Like I always say, “Let’s start the fall warbler migration with a bang!” Wait a minute, I never say that, but that’s what happened this morning when I snuck out of the office and went to the bog. There were chestnut’s, tennessee’s, redstarts… and there was this amazing little Golden-winged Warbler. This is only the second one I’ve ever seen, and both were spotted a year apart in the exact same tree! That seems kind of interesting to me, what are the odds!?!
A world-class wilderness explorer of my caliber can look at a bird from five hundred yards away and know immediately that he ain’t from around here, even though he looks very much like the local variety. Rare bird alert!!! Actually, I might not id this guy properly even if he came up and introduced himself! I was contacted by my technical staff last week and informed of a Neotropic Cormorant sighting at the bog and had I seen it. My response was “Uhhh.” So I sent over some photos and sure enough, this is him! The northernmost range of the Neotropic Cormorant is southern Texas and Louisiana, so for him to show up in central Indiana makes it a rare sighting indeed.
There hasn’t been much squirrel activity at the bog in the past month or so, but today things started to turn around. I spotted Old Red up in a tree looking cute as ever, and then he climbed down and walked on the trail with me for a while.
Our eyes met from across the prairie as sunlight filtered through the fading leaves of summer. Time stood still as we drew nearer, falling leaves suspended mid-air. The whole world stopped but me and this bird, and when I heard the singular flap of a butterfly’s wings, I knew… the fall warbler migration was here! Woo hoo!!! This Chestnut-sided Warbler was frolicking with her friends when she noticed me and came racing over to have a look!
The other day I was thinking it just ain’t a complete season without some Killdeer photos. They are an extremely timid bird, no, they’re just plain chicken! I know that’s probably offensive to chickens… and Killdeers now that I think about it, but it’s true! And then there was THIS Killdeer, walking along the edge of the bog while I photographed some sandpipers. Not a care in the world did he have, because apparently no one told him to fly away squawking at the mere sight of this particular photographer!
Poor old ugly Turkey Vulture, nobody likes him. Well I do by golly, and not just because he’s number 124 on my all-time bog list! Wink! Naw, they’re cool birds, fun to watch soaring low and slow, and a big part of the bog ecosystem. They clean up road kill and other decaying matter all over North and South America.
Hey girl, can I get your digits? Oww! Doh! Ouch!!! That’s not what I meant! Hawk flirting is hard. These two Cooper’s Hawks played footsies all the way across the bog this morning!
Waddaya lookin’ at? Gimme some more peanuts!
Just seemed like a good day for a rabbit.
We’ve got a bunch of baby Wood Ducks at the bog this year, and those super-duper fancy markings on the males are just starting to take shape. By next spring they are going to be the most amazing looking little floaters you’ve ever seen!
There’s just something about the really tiny butterflies that fascinates me! This here is a Copper Bronze butterfly.
I usually see the cormorants flying by ominously or perching ominously out on the bog, but this is the first one I’ve seen partially submerged, swimming past ominously.
I spotted this humongous pink hibiscus flower the other day, right down by the water. It’s hard to tell in the photos just how large this flower is, but if you imagine that tree is a giant redwood, it might put into perspective how stunned I was. Biggest flower I’ve ever seen!
I did a double take the day this juvenile cardinal stopped by. He’s transitioning into his big boy feathers right now and just looked a little strange to me. Lucky for me he pointedly belted out his best cardinal chirp and then I knew for sure who he was!
Poor, tired old squirrel just couldn’t muster up the energy to come down for some peanuts… until his friends started showing up. Then the yawn of the century happened- look at that tongue!
How bout now, how bout now!?! “No Dale, it’s still not fall.” Dale really loves the fall. Hmmm… that was a lot funnier in my head, but it’s still interesting to see the first leaf change of the year.
I was stomping through the woods this morning thinking about Green Herons, or the lack thereof. I’ve seen them on the other side of the bog, but I haven’t photographed one yet this year. Well today’s the day, dadgummit! I’ll sit there all day if I have to, but I WILL shoot me a Greenie today! Aaaand just as I got to the water’s edge, there he goes, flying away. Rats, figures. But what I didn’t realize during my little pity party was that he merely misunderstood where I wanted him to perch. He turned around and plopped down right in front of me on a perfect little stump! And did I mention I captured the entire landing sequence? It was awesome, like a big green chicken coming in for a crash landing!
A few weeks ago we looked at Splotchy the baby bunting, and I talked about how someday he would turn completely blue. Well, today I came across papa bunting not ten feet from where I photographed Splotchy! He seemed to be stressed about something and was scolding me pretty good. Normally I don’t like to bother birds in this situation, so I’d try to get a quick shot and then move on, but this bird wasn’t very convincing so I stayed and got a ton of photos! How was he not convincing? Well, he would scold me for a minute, then stop and eat. Then he’d say “I’m still scolding you, GRRR!!!” Then he’d stop and preen for a while, and “GRRR!!! Still mad at you!” This went on for ten minutes until I continued down the path, but I decided to stop by there on my way back an hour later and he continued, “Eat, scold, preen, GRRR!!! Eat, scold, preen, GRRR!!!”
This Tiger Swallowtail was a little beat up on his right side, so I figured I’d cut in real close and call it art.
I’ve often wondered if Song Sparrows ever stop singing, and today that question has been answered. They actually shut up just long enough to eat! I was at the water’s edge when this little dude hopped on by, just as quietly as can be.
Here’s another one from my Squirrel on a Stick series. This is a Red Squirrel taken a few months ago. It seems like I’ve already posted this photo, but this is what the Red Squirrels do. They find a little branch, and perch like a bird.
Happiness is hanging out with your favorite bird. But don’t tell the tanagers I picked a towhee. Or the waxwings… or the woodpeckers. And definitely don’t tell Carl! Well, he would be my favorite backyard bird, but don’t tell the sparrows… or the wrens. Gah!!!!! Happiness is
hanging out with your favorite bird. Whew! Happiness is bird.
I don’t know how to sugar coat this, so I’ll just say it: Red-winged Blackbirds are vain little creatures. All day long, back and forth on that log, looking at their reflections in the water. Or maybe they’re just looking for food, some delicious aquatic invertebrates perhaps. Yeah that’s probably it, they know they look good anyway.
At first I thought this might be the extremely rare and elusive Northern Splotchy Bunting, a very exciting find for sure, but then I remembered I just made that name up! This is actually a juvenile Indigo Bunting who, by the sound of it, has just found his voice. He was too busy singing away to be the least bit concerned about me. By next year he will lose all those goofy looking feathers and turn completely blue, and be doing everything possible to avoid being photographed by me.
A few days ago I challenged this Painted Turtle to a race, clear to the end of that log. I guess I should get back there and see how far ahead I am!