Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary

Today was absolutely beautiful - sunny and low 70s.  I hiked Cart Path Trail to Pitch Pine Trail and out to the dam returning by way of Cart Path Trail.  I saw my first Pine Elfin butterfly of the season, but it landed on the edge of the trail and I couldn't move around it to improve the light.  Oh well!

Pine Elfin

Today's star was Great Blue Herons.  I saw so many!  I counted at least six but there may have been as many as eight ~~ not sure if some were repeats just changing location.

Great Blue Heron

I also had a nice close look at one of the Ospreys and got to witness the changing of the guard in the nest.  A good outing!


The dam was covered with lovely violets.

Nesting Season

I saw two different species of birds gathering nesting materials this morning while I was visiting Wildwood Cemetery.  I also saw a pair of Chipping Sparrows mating, but I didn't get a photo before I spooked them.  No 2nd chance....

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

Dropped the majority of it -- probably because of my approach

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chipping Sparrows and Spring Flowers

 My garden

 Beautiful wildflower (Little Bluet) in Wildwood Cemetery 

Little Bluet

Blue Jay

 Chipping Sparrows


I stopped at the Federated Church on Main Street in Ashland on the way home to photograph their pretty tulips.  I love this season!

Pine Warbler and Yellow-Rumped Warbler

This Pine Warbler is the 2nd warbler species for my yard this season.

Last week, on April 25, 2013, I saw a Yellow-Rumped Warbler in my yard, but it wasn't quite as cooperative as today's Pine Warbler!  Here's my record shot, branches and all.

Barn Swallows

The back cover of the Mass Audubon Society Sanctuary newsletter always has an outdoor almanac with important dates for nature lovers.  The April 29th entry says:  "Brown thrashers, towhees, house wrens, barn swallows, and chimney swifts return."

Coincidentally, I saw my first Barn Swallows this morning, April 29th, at Hopkinton State Park!  I realized I was near their nest when one of them flew directly towards my head, calling out warnings as it approached.  I actually ducked!  Later, I spotted their nesting box.  I hope they are successful.  It's right in the heart of a very busy area.

 Barn Swallow #1

Barn Swallow #2 (bad lighting)

When I returned home, the local birds were all making a lot more noise than usual.  I walked out of the garage to see if I could determine the cause and noticed a Turkey Vulture perched on the chimney of our neighbor's home.  Hope they are OK!!!!  That's the first time I've ever seen a Turkey Vulture on someone's house!

Turkey Vulture

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ocean City Birding

We drove down to Ocean City, NJ to join in a surprise party to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday.  I did some birding in the free time between planned events.

The first place I birded was the perimeter of the parking lot of our hotel in Somers Point, NJ.  The hotel was right at the edge of the marsh.  Pre-Hurricane Sandy it might have even had a dock that went out into the marsh, but that lay in pieces, along with a boat of some sort, along the very edge of the marsh.  I doubt anyone is going to repair it at this point.  It'd be nice if they cleaned up the debris.

Glossy Ibis (a life bird)

Great Egret

Willet (a life bird)

Red-Winged Blackbird

I also took a couple walks on the beach, hoping for sandpipers.  Nothing but gulls.  Still, I don't see these Laughing Gulls that often around here, and I think they're pretty.  They are noisy, though.  I guess most gulls are!

I should mention that the beaches are still being restored after Hurricane Sandy.  Sand is being dredged from out in the channel through huge pipes laid across the beaches.  They have created sand "ramps" across these pipes so you can get to the other side to walk by the water, but the pipes do divide the beach and they are painted with warnings "High Pressure - Stay Back".  I wonder if all this construction work is keeping the smaller birds away?  My brother-in-law mentioned that he notices the whenever they do dredging it affects all the living creatures in the ocean for quite some time.   He's noticed even the seaweed is gone for a long time.  And the dolphins that had been keeping the surfers company prior to the dredging are now gone.

Laughing Gull

Friday afternoon, when others were heading up to Atlantic City for a little gambling, Georgie and I stopped at the Stainton Wildlife Refuge, a freshwater marsh right across from the airport with a 2-story viewing platform right at the roadway.

Little Blue Heron

Northern Shoveler


Willet in flight

Boat-Tailed Grackle (a life bird)

It seemed like there were Great Egrets to be seen from every road where the marsh was in sight.  Finally, there was a place to pull over, and I was able to get a photograph.  What a neat bird!

 Great Egret

Nesting Ospreys

Saturday afternoon, George and I took a quick ride to visit the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.  One of the first things we noticed was there were a lot of little blue butterflies on both sides of the road.  Some were Spring Azures and others were Eastern-Tailed Blues.

Eastern-Tailed Blue

We drove the road through the refuge out to where it dead-ended at the beach and then walked on the beach.  

poss. Diamond Terrapin turtle, crossing the road

Now you can see how small he really was....

Snowy Egret

Horseshoe Crab

Caspian Tern

Then we drove back to the visitor center and walked the Songbird Trail.  The only songbirds we actually saw were Northern Cardinals, but we did see more Spring Azures and Eastern-Tailed Blues as well as my first Pearl Crescent butterflies of the year (no photos of those, tho).

Turkey Vulture

Spring Azure

Eastern-Tailed Blue

We headed for home as the sun was just coming up this morning.

Butterflies at Sherborn Power Line

We just returned from a quick weekend trip to celebrate my sister-in-law's 60th birthday in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Saw some nice birds while I was down there (birding the hotel parking lot, for example) and will post those photos a little later.

I'm still hoping for my first view of some efins this year, but so far I have had no luck.  I did enjoy the walk, though, and saw Mourning Cloaks, Spring Azures, what I think was a Duskywing species and also a couple that looked like Common Sulphurs.  I didn't get photo records on the last two, so I won't be counting those.

The Mourning Cloaks were in the woods that take you down to the power lines.  I kept trying to creep closer to one that was basking in the sun on a log, but it was on to me and it flew around and around me.  By watching its shadow on the ground, I could tell that it landed on the top of my baseball cap twice.  I so wanted a photo -- at least of my shadow -- but it didn't stay long enough!

Yellow-Washed Metarranthis Moth

Wood Anemone

Spring Azure


Mourning Cloak - ventral

Mourning Cloak - dorsal