It was a long, lonely summer waiting for the fall squirrel migration, but when I heard the call, “Cruncha cruncha cruncha!!!” I knew they were back! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a smidge, but I didn’t see many squirrels at the Celery Bog last summer so I was pretty excited to see a young Fox Squirrel whittling on the branch above me.
I made my way to the water’s edge just in time to witness three Gadwall slowly floating by in perfect formation. It was a little awkward because I was staring and they were staring, then they were like, “Take a picture it’ll last longer” and I was like, “Don’t mind if I do, click!”
I was walking through the woods one day and all was well. The birds were singing and the squirrels were squirreling, when out of nowhere a dark shadow appeared. Slowly downhill toward the water this mysterious shadow oozed and everyone cast a glance; every bird and every squirrel and every world-class wilderness explorer. None were concerned though and quickly resumed their day, all but one. I concluded that, based on the complete non-reaction of the woodland creatures that day, this was no foe to them, perhaps an Osprey. Guys, I gotta go!
They may be long gone from the Celery Bog but they’re never far from my thoughts and I feel like thinking about that Golden-winged Warbler right now! What a treat it was to stand in front of the breakfast bush this little dude was foraging in. Without a care in the world, he’d stop periodically to swallow, and presumably to make sure we were still watching.
The Celery Bog was silent when I heard the battle cry of my nemesis from nearby. She’s right behind me! Before I could swing around she was firing on me, “Tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!” With my trusty Canon now in position I returned fire, “Clickety-clickety-clickety-clickety!” “Tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!” “Clickety-clickety-clickety-clickety!” The battle raged on for what felt like hours but in reality was only a few seconds and in the end I narrowly escaped with a shot.
This could very well be the greatest Great Blue Heron hiding place of all time and he didn’t even fool me once. More like, uhh… going on about fifteen times now! This tangle is right across from the south observation deck and I have to remember to check in there every time because he’s usually there, relaxing with a belly full of fish.
My pelican trip to the far north end of the Celery Bog was not for naught; I got a new bird! The north basin features something that you don’t see in the main bog: really shallow shallows that the shorebirds love. That’s where I spied a trio of Greater Yellowlegs foraging for food. I would have made the trip sooner had I realized how much fun it is to watch these leggy little birds running around!
If I wasn’t a world-class wilderness explorer I’d be inclined to think that pelican just laid an egg! She’s been the talk of the bog lately, floating around the north side for a week and a half. I’ll wait for her to come down here, was my thinking early on. She’ll be floating right past my favorite spot any day now. Sigh, fine! It’s been ten days and I heard she’s still up there, so off we go to the far north side. Aaaand she’s not here, figures! As I made my way back to the south, I had to kick myself a little, “It’s your own dang fault for waiting!” That’s when I spotted a big white somebody smack-dab in the middle of my favorite spot!
A world-class wilderness explorer such as myself can detect the faintest sounds in nature and immediately determine the creature making the sound. Take the rustling in the brush up ahead for example, I know it’s a squirrel; it’s the easiest sound of all to identify. I can tell by the cadence and pitch of the leaves crunching beneath his feet that it’s clearly a- GAHHH!!! Hawk!!! It’s uhh, important to note that sometimes a Red-tailed Hawk will mimic the sounds of a squirrel it’s hunting. Yeah, that’s it, and also it’s important to be careful a hawk don’t face plant into the side of your head while you’re out birding!
As I watched a lone Mallard pair dabbling from across the Celery Bog, I couldn’t help but wonder why, as common as they are and as friendly as they are, do I rarely get any perfect opportunities to photograph them? Take today for instance: just the slightest hint of wispy overcastness in the sky and no wind to speak of. This would be a great day to, wait a minute… are they? Really? They’re swimming this way. From the far side of the bog, these two just swam over here and made a close pass and now they’re paddling back to where they came from! Such friendly birds, and thoughtful too! Wait a minute, how did they know I was… hmmm.
A single Double-crested Cormorant floating or flying by is a strange sight for sure but I’m not sure what to make of a double double submarining along in the morning mist. A big goofy gulp of cormorants looks just about right though!
The most eager to be photographed warbler of them all this fall was, by far, the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Not the most numerous bird by any means, but when the lights came up, and went down for that matter, and the cameras powered on, there they were. In every group of warblers I encountered, there was a Chestnut-sided Warbler pushing his way to the front! It’s been a while since I’ve seen one so they’re probably long gone by now. Fly safe little buddy, and we’ll see you in a few months wearing all of your brand new spring bling!
I don’t know what’s gotten into the Black-and-white Warblers lately, but they’ve been uncharacteristically cooperative. Maybe after all these years they’ve finally decided I’m funny looking enough to warrant a closer look!
I get so much enjoyment from nature that it should be illegal. Whether it’s a warbler doing some silly thing, or a sparrow with something very important to tell me, or a lone Pied-billed Grebe headed to the south end of the Celery Bog where all his buddies are congregating.
I was shocked to find this fierce predator with the blood of his enemies dripping off his chest. Hang on, my technical staff are calling, probably to tell me what a great job I’m doing. Uh huh, uh huh, I see. Wait, one more time? Oh, I get it now, ROSE-breasted Grosbeak. Not ferocious? Not blood? Heh heh.
He didn’t get away! In hindsight, I figure Mr. Wilson was merely encouraging his new Canada Warbler pal to come out for photos; that I was actually a good dude. Was there ever any doubt that I’d get him? Pretty obvious, I know.
A few weeks ago I was attempting to persuade a super shy Canada Warbler to sit for some photos but I was distracted by another little yellow someone out of the corner of my eye. It was a Wilson’s Warbler. Normally also very shy, this bird was perching out in the open! Here and there, everywhere! I think he was trying to create a diversion so his Canadian friend could escape! Tune in tomorrow to find out if his sneaky little plan worked and that Canada Warbler got away…
Woo hoo! My ruddy buddy is back!!! Ahem, I mean uhh… here’s a Ruddy Duck. I’m definitely not losing my mind over a duck right now. It’s totally casual, like, “Oh look, there’s a duck.” See? No biggie. Oh, there’s another one! And a bunch of tiny teal! And my shovel buddy! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!
To me there’s nothing sweeter than a bird with food. I explored every corner of the Celery Bog this afternoon, there was a lot to see, and upon returning to my vehicle, discovered a bush full of warblers! They were picking at the small white bountiful berries and I begged them to just eat ’em whole! They complied with my request because you don’t have to ask a Yellow-rumped Warbler twice to eat more food!
The arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers, aka butterbutts, is bittersweet for me in that they mark the beginning of the end of the fall warbler migration, but they’ll be the first ones back in the spring. We get so many butterbutts in the fall, but I wish we had more. Butterbutts are so darn cute, but I wish they could stay longer. Butterbutts are another favorite bird of mine, but… but nuthin’, they just are! I wanted to squeeze a dozen buts in this story, how’d I do? Ahhh, nailed it! You can never have too many buts in a story about butterbutts!
It was the kind of day I dream about: being completely surrounded by warblers, each one fighting to be closest to me. I didn’t have to look very hard to find the warblers today; actually, I didn’t have to look at all, they found me! I stood there for an hour while a dozen warblers of six or seven species swarmed around me, jockeying for the most photogenic perches. This Palm Warbler was one of the closest; they’re always really good about that.
How many favorite birds am I allowed to have? Maybe it’s in those eyes, but the Black-throated Green Warblers always seem to approach with an air of familiarity; like old friends hoping to catch up after a long summer away. For that reason alone this is a favorite bird of mine.
I watched in amazement when, out of nowhere, a Bald Eagle gave chase to a Great Blue Heron. Presumably after the heron’s freshly captured fish and not a pair of juicy jumbo sized drumsticks, he landed empty handed on a tiny perch nearby.