Most birds are easy enough to track down at the bog, whether I can hear them singing, or see them moving around in their favorite habitat, or merely by using my world-class knowledge of the natural world. None of the aforementioned tracking techniques apply to the Yellow Warbler however, nope, I’m convinced that they somehow simply materialize out of thin air and appear before me. Not one time have I ever successfully tracked one down, but here’s a typical encounter: I’m walking along and suddenly become fascinated by the yellowness of something up ahead, Soooo yellow, wait… warbler? Yellow Warbler! And every single time, an extremely patient bird poses nicely while I fumble to get my gear pointed in his general direction and mash down on the shutter button!
Something in the distance caught my eye, Naw, it’s nothing, probably just a leaf or a wad of some organic matter. Being a world-class wilderness expert, I was able to quickly disregard this as nothing remotely interesting and move on to bigger and better things. As I got closer however, it was starting to look more and more like a… it is! it’s a Ruby-throated Hummingbird! First one of the season! It’s a male too, I don’t see many of those. The light was hitting him all wrong though, and his throat appeared dark brown instead of bright red. I need to get clear over on the other side of him where the light is better, so I shimmied on past real slow. He seemed moderately amused by this behaviour and looked on curiously. Now I’m in position, the light is just right, and I’d swear he’s moving his head around in order to show off those bright red feathers! I’m glad I was able to quickly determine that this was definitely not just a wad of organic matter!
I’m gonna tell you a story about a bird; I’m still processing it myself but I’ll let you decide what’s going on here. The grackles have been back for a while now and they’re pretty smart so they quickly remembered snack time. Two weeks ago I threw some peanuts out and I watched as a grackle flew up carrying a big ole worm in her beak. She plopped that worm down on the deck, grabbed a peanut, and took off. I didn’t think much of it at first because, given the choice, I’d rather eat peanuts myself! I’m still not convinced at this point that anything special is going on here, even after more than a week of this behavior, but then it happened. The event that has me reconsidering yet again just how intelligent these birds actually are. She flew up for a peanut, but this time she didn’t bring me a worm. Ahah! I knew it, it’s all just a coincidence! I continued to watch, proud of the fact that I didn’t fall victim to my overactive imagination once again, when she flew out into the yard, grabbed a worm, came back and plopped it onto the deck, and took off with her peanut! So now the big question is, what do I do with all these worms???
Like your favorite song from the 70’s, whenever I hear a House Wren belt out his favorite tune, it takes me way back. Back to a time of Atari and Pong, Elvis and Isaac Hayes, The Six Million Dollar man and The Dukes of Hazzard. Yeah, my introduction to the House Wren was a long time ago, and I’ll never forget it.
I was in a real bad mood yesterday over the loss of my photos the previous day, so I went to the bog. There’s always some creature there just waiting to make my day. Immediately upon my arrival I was met by a chatty catbird and we had a nice, long talk. About what I have no idea, but it was nice and it was long. As he carried on, I looked down at the log I was standing next to and spotted the tiniest little snail you’ve ever seen. What’s that on his back? Is that a… it is! It’s a flower! There is a tiny snail with an even tinier flower on his back, cruising around on his favorite log and I just happen to drive all the way out here, trudge through the mud to this exact spot, and witness it. Mission accomplished, thanks again bog!!!
I like for my wildlife photos to be just that, wild. No traces of humankind whatsoever. So when it came time to examine this photo of a Red Squirrel, I realized he was perched atop an old piece of lumber. Where did I even take this photo!?! Oh yeah, this is the post from a fallen duck house at the bog. I wonder if I can replace that post with a log somehow? Through the power of photoshop, and after much cropping and cloning, brushing and blending, I did it!!! I’m really good at photoshop.
I had a fantastic time at the bog this morning! The warblers are finally starting to show up, I shot a male Blackpoll, a Connecticut, and a Magnolia Warbler. I shot some redstarts and yellowthroats. I got some great shots of my favorite little Pied-billed Grebe, and also a blue heron. I shot some cool video… and then I got a corrupted file warning on my memory card. That’s weird, never seen that before. I didn’t think much of it until I got home and plugged the card into my computer, and it was completely fried. That was a brand new memory card, GRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! I’ve never been much of a product reviewer but in this case, S******, I rate your memory cards one towhee tushy!!! I would have rated it zero towhee tushies but that’s not nearly as funny, and I’ve been using their cards for ten years with no problems. A lot of cool photos were lost today, maybe some day when the pain and anger subsides I’ll pony up the $300 for data recovery.
Years ago, when the Carolina Wrens moved into my back yard, they didn’t like me snooping around one bit. After a few months of expressing their disapproval, they eased up and allowed me to move around in their territory to do things like mow the lawn and fill the feeders. Today they are completely on board with me and the peanut program, routinely showing up first for snack time. The other day I was out back with my camera when this little dude came right up and started eating. They’ve come a long way from that family of wrens lined up on the fence, simultaneously scolding the intruder. And how about that fantastic little tail!
I love how the Hermit Thrush quietly shows up in the spring, quietly forages for food, and quietly sits on his perch… while all the local birds are going absolutely bananas, hootin’ and hollarin’ and chasing each other around all over the place!!! It would be easy to assume he thought we were all nuts down here, but I know that when he gets to Canada he’ll be doing the exact same thing!
I had to laugh when I saw this squirrel lying on the railing the other day, because I took the exact same photo back in August! And of course, the more I laughed, the more annoyed he got. Sometimes that’s the price a squirrel must pay for a handful of peanuts. The original photo from August is on the bottom.
One of the first warblers I had the pleasure of meeting years ago also happens to be one of the first to show up here during the spring warbler migration. A highly active and very vocal bird, give a Palm Warbler a little tree full of insects and they will happily sing and dance in that tree all day long! I watched this guy frolic for thirty minutes, singing and chasing bugs nearly non-stop. Then he let out a huge warbler yawn and settled down in the shade for a nap. Look at that tongue!
A little know fact about the Great Blue Heron is that they love to play fetch! Who knew!?! I spent all morning throwing a stick for this dude, and he brought it back every time. Then he would crouch down, tail wagging, and wait for me to throw it again! Not really, c’mon… it was a slow news day at the bog.
Brown-headed Cowbirds ain’t much to look at, they don’t sing a real purdy song, and they lay their eggs in other bird’s nests. I don’t know if that’s brilliant or just plain lazy but I do know that they are #122 on my all-time bog list. (Insert winky emoticon here) Also, it’s pretty comical to see a tiny little Chipping Sparrow scrambling around, trying to keep her enormous baby cowbird fed!
It was a bad day to be a bright orange Koi at the bog. I watched this Osprey trying to enjoy some breakfast on his favorite perch but the blackbirds would have none of it. Back and forth across the bog they chased that poor old fisherman, but I knew he would have to fly past me eventually, so I waited. And he did. I’m a little curious as to why the blackbirds would waste their time chasing an Osprey, they pretty much only eat fish and aren’t really a threat to anyone, except bright orange Koi.
I usually see the baby squirrels in October, so imagine my surprise when I spotted this tiny dude snooping around on the deck this morning! You’d think the other squirrels would try to help him out a bit, but nooo, they’re treating him like one of the gang and making him fight for his food. And yes, I’ve been sneaking him peanuts when they aren’t looking.
Perhaps I’m just imagining things, I’ve been known to do that, but it seems to me that this particular White-throated Sparrow really likes flowers! I followed him around the bog a little today and he stopped at every flower along the way. At one point he even said “Take my picture next to this yellow one!” Actually he said “Take my picture next to this Taraxacum Officinale,” and I said “You mean that yellow one?”
I think every bird at the bog was singing the other day; I could hardly hear myself think and I loved every minute of it! There was one bird in particular that sounded like a Common Grackle who had forgotten his lines, so I followed that goofy singing through the woods until, wait a minute, is that the same bird? I think it is, but now he sounds like a really confused Red-winged Blackbird! If only I could put eyes on this bird and get him identified. A little while later I did find him, way up in the tree tops. He’s got big yellow grackle eyes but not nearly enough tail. And then just like that he was gone, flew away. Hmmm… maybe a Brewer’s Blackbird, that would be a cool find. Later that morning I was down by the bog when I heard him again, this time he was close, really close. He’s right in this little tree that I’m leaning against! Hey, that ain’t no brewer’s, it looks like his feathers are rusting. Rusty Blackbird! Definitely a cool find and a somewhat rare bird. And really friendly too!
Have you ever seen a Solitary Sandpiper sneeze? I have and I gotta say, it was spectacular! A few things must happen to execute the perfect sandpiper sneeze, first, find a nice boggy log to stand on. Next, spend a few hours preening, making sure to get every single feather nice and clean, and arranged in a neat and orderly fashion. The final step, and this one is critical, let it RIP! Ahhhchploooey!!!
Ahhh, yellow birds in the spring, fluttering amidst the newly budding leaves. That can only mean one thing… warblers! Wait a minute, I thought the same thing a few days ago and they weren’t even warblers. Oh boy, what if I’m wrong again!?! Aww heck with it, I’m diving in head first! Woohoo! Spring warbler migration is here! These Pine Warblers are always among the first to arrive, along with the yellow rumps and the palms. I usually only see one of these pines at a time, but today there was a pair, and they seemed to be enjoying the bog almost as much as I was enjoying watching them enjoy it!