Remember our feathered friends during the heat wave

With temperatures forecasted to be in the mid-nineties, please remember to have a supply of fresh water for the birds.

Now is a good time to clean out your birdbaths, removing algae and debris. (This should be done every few days regardless of the weather.) If possible, try to place your birdbath where shade will be during the hottest part of the day.

If you do not have a birdbath, you can make one cheaply. Purchase a large plastic flower pot drip saucer. I would suggest one with a diameter of at least 12″. Level an area in your yard somewhere where shade will be during the hottest part of the day. Place the plastic saucer on the leveled area and fill with fresh cool water, not more than 3″ deep. I suggest changing the water daily!

A few stones places in the middle of the plastic saucer will give smaller birds a place to perch, as they do not like the deeper water.

Try to stay away from glazed crock-type flower pot drip saucers. They are slippery and birds can slip and injure themselves or fall in the water and possibly drown. The plastic saucers has enough of a rough surface for [tag]birds[/tag] to safely perch.

There is nothing like watching birds drink and/or bathe in a birdbath, no mater what type you have!

Try to stay cool and safe, and as always…. Happy [tag]Birding[/tag]!!!!

Sunday Morning Birding

Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Blue Herons and Double-Crested CormorantsA clear blue sky and a beautiful sunrise greeted us this morning at the [tag]Rachael Carson Wildlife Refuge[/tag] near [tag]Biddeford Pool[/tag], [tag]Maine[/tag].

Activity among the Great and [tag]Snowy Egrets[/tag], [tag]Blue Herons[/tag], and [tag]Double-Crested Cormorants[/tag] was heavy., and , and  

Flights and landings persisted continuously at a pool in the marsh most of the morning.

Egret fledglings could be seen feeding with the adults and a lone Blue Heron fledgling was seen away from the group.

The Double-Crested Cormorants fed along side all the others, at times spreading their wings looking like the pre-historic creatures that they are.

Cedar Waxwing[tag]Cedar Waxwings[/tag] were also prevalent. I was blessed to have gotten a picture of one in all its glory!

Be sure to check out our [tag]Birding Gallery[/tag] for a much larger picture than the one to the right.

As you can see near the bottom of the picture, berries are ripe, and they were being eaten by the Cedar Waxwings. Groups of 5-7 birds would land in an area and eat the berries. As we watched, a lone Cedar Waxwing landed atop a bush. Even with our close proximity to it, it allowed me to get off several shots from my camera.This shot is as is, except for some cropping I did for the article. No post-processing was done!

If all birds allowed this close of an approach, I would be one happy [tag]birder[/tag]! But most [tag]birds[/tag] don’t allow this close of an encounter. For that reason, we have decided to purchase a [tag]spotting scope[/tag]. (Something I wish we would have done along time ago!)

We have decided on the Celestron 80mm Ultima ED Spotting Scope. This scope will allow us to get close and personal with wildlife of all kinds, and it allows the attachment of a digital camera with an optional fitting. We expect to receive the scope sometime around the middle of August, and hopefully have some pictures using this outfit posted to the Birding Gallery during fall migration.

Semi-Palmated Plover

 I am always amazed at how birds can blend in with their surroundings.

This picture of a [tag]Semi-Palmated Plover[/tag] was taken on a small rocky beach at the refuge. I waited patiently for this small bird to get into some light colored sand so I could find him through my camera. When the a group of them were in the stones and rocks, they were nearly impossible to find through the view finder!

I love watching these birds along the surf of a beach, running away from the waves and then following the waves back to find food washed ashore before the next wave comes crashing in. All told, approx. 30 Semi-Palmated Plovers were seen on the beach.

ChipmunkAt the end of our Sunday morning journey, we found ourselves taking a walk on Ocean Avenue in Biddeford Pool.

While walking back to the car, we heard a sharp chipping sound and looked around for the culprit.

Directly in front of us, on a big rock among the sea roses, was a [tag]chipmunk[/tag] trying to hide from us.

I snapped several pictures as my wife talked to it. The chipmunk just sat there as if he thought that he was invisible, not moving at all. After we had passed several yards behind it, he finally deserted the rock and skittered across the street, more than likely looking for a spot away from the human intruders.

 

ChipmunkAll told, much [tag]wildlife[/tag] was seen this morning. Even a doe and a fawn out in the marsh.

Many species of [tag]butterflies[/tag] were seen at the marsh along with the complimentary mosquitoes, deer flies and green heads.

Here is my listing of birds and wildlife seen this morning:

  • Black Duck w/chicks
  • Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Least Tern
  • Tree Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Willet w/chicks
  • Semi-Palmated Plover
  • Double-Crested Cormorant
  • Song Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Kingbird
  • Deer: doe w/fawn
  • Chipmunk

 That’s it for now. Be safe and happy [tag]birding[/tag]!

 

 

 

Photos added to the Birding Gallery

The Birding Gallery has been updated with pictures. One of the latest images uploaded is shown below.

[[Image:Common Birds/brown_thrasher.jpg|center|300|300|A Brown Thrasher looksout from a wire at the Rachael Carson national Wildlife Refuge near Biddeford Pool, Maine.]]

Check back often for more gallery updates!

Birding Software

Yesterday, I purchased some birding software online called Aves Bird Watcher. Check the site out and read all about it. Cost is $29.99 and includes free upgrades for life.

I needed a journal type software to keep a record of birds I have seen, and with parameters such as adding pictures, weather conditions, location, habitat, notes, etc. This software has all of this and more! It even includes a voice/sound recorder, and it not only accepts images, but video too!

It will even make the pages of your journal or its record of birds into HTML documents to upload to your website, such as this database page of the American Bittern, and a page about a sighting of the American Bittern.

There are other software programs out there that do much more and have better databases of birds, but for now, this was my choice.

Was it a snake or an eel?

Seems to be some debate as to whether the Great Egret was eating a snake or an eel in this post. I have received comments on both this site and via email as to what others think it was. It is basically split with 15 thinking northern water snake and 14 thinking it was an eel.

I have enhanced and zoomed into the subject as best as possible, but because of the foggy conditions of that morning, I can only do so much.

Here are some more pictures that I worked with to the best of my ability. Please post any comments that you have at the end of this article under “Leave a passing comment »”.

Snake or Eel?Snake or Eel?

Birding Gallery Added

I have added a photo gallery to Birding In Maine. To access it, simply click on “Birding Gallery” on the left side of the page under “Pages“.

At this point, only a few pictures are in the birding gallery, but I have many pictures and as time permits, I will upload them on a daily basis.

I have comments enabled for the each picture in the gallery, so be sure to let me know what you think about them!

Don’t forget that once you are at the medium-sized image, click on it for full size. I have resized the full-sized images so that they load fairly quickly, most are less than 1mb.

Great Egret vs. Snake

Going birdwatching on a day so foggy that you can barely see 50 feet, usually is not very productive, but this morning had a surprise in store for us not more than 20 feet away!

Great Egret eat a snake

While enjoying our Saturday morning coffee and birdwatching ritual at the Rachael Carson National Wildlife Refuge near Biddeford Pool, Maine, my wife and I were about to call it quits because visibility was terrible at best.

Fog had set in overnight, and it was being stubborn and not burning off. Visibility was less than fifty feet at best. Binoculars were useless in the thick pea soup.

Just as I was beginning to back out of a spot I had parked in, my wife saw a Great Egret step over a small rise in the marsh not more than 20 feet in front of us.

The Egret was stabbing its long bill into something, not in the water, but in the grass.

Suddenly, the Egret rose with a snake in its mouth! I could not identify the type of snake because of fog, but I can assure you it was at least 3 feet long! Great Egret eats a snake

These pictures are proof… NEVER leave home without your camera! Although these images are fuzzy at best because of fog, I still was able to capture images that you just don’t see too often in life.

The battle between Egret and snake lasted approx 5 minutes. At times, the snake tried to escape by wrapping itself around the head and bill of the egret. The snake would then fall to the ground, but the Egret was quicker!

I don’t want to spare any details, so if you are squeamish, skip this paragraph! As the Egret tried to swallow the snake, the snake would crawl back out, fall to the ground, only to be picked up again and again.

But as all good things must end, the Egret finally swallowed the snake whole! You could see the bulge in the Egrets throat as it struggle to swallow 3 feet of snake!

Great Egret eats a snake

In this picture, you can see the bulge in its neck! This was after the Great Egret took a drink of water to wash it down.

Nature at work! We love seeing things as they are meant to be. Who knows, maybe the next time the snake will win.

Those who know me can relate to this, I still thought there was more I should have done… like why didn’t I have the camcorder in the car!

I can guarantee you this, video will be forthcoming of things like this in the future. Just like the popular commercial says, “Don’t leave home without it!”

Be safe and happy birding folks!