Friday, May 31, 2013

Baby Blue Jays

Today it was 91 degrees at lunchtime, and I did not feel like sweating out in the heat.  I drove through Wildwood, hoping to casually bird through my car window!  I found the blue jay nest full of little jays!  How sweet!  I saw at least three, but there may be more that were not visible....

  1. Blue Jays lay an average of 4-5 eggs which are then incubated for 17-18 days.
  2. When the eggs hatch, the babies are naked, limp and their eyes are closed.
  3. The female broods them for the first 8-12 days, and the male brings food.
  4. After 12 days, both parents participate in food gathering, the babies grow feathers, gain strength and open their eyes.  
  5. Blue Jays typically leave the nest about 3 weeks after they are born but stay with and are fed by their parents for another 4-8 weeks.

Carrion Beetles

I visited Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary this morning.   Ovenbirds were singing "teacher teacher" as I walked down Cart Path Trail toward the dam.  A Pileated Woodpecker gave a loud warning call and then flew towards Pitch Pine Trail.  Instead of rushing to take a picture, I just enjoyed watching it.

Bullfrogs were creating quite a morning chorus at the edge of the water.  The Ospreys were visible on or near the nest, although neither one was sitting on the nest.  This may be a sign that the chicks have hatched.  You'd need a scope or high powered binoculars in order to see them.

The Red-Breasted Nuthatch peeked out of its nest hole as I walked past.  Baltimore Orioles flew into the trees at the edge of the water.  Two Great Blue Herons flew and squawked at each other on the far side of the water.   A female Hooded Merganser swam alone in the water.

Pearl Crescents, American Coppers, and Common Ringlets flitted among the grasses at the edge of the dam.

The most interesting, albeit disgusting, sight was what appeared to be a dead frog in the trail on the dam.  It was swarming with Carrion Beetles.  I forced myself to stop long enough to take a photo, although it is not my idea of a great subject matter at all!

The Carrion Beetle is oval-shaped with a cream colored head with a black spot in the middle of it.  I think the smaller ones on the neighboring leaves are younger versions of the same insect.  Ick.  It made my skin crawl, and I hoped nothing would get on me as I walked past!

Depending on when you visit next, I am guessing these beetles will have removed all traces of this dead body.  I understand their purpose and know that we benefit from their work, but they are disgusting to see!

Pearl Crescent


Baltimore Oriole

Hooded Merganser (female)
Water lilies are coming back.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Evening at Great Meadows NWR

I heard my first ever Black-Billed Cuckoo calling as soon as I got out of the car!  Here's a website where you can listen to the call.  It's an awesome sound.

I am happy to report that the Yellow Warbler who built her nest in a questionable location right next to the path is still there and sitting on her nest!  You can just barely see her in the photo above, and I guess the leaves have filled in a lot since I last saw her.  I didn't want to stress her out by trying to get a better shot.   I'm still worried about how low she is to the ground.  Only time will tell.

Great Blue Heron

Red-Winged Blackbird

Canada gosling
The proportions are so funny!

and the rest of the family

Song Sparrow

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Song Sparrow
Feeding frenzy?

or hungry mouths to feed.

Great Blue Heron

88 degrees when I arrived and a cool 81 degrees when I left.....a hot walk!

Breakneck Hill Conservation Land

Breakneck Hill Conservation Area is a beautiful spot in Southboro, very close to home.  I've avoided walking here before because it is so popular with unleashed dog walkers.  I really have to work up my courage to walk in a place where loose dogs are common, and it's just usually easier to go somewhere dogs aren't permitted.  Today, I  took a chance and I had almost finished my hike when two women walking two unleashed dogs came up the hill and, of course, one of the dogs jumped on me.  I am definitely gaining more control over my fear of dogs, but really, this doesn't help!

 Song Sparrow

 Gray Catbird

 Tree Swallow

Common Ringlet

 Eastern Bluebird

probable Red-Eyed Vireo
(Thanks to Alan M. for help with this ID)

Barn Swallow

Peck's Skipper

House Sparrow (too bad!)

Peck's Skipper

Eastern Bluebird

Common Ringlet

Chipping Sparrow

Some of the Belted Galloways or "Belties" that live here
aka Oreo Cows

Eastern Bluebird

Peck's Skipper

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Orchard Orioles

With it being another dark and dreary day, I decided to drive over to Wildwood Cemetery at lunch to check on the Blue Jay nest, something I could do from the car rather than risk a rainy hike in the woods.  None of my pictures came out too well, but I guess they serve to document what I saw.

As soon as I entered the cemetery, three Baltimore Orioles flew across the road in front of me.  Lynn, you must come visit in May some time!  I only managed one blurry photo, but you'll have to trust me when I say, I'm still seeing them regularly.

Baltimore Oriole

The jay was still incubating, but I the babies must be coming soon.  Blue Jays incubate for about 17-18 days.  I first noticed this nest on May 1st (I think they were constructing it then) but saw a Blue Jay sitting on it as early as May 9th.  It is possible that there were babies in the nest today.....the jay was looking into the nest a lot and poking about inside the nest....but I couldn't see them.

Blue Jay

baby American Robin

I just missed a parent coming and jamming some food down this baby Robin's throat.  Rats!

My iris at home were beaten down in last weekend's wind and rain, so it is nice to see that others survived the bad weather.

Orchard Oriole (male)

This was my 1st solo sighting of an adult male Orchard Oriole!

Orchard Oriole (female)

I was very excited that I had seen a new bird!  I looked up match.  I looked up match.  I couldn't think what else to look for, so I gave up and looked up the male Orchard Oriole that I had also seen.  And guess what, that's where I found the match in the female Orchard Oriole.  Go figure!  This did not add a new bird to my year list or life list, but was still a nice sighting, especially since it is a breeding bird.

Orchard Oriole (female)

Guess what she's up to?  This is a popular tree.  Last year I found a pair of Baltimore Orioles nesting here.

And, here's a brief video of a Red-Tailed Hawk's visit to this same tree where, needless to say, it was not welcome at all.

Red-Tailed Hawk
(getting mobbed by various nervous birds as if left the tree)

And you can see just how lovely our weather is today.  UGH.

Also seen:  Brown-Headed Cowbird, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, European Starlings, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Kingbird, and Tree Swallow

[Click on any photo to see an enlargement.]

Springtime Darner

This was found in the wetlands in front of my house.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Return to Chestnut Hill Farm

I wanted a photo of a female Bobolink, so I headed back to Chestnut Hill Farm this morning.  The more I read about this bird, the more impressed I am by it.

The male Bobolink is the only American bird that is black on the bottom and white on the top with straw coloring on the back of its head.  That striking plumage is only during breeding season, however.  The rest of the year he resumes his overall drab coloring.   The female looks more like a sparrow, her coloring more camouflaged as is the case with most females.   Bobolinks live in grasslands and meadows during breeding season, making bulky cup nests of soft vegetative materials placed low in the grass.  (It's important to stay on the paths to avoid damage to nests!)

The Bobolink migrates 16,250 miles each way to and from South America, using both the earth's magnetic field and stars to navigate.  That's a huge trip by airplane never mind under one's own power!

When you go to Chestnut Hill Farm or any other Bobolink friendly habitat, you may not immediately see them.  They are typically low in the grass.  When I walk down the trail and they perceive me as a danger, they start popping up and calling and flying away.

This is the typical distant view

I saw a lot more males than females, but did catch a glimpse of two females, one of which cooperatively posed for a few photos.  The males do occasionally perch on higher grass stalks for pictures, too.