BPW: Baltimore Oriole

During the month of May, we will be preparing nectar feeders for Baltimore Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Although there is still a chance of cold and snow, it would be brief. Spring flowers will begin blooming, trees are starting to leaf and the first shovel full of earth is being turned in the garden.

Last year there were Baltimore Orioles nesting nearby. We could hear them singing every morning, but could not figure out where they were. Occassionally the pair would visit our nectar feeder and we even had a single visit by a male Orchard Oriole. This year, we will place several more feeders throughout the yard in hopes of attracting a nesting pair.

One of our favorite spots to see Orioles is Capisic Park in Portland. Owned by the city of Portland, it’s an 18-acre nature preserve on the banks of stream fed Capisic Pond, Portland ‘s largest freshwater pond. The park is open space with many flowering trees. Orchard and Baltimore Orioles nest here regularly. During spring Warbler migration, the park is included in our birding loop of Warbler fall out spots. It is our second stop after Evergreen Cemetary.

In my opinion, it is a sure sign of spring when the Orioles arrive. Summer is around the corner and the cold and gloomy days of winter are behind us. This photo was taken at Capisic Park in May of 2008.

 

Clicking a thumbnail will bring up a shadowbox with a larger view. Tip: hit f11 to open your browser to its fullest top to bottom size to view photos in fullest size possible.

Baltimore Oriole (male) | Capisic Park, Portland, Maine May 2008
Baltimore Oriole (male) | Capisic Park, Portland, Maine May 2008

 

Happy birding!

Skywatch Friday – Full Moon Sunset

Full Moon Sunset over Mifflintown, PA | Click for larger view
Full Moon Sunset over Mifflintown, PA | Click for larger view

 

Sunsets are beautiful, but when a full moon graces the sky along with it you may call it spectacular. This was the view one November evening when visiting family and friends in central Pennsylvania.

Full Beaver Moon – November: The name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

Skywatch Friday
Skywatch Friday

 

 

Yard birds from a blind

Ameristep Outhouse Blind | Click for larger view
Ameristep Outhouse Blind | Click for larger view

At first look of the photo on the left, some would think that a blind needs to be placed in more natural surroundings and not against a house. For the common birds that visit our yard, they could care less. (Ameristep Outhouse Blind)

I sat the portable blind up yesterday in an area of our yard that is free of snow which happens to be next to our house and 20 feet away from one of our feeder stations. As most of you know, I am off work on disability for the time being and when the weather is half decent I get stir crazy. The light-weight blind springs into shape effortlessly. Metal pin stakes, which push into the ground with your foot, keeps the blind from blowing away. Inside, a swivel chair with backrest gives a 360° view when needed and is above all, comfortable. When finished using it, it folds up and is stored in a backpack type bag.

After setting up, I left the blind for an hour so the birds could get used to it. It didn’t even take that long. As I watched from inside the house, birds returned immediately to the feeders. With camera in hand, I entered the blind, had a seat and waited.

The first bird was a Blue Jay who apparently watched me enter the hide. All it could do was sit in a tree and screech at me. Pine Siskins were next. They eat all day long from the thistle feeder. I began taking photos.

What I love about the blind is that any movement that I make is hidden from the birds. I actually took my coat off while inside and didn’t spook any birds. I even sneezed and they were still there! At one point, I heard a bird on the top of the blind walking around. I later learned it was a Chickadee.

During the hour that I spent in the blind, I took over 300 photos. Yes they are common yard birds that can be found in yards all over the northeast U.S. But I had fun, and I was up close and personal with the birds even though they had no idea that I was there which in turn caused them no stress.

Enjoy the photos and remember, clicking a thumbnail will bring up a shadowbox with a larger view. Tip: hit f11 to open your browser to its fullest top to bottom size to view photos in fullest size possible.

 

Happy birding!

 

BPW: Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egrets in flight | Click for larger view
Snowy Egrets in flight | Click for larger view

 

Back in August, I was walking along the marsh at Granite Point near Biddeford Pool, Maine. The area is marked with deep pot holes and it is difficult at times to see what may be in them. One particular area that I stopped at had the grunting of Snowy Egrets coming from a hole. I could not see anything except for a head bobbing up once in a while.

I hunkered down and waited for at least half an hour as the tide rose, hoping to get a flight shot of the departing Egrets. My plan was that as the water level rose in the hole, Egrets would begin flying out and heading toward the sand bar in the Little River. I had the early morning sun behind me and life seemed good to be sitting along a beautiful marsh awaiting the inevitable.

All of the sudden an Eastern Willet came at me full speed! Flying just over my head, the Willet turned around and came at me again screaming at me all the while. I had to get out of there, there were Willet chicks hidden somewhere in the thicket in front of me. Before its second pass, I scrambled back to the road and walked away. The Willet landed on a post and scolded me, then flew into the thicket where I heard the chicks anxious to see their mother.

In all the commotion, the Egrets had flown out of the pot hole and went off into the wild blue yonder. I never had the chance to get a photo. I felt bad that I stressed the Willet by being close to its chicks. But until I was chased away, I had no idea that anything was there but the Egrets.

I walked over to the banks of the Little River hoping that the Egrets had gone to the sandbar. Nothing was there and I began to think that I may as well leave and check out another area. As I turned to leave, I saw a large flock of Snowy Egrets flying in the distance and decided to wait to see if they would come my way. Come my way they did! Fifteen Egrets in all came flying down the Little River. I focused on a group of five and began taking photos.

It was over all in a matter of seconds and I got some photos that I was certainly proud of. The photo I am submiting for Bird Photography Weekly is from this outing and is one of only two photos that had all five Egrets in the frame.

Happy birding!

 

Ice Out!

View from WeatherCam on 3-22-09 at 12:30 p.m. looking east toward arrosic Island and Hells Gate on the Kennebec River. | Click for larger view
View from WeatherCam on 3-22-09 at 12:30 p.m. looking east toward Arrosic Island and Hells Gate on the Kennebec River. | Click for larger view

On a receding tide this morning, the ice was finally pulled out of the cove and into the Kennebec River for its journey out to sea. A few “iceberglets” are still floating around and are getting grounded on the mud flats as the tide continues to recede.

Quite a bit of ice still continues down the Kennebec and may push back into our cove on the next several high tide cycles. But the majority of the ice that has plagued our cove since November is gone.

The image on above is from my weather cam. The specks in the water on the lower left side of the image are Canada Geese. You can even see some lingering damage from a snowstorm in the tree. (I have to get up there and get that limb cut off.)

I have posted my weather cam image on my “About” page. It normally updates every 4 minutes. Just refresh the page. At night, all you will see is darkness. The view faces east and you may see some beautiful sunrises. And when the sun is behind the cam, you may see birds in the feeder. The image on the left will not update, it’s just a capture.

Now that most of the ice has moved out, the ducks and geese are moving in closer. As I finish out this post (3:00 p.m.), over 100 ducks and geese are waddling on the mudflats just 20 yards off shore. BUT…. the snow is flying once again as a cold front moves through bringing with it intense snowsqualls. Tomorrow’s highs are to be only in the 20’s. At least the ice is out!

I ventured down the yard Saturday afternoon and prepared a site for my blind just above the high tide line. Situated among the reeds and sumac, it should be an excellent place to photograph ducks, geese, shorebirds, Egrets and Herons.

I am posting a few images from yesterday that I took while I was preparing my site. The Eagle photos are not the best as they were flying very high. A total of 6 Bald Eagles (2 adult, 4 immature) flew around the marsh and cove scattering ducks as they did so. The adult pair continues nest building activity on Arrowsic Island. Click thumbnails for larger view.

Northern Pintail Ducks (2 male and a female) coming in for a landing yesterday afternoon.

Northern Pintail Ducks
Northern Pintail Ducks

 

Canada Geese on the ice Saturday afternoon.

Canada Geese
Canada Geese

 

A pair of adult Bald eagles flying high in the sky.

Adult Bald Eagles
Adult Bald Eagles

 

Immature Bald Eagle coasting over the cove.

Immature Bald Eagle
Immature Bald Eagle

 

Happy birding!

 

Birds of the Equinox 2009

Birds of the Equinox

Song Sparrow - First Day of Spring 2009 | Click for larger view
Song Sparrow - First Day of Spring 2009 | Click for larger view

At 7:44 a.m. this morning, Spring began for those in the eastern time zone of the United States. Here at home, the weather said otherwise. The skies were clear but the temperatures were in the low 20’s throughout the morning and topped out at 34° this afternoon.

But the signs of spring are evident. Our snow pack is at 8″ with bare spots showing up here and there. The cove is now approximately 60% ice free. (The 40% that is ice covered is on my side of the cove.)

I volunteered for the Birds of the Equinox, a project to document bird life during the March 20 equinox.

I don’t know if I have ever specifically documented birds on the first day of spring, summer, fall or winter. With this project, there’s no better time to start.

So, without further ado, here are the birds that I recorded this morning on both sides of the equinox from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Location: Bath, Maine (Home)
Observation date: 3/20/09
Notes: Partly cloudy, temp. 23° (begin 7:00 a.m.) and 25° (end 9:00 a.m.) Winds 8-11 mph NE gusting to 20 mph.
Number of species: 37

Canada Goose 63
Wood Duck 2
American Black Duck 64
Mallard 18
Green-winged Teal 8
Northern Pintail 4
Bufflehead 5
Common Goldeneye 17
Hooded Merganser 11
Common Merganser 31
Red-breasted Merganser 9
Common Loon 1
Bald Eagle 5
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Mourning Dove 6
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 10
American Crow 5
Northern Cardinal 3
Black-capped Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 6
Red-breasted Nuthatch 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Brown Creeper 3
American Robin 4
American Tree Sparrow 4
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 16
Dark-eyed Junco 11
Red-winged Blackbird 21
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Purple Finch 2
Common Redpoll 4
Pine Siskin 6
American Goldfinch 9

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2 http://ebird.org

Not a bad two hours at all! And if you need another sure sign that it’s spring, take a look at what was running around on the snow covered ground today.

Chipmunk - First day of Spring 2009 | Click for larger view
Chipmunk - First day of Spring 2009 | Click for larger view

 

Happy birding!