Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Goose Birder-ing?

I was startled to find this Canada Goose grazing at my feet when I tore myself away from the view through my scope at Briggs' Pond today!

Nature's Waltz

I spent an entertaining few minutes this morning at Briggs Pond, in Paw Paw.  At least three Great Blue Herons and a Great Egret were stalking the pond’s aquatic residents. Wood Ducks are starting to look like themselves again as they molt out of their cryptic plumages. Cedar Waxwings were doing perfectly respectable imitations of swallows, zipping around over the pond fly-catching. I managed to follow a couple in the scope for a little while. It was great fun! The resident Belted Kingfisher was making his presence known, rattling around the pond in between resting on a dead tree in the pond. If you ever go  to this spot on Commercial Street, be sure to check out the tree. It is a very popular roosting spot for many of the pond’s birds, including the herons, ducks, kingfisher and swallows. The tree has figured in many of my photos, although most of them don’t make it on to the blog. But I know there are better photographers than I am out there who would be able to do it justice!

I had a nice video of the egret, as well as a picture of the Canada Goose that I found grazing at my feet when I looked away from the scope but computer land is giving me fits today and doesn't want to upload them. Maybe I'll have better luck later! Thanks to all for your support and interest in this blog! And I'd like to close today by saying Hello and Welcome to our overseas readers in the UK, Germany and Russia! Leave a comment, we’d love to know you better!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Box Turtle

The sun felt good on his back. He did not understand the passage of time as humans count it, but he knew when it was time to sleep and time to wake up. He knew every stick and plant and rock in the small area he had lived all of his long life. Generally, he managed to stay out of the notice of humans. Today was different, however. As the sun warmed him, a loud noise rushed by him and made him draw in his head a little. The noise faded in the distance, then reversed itself and grew louder again. A sharp banging noise made him draw his head in farther. The gravel crunched, crunched, crunched. A human crouched over him and made clickety click noises, all the while making some kind of mouth noise. He watched her curiously. Then she picked him up from his sunny spot and put him in the grass off the road, all the while making mouth noises. Then she left him. He felt a moment of faint annoyance and then forgot her.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Gracefulness of Swans

The water is still quite shallow in portions of Briggs' Pond, forcing these Mute Swans to abandon their gracefulness as they cross the sand bar into the deeper portion of the pond. They remind me of a toy that I had as a child - I pulled it behind me on a string and the head and feet bobbed up and down as it rolled. I guess I am dating myself here! : ) See if you can tell when the mosquito landed in my eye!

And maybe someone out there would be willing to help me with my tree cataloging project in my yard. Most of the references I have are pretty confusing. When it comes to tree knowledge, I am about 5 years old. Today my question is, do these trees look like shagbark hickory.  They are so tall, I can't get a decent picture of the leaves, unfortunately. 

tree a

tree b

another view of tree b higher on the trunk

Any and all help gratefully received!

Ok, one last picture - this one is leaves. 

Thanks, again!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cooperative Green Heron

Recent rains have pretty much flooded the shorebird habitat at Briggs' Pond, but I was able to digiscope this cooperative juvenile Green Heron. He was working very hard at ridding himself of his natal down. I even managed a short video. 

If you look closely you can see his tongue sticking out. Also note all the down wrapped around his bill..

Feet are also useful in the process of getting rid of that itchy down. 

 There is always something to see when you are outside. You just need to look.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sandpiper Season

Well, shorebirds are starting to move through. Today there were around a dozen on the mudflat area of Briggs Pond. The species present were not too exciting, but still fun to see. And maybe an indication of things to come. I saw Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpiper. I managed to get this picture of one of the Spotted Sandpipers - I think it is a juvenile.

Good birding to all!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Double-crested Cormorant Maple Lake, Paw Paw

The Double-crested Cormorant that has been present at Maple Lake continued to be present today. In addition, there was a hooded merganser, a pied-billed grebe and some wood ducks in eclipse, as well as green heron, great blue heron, and lots of swallows of the expected species.

Hanging the wings out to dry. I love this pose.

 A hooded merganser swims in from the right.
Just to the left of the cormorant you might be able to make out the merganser tucked against the side of the sleeping mallard. 

A pair of Paw Paw's resident mute swans take turns keeping watch.
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Being Patient is Good

Birding teaches patience. Maybe that is why it is my karma to be an obsessive birder, because, over and over, it feels like I am learning this lesson for the first time. I learn it when I meticulously sort through thousands of Canada Geese and am rewarded by finding the one Ross' or Snow Goose out there. I learn it when I ignore the pain in my neck as I sort through spring warblers and am rewarded when a Blackburnian Warbler steps momentarily into the sun at the very top of an oak tree. And I learned it again this am when I made one of my regular stops at Briggs' Pond in Paw Paw. When I first got out of the car and took a quick scan around I thought, "Well, wow, absolutely nada." Then the single Great Blue Heron caught my eye. This is one of my favorite birds, and they are always photogenic, so I decided to take advantage of the beautiful light and see what kind of pictures I could get. I mumbled, "Wait right there," to the GBH and ran to get my scope and my camera.  He waited, and you see the so-so fruits of my work below.  As I fiddled with my camera trying to improve the exposure, the pond slowly came to life. I heard a Belted Kingfisher rattling away, a bright yellow American Goldfinch flew into the top of a nearby shrub, and I realized that behind the GBH was a sleeping female Wood Duck.  The Great Blue was feeding actively and successfully, being rewarded for his patient stalking. He must have caught four or five fish of varying sizes while I watched, and I learned that this bird, at least, drinks a bunch of water after each catch, to help it go down? I was also interested to see he caught and ate a fair amount of green matter with each fish. Salad to go with his sashimi!
Be patient! It's fun!

Ha! Got one!

Taking a break


Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Old Tree

This is one of my favorite trees in Van Buren County. It stands on the East side of 48th St. just a little bit north of 48th Ave. It always makes me think of the Tree of Life, and when I think of the Tree of Life, I think of this tree.It stands defiantly on the edge of this cornfield and creates its own crop circle because it shades the corn from the sun. I imagine its tough roots diving deep for the center of the Earth and its branches reaching up to touch the sky, and it feels like it will always be here, immune to time.