Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bald Eagle's nest revisited

Good to be home again. The dogs went crazy, jumping and racing around when they saw me get out of the car. One of my first walks after returning from Germany was to check in on the Bald Eagle nest, wondering whether there were any hatchlings yet. But all I saw was an adult sitting on a dead snag nearby. The nest appeared to be unoccupied, but it's really too deep to tell for sure.

Its plumage looks kind of worn. It's wearing leg bands but is too far away to make out any inscription.

After a few minutes it flew off.

I'll have to check on it again next week.

Good Birding!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some Colorful European Birds

I just got back from my trip to my hometown of Hamburg in Northern Germany. The weather was quite changeable - dark clouds alternating with bright sunny skies. The main purpose of the trip was to spend some time with my 98 y/o mother who lives very happily in an assisted living home, a converted villa in a park on the River Elbe. Hamburg is an old merchant city, beautiful in an austere way, with none of that southern German charm.

 It has a large botanical garden near the city center where I got this photo a European Coot with those strange lobed feet:

I also managed to do some birding in local parks, cemeteries and gardens. I came back with photos of some colorful garden birds taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ28 camera which didn't perform too badly as long the birds were fairly close.

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker (Buntspecht)

Eurasian Jay (Eichelhaeher) whose favorite foods are acorns

(European) Bullfinch (Gimpel) eating dandelion seeds

(European) Robin (Rotkehlchen)

Long-tailed Tid (Schwanzmeise)

This one shows the long tail which appears to be quite worn

Great Tit (Kohlmeise) the largest of the tits

The cemetery was the home of several Dunnocks, a  bird I had never noticed before while living there, perhaps because it looks so nondescript. The quiet cemetery appears to be the perfect habitat for them, as they are quite shy and prefer dense brush and shrubs

Dunnock (Heckenbraunelle)

My walks were accompanied by the songs of the Common Blackbird, with the males singing from every roof top, every tree or shrub

I'll end this post with a snippet. The slurred notes in this recording are a bit atypical, but it was the only fairly clean recording I managed to get.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bald Eagle on Nest, Osprey, Spotted Sandpiper, Bumble Bees and more

The weather's been so beautiful, crystal clear blue skies, warm... I have been out everyday looking for birds. Several days ago I walked up to the Hinsdale bluffs above the Connecticut River, which looks down on the Vernon Dam.. During the past several months maintenance workers had cleared all the brush along the path - leaving little for birds. However a pair of Bald Eagles had built a nest last year under the canopy of a pine tree on the slope down-stream of the dam.

Breeding was not successful the first year but now the female was incubating a clutch of eggs - I say female since they do the majority of incubation although both sexes have brood patches. Much of the time you can't see the bird because it sits so low in the nest, but I was lucky as for a brief moment the eagle lifted her head:

The male often perches on a dead tree nearby but was nowhere in sight.

About a mile away upriver an Osprey pair was building a nest high on a power line tower. Here one bird is sitting on the airplane warning light. The scraggly sticks of the nest can just be made out on the platform under the light.

After a while the Osprey lifted off and circled overhead, then disappeared behind the tree line.

Other birds encountered on my walk:

A pair of Spotted Sandpipers

One of them had apparently caught something edible and was flying off with it as I approached.

American Redstarts (not much luck here with the pics)

Warbling Vireos

A Palm Warbler

And more Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers

A Baltimore Oriole posing on top of an Eastern Red Oak in the bright morning sunshine.

A flowering shrub at home was humming with bumble bees. Looking closely I had never noticed that they come in two colors

Red-tailed Bumble Bee

Northern Golden Bumble Bee 

I am going to be off on my annual trip to Germany to visit my mom and brother and sister. I am well supplied with Kindle books on my iPod Touch for the long journey: Anthill by E.O Wilson, The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason, and  for the night hours when I can't concentrate on anything else Nemesis, a thriller by Jo Nesbo which is supposed to be as good as the Stieg Larsson novels.

Good Birding!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Birds all new in fresh plumage, and a Painted Turtle

This morning I stepped out on the deck and couldn't tear myself away from looking up at the tree tops around me. Myrtle Warbler (aka Yellow-rumped W.) were dipping in and out of the Northern Red Oaks' spiky leaves and dripping catkins.

An Eastern Towhee was singing in a flowering shrubs near the outer perimeter of the yard

Old friends showed up in their Sunday bests

Even the lowly European Starling, still sprouting new feathers around his neck, was fancying elegant under-tail coverts.

Also encountered during this morning's grocery shopping my FOY Gray Catbird looking a little bit disheveled:

A Purple Finch was feeding from a tube feeder which I had moved from the tree to the railing because of a bunch of voracious red squirrels.

Another visitor to my yard was a Baltimore Oriole. I heard his melodious song but did not locate him high up in a tree until he was ready to take off, showing me just a flash of orange.

And lastly, saved from the investigative nose of my dog, a painted turtle. I brought it up to the deck for some photos. Isn't that a beautiful color and pattern? Reminds me of some old native Indian pottery

Front end

Tail end

After the photo shoot I carried it down to the wetland safe from the dogs.

I will put a photo of a nesting Bald Eagle in my next post. Also hope to find some migrant warblers.