Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fragile Forktail for June Photo-a-Day

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
I was able to id this particular damselfly by the "exclamation point" stripe on the thorax.

So this will be my last post for a few days. As you are reading this, I am in Maine on vacation, hopefully seeing and photographing birds, dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, moose, and whatever else puts itself before my lens. (And hopefully it's not raining!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly #44

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadenis)

To see some great bird photos from around the world, check out:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Widow Skimmer for June Photo-a-Day

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tree Swallow Fledglings for June Photo-a-Day

With barely a bill to speak of yet...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Red-tailed Hawk for June Photo-a-Day

When I set this challenge to myself to post at least one photo a day for the month, I (with a little hesitation) thought to myself "I've taken a lot of photos, I should be able to do this." And I do have quite a few photos, but honestly, it has been pretty challenging to find at least one photo each day that I think people might find interesting - and especially one that I haven't posted before. Take this red-tail for instance. I'm pretty sure that I have not posted it yet, but I had to think long and hard over whether or not I did. (and I'm still not 100% sure, but I can't seem to find it in posts from the time when I took it) I also thought that I'd get out birding a lot more this month. Unfortunately, with the weather the way it's been, we really haven't been out as much, so my June photos haven't been racking up the way they'd been for the previous few months.

Special props go to Steve Ingraham who does this EVERY day (not just in June!) at his Pic of the Day site.

Anyway, just four more days to go (and for 3 of those days I'll be away on vacation) so I'm going to have to buckle down tonight or tomorrow and decide on what they are going to be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bobcat for June Photo-a-Day

I digiscoped this beautiful cat in Madera Canyon, southeast of Tucson, AZ back in 2006. Pamela and I had been hiking and birding around the area, when we heard the afternoon thunderstorms rolling in, so we were heading back to either the car (or at least shelter if we couldn't make it to the car before the rain came). Suddenly Pamela says "I think I just saw a cat" and sure enough a few hundred yards away, this bobcat was trotting along. Thankfully it stopped for a few moments, allowing me to snap off a few quick photos before continuing on it's way and essentially disappearing before our eyes.

It delayed us for just enough time for us to NOT get to the car or shelter before the rain came.

Worth it. Totally worth it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 6/24/09

Get Wordless over at Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Tanager for June Photo-a-Day

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly #43

Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)

It has been a very slow week for me bird-wise. It's been raining a lot here in New England, and I've not been able to get out with the camera as much as I'd like. So, of course, I am day-dreaming about other places, and birds we don't see here. These Hooded Orioles were photograhed a the famous feeders at Neal's Lodges in Concan, TX.

To see some great bird photos from around the world, check out:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Skimming Bluet for June Photo-a-Day

Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum)

It seems inevitable to me, that anybody who develops an interest in birds, also gains a greater appreciation for the rest of the natural world around them. After all, birds are just a piece of the eco-puzzle, and to understand them better, you really need to know more about the world they inhabit. I'm not saying that all birders must become interested in other things - but those that go beyond just looking at the birds (and there is nothing wrong with that) will eventually find the other members of the ecosystem interesting too. As I have become more and more interested in what birds do, why they do it, etc, my interest in the rest of the natural world has grown too. No where is this more evident to me than in my growing interest in dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, moths, and various bugs. I know several birders that have been interested in dragons and damsels for a while now, but until this past year I liked seeing them go by, and maybe was able to identify one or two of the easier ones. Now I am making a much more concerted effort to photograph and try to identify them - and have even started to consider purchasing a good dragonfly net to help get a closer look at some of those ones that just won't seem to sit still for more than a second.

Has you interest in birds led to any other new hobbies?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Red-eared Slider for June Photo-a-Day

Another photo from the last time I was in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Still dreaming about going back in Novemeber.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Green Jay for June Photo-a-day

Although this digi-binned photo doesn't show all the wonderful gaudy colors which places this beautiful bird high on many a birder's 'need to see' list (and rightly so) I feel that it certainly conveys their attitude.
I took this photo on my first trip to the Rio Grande Valley in November 2005. My friend Kurk and I flew down for a few quick days of birding, and we just happened to be there at the same time as the Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival, although we didn't participate. I've been intrigued by the festival ever since that time though, and this year it looks like Pam and I are going to go.

I've been thinking about it quite a bit latey, because the web site for the festival has been recently updated, and they've developed a twitter and a facebook presence.

Have you been? Any suggestions on which trips you thought were best?
Are you planning on going this year?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly #42

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Wow - I can't believe that this is the first week, that I forgot to post this on Monday!
Must've had something to do with the great weekend (followed by Monday illness.)

To see some great bird photos from around the world, check out:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moose for June Photo-a-day

Photographed in Denali National Park (on one of the few days when it stopped raining for a little while on our honeymoon!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beaverpond Clubtail for June Photo-a-day

Male Beaverpond Clubtail (Gomphus borealis)

Photographed a few weeks ago at Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire

Monday, June 15, 2009

Birders who Blog, Tweet, & Chirp Field Trip

On Saturday we had a birding fled trip of a different sort. A group of us who blog, and/or use twitter and chirptracker got together to meet face-to-face and bird for the day. The idea was proffered by Dawn, who is currently in Massachusetts. Via twitter I had invited Dawn an her husband Jeff to go birding when their travels brought them to New England. A few weeks ago, she mentioned the idea of gathering a group of birders who blog, twitter and chirp. We started mentioning it on our blogs, twitter, chirptracker and on Facebook and before you knew it, we had about another dozen people interested in joining us - some from as far south as New Jersey (Bev) and as far north as Maine (John).

The first arrivals

We planned to meet at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge visitor's center at 8am. (Which is across the street from the Mass Audubon Visitors center - a bit confusing for those who had not been before - a mistake on my part!) A few photos were taken and we introduced ourselves - both by real names and blogs, twitternames etc. Dawn had the foresight to bring name labels, which helped to match names to faces for a little while - remember this is the first time that most of us had ever met face-to-face, and sometimes those little photos and avatars are difficult to relate to a real person. It was evident right from the start that the group was going to get on wonderfully. Everybody was talkative and animated, chatting about each other's blog posts, what software they used, comparing cameras, etc. After a little while, we rounded up the troops, figured out carpooling and headed to the refuge.

Unfortunately, we started the day by losing one of our group. Andy got an early start, only to have a flat when he got to the meeting place, and had to have his car brought to the Saturn dealership to have it fixed. By the time it was done, he didn't have enough time to rejoin the group. (Just one more reason to do this again!)

The first stop was at Lot 1, where we watched and photographed the Purple Martins at the boxes that are there, while Laura broke out her homemade cranberry-blueberry bread that she had just baked that morning. (mmmmmm)

We then made a quick stop at the ocean to see what could be seen from there, and where I caught up with Janet, who was at her post as a volunteer Plover Warden on the refuge. She helps to make sure that the area remains safe for the threatened Piping Plovers who use the beach area for nesting. From this spot, the plovers are quite difficult to see, and she mentioned that she'd not heard yet that the parking lots at the south end of the refuge were full, and suggested we head down there before they did, as there was a fishing program going on that day. Heeding her advice, we made plans to catch up with her when her shift was over, and carpooled to the south end of the refuge to Sandy Point. Along the way, we spotted several of the expected birds of the refuge at this time of the year (just past migration) including Yellow and Common Yellowthroat Warblers, Eastern Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Greater Yellowlegs, Great and Snowy Egrets, etc.

Sandy Point is a public beach just beyond the refuge boundary, and between the fishing program and the beach-goers (especially after several days of drizzly cool weather) there was not a parking spot to be had, so we headed back to the Hellcat Marsh area, where we would be able to get out of the cars, and interact more.
We walked the boardwalk through the marsh in hopes of seeing Virginia Rail (where Amanda had seen a mother with chicks earlier in the week) but today remained hidden. A few in the group heard a few short clicks which we interpreted as mama rail calling her chicks in close to avoid the large group of pink monkeys walking the boardwalk. The Marsh Wrens though were less shy and popped out and "sang" for us a bit. A Red-winged Blackbird also perched out on a reed and repeated let us know that we were in his area, with incessant "conk-la-ree" calls.

In the flattened reeds we spotted a few pairs of Gadwall, and we also heard many (and spotted a few) Willow Flycatchers along the way. We worked our way around the boardwalk for a while, then headed back to walk up dyke and look for Least Bittern. While searching I received a call from Lauren to let me know that she had finished up doing her rounds in New Hampshire and would be joining us shortly. It was getting closer to the time where we needed to meet with Janet also - although the group was still far from heading back to the north end of the refuge. Everybody was having such a great time talking and catching up with each other, we were moving at a much slower pace than if we were seeing a lot of migratory birds! So after Lauren caught up with us, I headed off to meet with Janet and rejoin the group.

Once we got back, we learned that the group had spotted a Least Bittern - excellent! It was also a good time to try a get a group photo.

Front left to right: Jeff , Bev, Lauren (Lowie)
Second row left to right: Catie, Dawn, Sharon, Janet, Steve
Third row left to right: Amanda, John, Laura, Pamela, Mark, Dan

A little past noon, a few of our group needed to move on with the rest of their days. The rest of us continued north along the refuge. Our next stop was at the North Pool Overlook where we were treated to an up-close (within a few feet) and personal concert from a Savannah Sparrow. I believe this is the same bird I have photographed and posted about earlier - and it was great to be able to share it with this group of bloggers and photographers. This is also a great spot for Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks. At the "Wardens" our next stop, a perched up Eastern Kingbird gave us nice looks as well as the nesting Barn Swallows.

Our last stop on the refuge was at the Salt Pannes, where we did finally spot a few Common Terns, and a few cars picked up a few shorebirds - including a White-rumped Sandpiper. At this point a few more participants needed to peel off (Dan's son was sick, and he didn't want to be away for too long, and Janet was struggling to stay on her feet after staying up late for the Sox game before working the refuge early in the am)

The next stop for the rest of the group was for lunch at the Courtyard restaurant in Newburyport for roast beef sandwiches (and Dunkin'Donuts for those needing a caffeine fix) . Then we headed north to New Hampshire, following Lauren to one of the Mississippi Kite nest sites, where one bird was on a nest. We spent some time in the area, hoping that we'd spy a second bird flying in the area, but we just had to be satisfied with the one. Aw, shucks. Then John and his wife, as well as Catie and her boyfriend had to get going.

Then we were off to Chapman's Landing for sharp-tailed sparrows. There were plenty of Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows and a few Nelson's which gave us some comparative (and occasionally confusing) views. Lauren had to leave as she was heading much further north in New Hampshire to catch-up and camp-out with friends. Before the rest of the group left, we had a Virginia Rail calling within 10' of us, but it remained hidden in the reeds.

At this point our group that had reached 16 was down to 8. We made one last stop while still in New Hampshire for Upland Sandpipers at Pease. Upon arriving at the airport, we found an adult Raven feeding fledglings. The Upland Sandpipers were there, but so far away as to be simply distant specks in the spotting scopes - hardly a satisfactory view. Nevertheless, everybody seemed to be happy with the way the day had gone. As dusk settled, we decided to finish up the day with another meal - why not, friends always enjoy a meal together. Since we needed to head back to Newburyport anyway to where some cars were still parked, we decided to have a meal at Andaman Thai in Newburyport. We toasted the day, and more so - new friends.

Once again I'd like to thank everybody that came along and made it such a wonderful day:
Dawn & Jeff from Dawn's Bloggy Blog
Bev from Behind the Bins
John from Birding Maine
Sharon from A New England Life
Catie from Birding Girl
Janet from The Plover Warden Diaries
Steve from Shooting My Universe
Amanda from The Fledgling Birder
Lauren (Lowie)from Worn Field Guide Blog
Laura from The Interstitial Spaces
Mark from Strack16 Blog
Dan from Nature Observances by Forestal

Please be sure to check the blogs of these great writters and photographers to see their photos and get their takes on the day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Song Sparrow for June Photo-a-day

Today's post is just a simple Song Sparrow, as I don't have the time to go into a full post yet about Saturday's outing with all the Birders who Blog,Tweet, and Chirp. (I just got in from running some errands and as much as I would prefer blog about how wonderful it was to meet with everyone, I need to head to work in a few minutes. So for the moment, just take my word for it - it was a great day!!)
I expect to be able to put together a full post tomorrow - hopefully with a few photos.
I didn't take quite as many as our participants, many of which are not only great bloggers but excellent photographers, and I expect that once everybody has recovered, we'll see some great posts over the next few days - and I'll be sure to post links to them as I see them.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

White Admiral for June Photo-a-day

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)

I'm a little late today posting a pic for the "photo-a-day" challenge that I have given to myself.

BUT, I've got a good reason. Today I had the pleasure of meeting about 16 other bloggers/tweeters/chirpers, and we spent the dy birding and socializing, sharing information, stories, meals and drinks. It was a fantastic day, and I look forward to blogging a bit more about it in the next day or so...

But for the moment- I'm exhausted and heading to bed. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mississippi Kite for June Photo-a-Day

Keeping with the theme of birds we might see this weekend, (when we have our field trip for Birders who Blog, Tweet, and Chirp) I am posting some photos that I took last year of one of the Mississippi Kites that were nesting in Newmarket, NH. Hopefully after Saturday, I'll have some new (and better) photos to post of this beautiful bird.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Birders who Blog Chirp and Tweet Field Trip

is happening this Saturday, June 13th. It should prove to be an exciting day meeting new friends (or rather meeting friends face-to-face for the first time), with good birds, and hopefully good weather.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this enough yet, but thanks to Dawn for the idea and really kick-starting this event!

If you haven't heard about this, details can be found here, and here.

Please let me know if you're interested in joining, but even if it is too much to ask you decide, you can just join us on Saturday. All you have to do is meet us at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitors Center at 8:00am

After birding the refuge for a few hours, and a break for lunch, we'll be heading a little north over the NH border for little while as well.

For those that are interested, we also have two potential trip extensions:
On Sunday morning I will plan on going to Mt. Auburn Cemetery to see what local nesting birds we can find there (and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.)
Alternately, Laurie is planning on going further north to see what boreal specialties she can turn up. (Potential for Bicknell's Thrush, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, etc)

Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you have a great weekend of birding.

(And I hope even more that you'll join us!)

Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow for June Photo-a-day

It's that time of the year when I am thinking about Ammodramus sparrows when I am along the coast in places like Plum Island. These photos of a Salthmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow are from last year. Hopefully this weekend, when our field trip of Birders who Blog, Tweet, and Chirp get together we will see both Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows as well as Seaside Sparrows.

Don't know about this field trip yet? Check out here and here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 6/10/2009

Chalk-fronted Corporal (Ladona julia) - female

Get Wordless over at Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Willow Flycatcher for June Photo-a-day

Willow Flycatchers are members of the Empidonax family, whose members are difficult to distinguish from each other. Environment is often a good clue, but the best way to narrow themto an individual species is by voice. Willlow Flycatchers supposedly say "Fitz-bew" - does it sound like that to you?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly #41

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)

On Sunday morning, I headed out for a short while specifically to try and get photos of these little guys. They nest at Great Meadows NWR in Concord and are relatively easy to spy, but I've found them much more difficult to get photos of - they never seem to stop moving!

To see some great bird photos from around the world, check out:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

American Redstart for June Photo-a-Day

About the only photos from about 8 hours of on-and-off birding from Saturday.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Great Blue Heron for June Photo-a-Day

Yesterday after work, I stopped by Horn Pond for a few minutes. The highlight of this short trip was a Great Blue Heron that was in one of the shallow streams.

I was ahead of him and since he was heading in my direction, I decided to just try to keep still and see how close he would come. He took his time, with that slow careful, steady gait that these stately birds are known for.

I don't have children, but I think I now know the frustration of parents that want to get a nice photo of their child and all that they do is make faces. (Yes, I was one of those children)

And just to prove it wasn't just a single shot that this "stately" bird decided to stick his tongue out at me:

Finally he had enough of "entertaining" me and headed off to find somebody else to amuse.