Okay, go past the bank and turn right at the car wash, then the next left. I don’t usually get too fired up about this kind of urban exploration, but I received directions to the nearest Mississippi Kite, a rare bird for these parts, from a fellow at the Celery Bog so I thought, why not cruise through the neighborhood and see what we see. Great directions! There they are in the dead tree on the corner. The first thing I noticed was that magnificent tail, but when he gave me a mid-air, hovering head tilt I was so glad I set out on this adventure!
I absolutely love knowing there are box turtles walking around the woods at the Celery Bog! I had to lecture this little dude about the dangers of hanging out on the path, and he immediately turned around and went back where he belongs.
Squirrels don’t sit still for photos very well this time of year, so when I came upon this little dude I had to do my best squirrel charming. It’s a lot like snake charming only less dangerous, well, not dangerous at all really. Easy boy, that’s it… nice and easy, SNAP!!! I got one shot off and he was gone!
My little buddy was out back playing in his favorite tree when he heard a new noise: the sound of water rushing into his bowl. To say he was fascinated would be an understatement. As soon as I turned to walk away, he hurried down the tree to investigate!
A tiny white egret soared past gracefully as I stood by the water’s edge. Seems a bit small for a Great Egret, maybe he’s just a Pretty Good Egret. Or an Average Egret! I was cracking myself up with my super funny jokes about this little dude when it occurred to me: this is a Snowy Egret, he really is great!
Apparently I wasn’t walking fast enough the other day when the resident white robin went motoring past me on the trail at the Celery Bog. She’s fearless, that’s for sure! Here’s a video of her enthusiastically collecting nesting material back in June. Robins are some of the most entertaining birds to watch during nesting season.
I’ve never seen a lone Cedar Waxwing, and I never see them amongst the wildflowers. They are always hanging out in their little waxwing museums, high in the treetops. Imagine my surprise then when I spotted this guy while I was out goldfinching the other day. Bonus bird!
And the prize for craziest looking caterpillar I’ve ever seen goes toooo… the Milkweed Tussock Moth!!! If I wasn’t a world-class wilderness explorer I might think someone knitted this little dude out of yarn and stuck him on that leaf! By the way, I believe that is milkweed.
I’ve come up with some pretty hair-brained theories about birds and wildlife, most of which are true, I just haven’t had time to prove them all yet. It’s beyond me though, why the Green Herons don’t show up here until August, but if I had to guess I’d say they probably have a preferred breeding area which is somewhere else, and once breeding is complete, they move to their preferred foraging area which is right here!
Where have you been hiding Mr. Lincoln!?! Your country needs you! Lincoln’s Sparrows are a common but secretive bird that pass through much of the U.S. during spring and fall migration and hide in dense vegetation while they’re here, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to find one at the end of my lens. Seriously, I’m voting for this guy.
As the long, hot summer days dwindle and the wildflowers begin to dry out, giggling goldfinch season begins! Some experts will say that giggling sound is merely the flight call of an American Goldfinch, but THIS expert knows they are giggling, mostly at my inability to see them even from a few feet away! I headed over to inspect the wildflowers at the south lot, hoping for some goldfinches, and I wasn’t there ten seconds before I bumped into one. As he flew away giggling I thought to myself, It’s okay, we expected that but keep it together because there are probably more. Two more steps forward and two more giggling goldfinches blasted off from right at my feet. Grrr! After five minutes I had stirred up a dozen gigglers from point-blank range, some of them would have been sweet shots, and only one who never did fly away. Or giggle. He is the one I’m after, the one who is more interested in eating than anything else.
I was so excited to get this shot the day after my new tenant introduced himself; I raced home from work, set the camera up, hit record and laid down some crunchy peanutty bait. Then I waited. And waited. After a few minutes I went inside. And waited. And then a squirrel came hopping along and ate all my bait! Grrr! So I gathered up my gear and decided to wait a few hours, it’s probably nap time anyway. After two long hours I went out back to try again and I could see him waiting under there for me as I set the camera up. He must have known it was snack time because he came out right away!
A week ago I made a brash statement about my nemesis birds; something like, Eventually they all come around. As I wrote that, I was thinking, I’ll never get that Belted Kingfisher now! Saturday evening I was in my usual spot down by the water and I could hear a couple of kingfishers bickering back and forth; they do that a lot. This particular spot has become perfectly overgrown, the trees and shrubs forming a nice little canopy and the grass in front is nice and tall. I couldn’t build a better bird blind myself! Well, I mean… I could, but why not just let nature take care of it. I could tell from the racket these two were making that they were chasing each other back and forth just to the south, but then the bickering started to get louder. They’re headed right for me! Sigh, this is usually when they spot me and make a prompt U-turn, oh well. As I prepared to be disappointed yet again, I realized that they can’t see me in here, Are they really going to fly right past!?! Yup!
I spotted a Red-winged Blackbird on the trail up ahead; it was nesting season, or as I like to call it: head pecking season. He was checking me out so I proceeded with caution. Let’s see if he’s defending a nest. There it is, and she’s in it! Just then he flew away without so much as a peep! She’s gonna be maaad! Why did you do that!?! You should have at least made it look good, dude; give me a little peck or a squawk, or a flyby. SOMETHING! She forgot about me immediately and glared in the general direction he just went. Poor bird, I suspect the next human that walks by here is going to get the full blackbird treatment from him!
There are always new things to see at the Celery Bog, even for a world-class wilderness explorer such as myself. What’s your name giant swallowtail? I like to ask new butterflies this kind of question, usually out loud and usually right when someone is walking past, and today he responded, Giant Swallowtail. Aww, that’s cute, you’re repeating what I say. Serious though, what is your name? Giant Swallowtail. Oh, that really is your name, I had it right the first time. World-class wilderness explorer here!
I was headed down the deck stairs out back when I noticed some tiny whiskers sticking out from beneath the bottom step, so I dropped some peanuts there because who doesn’t walk around with peanuts for feeding critters? Almost immediately a pair of tiny paws began raking those peanuts in!
Sometimes killing them with kindness takes a while, but eventually all my nemesis birds come around. Take the Common Yellowthroat for example, he’s been running from me since before I even knew what a yellowthroat was. A few months ago I got a lucky shot of him through the leaves when he didn’t realize I was there, then a few days later he completely snapped and decided I was suddenly somehow fascinating to him. Bribery is quicker but apparently the Common Yellowthroat is too upstanding for that.
The Luna Moth… what an amazing creature this is with its 4.5 inch wingspan, cool green coloration, and those eye spots. Living for about a week solely to party and propagate the species, there is no time to eat for the Luna Moth, and that’s okay because they don’t even have a mouth. Fascinating!
American Wigeon, Blue Grosbeak, Downy Woodpecker… I was basking in the glory of my bog list, 143 species I’ve photographed in three and a half years, when I realized something. No Chipping Sparrow? How could I forget about my tiny sparrow pal?!? Surely I’ve got a photo him down here somewhere, I insisted as I raced up and down the dark narrow halls of my massive underground photo storage vault. Ahh, here’s one, whew! One hundred forty FOUR species!