more fighting and the Mallard floated on the water enjoying the peace.

There was no peace for the unfortunate duck below. I am thinking these are tail feathers of a female Mallard??? I found these at the pond in Grafton right near the other set of feathers I found of the Canada Goose. I have a feeling the resident Bald Eagle has a strong liking for waterfowl. Good thing many of the Worcester County lakes and ponds have just been supplied with trout for both people and Eagles. It will give the ducks and geese a little reprieve.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Lifers and a Sense of Hope

I went birding this morning with a local birder in my area and it was a lot of fun. He showed me a bunch of new places around the Blackstone area that I had never gone to before and boy did it pay off. I now see why people recommend you go birding with more experienced birders because he was able to point out things to me that I would never have known on my own.

Lifer!!! Wood Ducks!!! The one waterfowl bird I had to see this summer no matter what. HA, I say that about all of them, but I am serious about this really I am. I hiked to a small pond and there they were. I was able to get three photos of them before they did that alarm call of theirs and flew off. The call was so alarmed that I actually felt bad for bothering them. Heck, the way they were screaming you would think I had a weapon pointed at them instead of my camera. Will remember to use extreme caution and tiptoe lightly next time I meet up with them.

LIFER!! Field Sparrow. HA! Yes I know, this is probably a common bird but you must remember that I started birding last May and it was all backyard birding for the most part until this past November. Birds that many of you have seen before are all new to me and this was one of them. Very nice call they have.

Not a lifer but a picture of the goose who has terrorized me in the past. I was never able to get a photo of him before because he would chase after me and I would run to my car in fear. People feed him so he automatically assumes you are going to do the same and when you don't he uses his size and bill to intimidate you. Last time he did this I threw him three slices of bread and ran to my car and skidded out of the dirt parking lot to get away. This Graylag Goose was tame as a kitten today though and didn't even look twice at me. I am hoping he isn't on his best behaviour solely for attracting a mate. I can't even imagine two of them running after me demanding bread. ;o)

The Pileated Woodpecker in Grafton continues to be a daily presence and he is really fixated on one tree in particular. Today I watched him work on that hole for about 15 minutes and I couldn't get over all of the wood chips that were coming from that tree. He was a determined guy this afternoon.

Now allow me to introduce you to the Misses. She went right to the tree he was on and when she landed he took off??? She then inspected the hole for a few minutes and took off after him. I hope she liked his handy work because he has been doing it for the past three weeks now and I would hate to see him have to start from scratch. ;o)

I decided to save the best for last. Yes the photo is lousy but it was tough to get this picture because we were so far away from this bridge railing and water was blocking our path. Plus, a good birder never disturbs a nest! What you see below is a Common Raven sitting on her nest!! LIFER and a super sweet one at that.

I seriously never thought I would get to see a Raven in my lifetime. I remember when I was a student in my Life Sciences class that our teacher went down a list of extinct or endangered birds and this was one of them. It is amazing how birds learn to adapt to human development and destruction at times.

I have been reflecting on the incredible birds I have seen the past couple of weeks and it has awakened my sense of hope. Hope is something we all yearn for but how does one define it? The advertisers bombard us with the promise of hope in hopes we will buy their product which usually lets us down. The politicians use it as a campaign slogan and all too soon we realized that it's politics as usual. It is easy to be a pessimist of hope in the day and age we are living in now.

But then I realize that hope cannot be bought with neither a dollar nor a vote. Hope is something we experience every day. We hope for a beautiful day with each lovely sunrise, we hope for spring when we see the first crocuses bloom and we hope for life when we see the Common Raven sitting lovingly on her nest.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Peregrine Falcon in Downtown Worcester-Closeups!

, Rap Check it out all, my first closeup photos of one of the Peregrines in downtown Worcester. I wound up getting these pictures after a rough day at work. My hard drive died on my computer and I just needed to get away from the office for a little while. I looked for the falcons and saw the female by the nest box but the male was nowhere to be seen.
I decided to go to the 24th floor of the Sovereign building (I have permission) and I knew I had struck gold because the elevator repair man was there staring intently at something.

I looked at him and gave him a knowing smile and whipped out my camera!!!

I took pictures for about 10 minutes and wanted to stay longer but I had a meeting. Grrrrr. ;o). The male really likes it up here but hasn't been in this location for a while. I am guessing that once the eggs are laid I will not be seeing him here for a while. The next time they will come up this way is when they bring their young on the ledge to learn how to fly. The maintenance man says that every year the falcons bring the babies up here for flying lessons as it is the tallest building downtown. I promise pictures of that obviously. ;o)

Another interesting note was seeing my first spring Robin in downtown Worcester. You don't see many of them on Main Street so it is always a treat when you get a glimpse of one.

These two House Finches were in the 446 Main Street parking garage and it appeared as if they were looking for a place to build a nest. Who said city birding was dull!! ;o)


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