Saturday, June 13, 2009

Atlasing North Brookfield 10 and 11

Alan, my birding pal and I spent the day atlasing the North Brookfield 10 and 11 blocks as I wanted to tag along and see what it was like. For those of you unfamiliar with altasing, it is basically an attempt to collect information on breeding birds throughout specific geographical footprints. It is not as simple as it sounds as you have to have specific evidence for certain sightings and they all have to fall within specific safe dates so it's a lot of hard work but for a very good cause. It makes for interesting birding as you are not doing it for pleasure per say, but more for citizen science.



That's not to say that it isn't enjoyable of course. It was a wonderful learning experience with a couple of great surprises here and there like the Red-tailed Hawk we saw shown in the pictures above.


In case you haven't noticed I have a deep fondness for raptors and could search for them all day if allowed. Oh sure, I love warblers, woodpeckers, gulls and shorebirds, but there is something about a raptor that captivates me and leaves me transfixed as I observe it. I think its because birds of prey are the epitome to me of wild and untamed which I appreciate in a world that dictates perfection and self-discipline on a daily basis.



Anyhow, Alan and I were in a wetland like habitat with plenty of snags and cat tails in search of a nesting Red-bellied Woodpecker that Alan saw earlier this week as well as more evidence of an Eastern Bluebird nesting in a natural cavity. Suddenly I could hear some rustling in some brush that caused my ears to perk up as we searched for the two target birds we came to find. Alan saw this Red-tailed fly up onto a snag and proceed to have breakfast right in front of our startled eyes.

I couldn't get any decent shots of that as it had its back to us, but it did indeed see us and didn't seem threatened by our presence what so ever so I decided to maneuver my way through swampy water and branches to get a better angle of him with the sun in my favor.

We were able to get within 15 feet of this hawk and all it did was stare at us on occasion as it preened itself and relaxed a little after its snack.

Definitely one of my most memorable birding experiences and one that will last forever in my mind.


Preening and perching!


There were also quite a few Indigo Buntings at both blocks we went to. Such gorgeous birds but ones I find hard to photograph due to the fact that they are almost entirely the color blue so it's hard to get a good contrast on them.

Since we were there for evidence of breeding we kept our eyes and our ears open for any signs of evidence including a small flock of approx. 6 Bobolinks who were all in a hay field mingled in together with food being carried in their bills. This would equal a confirmed for an atlas code. Other birds seen carrying food included Pine Warblers and Black-capped Chickadees.


A blurry shot of other Bobolink carrying food.



A Red-bellied woodpecker at its nest cavity.


A Black and White Warbler which was a welcome sight for me because it appears as if they have been in hiding the past few weeks. I saw my first one last evening and then another one today.



And finally a confirmed nesting cavity of the Hairy Woodpecker. We could hear the nestlings begging (boy are they loud!), so we decided to stick around for a while to see if we could see one of the parents bring food for their hungry young. We stuck around for a while but the parents were nowhere to be found so we ventured on just in case they were not going to the nest because of us being there.

I will be doing more citizen science tomorrow for a breeding survey at Wachusett Meadows. Who ever knew science could be so much fun. ;o). Take care all.

16 comments:

Carol said...

I like the raptors also. The look on the Hawk's face is wonderful. They always look so disgusted that we had the nerve to intrude. They are probably right.

www.riverwildlife.blogspot.com

Mildred said...

I think these photos are the best! What an amazing day you have had.

Ratty said...

Raptors are some of the most interesting birds. I would love to be able to see more raptors up close. I saw several last year, but recently nothing.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

That hawk was really giving you the EYE, wasn't he???? BUT--he obviously wasn't afraid of you. Wonder if he had a nest nearby --and was protecting it????

Glad you are doing the atlasing in addition to enjoying seeing so many birds. Have fun tomorrow.
Hugs,
Betsy

Kallen305 said...

Carol, I think hawks have some of the most distinguished expressions out there, even the ones where they look disgusted. HA! One thing I have noticed about Red-tailed is they are not that weary of humans. I study my birds and am starting to learn how close I can get to one. If they look at all uncomortable, I back off to give them their space. Obviously I keep my distance on nesting or birds feeding their young but many of the other birds don't seem to mind a fairly close human presence as I really believe they are often as curious of us as we are of them. Of coure, I would NEVER try this with a Northern Goshawk, one of my raptor dreams, but the red-taileds seem rather tame.

Mildred, I was rather pleased with my pictures. I really wanted to portray the beauty in that hawks face which wasn't that difficult to do because you can't miss it.

Ratty, many raptors are in the middle of feeding their young so are in hiding. Keep your eyes open this fall when they start migrating. Have your camera with you at all times just in case. ;o) HA

Yes, Betsy, he was giving me the hairy eyeball for sure. But in the middle of it he would preen, put his face toward the sun, etc. Such an amazing creature the Red-tailed Hawk is.

The Early Birder said...

Up close & personal with RT Hawk, now that would definitely get my heartbeat racing. Superb pics Kim.

Vickie said...

Priceless images of the red-tailed hawk. Those eyes! Amazing citizen science day.

Chris Petrak said...

I did 5 years of atlassing in Vermont, and this year I'm returning to many of the places I discovered during that time. Working on a BBA makes one a better bird. I learned to slow down, look, listen, wait. Some of my best birding experiences come when I remember those lessons. That's partly why I am doing more photography, because you just have to sit and wait. BTW great photos of the RTHA

Chris said...

Hi Kallen,
Wordless, simply wordless... The raptors shots are awesome!!! Gosh!

Deborah Godin said...

I hadn't heard of that activity, atlasing, thanks for the info! I love red-tails, too! They and Swainson's are my favorite hawks.

Steve said...

Fantastic Hawk pictures, you're so luck to have it pose for you.

Steve B said...

It can be very rewarding work, and also heartbreaking. I did breeding blocks in Boulder County and also way out in Eastern Colorado. Several years after I worked on the survey, the majority of one of my Boulder County blocks in Niwot was turned into track-row housing, feeding the housing bubble burst in the county. A lot of short grass prairie habitat and farm land was converted to ticky-tacky. At least I was able to document what was lost

A New England Life said...

Hey Kim! So this is where you were yesterday. We missed you on our Plum Island get together. Lot's of fun and laughs. Hopefully we'll get to do it again next year.

Looks like you had more luck than we did ; )

Is that hawk a little cross-eyed??? lol!

Sharon

Little Brown Job said...

Lovely images of the hawk Kallen.

dAwN said...

Kim, Your hawk photos are wonderful! I think some of your best!
I am very impressed...
Looks like you had another great birding day!

Amy said...

Kim, what an awesome experience with the Red-tailed! You never know what you'll find when you go out and experience nature. I'm glad your citizen scientist work was a success, and fun too. We did a couple of nightjar/owl surveys this spring and didn't find too much - although negative data is also useful, just not as fun. ;)

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