Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Nighthawking" and This & That

Picture of a Common Nighthawk taken tonight at the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury. There were three of us this evening including Alan and a friend of his (ironically enough the three of us were the only three in Millbury to do the Great Backyard Bird Count for our town this year). I remember looking at the data at that time and wondering who the other birders were in my town as I often found myself birding alone and never saw anyone else out there as crazy as myself birding in below freezing weather. Little did I know at the time that we would all join forces and become good friends to boot!
This was the second time I did my nighthawking with binoculars and it is amazing how much you can see with the proper optics! I am comfortable enough with the bins now so I can scan the sky going left to right and then right to left looking for any activity. Right the minute I see a bird I zoom in on it to see if it looks or behaves like a nighthawk, many times the bird is still too far away for a positive ID so Alan will locate it on his scope and make the final ID.
Its a great way to get out there and enjoy the night while doing your part for "Citizen Science". For those of you in the Millbury area who are interested in participating you can join us over near Target. Email me if you have any other questions.We had a full moon tonight as you can see in the photo above.
An attempted digiscope shot.
Puffy pink clouds taken this past Sunday while "nighthawking" We had 40 that night and while that may not be impressive to most, it certainly was to me after our dismal 7-14 we had before this.
A shot of the Powerlines in Millbury that is my favorite place to trail run. Its just hills filled with powerlines and not much else which makes for some very peaceful running.
I got there this morning at 5:40 with a goal of making it to the top of the highest hill for sunrise. I was off by a little but wasn't disappointed. The run was perfect this morning as It was cool enough for fleece (my favorite material in the world seriously). So glad I can wear it again, so comfy!. It was so quiet during that time that all you could hear were my feet hitting the gravel and my quickened breath as I started up the hill. Suddenly I could hear a snort of some kind and a male deer was eating over near the woods. I just sat there for a moment and stared as he stared back and he finally made a dash for the woods. Pictures would have been impossible as the sky was still inky black. As I made my way toward the top of the hill, I could see American Robins and Catbirds dash out of their roosting places for the night, waiting to start their day. You know fall is near when you are up before the robins!!!! One of the best runs I have had in a while and will be doing it more often to take advantage of what little light we still have in the mornings before work.
A rainbow taken two Sundays ago. I couldn't get the whole thing, but you get the idea I'm sure! ;-)
A baby squirrel a friend of mine wanted me to take a picture of to send to a wildlife rehabilitator. She found this squirrel in her yard and needed pics for the rehabilitator to determine its age. This squirrel will have to be taken care of by humans until next spring as it will not be able to survive the winter because it doesn't have a parent to teach it proper survival skills. The rehabilitator will most likely have an adult squirrel at the premises which he/she will introduce this squirrel too in hopes that it doesn't become too dependent on humans.
I caught these two American Crows pecking each other while at the intersection of the mall! Discreet they were not!
A picture of a Belted Kingfisher taken at the Millbury Bike Path Saturday morning in the rain. I went running there that morning and was the only person there. It was fabulous!
Juvenile Great-blue Heron. I actually find the juvies more photogenic than the adults. Perhaps it's because they don't mind sitting still. Whatever it is, they sure are handsome!

A flock of at least 500 (I am guessing more than 750, if I counted them on the other wire not in this picture) European Starlings. They were all on this wire at about 3:15 PM last Friday. Don't know what they were doing as I am guessing it was too early in the day to roost. Maybe they were just meeting up early that's all. Sadly proof that breeding was indeed more than successful for this breed of bird and probably at the dismay of other birds. Oh well, it makes good raptor food that's for sure! ;-)
Poison Sumac picture taken during a run on Friday. I have noticed a ton of berry bushes on the power line trails. Many are late fall and winter berries so I have found a few new places to bird this winter!
While running I could hear the faint call of a Hawk which always makes me stop dead in my tracks. I look up in the sky to see two faint birds gliding the thermals and the picture above is what I see. Perhaps a Cooper's Hawk and a Turkey Vulture hanging out together it seemed. ETA: I am looking at this photo in a little more detail before work and this TV looks very weird to me. I assumed it was because it was molting but will use this as an opportunity to use my new "Hawks from Every Angle" book just to be sure. Seriously, check out the wings of this bird and the light gray to the left and the the right of the bird right at the beginning of the wings. Hmmmmm, research during breakfast this morning! ;-). Comments welcome.
Lastly a picture of a Cedar Waxwing taken during nighthawking last Thursday.

Take care everyone


Kelly said...

...that baby squirrel is adorable! Hope he does well. Love the other photos as well...

MaineBirder said...

Great photos as always Kim! Love the photo of the amorous Crows and of the baby squirrel.

Anonymous said...

I thought the photos were all excellent. I liked the nighhawks especially, and the baby squirrel picture. Like the others I hope he does well.

Years ago I used to work out of doors and could hear the nighthawks dive to earth and make the ruffling feather sound when they pulled out of the dives. They used to nest in the spouting of this old barn with a tin roof.

I have not seen them or any of their kind in years. I miss their sounds and watching them fly. They really love flying.

Abraham Lincoln

Steve said...

Excellent photos Kim. I love the Waxwing. Ours don't arrive 'till January.

Richard King said...

Nice photos and a nice blog! I'm glad I came across it.

Steve B said...

Nighthawks always remind me of my Colorado mountain home. We had them booming over our house all of the time. I new spring arived when I heard them call and the distintive booming sound they make when they do territorial dispalays. My next thought comes from a victory I had yesterday. After 30 years of bird photography, I ~finally~ got a good picture of a Belted Kingfisher!

Tom Pirro said...

Hi Kim,
To my eye, the large raptor appears to be a Bald Eagle, based on the whitish lining on the under wing "pits", large head and tail shape and markings. Perhpas "heading" into its 2nd year, as i don;y belive a hatch year bird would be molting flight feathers. I believe you are correct on the other bird being a "Coop" large headed and longish roundish tail.

Larry said...

I have to agree with Tom, the two birds together are almost certainly a Coopers and a Bald Eagle...good sighting.

Kim said...

Hi all, just checking in from Maine. The weather is gorgeous and will have a ton of pics.

Thanks for the ID Tom! I was looking at my "Hawks from Every Angle" book and I kept going to the Golden Eagle as I thought it the bird looked similar. I just looked at the Bald Eagle pictures and can see the similarities. Very cool!


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