I was tracking a new noise at the bog recently, a new bird noise. It sounded like a slightly angry version of some kind of warbler or vireo. It’s always exciting discovering a new bird, and this one is new, I guarantee it! Then, just like clockwork, out popped a Warbling Vireo. Rats, that’s a cool find, but it’s not who I was hearing. I returned to that same bush the very next day, more determined than ever to figure who that new noise belongs to. Now I can hear a Warbling Vireo as well as my new bird, I got him now, I guarantee it! Aaaaand… out popped a Blue-headed Vireo! What’s going on here!?! That’s also a cool find but it still ain’t my new bird. Now it’s day 3 and I’m totally confused, and that new bird is in his bush making a complete mockery of a world-class wilderness explorer. Then, finally, he came out and introduced himself, it’s a Bell’s Vireo!!! I knew it! That’s the fifth vireo species I’ve photographed at the bog in two years, and #122 on my all-time bog list. Good stuff!
I’ve been chasing the gnatcatchers all season long without much success. It’s not like they’re skittish either, heck they ain’t scared of nothin’ as far as I can tell. They do spend a lot of time high in the treetops though, and when they finally do come down the light is no good or they just won’t sit still. That was pretty much the case with this little gal, I watched as she flitted about in the treetops, but then she came down to have a look at ME! Even pausing every few seconds to pose for the camera!
I finally made it back to the bog today, only the second time in two weeks. Stupid weather. Anyway, I didn’t see a single squirrel this fine Sunday morning. Sunday morning!?! It’s Squirrel Sunday, what am I gonna do!?! Oh yeah, I’ve got a cloud filled with squirrels, I’ll just use one of them. I’m being told that it’s not an actual cloud filled with squirrels, but a super-duper secure hard drive in a top secret location buried deep within a mountain somewhere. Whatever, it’s a cloud filled with squirrels.
Gray Catbirds are fluent in whatever language they want, just takes a bit of practice. So I was a little disappointed when this catbird popped out of his favorite bush, I said “Hello”, and all he said was, “chirp?” Kidding of course, I’m never disappointed to see a catbird.
I just love Cedar Waxwings, never get tired of seeing them. I think it was Hugo the Abominable Snowman who said it best when he proclaimed, I would hug him and pet him and squeeze him and name him George! I believe that he was not referring to Daffy duck when he said those famous words, but rather, a Cedar Waxwing, because that’s exactly how I feel whenever I see one! This throwback to 60’s Bugs Bunny cartoons has been brought to you by birdsofthebog.com.
Two peas in a pod, birds of a feather, two of a kind, peanut butter and jelly, cut from the same cloth, two bugs in a rug. These are the things I think of when I see a pair of Northern Shovelers. So different are they in appearance yet so similar that it’s easy to tell they were just made for each other. This is one cute couple of ducks that are never far apart, and always put a smile on my face.
Only after I got over the cuteness of this shiny green creature crawling on my lilies, could I set out to identify it. Long grasshopper legs? Check. Grasshopper shaped head? Check. Big green grasshopper wings? Ch- hmmm, no wings? What on earth is this!?! What kind of long jumpy legged creature ain’t got no wings??? Well, I’ll tell you: a long-horned grasshopper nymph, that’s who; aka, a baby Katydid!
Surf’s up, dude! Get it? Because he’s on a board? No? Yeah, you’re right, that was pretty bad. Cute picture though. That looks to be part of a really old deer stand which has been repurposed for recreational squirrel usage.
I was working on this piece about Carl and his babies, but something didn’t feel right, something was wrong. Here’s what I wrote:
A typical encounter with Carl and his girlfriend is a casual affair; they hang out on the deck, eating and chatting, probably talking about how amazing I am. Lately though, there has been an increasing sense of urgency, less chit-chat, more grab the food and go. It’s become so urgent recently that they’re like, Hey peanut boy, just give us the food!!! I had a feeling that Carl would be introducing me to some baby Carl’s in the very near future, and today he brought me one. I feel like tomorrow he’ll probably stop by with the rest of his flock.
Midway through the creation of this post I realized something, those aren’t baby cardinals. Yup, Carl got “cowbirded”, those are baby cowbirds he’s feeding! Cowbirds are parasitic nesters, in other words, they lay their eggs in the nests of unsuspecting birds and hope they get raised up right. I’m not sure if that’s lazy or brilliant, or some combination of both, but I was mad when I made this realization. I did calm down a bit when I saw Carl feeding an actual baby cardinal of his own though.
It takes some serious intestinal fortitude to build a nest in a low hanging branch directly over the main trail. Not many birds can pull that off, certainly not a Mourning Dove. I gave this rookie nest builder a week before she gave up and built somewhere else, she was gone in three days. Silly dove!
There are something like 217 species of skipper butterflies in North America, and I knew this was one of them. Flipping through the guide, I stopped at such skippers as Aragos and Black Dash, Dreamy Duskywing and Little Glassywing. These are all close, but they aren’t my butterfly. I can’t wait to figure out who this is, he’s gonna have the coolest name of them all! There he is, What’s his name, what’s his name!?!?! Gah!!!I can’t take it anymore! Least Skipper? Rats. Oh well, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is the cutest, fluffiest little butterfly around.
I rarely come across a cooperative Indigo Bunting, maybe once a year. I see them all over the place, that blue is hard to miss. I hear them all over the place, that’s one noisy little bird. But when it comes time for the photography, they couldn’t care less! This morning when I saw one up ahead I got a little excited, after all, it is the rare and elusive COOPERATIVE Indigo Bunting! He allowed me to take a few shots and I was thrilled, even though they weren’t great shots. See you in a few years, cooperative bunting, I thought to myself as I happily continued down they trail, giggling as if that was the most witty thing ever said to a bird. Later that evening I happened to be passing by the bog (yeah right) and I had my point and shoot camera with me, so I pulled in. I like to work the west-facing areas of the bog in the warm glow of the evening light. I chased some vireos and yellowthroats, and photographed a hummingbird, and then I saw him, another cooperative bunting!?! That’s TWO in one day, unheard of!
Yellow-rumped Warblers are probably the most common warblers to pass through here every spring and fall, and I’ve got tons of photos of them as a result. Because I’ve got so many photos of this cute little dude, I was going to be a bit more selective when shooting them this spring. I’m glad I forgot about that stupid plan because we didn’t get our usual massive influx of warblers this year. The few we did get, though, I shot real good.
A typical bullfrog encounter for me involves a simultaneous jump, CROAK!!!, and kersplunk!!! Followed by me checking to see if I’ve still got a pulse. They have perfected that particular scare tactic. Today they weren’t doing any of it though, they were all just hanging out. Hmmm, that’s kind of scary too, now that I think about it. I mean, not to a world-class wilderness explorer such as myself, but maybe to someone who’s scared of frogs.
I keep calling this towhee Carl on accident, I guess it’s because he reminds me so much of him. So, now I call him Timmy and he calls me Chirp. You know who else calls me Chirp? Carl!!! There are other similarities too, like the way they both come up and hang out with me, nice and relaxed and looking around. I used to wonder if Carl only hung out with me for food, but not anymore because the only thing I feed Timmy is giggles and he loves hanging out with me!
I’ve seen the Black-billed Cuckoo twice, heck, I’ve photographed him twice, and I still can’t hardly believe that such a creature exists at the bog. For me this bird evokes images of a desert oasis in some faraway exotic land, so when I do see him it’s a real treat!
I was walking along when I heard the distinct sound of claws on tree bark. A world-class wilderness explorer such as myself knows immediately that it’s just a squirrel. But wait a minute, oh, it’s my camera rubbing on my shirt. That’s funny, it sounds just like a squirrel climbing a tree! As I stopped wriggling my gear around to replicate that noise I realized that the scratching sound continued, and now I was really confused. Is that a squirrel or not!?! Looking in the general direction of the noise I noticed a small opening in the canopy, a window into the bog, really, and smack dab in the middle of that window was mama raccoon frantically stuffing her kids into the treehouse!
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve had my own personal oriole for the past few weeks. He sits in the back yard, singing away, and occasionally attempts to land on the tiny hummingbird feeder by the house. I like to think he sits out there waiting for me to appear before breaking into song, but I suspect he just sings all day long to anyone within earshot.