Monday, June 11, 2012

Backyard Bird Photos and other "Stuff"

I decided to stay fairly local Sunday given the fact I indulged in a bit too much summer ale the evening prior  watching the Chimney Swifts.  I blame it all on Neil Young and the warm summer evening as both go so well with  ice cold beer.  I'd awaken early, but the thought of chasing didn't appeal to me and I find the best thing for a hangover, even slight is to sweat it out so off I went to the Westborough WMA to do just that.

Recently fledged Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles would be out in full force as well as this Hooded Merganser above.  I'd do about 4 miles and call it a day but did get some notable birds including both the Willow and Alder Flycatcher and an Ovenbird which was nice as they're not as vocal as they were in May.  The regulars would be out of course and I was impressed with the level of song there vs. what I had at Wachusett the day before.  I'd then head to Sueasco but could only handle less than a mile of that before I rushed back to my car due to many dog walkers and I just didn't have the patience for that given my condition!

So I'd head back home for a hearty breakfast and see what the American Robins were up to.  Both mom an pop would be busy taking care of the youngins who were everywhere much to the parents exasperation.

Off to take care of another unruly fledgling, don't worry lad, I'll help you with that worm!

It wouldn't take long to realize something was amiss in Robin land due to the sharp chip notes coming from one and it would be then I'd realize the local Red-tailed Hawk was scanning the area for a late breakfast, but neither hare nor squirrel would be in sight so off it went to dine elsewhere.

My mullberry tree continues to be the hit of the neighborhood especially with the young robins who are always there it seems.

The Northern Cardinals have fledglings as well and could hear their call nearby and dad chipping in return and this is what I'd find.

Excuse me sir, has anyone ever told you it's not polite to talk with your bill full!
I have another pair of robins in the midst of nest building so would make sure I had enough twine in four inch strips for them to use.  I keep this handy all year for birds as it's a great way to find out where the birds are nesting as you can observe where they are taking the twine once they get it in their bill.  I'm looking forward to the Cedar Waxwings coming to take some as they appreciated the offer last year and it was so much fun watching them build their nest nearby.  The big knot you see in the middle is leftover biodegradable twine from last year and has no string attached.  Not sure if the birds would like it but figured I'd offer just in case!

Of course there are other things in my yard besides birds including this lovely dragonfly above.  Thinking I may need to take my inner geek to a whole new level and get a field guide for them as I'm woefully ignorant on who is who and what is what.
The flowers are starting to bloom including the one above which is a favorite of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Normally the Bee Balm blooms within the same time which is another hummingbird favorite but not this year with the weird weather we've been having.

The Evening Primrose is starting to open which is a favorite due to how long they remain in bloom.

A favorite of the honey bees which are sage blossoms that actually taste fantastic when cooked.  I harvest and dry the flowers as well as the herb for Thanksgiving stuffing another other comfort foods for Autumn and Winter eating.  I wish I could say the same for the lavender which is another honey bee preference that I also dry for herbs de provence for winter roasted chicken so hoping it rebounds as I'm all out of last years stock.

And lastly the Milkweed that's just starting to open.  I love the smell of my yard when these beauties are in bloom.

After lounging about in the yard I was feeling restless so decided to get out on the bike with my binnoculars and camera for a little late afternoon birding.  It's something I've been apprehensive about as I wasn't sure how I'd do but now that migration is done, it's not like I'm stopping every minute to check out a new bird so off I went.

My biggest concern with birding and biking is what does one do with one's bike when one needs to pish or bush whack- but that was easily solved and just rested it against the over growth in a safe location!  Tried to listen for the Orchard Oriole in my spot and once again a no go so headed to the cemetery which is a great place to ride your bike without fear of getting hit by a car or bombarded by people.

The sun would be out and it would be toasty and I'd see this American Crow chilling by itself on top of a snag in the middle of the Blackstone River trying to keep cool.

The shaggy looking throat would catch my eye as it's common with ravens but knew by size it wasn't, but everything about the crow threw me off.

1.  It was by itself and crows normally travel in groups.
2.  I was fairly close by and it didn't move which has been my experience with Fish Crows.
3.  The bill looked small
4.  It was at the river which is a inland Fish Crow favorite spot
5. The sun was shining in such a way the bird appeared glossy.

I'd spend a considerable amount of time begging it to call, but didn't egg it on as it was so hot and finally I'd hear it........."CAW-CAW-CAW".  Ha!  Just as I thought....Bummer as it would have been nice to get my first FOY bird on my bike.

I was enjoying myself so much I'd do a few loops around the cemetery and then I'd hear a call that sounded like an Eastern Wood-pewee.  A pewee here? I'd wonder, next would be what sounded like the beginning notes of a Field Sparrow and realize I was being fooled by a Northern Mockingbird of course!

I'd get off my bike and follow the noise to realize he was across the train tracks so that ruined my plan to record him, so I just listened to his sequence in between a couple of bushes with padded bike shorts, a bike helmet and bins in tow and hoped no one saw me as I probably looked weird as you don't see that often I'm guessing.

Scarlet Tanager-chickbur
Carolina Wren
Northern Cardinal
Belted Kingfisher
The Pewee again
And not only the Blue Jays, jay call, but their soft call as well and he'd do it back to back!
Alarm clock like call
Eastern Phoebe

And a few others thrown in for good measure.  It is said that the higher a mockingbird's vocabulary, the more appealing he is to the ladies as it shows experience and proves he's a wise choice for nesting.  I don't know if he was charming any lady mockingbirds, but his vocal gymnastics had me captivated as I'd never heard a mocker with a vocabulary as impressive as his!  I'm guessing he's already paired up but still likes to reaffirm his turf as he's not a young mockingbird I'm almost certain.

Next it was off to the Millbury Bike Path as it felt so good to be out on my bike again and didn't want to stop so figured I'd use it as an excuse to look for an American Black Duck knowing the odds were close to null.

And what you see above folks is the most prime piece of waterfowl real estate along the Millbury bike path. Seriously, the Mallards must have been bullshit the Canada Geese got there first as they were just starting to cruise down the river  for a little R&R.  No American Black Duck of course as what respectable, distinguished duck would he be hanging out with that crew!

And since I was on a losing streak, I figured I'd continue and head up to the highest part of the bike path to see if I could spot a Black Vulture in the area Alan had found one a couple years back.  I've been complaining to myself a lot lately about my binoculars but would be amazed at how much of the land fill I could see with them.  No Black Vulture or even Turkey Vultures for that matter, but I did see an American Crow being chased off by what appeared to be a Common Grackle which is pretty amazing considering the distance.

Take care all.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Sounds like a nice day staying local...sometimes those can be the best days.


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