As I approached this tiny tree I could hear a Common Yellowthroat singing from within. Such a timid little warbler, I figured there was no chance, but I had to try. There he is! I could see him through a small opening in the leaves; his back was to me and he had no idea I was there. I fired one shot to get his attention and one shot when he looked over his shoulder at me. Then he was gone. This is a pretty typical interaction for me with a Common Yellowthroat, but this time I got the shot.
I’ve never seen more baby squirrels at the Celery Bog. So many that I might have to start a weekly Baby Squirrel Sunday post! Okay, maybe not THAT many, but like six so far. That’s a whole lotta cuteness!
I had just finished writing about a catbird imitating a Common Nighthawk and I was thinking about the logistics of that. I imagined this catbird all tucked into his favorite bush for the evening, probably enjoying the heck out of all the wonderful nighttime noises, when all of a sudden, Peent, peent, peent, a nighthawk flew by. Hey, what a coincidence, there’s a nighthawk now… Nighthawk!?! Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam!!! That’s the sound my camera makes when I’m blasting away at my first Common Nighthawk; I haven’t heard a catbird imitate that noise yet.
Here’s a Celery Bog safety tip: watch where you’re walking so you don’t bump into a Red-tailed Hawk! I was walking along yesterday, not paying attention to anything in particular, when I looked up just in time! Almost ran smack dab into this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk! He looked completely disinterested as I backed up to take some photos, and when I had all the shots I could ever ask for, I switched to video. I feel like I deserve a trophy or something because his preflight routine is my kind of humor and I somehow managed to keep it together until the camera stopped rolling!
“I’ve never seen more…” has been a recurring theme this spring and today’s example of that is the Gray Catbird. You can’t walk fifty feet at the Celery Bog right now without running into one and they’re all simultaneously competing for best mimic on the block. I heard one bird doing a cardinal, a nighthawk, R2D2, and a House Wren! I walked up to this particular individual and I was talking to him the whole time, Can I take your picture? Don’t you move. Hold still buddy. He was mesmerized by the smooth sound of my voice. Sadly, after only thirty seconds of listening to me talk, he had become gooder at english than me! Super smart bird, the Gray Catbird, and fascinating and entertaining to listen to.
The seventh warbler from my splendid spring migration is a bird that I’ve never seen before, kind of. The juveniles are pale yellow with peachy pits and I see them frequently, both spring and fall, but this guy? Never. I could hardly believe my eyes, and I was so excited I could barely keep the camera steady! This guy came along just a few minutes after I shot the Chestnut-sided Warbler so I was already over the moon, and that I actually knew the identity of this bird was also pleasant surprise.
The cold front that blew in Saturday morning dumped bucket loads of warblers and squirrels on the Celery Bog. Wait a minute, I’m being told by my technical staff that the squirrels were probably already here. That seems right. I’ve seen mere glimpses of male Chestnut-sided Warblers in the past, but today they were lined up and waiting to be photographed! People were walking by as I giddily snapped away, giggling and talking to myself the whole time. I’m really surprised the cops didn’t show up, but I couldn’t help it, I was like a kid in a giant wooded candy store filled with warblers!
Sometimes a picture is just so perfect that words are not necessary to help explain it. Take this photo of a Mallard and her ducklings; there is nothing I could say to improve it so I’m not even going to try. I mean, even a world-famous writer such as myself couldn’t contribute anything special to this photo by writing about it so I’ll just let it stand, all by itself, no words or nuthin’. Just a mama Mallard and her ducklings. That’s it, that’s all I’m going to say.
My exploration of the vast, untamed wilderness at the Celery Bog was complete for the day but as I headed for the safety of the Lilly Nature Center parking lot, a little yellow sumthin’ squirted out of the bushes in front of me. Common Yellowthroat? Cool! But on closer inspection this was no yellowthroat; judging by that beak and those eyebrows this was probably a vireo of some kind. COOL! Nope, that’s not it either, hmm… I know it’s not a warbler but beyond that I’m stumped. Fine, I’ll check the warbler section of my field guide. Ahah, just as I suspected! A Yellow-breasted Chat! Super duper cool! This is the 141st bird species I’ve photographed at the bog.
I spotted a Yellow Warbler in the treetops today but there was no chance for a photo. That’s okay though, it was enough for me to have seen him up there and just know that he’s at the Celery Bog right now. What’s the matter with me!?! I must be maturing because it would usually frustrate me severely having a Yellow Warbler so close, yet so far away. Hmmm… an interesting development indeed. A short while later I was down by the bog watching a turtle nap on a log when I saw a golden yellow flash off to my right. The anticipation was excruciating as I slow motion turned my head toward the little tree just a few feet away. Could that be a Yellow Warbler? I hope it is! I hope it is! It HAS to be! GAH!!! It was a Yellow Warbler and he explored that little tree with me for twenty minutes.
Laugh it up, fuzzball!!! Every spring I have to put up with the tauntings and mockerations of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. From high in the treetops he follows me around, laughing all the way, because he knows I can’t get him from way up there. Well bird, you gotta come down sometime, and when you do I’ma gonna gitcha’!
One butterbutt, two butterbutt, three butterbutt, four. There are a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers at the Celery Bog right now and I’m not complaining, but the variation in their markings can cause some confusion. Because of that, it’s important to check each and every one because you never know- Black-and-white Warbler!!! You never know who else might be frolicking with those butterbutts.
Remember that time I photographed a wasp nest because I thought it was an owl? Or the other time I photographed a wasp nest because I thought it was an owl? Well, this ain’t no wasp nest! I finally, finally, finally photographed an owl at the Celery Bog! Using complex scientifical computations and research, all by myself with no help from anyone else, I was able to track down this Eastern Screech Owl. And Paul, Paul helped a little bit too. Thanks Paul.
If you’ve ever been scolded by a House Wren you’ll never forget the sound of that rapid chit chit call and subsequently feeling really bad about bothering a poor little bird. I didn’t get much of the rapid chit chit scolding today, what I heard was a series of slow chits reminiscent of a geiger counter reading background radiation, and then boom! Chit chit chit chit chit! There he is! Then the geiger counter went silent and he let me hang out. All that chatter actually made finding this tiny tree hugger a whole lot easier, and I think I might have discovered his top-secret nesting location.
Woo hoo!!! We’re dancin’, we’re dancin’! It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got me an Orchard Oriole! Not that they’re a particularly timid bird, they just have an uncanny ability to always be obscured by a leaf! Last spring I was trying to shoot one from about six feet away, those photos would have been awesome, but he was completely covered up with leaves. Then I grumbled in frustration and he flew away. You can kind of tell here that he was trying to hide, I was just too quick this time. See you next spring, bird. Or not, he’ll probably be real good at hiding by then.
Sometimes muskrats will actually come onto dry land, leaving me to ponder, briefly, just what the heck I’m looking at. Is that a really fat squirrel!?! Tiny groundhog? Beats me. I always come to the right conclusion though, eventually.
It must be Brown Thrasher season again because I find myself crawling through the mud trying to sneak up on this incredibly timid ground feeding, dense brush loving bird. And of course when I finally get into position, he hops up on a limb. Every. Time. I’m starting to think he’s not shy at all, he just really enjoys watching me crawl around in the mud.