Tag Archives: Great Blue heron

Birding with the Yangs

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These past few weeks, Yang and I have had some wonderful bird sightings, sometimes, literally, in our own back yard.  Case in point, one Friday, Natasha was meowing at the door all day. Then Rosalind was in the pantry window bird-chattering away, while I worked on my novel in the dining room.  I stopped and suddenly became aware that I’d been hearing a high-pitched hawkish call.  I got up and looked out the window in the dining room, and what did I see in the patch of sea roses, but two Merlins!  One flew away, while the other hung out for some time – before attacking a sparrow who out-smarted him.  I got these pictures through the window because I was afraid going outside would drive my visitor off.  Hence, it’s much blurrier than I’d like.  What do you think of this new guy?  I haven’t seen him since, but I did find an ominous splash of tiny white bird feathers on the nearby back porch.
Our bird feeders have returned to us the usual suspects.  Lots of Titmice and some Chickadees battle four pushy Blue Jays.  We also have two male and one female Cardinal  visiting.  One of the males is pretty aggressive.  While he’s fine with the little birds, he’ll go after the Blue Jays and drive them off!  We also have Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Goldfinches wearing their winter buff, and even a Yellow-bellied Woodpecker.  One day, a Carolina Wren gave me such a scolding when I came too near the juniper bush!
On a visit with friends on the Cape, we came across one of my favorite, but rarely seen, birds.  At first, seeing the creature head on, I perceived a bird with a brownish head and chest with a white belly forming a “v” into the brown chest.  I claimed I’d never seen such a bird before, until he took flight and I saw the luscious blue.  Bluebirds! A good-sized flock of them!  I noted in my Peterson’s that Bluebirds are usually found year round in New England mainly on the Cape.  How appropriate!  The Bluebird was one of my “must see” birds for the year.  I still need to see an Indigo Bunting, a Piliated Woodpecker, and a Scarlet Tanager.  It’s probably too late in the year for the first and last, but I’m holding onto hope for that Pterodactyl-sized woodpecker.  The Bluebird photos are courtesy of Andrea Krammer.
Today, when we took a morning walk (about 7:00) on the Blackstone River Trail, we saw some interesting birds.  A Great Blue Heron and a black Cormorant were fishing in the same part of the river.  Then, atop a tall dead tree, we saw a bald eagle.  We watched as he sat there majestically for some time before he soared off away from us and the river. We didn’t have the means to get a picture, so I’m borrowing this one below.

I can’t wait to see what the remainder of the year brings!
Source eagle image:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eagle_on_roots_-_crop_3_(430008061).jpg

 

Birds and Beasts at Mt. Auburn Cemetery

We went to Mt. Auburn looking for birds and beasts. In the past, we’ve seen rabbits, ground hogs, foxes, hawks, and robins, but we had a few surprises this time. This is a lovely catbird. 2mtauburn1I’m afraid you can’t quite distinguish his/her black cap. We have at least one who lives near our house and is rather friendly, visiting the bird feeders, sipping from the bird baths and fish pond, and plucking up multi-legged critters from the ground. We also saw tons of robins. I wanted to include this picture for my British viewers. Your robins are adorable, petite, and feathered lovely blue and rust. Ours, as you can see, are longer and larger, with a grey/black body and striking rusty-red tummy. Their faces and build are similar to your blackbirds, MtAuburn10though yours are really black. I heard that your robins were struggling.  How are they doing now?

 

Here was a nice surprise! Down by one of the ponds, we 2MtAuburn3found quite a few painted turtles sunning themselves. Look at this guy stretch his hind legs. Seems comfy, doesn’t he/she. Meanwhile, in the pond, a baby was swimming around like crazy, having a ball. maybe this guy on the shore was a watchful parent?2mtauburn4

 

 

 

 

 

 

2mtauburn7We really had a surprise when we saw and were able to follow a Great Blue Heron around the cemetery. We expected to see him wading in one of the ponds. That’s how we usually see them, but not this guy.2mtauburn5 He just took himself on the most casual of strolls, looking around, chilling out. maybe he was looking for a friend?

Okay, here he is paying his respects.2mtauburn6

 

Heading back to our car we got the biggest of surprises!2mtauburn8 A flock of about 8 or 9 wild turkeys! Notice the “beards” hanging from some of the birds. I’d never noticed that before.2mtauburn9

 

I talked to a woman who was planting some flowers at a relative’s grade, and she told me the turkeys were making her nervous. 2mtauburn11Apparently, a turkey had gotten too aggressive with one of the workers in the cemetery last week, with things had not going well for the turkey. I have heard that these wild bird can be exceptionally bold. These guys didn’t bother us, but then, again, we didn’t bother them, either. I prevented Yang from mentioning either dreaded trigger word: Thanksgiving or drumstick.2mtauburn10

A Walk in the Sterling Woods

Sterling1Recently, Yang and I decided to take a Sunday morning walk, while it was still relatively cool, in the wooded rail trail in Sterling , MA – right behind the center of town. As you can see from the sign, DSCN2858the name of the trail is  the Mass Central Rail Trail.  It runs about a mile and three quarters one way, so round trip is about three and a half miles – too short for a bicycle ride, but nice for a walk.

 

Parts of the trail are flanked by swamp and marshes like this, Sterling3where we saw tons of Catbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Song Sparrows.  Using our new binoculars, we could watch a Song Sparrow raise his head and liberate a beautiful song.  I just wish we had a camera that could photograph what we see through the binoculars.  We also saw a ground hog pick his way through the underbrush and onto the trail, but he was too quick for us to get a photo of him.

The trail itself is Sterling6straight and flat with packed gravel, perfect for easy walking and so beautifully shady and cool during a summer day – especially in the morning.  We were lucky to see scads of chipmunks and even a few rabbits.  We weren’t so lucky in finding ourselves sometimes accompanied by mosquitoes – Sterling4but they weren’t so bad here as in other woods we’ve strolled through.

 

Toward its far end, the trail passes across a lake.  This area had once been a vacation resort, but now, as a public trail, anyone can go there to fish, boat quietly, or just enjoy the view. Dscn2868 There are some benches in the woods overlooking the lake that afford a lovely relaxing outlook.  Once, Yang and I took our tea and scones there to sit and have breakfast and enjoy the beautiful vista.  We saw scores of dragon flies and baby fish. We’ve also seen a Great Blue Heron here in the past.  I think Sterling7I might even have done some reading.  Where a bridge carries you over the lake, you come out into the sunshine, and it’s such a pleasurable view!

 

 

Yang really enjoyed using our new binoculars!Sterling5

In the parking lot,Sterling10 I saw these lovely daisies and chicory, so I had to photograph them.  One year, I found loads of Baltimore Orioles, male and female, building their nests in the trees along the lot.  Sterling12No such luck this visit.  I might have come too late in the season.  Still, a wonderful walk.

October Images

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This past week has given us a great deal of ugliness – and beauty, too, in the responses of support for those who have been attacked but not necessarily bowed.  Here is a little bit of beauty from New England sent out to all the world in hopes of giving some comfort, distraction, happiness.  Please enjoy.

 

First, I have images from our bicycle ride in Cheshire, Connecticut.  I saw plenty of remarkable birds. Cheshire6 Here is a neat shot of a Great Blue Heron.  He blends in with the leaves, doesn’t he? We were so fortunate  to get this close a shot.

 

 

 

We also saw this neat flock of mallards enjoying a swim together in the canal next to the trail. Cheshire2
This was one of the several pairs.  Clearly honeys.  The foregrounded leaves of salmon to yellow emerging from green captures fall elegance.Cheshire1
The same couple swim toward some delicate red berries.  The lady duck seems to have an itchy tootsie.Cheshire4
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a shot of the most exciting bird of the day.  A Piliated Woodpecker!  Those guys are gigantic! PileatedWoodpeckerOnLog1 Like pteranodons!  I don’t have a picture of my own, so I am borrowing a photo (with proper accreditation).  This guy was bigger than the large crows with whom he/she was tussling.  I would that I could have gotten close enough with my camera.  So, thank you Andrew Brown at Wikipedia.
Our October holiday weekend took us on plenty of day trips.  Columbus1On our drive home from a rail trail ride, Yang brought us through Stafford, Ct. where we stopped at sunset for these gorgeous colors.

 

 

The reflections of the fiery maples and oaks on the pond at sunset were magnificent!Columbus2

 

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HereColumbus6 are Yang and I in some pictures, so you know we were really here to take the photos.

 

 

 

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What a lovely bouquet of all the lushest fall colors.Columbus7
I have some more pix, but I don’t want anyone to pass out from foliage overdose – so I’ll save them for a Part 2.

Adventures on the Cumberland Rail Trail

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Sunday’s ride at the Cumberland, RI rail trail was wonderful. The path is rimmed by trees and shrubs, “reducing all that’s made to a green thought in a green shade.” Except, that description leaves out the rollDSCN1874 of the Blackstone River on one side and the lazy calm of the canal on the other. Wild life abounds as you zip along a well-paved route, with just enough hills to work off a few calories, but not enough to leave you prostrate. And then, what chugs up, must glide down! All eighteen miles of round trip!

Anyway, back to the critters! We saw this fellow lazing in the sun in all his turtlely glory. Look at those luxuriously stretched out hind tootsies! Pretty big for a painted turtle, eh? DSCN1859Apparently, there are also quite few snappers in the river and the canal––but none of them threatened us. Do you think we could escape if one charged?

There was also plenty of feathered fauna to enjoy, too. We could hear all kinds of delighted, playful, trilling and teasing from catbirds, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, and cardinals. Isn’t spring bird song grand? DSCN1854We also caught sight of this lovely swan, whom one trail-stroller informed us was part of a pair that was brooding a clutch of eggs on an island in the river. And here is proof that the fishermen on the river aren’t all of the homo sapiens DSCN1876variety. I’m sorry I missed my pal the Green Heron, but who can complain about seeing a Great Blue?

The Cumberland trail is just a lovely, relaxing, happy rail trail to cruise. Look at how much fun the other Dr. Yang is having!

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5/27/15