Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bird Photography Weekly


I came across a nice flock of Turkeys with several displaying males.  The head color and warty wonderfulness was fantastic.  Ain’t he a looker.

Check out this week’s Bird Photography Weekly for other hotties of the bird world.


Filed under Photos

Chasing a Ruff

Hark back with me to May 1995.

I was in Cape May for the Spring Weekend racking up lifebirds when a Ruff was reported.  The discovery was met with lots of excitement.    My friend and I jumped in our car like everyone else eager to see the bird but instead of speeding away, we ended up creeping in a long line of traffic.  Disgruntled, we almost gave up, thankfully we did not. Looking back on it, I have to smile.  What did I know from rare Eurasian visitors?  I had no idea that I would not see a Ruff again for 14 years.

A few days ago, a rufous phased Ruff was spotted at the Marshland Conservancy in Rye, NY.  I read the report with amazement.  Not because, hot diggity, there was a Ruff in the neighborhood, but because, I actually knew that place and it was in the next town over from where I work.  I decided to pop over Sunday afternoon.  But after standing in the sun taking pictures of the March for Babies walk, all I wanted to do was go home.  It was not a life bird for me after all.  But when I got to work on Monday and it was still being reported; I decided I had to try to see it.  The directions were vague, and never having been in the park before, I had no idea where the bird might be.  I wandered aimlessly around then gave up as the sun slipped past the yardarm, as it were.  I resolved to go again this morning.  I walked the paths but did not see another birder, the Ruff or any of the landmarks reported.  With a heavy sigh, I left for work prepared to give it just one more shot.

As I hustled down the path after work; I came across Greg,  another birder also looking for the Ruff.  We took off together determined to find it.  After an hour of floundering in the marsh, he spotted 2 other birders away on the other side of the park. We plodded, well, I plodded, over rocks carpeted in squishy seaweed, up the steep cliff path, then down the other side, through the woods (stopping to look at an owlet generously pointed out to us by a charming lady birder), across more marsh and out to the waterline.  Scanning the distant shore (a tip from the lady birder) we found a tiny red dot on a dark body.  Greg got the scope on it and low and behold, there it was a gorgeous rufous Ruff.  We watched it feed, fly a few yards, then feed again.  It got closer and we were able to see the markings more clearly.  Two more birders came by and Greg got on the bird again and again.  This was a scope bird, thank goodness Greg brought his.

Bonus birds were: a pair of Orchard Orioles, a Yellow warbler, Immature Black-crowned NightHeron, Lesser Yellowlegs, Oystercatchers, Snowy Egrets, 3 Osprey on 2 separate nests, a good sized flock of displaying Turkeys, Goldfinches, and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds.

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Filed under Local schmocal, migration

Take a Walk on the Wild Side


I squeezed the car into the pull-off making sure my tail was off the road.  Since the weather was gorgeous, I had come to my semi-secret place to check in on the warbler migration.  This is the place where Hooded Warblers nest every year and the only place I know where I can reliable see both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers.   I knew that it was several weeks too early, but hey, ya never know.   I slipped around the gate and starting walking down the path.  Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers chased each other through the leafless branches, Phoebes gathered bits of mud and what looked like moss and a lone Song Sparrow scratched in the mud.  Other than that, it was completely still.  I soundlessly strolled the path searching for wildflowers, butterflies and hoping for bird calls.  Next to the path, but hidden from view, was a 2 lane road where cars whizzed past just out of ear-shot.  I walked along, then stopped to eye a large pile of black scat with what looked like hair in it.  I paused to ponder what might have passed this way but was distracted by lots of tiny Spring Azures.  Further up the path a large rock was flipped onto the middle of the grass, but the hole where it had been was dry.  I stood and stared, it was an oddity.  How could that has happened?

I continued along reveling in the warmth of the day and being outside when I rounded a slight bend and up ahead I saw I was not alone.  My semi-secret place was not so very private anymore.  My heart pounded.  I was far from the car and a large Black Bear was walking toward me.  It stopped and sniffed the air, it’s nose swiveling from side-to-side.  I stopped too.  I had liberally sprayed my hat and clothing with noxious bug spray.  I was down-wind.  After a few moments of the stand-off, the bear shuffled through the high dry weeds and disappeared.  I hustled back to the car making noise.  Bears really are timid, but still it is not wise to surprise one.

I have never seen a bear in this place.  But they are all around us.  It pays to be attentive.  The smelly bug spray may have helped too.


Filed under Local schmocal

Brekkie with a Willet


Hmmmm, What’s this?  Looks Snacky.


You’ll ‘cuse me if I don’t talk with my mouf full.  (editorial note — cute willet tongue — can you see it?)


I will not puke this back up.  Gulp * swallow* gulp*  Work it, work it.  I’m dyin’ here.


Whew. I think I strained something.


Hmmm, still peckish.  Wonder what else I can find to eat.


Filed under Photos, Travel

Wordless Wednesday



Filed under Photos

Mystery Crustacean – mystery no more


Walking the beach at daybreak, I found this guy washed up, on his back, feet waving frantically in the air.  I almost stepped on him.  He was about 3 inches long and the color of the sand.  I flipped him over and he just sat there, so I scooped him up and put him back in the surf.  Do you have any idea what he might be?  He doesn’t look shrimpy to me, more lobstery.  Look at the claw things, they sorta remind me of a praying mantis.


Filed under Photos, Travel

Bird Photography Weekly


I stood on the narrow catwalk hanging below the bridge over Oregon inlet.  The platform vibrated as the cars passed behind me; their tires whizzing by just over my head.   Although the catwalk was intended for fishing, it made a good spot for bird observation.  I resolutely turned my back on the traffic and scanned the water.  The day was flat gray from sky to sea.  Brown Pelicans plunged and bobbed on the waves; a female Bufflehead paddled with her face in the water; thousands of Double-crested Cormorants streamed in long lines from the open ocean to form a solid black mat out of the wind and crashing waves.  Mixed in all this swirling, fluttering bird life were flashes of white; appearing and disappearing like lightening in the gathering gloom.  I watched one fold its wings and plunge straight as an arrow head-first into the waves without a splash.  Ah, Gannets.  I had seen hundreds of Gannets offshore all up and down Hatteras Island; on the move, heading to their nesting grounds in the Martitimes.  What a treat.  I had not seen Gannets since 2002.

In a lull between cars passing over head, I heard thunder.  What I had taken for the rumble of traffic had been mixed with more ominous sounds.  I was standing on a metal catwalk on a metal bridge out over water as a thunder storm approached.  As I considered beating feet onto terra firma, some of the Gannets started to fly closer to the bridge.  I pulled up my camera hoping for a picture.  Of course, I had to stay.  I only managed to get in a few shots before I saw lightening flash on this side of Bodie lighthouse and the first fat drops of rain splash on the metal railing.  I looked up startled.  It was time.  I abandoned my post and hustled to shore as the Gannets swirled white amidst the monochrome black and gray of a coastal North Carolina storm.


Filed under migration, Photos, Travel