Last week we looked at a goldfinch in his winter plumage, and this week we’ll take a look at a House Finch in his, well, regular plain old every day plumage. That’s right, this dude rocks the bright red all year long. The House Finch gets my vote for singingest bird, because they are constantly singing their sweet little song or chatting amongst themselves with the cutest little chirps. I’d highly recommend hearing, and seeing this bird out in nature as soon as you possibly can.
Just seems like a muskrat kinda Monday. Look at that fluffy little critter!
I wasn’t sure what I was seeing the first time I looked up and saw that fuzzy little moon, then I realized it was a squirrel who had just shoved his head into a hole in that tree. I watched in amazement as he went in deeper and deeper, until, finally, he lost his footing. And then panic set in. Those legs started flailing as he desperately tried to get some traction, and that tail started whipping back and forth! It was the funniest thing I’d seen in a long time! He eventually made it out of that situation and went to the top of the tree to play it cool, just in case there was anyone watching.
Just two months ago this goldfinch was black and white and the brightest yellow you’ve ever seen. Today he’s three shades of brown, pale yellow, and black and white. If I wasn’t a world-class wilderness explorer I might think this was a completely different bird.
When the warblers skedaddle, the leaves finish falling, and winter begins to taunt, I’m so glad to have these thousands of photos from the past year to keep me busy. Like this gem for instance, a juvenile Golden-winged Warbler that I was saving for a snowy day. I had just posted a golden-wing the day I shot this little dude and it didn’t seem right to post another one right away. So I waited, and waited, and forgot, and then rediscovered these amazing photos! It almost makes winter bearable.
The Eastern Phoebe is such a formal bird, with his black and white “tuxedo” and never a feather out of place. Until I come along with my camera, that is. Then it’s, Here he comes, everyone roll around in the mud and get them feathers ruffled!!! I had been trying all year to get a nice phoebe photo but all I could manage is a bunch of ratty looking, ruffled up little dudes. Until one evening this fall, as the sun was setting, when I finally found my formal phoebe.
Saturday morning, as far as the eye could see, there were muskrats. They were everywhere! There must have been a Thanksgiving party, or maybe a family reunion. Wait, why wasn’t I invited!?!
This is one fat, happy pile of squirrel; just scratching an itch and munching on walnuts!
Here’s a view of the bog from the bridge on the south side looking north. Only about half the bog is pictured; the other half continues beyond the treeline. My magic happens along the left coast from here.
Now THAT’S what I call a super hero mask! Superduck conceals his true identity wearing a big green mask, while his alter ego the Green-winged Teal works as a mild mannered editor in the birds of the bog.com office; hiding behind a pair of wire framed glasses that should fool no one. I saw these tiny, unmarked ducks paddling around this morning, then Superduck came over and I figured out that they were Green-winged Teal.
Have you ever heard of a migratory woodpecker? Me either, it’s just not the type of bird I ever imagine migrating. Every spring and fall though, when neat little rows of holes start appearing on trees, I know the sapsuckers are here. That was the case on this day when I was inspecting some sap holes, wondering how fresh they were and would I be seeing some Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers today. That was right about the time she scampered around from the back side of this tree! I’d say them sap holes are pretty fresh!
Along with Mute Swans, I’ve categorized Woods Ducks as decorative floaty birds that simply can’t fly. Allow me to clarify, of course they can fly! I just rarely ever see it. Imagine my surprise then, when this Wood Duck pair flew right over my head today! I mean, it’s not like they walk south for the winter.
Some days when photographing one bird at a time is not challenging enough, I like to photograph them in pairs. Like the Wood Ducks. When that’s no longer challenging, I like to photograph pairs of different bird species together. Or, maybe I didn’t even realize that Song Sparrow was in the shot when I was photographing the White-throated Sparrow on the side of that tree. What’s the most likely scenario for this world-class wilderness explorer?
I guess that’s one way to eat a walnut. Personally, I’d pick a bigger branch. Maybe one that’s less dead as well.
Down by the bog as the sun came up, I could hear a Song Sparrow singing in the distance and the gentle droning of waterfowl chatting over breakfast filled the air. Then out of nowhere, Kersplunk!!! Something plopped into the water next to me. I quickly determined that the culprit was one of these Eastern Bluebirds eating from the world’s tallest grapevine in the top of this tree!
As I watched those grape eating bluebirds I noticed a perfectly photogenic little stump to my right; it was nicely illuminated and the background was creamy and dreamy. It would be great if that Song Sparrow hopped on up there for me. And he did. It doesn’t even surprise me anymore when me and my fluffy little pals are synced up like that.
Recently the scientifical community tasked me with proving once and for all that Mute Swans actually fly. That won’t be a problem for this world-class wilderness explorer. Okay, first things first, what’s a Mute Swan? Oh yeah, it’s those giant white decorative floaty birds; there’s no way those can fly! I stopped just short of the water to hang out with a Downy Woodpecker the other day when these huge Mute Swans flew by. Rats, that would have been a cool video; if only I would have ignored that dang chatty woodpecker. A few minutes later I was in position when those swans snuck up behind me and flew past again. Grrr!!! Pay attention! Frustrated, I watched as they flew away toward the north side of the bog and I knew they would just keep going, opportunity lost. Then something unexpected happened, they turned around for one final pass! That’s upwards of 24 feet of wingspan flying over; just listen to those wings flapping at the end of the video!
Have you ever heard a White-throated Sparrow whistle? It’s actually more like a whisper, or a whisper-whistle. It’s a really soft whistle, and it’s really sweet. The other day when I was shooting those severely corroded blackbirds, there was a White-throated Sparrow in the bush right next to me and she was whisper-whistling sweet nothings in my ear! I had to laugh because she was relentless with her whistling, but I had to photograph those blackbirds first. Be patient little sparrow, it’s almost your turn!
I heard an angry Red Squirrel up ahead and suspected he was having a minor disagreement with a Fox Squirrel; they had been after each other all morning. What I discovered when I got there however, was a Cooper’s Hawk running around on the ground after that squirrel! No wonder he was mad! As that squirrel ran off into the woods, cursing the entire way, the young hawk decided he didn’t like squirrel anyway. Then he looked in my direction, seemingly pondering a thought, Hmmm, I wonder what photographers taste like.
If I don’t move he can’t see me. Apparently this squirrel doesn’t know she’s dealing with a world-class wilderness explorer. That, and she’s only like six feet away.
Here are a few fun facts about the Daddy Longlegs: it’s technically not a spider; it doesn’t spin webs; and it’s not venomous. None of that mattered, however, on the day I almost walked into this leaf that was dangling over the trail at head height!
I’ve always wanted to see a Fox Sparrow, it just seems like a cool bird with a cool name. Whenever I see a bog sparrow from a distance, I ask myself, Is that a Fox Sparrow? No, it’s a Song Sparrow. Is that a Fox Sparrow? No, that’s a Field Sparrow. Is THAT a Fox Sparrow!?!? Nope, that’s a duck. I knew I’d find one some day though, and that day was today! I didn’t even have to ask the question because I KNEW this was a Fox Sparrow! It’s also the 132nd bird species I’ve photographed at the bog and posted on my site.
The final bird from my fantabulous fall warbler migration of 2015 is this sneezy, breezy, beautiful Palm Warbler. That’s 18 warbler species I snagged this fall, not too shabby! Some notables are the Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Canada and Golden-winged Warblers. There are still a few yellow rumpers around, but for the most part my warblers have all moved on to sunny beaches down south somewhere. What am I gonna do now? Oh yeah… the wonderful fall waterfowl migration of 2015 should be starting any day now!
The adult Bay-breasted Warbler is black and white and red and beige all over; truly a sight to behold! Or so I’m told. I’ve never seen one. I have seen juveniles however, but they aren’t nearly as flashy as their grownup selves. Juveniles can be identified by their peach colored armpits. Wingpits? Peach pits? Hmmm… you get the idea. They do look very similar to several other warbler species so keep an eye out for the peachy parts as well as some slight striping up front.
I was down by the bog this morning, under a little tree where, in the springtime I saw my first Rusty Blackbird. I was thinking that I need to put him in the season three wrap up in a few months and wondered if I’d ever see him again. Perhaps during the fall migration? I’m telling you, it’s uncanny how often this happens to me, but it wasn’t two minutes later that I walked up to a whole tree full of Rusty Blackbirds! I couldn’t believe it! They sat up in that tree, taking turns coming down into the bush I was standing next to, to feed on the juicy white fruit it was producing. Then they’d all fly away to a tree near the water, only to turn around and come back a few minutes later to the tree next to me, and that bush full of fruit.