I was out front sitting in a lawn chair taking photos of the spiderword (Tradescantia virginiana) when one of our house wrens flew up and landed briefly in the small apple tree growing near by. Then it flew to the nesting box (for lack of a better term—it’s a ceramic bottle, basically) and posed for me before disappearing inside. The other was around, as well, singing up a storm. These are very vocal little birds with a lot of volume relative to their size and we love having them. They are a lot easier to hear than to see, as small as they are.
Tagged With: Songbirds
Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood this evening. It was quite warm and humid but it’s still good to get out from time to time. I took some pictures of a purple clematis on a mailbox that turned out pretty well but I thought I’d share this photo of an eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis). It’s not as sharp as I’d like, but all things considered, it’s not too bad. These can be seen year round in our area and it’s always a treat. Maybe we’ll put up a bluebird box in the yard next year. It would be wonderful to have them in the yard.
There are some birds, notably the American robin (Turdus migratorius), that doesn’t really compare favorably with its European counterpart (Erithacus rubecula. While the European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) is a lovely bird, I think our American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is quite beautiful. This is a female (on the left) and male (on the right). They really love the Verbena bonariensis and it’s fun to watch them as they land and the stems bend under their tremendous weight. I enjoyed this couple for quite a while this morning.
Since the last time we were at the beach, the town of Shallotte has created a small park called Shallotte Riverwalk. Cathy and I decided to check it out in the hopes of seeing some water birds. I think going at low tide would be better but it was still worth a visit. We saw an egret and a great blue heron but both a fair way off, so no pictures of those. The only bird I was able to get a good photo of was this tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) in a tree.
It was a busy day today, starting with a church picnic and service at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg. We had to leave that early, though, to get to Poolesville for the memorial service for a long-time, family friend. It was a really nice service, in spite of the heat in the tiny church. We went to the family home and visited with folks for a while. When we left there, we stopped at McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area and walked a little while. I only took a few photos but I think this one of an eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), a small flycatcher, is pretty nice.
I went out to visit Dorothy today and help her a little with some brush clearing that she’s doing. I cut some small trees and helped her pull out some greenbrier (Smilax species). My back was bothering me a bit so I took a few breaks and on one of those I took three photos of this northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). They are quite gregarious birds and not nearly as shy as many other birds, which makes them a little easier to photograph. Nevertheless, I think I could do better than this with a little more patience and possibly a more comfortable position for my camera.
We took a walk along the shore of Lake Needwood today, starting from near the beaver dam, we walked north and crossed Needwood Road. Near the end, where Rock Creek flows into the lake we saw this cute, little bird flitting around in the trees and shrubs. I was able to get four photos of it, none of which were great. It didn’t sit in one place very long and the long lens is fairly cumbersome, especially when zoomed all the way out. Still, they were good enough to identify it as a blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea), which is not a bird I’ve seen before (at least not knowingly). I guess if I were keeping a life list, this would now go on it.
Cathy and I drove to Sunset Beach today and walked from the west end of town out onto the beach and then further west to the Bird Island Reserve nature trail. It’s a pretty good walk but not a difficult one. We had heard that there was a good chance of seeing painted buntings (Passerina ciris). As it turned out, we only saw one and he was a rather scruffy looking fellow, possibly a juvenile, just getting his adult plumage. He was singing nicely for us, though, and I was able to get a short video, as well as a handful of photos. He’s in the shadows of the twigs to the right, which makes his color pattern seem a little odd, but that’s him, anyway. There were quite a few swallows flying around, as well as cardinals and mourning doves, but we only saw the one bunting. Nevertheless, worth it and we’ll probably plan to go again next year.
Cathy, Dorothy and I went for a nice walk along Croyden Creek this afternoon. We started by walking east (downstream) on the north side of the creek. Shortly before Croyden Creek runs into the Northwest Branch Rock Creek, the trail goes up onto a wooded hill and then circles around to the left, eventually running into the roadbed of the old, abandoned Avery Road. We continued west from there, crossing the creek on a bridge and then returning to the Croydon Creek Nature Center across the bottom of the field beloe the Glenview Mansion. Back at the nature center I photographed birds at the feeders and got a few nice shots, including this one of a white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis).
We went to the C&O canal today, starting at Riley’s lock, where Seneca Creek flows under the canal snd into the Patomac River. We walked about 11⁄3 mile upstream. We saw a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) below the towpath beside a stream, some turtles across the turning basin, and I even got a few pictures of a golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa). Those last were a bit blurred, though, so I decided to post this photo, which is one of five I got of a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) in the trees growing in the old canal bed. It’s a cute little bird don’t you think?
We went to Meadowside Nature Center today and walked down to Lake Frank. We could see the eagle’s nest but didn’t see any eagles. It isn’t clear if the nest is in use. It seems to have deteriorated a bit, but it’s hard to know.
We returned by way of the Pioneer Homestead. On the small pond between that and the nature center we saw two pairs of hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus). As we walked up from the pond I stopped to take a few photos of this white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). They are quite common here, especially in winter, moving north in the summer. They have a distinctive whistle, often described as “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”
As mentioned in the previous post, we had a nice snowfall today, last most of the day and slowly accumulating to about four inches. We walked around part of Lake Frank early this afternoon, heading down Trailways from the neighborhood. We saw the downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) in the previous post in the woods at the bottom of Trailways.
From there we walked towards the dam, stopping to take a few pictures on the way. There were lots of sparrows and we saw dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis), American robins (Turdus migratorius), northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) and a few eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis).
I was really pleased to see and photograph two hermit thrushes (Catharus guttatus). This is the second of those and it posed really nicely for me. It was eating the red berries in the second photo but unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch that properly. Still, I think these are pretty nice pictures and I’m happy with them.
By the time we got home my hat had a good layer of snow on the brim and my beard had some ice in it. Still, I was glad to get out and enjoy the birds.
As the weather was so fine, we went for another walk today, this time at the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park. The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) was blooming in the shade garden and we walked through the Master Gardener’s demonstration garden, though there isn’t so much to see this time of year. There is one witchhazel that was blooming and oddly had all it’s dried leaves from last year still on it.
Then we walked around a large field and saw quite a few birds. We rarely go there without seeing at least a few eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) like the one shown here. We also saw what we think was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula) although the photographs are inconclusive. We saw a few woodpeckers and a hawk fly by.