Monthly Archives: March 2009

Beach Birds


I am off to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend a few days with my cousin.  She and her husband are not birdwatchers, but appreciate that I am, so I will be able make myself scarce a few hours of the day to see what is around.  I hope there is some interesting stuff coming through.  But, I suppose it is too early for Painted Bunting.  Bummer, that would be a life bird.


Filed under migration, Travel

Bird Photography Weekly



In the distance from atop some weeds a rusty hinge squeaked out 3 notes.  

♪Me. Me. Me. ♪  

I looked around perplexed.  It did not sound like anything I knew, yet, there was something familiar about the 3 creaky notes.  Like an opera diva warming up.  

♪Me. Me. Me. ♪  

When I got closer I saw it was a Sparrow croaking out the 3 notes again and again.  It is something I never thought of before, but makes sense.  Like anything else, if you don’t use your voice for a while you know how rusty it becomes.  Maybe it’s the same for birds.  Are at least it was for this bird.  He just repeated the same 3 notes over and over.  

♪ Maids.  Maids. Maids. ♪

As I walked by I sang under my breath, ♬ put on your teakettle,leddle,leddle. ♬


Ooooh, if looks could kill….

To see other birds and not get the evil eye, check out Bird Photography Weekly.


Filed under Local schmocal

Ducks are on the Move


With the last of the ice melted from lakes and reservoirs, waterfowl has been on the move north.  I popped over to the Wallkill NWR the other day to see what was shakin’.  Used to having the place to myself, with perhaps one or two other cars; I was stunned to find the parking lot full.   I squeezed the car onto the grass and stomped off to the other side of Liberty Loop.  The weeds, reeds and grasses that hide the ponds during the summer were thin and for the most part wind-blown.  There were Song Sparrows on every high seed head tuning up their rusty voices.  A shimmering mirage of Snow Geese circled the fields to land with a large flock of Canada Geese gorging on tender new shoots. The ponds themselves were loaded with Mallards,  Pintails and Green-winged Teals.  The resident Red-tailed Hawk sat on the wires and a female Northern Harrier coursed back and forth.  The muskrats were swimming between lodges and turtles were sunning themselves.  The marsh is feeling the change of seasons.


Filed under Local schmocal

New-fangled Approach to Eating Duckweed

common moorhen

Common Moorhens eat aquatic vegetation, as well as snails, worms, berries and fruit.  Normally I see them picking along at the edge of the reeds.  When I came across several paddling around in a pond covered in duckweed, it was sort of cool looking, so I stopped to take a picture. I noticed that one of them was tilting his head and laying it almost flat on the water to eat the duckweed.  Not for nuthin’ but that is a pretty smart bird.  It has figured out that you get more by the sideways approach rather they the straight down approach.  I only saw the one bird do it.  Amazing the things ya see.


Filed under Travel

Bears and birdfeeders

Alas, bears and birdfeeders do not go well together.  At this time of year, I keep an eye peeled for the first torn garbage bag to judge when the bears have gotten up.  And sure enough, I saw one on my drive to work last week, so with bitter resentment and sadness, I said goodbye to my fine feathered friends and took in the feeders for another summer.  I will continue to offer water and nesting material and a few birdhouses.  My yard will be filled with warblers and flycatchers andwoodpeckers.  Orioles will trill away from the ancient oaks.  The birds will come and they will nest, but I can not feed them.

Bears have excellent memories and can remember where to find food from season to season.   Once they learn where to find it; they come back. I have seen this.  One spring a few years ago, I walked into the kitchen ready to go for my morning walk when I came to a shocked stand- still.  A bear was right outside the window and making a beeline for the tree where I keep the feeders.  I had taken them in, so there was no smell, but he knew exactly where to go.  He no doubt had sampled the bounty back in the fall.

If you live with bears, be careful.  It is that time of year.

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Filed under backyard

Happy Spring!


At last spring has sprung and I am teasing you with the joy of birds to come.  The first wablers I see are usually Palm Warblers. And that won’t be for another few weeks.  But my friends, they are coming.


Filed under Local schmocal, migration

Bird Photography Weekly


Common or Wilson’s or Eurasian, whatever.  This is a Snipe.  When I first started birdwatching, this was a Common Snipe. Then they changed its name to Wilson’s Snipe.  Now I have no idea what it is called.  The Shorebird Guide says one thing, Big Sibley something else.  Want to weigh in on this?

To see other less confusing birds check out Birdfreak’s Bird Photography Weekly.


Filed under Photos, Travel

Chimney Swifts are on their way back

The first Chimney Swifts of the season have been spotted on the Gulf Coast.  YAY!!!  The folks at Driftwood Wildlife Association will be plotting the swifts’ movements northward over the next few months.  If you would like to contribute, let them know when you see the first ones in your area.  They will post the results to their map.

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Filed under migration

Blackbird pick-up calls


“Hey, Baby, Baby.”

“Look what I got to offer.”

“You want big, I got big.”

“You have never seen a brighter red.”

female RWBB

“Oh, Pleeeze.”


Filed under Local schmocal

Birding with Alligators


I live in the northeast where there are, thankfully, no alligators (NYC sewer gators, notwithstanding) so when I come across them in my travels they always freak me out a little; it’s all that nature programming that shows them running with burst of speed at 30 MPH.  Of course, I have seen them in Florida, but it took me completely by surprise that there are alligators in Texas.  Call me naive.

I was walking along a boardwalk at Brazos Bend State Park when I noticed a cluster of folks blocking the trail.  As I stepped around them, I glanced over to see what the fuss was about and there was an alligator sunning itself on the bank.  gulp.  I hustled along the path.  By the time I had made the turn, I had seen several more in the water.  Interestingly enough, the birds did not care about the them at all.  There were flocks of Black-bellied Ducks standing on the bank, White Ibises picking in the shallows, American Pipits bobbing along the path.  But the gators eat birds, right?

Fed up with the rain, I was heading back to the car along a path between two of the lakes, when I heard a tiger roar.  Seriously.  That is what it sounded like.  A small pesky thought started bouncing around my head that it might be an alligator doing the bellowing.  With adrelinin pumping I started to walk more briskly down the path.  I fumbled in my pocket for the park map; I had noticed alligator etiquette tips on it.  Here they are in case you are somewhere without helpful tips on a map.

  • Do not annoy or feed the alligators
  • Keep pets on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Do not throw objects in the water for your dog to retrieve
  • Keep at least 30 feet from an alligator – do not assume they are slow-moving
  • Do not swim or wade in the water
  • If an alligator goes after a fish you have caught, cut the line and let the alligator have the fish
  • Avoid any alligator sunning itself in the middle of the trail or lake bank
  • Stay clear of grasses, twigs and/or soil near the side of a trail; it may be a nest and the mother alligator is probably close by guarding it.
  • If an alligator opens its mouth and hisses, you have come to close.  Retreat slowly, make no quick moves.  Keep your eyes on the alligator.

Be careful out there.



Filed under Travel