Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday morning warbler walk

This morning, I talked hubby into getting up early to go on a warbler walk with me. I knew the warblers have been passing thru and I know of a local park where warblers seem to hang out on their way south. This park is very birdie especially early in the morning. I ran into some other birders from the bird club I belong to, so I am not the only one with warblers on their minds. In the past at this same park I have seen the Prothonotary warbler which was a very nice surprise. So I never know what I might see here. This is a picture of the Prothonotary Warbler I saw last spring.




The walk started off with a few Northern Cardinals, a lot of Robins, and this bird below which I believe is an Eastern Phoebe.



We walked along the trail which follows along a stream this area was very birdie but the birds stayed high in the tree tops and it was difficult to focus on them due to the leaves and they were constantly moving. A Great Blue Heron was fishing in the stream. The Robins were everywhere, in the trees, on the ground and just about everywhere we looked.



I am still learning to id my birds and seeing warblers in the fall is very difficult
for me. I saw a few of the Black & White warblers, they are easiest for me to id compared to some of the other warblers. I think even a non-birder could id a B&W warbler. LOL! The male American Redstarts were looking pretty.



This is a picture of one bird I saw today, I am undecided if it is a Bay-breasted or a Northern Parula. Or something totally different, I have been way off before. Maybe a Vireo? Someone has also mentioned my unknown bird is a Chestnut-sided Warbler.


This picture show wing bars and eye ring.






Some of my fellow bird club members pointed out a Canada Warbler and a young Baltimore Oriole. I compared some of my sightings with them and we went on our separate ways. Hubby and I went on to try and find a Wilson Warbler that the others had seen but was hiding from me. The Wilson Warbler will have to stay on my want to see list of Warblers.

Further along the trail we saw this bird on the ground in a more wooded area. I am pretty sure it is a Veery.




These two sightings are not of birds but I found them to be interesting. I am use to seeing Woolly Caterpillars but the color of this one is new to me. Also we saw some berries or is it some kind of fungi growing on the ground. They were both seen in wooded part of the trail.


White Caterpillar






Berries or Fungi?





I still have a lot of warblers on my list to see so I am sure I will be going on many more warbler walks.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Morning walk at the river


Hubby and I went out for an early morning walk, I like to go early to see the early birds. We usually go to the lake on a fireroad which is close to our house. But this morning we decided to go to the river for our walk. First Stop was to see if the Dam was overflowing. We had lots of rain yesterday!



Hubby was happy to see the dam was overflowing, he likes to sit in the rapids further downstream for what he calls a massage. Apparently the water is not as cold for him when it is overflowing than the water that comes from the bottom gates of the dam.



After checking out the dam we drove to the park parking lot close to the river. We walked until we were at the rivers edge where we were able to watch some kayakers practicing their rolls.






We walked on the trail until we got to where the water was on the trail. We had to turn back or try walking in the water. I knew that wasn't going to happen.




At the bridge we watch a kayaker help a couple with their overturned canoe. They seemed alright and were actually laughing about being dumped in the river.














My hubby just enjoys hiking and I enjoy looking for the birds while I am hiking. This mornings walk started off with a very loud Pileated Woodpecker and a Cuckoo. This trail along the river is mostly mountain laurels and in some spots hemlock trees and some wildflowers and a variety of ferns. I have to say I heard more birds than ones I actaully could see. I did see some medium size brown birds moving about the trees, I believe they were some kind of Thrush.

Black and White Warblers were moving quickly in the trees along the rivers edge.






After hiking the rivers trail, hubby and I went separate ways. he took another trail to see the river at another spot and I took a nice flat trail in the woods that crosses under power lines. I was hoping to see some birds in the fields near the power lines. All I could see were some Turkey Vultures soaring above, some Bluejays, Crows, Carolina Chickadees were fussing and I could hear a hawk. I had a nice walk but was a little disappointed with the birding. Oh Well, maybe tomorrow I'll have better luck.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SkywatchFriday

Pictures taken at Chincoteague Island, Va last weekend. For more great sky pictures go my SkyWatch Friday link.





Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chincoteague Island, Va

Chincoteague Island Trip report, August 21 and 22, 2009
It was nice to get away and spend two days at Chincoteague Island, Va. The majority of our time was spent at the Chincoteague National Wildlife refuge which is mostly known for the wild ponies. The weatherman tried to scare us with the threat of Hurricane Bill but, the weather turned out beautiful.






We also saw hundreds of Black Skimmers, at times they seem to put on a show for us. They would all fly up together and circle the area and then just land back down. They were especially fun to watch while they were skimming over the water with the beaks just touching the water.







My favorites of the herons were sighted.... the Green Heron and the Little Blue Heron and we also saw the Tri-colored Heron. I have tried on numerous birding outings this summer to see a Little Blue Heron and I was finally pleased to see so many of them at Chincoteague. They are beautiful birds.







There were also some Glossy Ibis mixed in with Semipalmated Plovers, Short Billed Dowitchers, Yellowlegs and Willets. I have not confirmed but I might have also seen some juvenile White Ibis.



Semipalmated Plover and Sanderlings were everywhere on the beach.




Often we would watch groups of Brown Pelicans flying parallel to shore. During the two days I think we saw 25-30 Brown pelicans at different times.



On our second day, there was one time the lifeguards were saying there was a thunderstorm headed our way and the safest place to be would be our cars. It turned dark and threatening but not a drop of rain and luckily no thunder and lightning.




Thursday, August 20, 2009

My yardbirds...Past and Present

I can truly say I am addicted to birds and birding. I am always looking out my windows while at home. I can not pass a window without looking for the birds. You never know when there might be a new yardbird. My last new yardbird were a pair of Cedar Waxwings. WOW, they are beautiful birds.
















Seeing the Rose Breasted Grosbeak in my yard for the first time was the bird that started me into the world of birding. It is a gorgeous bird.















With the help of my wonderful husband we have landscaped the yard with the birds in mind. Hubby did all the work I mainly picked out the flowers and bushes that would attract wildlife to our yard. It has worked and now I am enjoying all the birds and wildlife that visit. We planted berry bushes to attract more birds. I picked out Holly bushes, Blueberry bushes, Winterberry and some Blackberries. We also have some wild berries growing in the yard too. I do not think my yardbirds will go hungry.




The Eastern Bluebirds that nest in my yard are just one of my favorite yardbirds. Other favorites and regular visitors are the Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmouse, Nuthatches, Downy woodpeckers and RedBellied woodpeckers. The American Goldfinches and the Northern Cardinals add some wonderful color to my yard.



























The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds this time of year are fun to watch. I have a male who sits throne over his kingdom. He will chase away any other hummer even a goldfinch if they go near HIS feeders. He can come within inches of my face when he zooms around my deck.




























There are some birds I only see in the winter months. The Red Breasted Nuthatch is really cute and I love watching it come to my feeders.











For the last couple of years I have had a beautiful male Pine Warbler at my feeders. His bright yellow color in the winter puts a smile on my face. I loved watching the Pine Warbler and consider myself lucky to have this bird visit my yard.
Some other winter birds include the Junco and the White Throated Sparrow.
















This past winter I was treated to large flocks of Pine Siskins. They took over my feeders and cleaned out my thistle seed feeders.




Thursday, August 13, 2009

Morning hike at the nature center

One of my favorites the Green Heron



The Green Heron is one of my favorite herons. A long time went by before I was even able to see one. The Green heron blends in well with their surroundings making it so hard to find them. Now since seeing my first Green Heron I am able to spot them a lot faster. I see them everywhere now, why did it take me so long to see my first Green Heron. Maybe I am becoming a real birder.




The lake at Hashawha





Hashawha is one of our favorite places to go hiking, there are several trails we like to walk. This time we took a longer loop trail that takes us by several ponds, a nice wooded area, the raptor center, fields, a stream and ends near the lake.




Catbird




We watched birds all along the trail. The Catbirds tried to be secretive but I was able to spot them right away. The Indigo Buntings were all singing so they were easy to pick out. I also came across a juvenile Common Yellowthroat Warbler, it was making small chirps while climbing around some tall grasses in the field.


























Bunny on the trail






Bunnies, turtles and frogs seemed to all be out enjoying the day too.










Swallowtail butterfly
























I also enjoy seeing all the different butterflies and the flowers we saw during our walk. Monarchs and the Swallowtail butterflies seemed to be everywhere along the trail.











The flowers were beautiful too. One of my favorites is the Cardinal flowers that were growing near one of the ponds.


It is so nice to be able to take time on the weekends to enjoy nature and take a walk. The work week can be such a drag. Enjoy the flowers, butterflies and the birds!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daytrip tp Shenandoah National Park








Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend, my hubby, and I spent the day at Shenandoah National Park. We drove along the Skyline drive enjoying the wildflowers, butterflies and looking for wildlife. I was looking for the Black bears. Sometimes we are lucky to see a Black Bear along the drive.




Along the Skyline Drive there were many different wildflowers. The milkweed plants were plentiful and attracted the beautiful butterflies. I saw Monarchs, different Swallowtails and some butterflies and moths I still need to id.





















We walked the looptrail on the Limberlost trail. The Limberlost trail has become my favorite trail at Shenandoah. The Limberlost trail is an easy walk and very pretty. After the walk we drove further down the Skyline Drive to the Big Meadows camp store by this time we were ready for lunch. After our lunch we walk the Lewis Falls trail. This trail was very steep, definitely not one of my favorites. I did see some birds on the trail which was the only part of this walk I enjoyed. The best bird sighting was a couple of female Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and some Eastern Towhees. I also saw what we call our snowbirds... the Junco's.








By this time, I had pretty much giving up hopes of seeing a black bear. We did see a few deer along the drive on the way down to Big Meadows. After a pit stop and recuperating from the exhausting Lewis Falls hike we were once again on the Skyline drive driving back to the North Section and Front Royal. This was my last chance to see the black bears, my eyes constantly watching the sides of the road. We drove the distance from the Big Meadows to the north section with again no luck in seeing any bears. We did see a group of deer, one of them being a spotted baby. They are always cute and nice to see.









Now we are driving the north section of the Skyline drive and finally Black bear jackpot. It was a mother Black bear with two cubs. They were munching on some brush or bushes along the road. Yeah! I was so happy to see the mother bear and cubs. The bear sighting was definitly the highlight of my daytrip to Shenandoah.









We loved watching the Black bear mother with her two cubs until they were finally chased away. Some crazy people just had to get their closeup bear pictures. I do not think these other people even know they are ruining the moment for others who are just enjoying watching the bears. Like me!