Sunday, March 22, 2009

American Bald Eagles

Any day you see an eagle is a very good day.
~Frank Leonard
Truer words were never spoken, thank you Frank. We are fortunate to have an increase in the bald eagle population in our region and there are several nests that are actively incubating right now. My hubby and I went to two of them today and we were able to observe one eagle on each nest, each tending to incubating duties. I was hoping I would observe an incubation duty exchange or a feeding, but was happy just to be able to see one of these regal birds on the nest. The pictures below are of a nest that has been active for over ten years now, some people tell me it's actually been as many as twenty years. Although the nest is fairly close to the road it is within a state game lands and the area is restricted to all but authorized personnel, which keeps the area close to the nest relatively undisturbed. There is also an abundant food source including fish in the creek that runs below the nest. In spring the creek is swollen, attracting many migrating and resident waterfowl that are fair game for the eagles.

In a couple of months from now the nest won't even be visible from the road as the leaves fill in.

This red-tailed hawk was soaring near the nest looking around the game lands for its next meal.I don't think that the eagles' nest near my home will be active this year. Tom Wasilewski from the Presque Isle Audubon Society Eagle Watch Program thinks that there might be another nest further up the creek. I think he may be right because the eagles are still being seen up there. We are trying to get permission from the landowners to go further up the creek. I'll let you know if we find anything:)

Toni and I will bringing you more information about the local eagles on our new blog, Presque Isle, Naturally. The eagles' nest that is on Presque Isle does not appear to be active at this time but we are not giving up hope yet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wild Wednesday at Presque Isle

It was a sunny but chilly day on Presque Isle when I headed down to test drive my knee and search for all the wonderful waterfowl and other wildlife people had been reporting on the park. I was not disappointed, by my knee or the wildlife, like the pair of ring-necked ducks above.

A handsome male ring-necked duck, head held high.
This is a great black-backed gull in flight. The great black-backed is the largest gull in the world. Presque Isle is lucky to host this gull as well as the smallest gull in the world, the little gull during migration.

A pair of turkey hens trotting to catch up with the flock.
The resident great horned owl appears to be incubating in the same snag as last year.Perhaps the highlight of my trek was seeing this immature bald eagle scare up a large raft of ducks and swans.

As I sit here now posting this, looking out my window at the sunny day, I wish I were back at Presque Isle. Then I think, how could I share this beautiful place if I weren't sitting here posting this? There will be more sunny days as spring draws nigh and more good fortune to share.

Stay tuned to more highlights of Presque Isle as Toni and I debut a new blog, Presque Isle, Naturally where we will both share our adventures at Presque Isle and introduce guest contributors who share our passion for Presque Isle.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Weekend Matinees

Since I fell and sprained my knee a couple of weeks ago on my way back from the eagles' nest I've been relegated to bird watching out my kitchen window and door. I didn't mind it too much because the weather was quite frigid and wet and besides, the birds put on a great show. I even had another visit from the yellow-bellied sapsucker:) & the Oregon Junco is still coming around too.

A pretty song sparrow doesn't find much to sing about these days.

This red-bellied woodpecker listens to that strange clicking noise.Mr. Cardinal seems to be ready for a molt.This white-breasted nuthatch loves Jim's Birdacious Bark Butter!And, yes, the Carolina Wrens are still here! Their pronounced "eyebrows" just remind me of Groucho Marx!

Toni from A Spattering and I have been working on a new blog dedicated to sharing information about Presque Isle and the Erie region. It will be called Presque Isle, Naturally and we are very excited to be bringing it to you. We will certainly let you know when you can start tuning in!

Another blog that you all might find very interesting (I know I do!) is Moonfire Film Productions. My cousin, Tracy Graziano, and her husband, Ben, are involved in a coyote tracking project and the blog offers a wonderfully detailed and interesting account of how the project is progressing. It is both entertaining and educational and allows a behind the scenes look at how real wildlife research is conducted. The project has just gotten underway so start following now to get an up close view of this years long undertaking from its inception to its fruition.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exciting Rarity at My Feeders-Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker!!

I was so excited to see a yellow-bellied sapsucker (YBSA) at my feeders today!!!! I was washing dishes at the kitchen sink watching the birds out the window and spouted an expletive upon seeing the YBSA. Holy &*%^!!! And here's a first, my camera was locked and loaded on the kitchen table from some shooting I'd done yesterday. Hurray!! My hubby, who thinks (knows) I'm crazy anyway just shook his head as I ever so gingerly opened the sliding glass door onto the deck and snapped a few photos. I e-mailed my birding instructor, Jerry McWilliams, with the news and photos and he told me that yellow-bellied sapsuckers are very rare here in winter and in 45 years of birding he's only seen a couple during winter!! I also had both Carolina Wrens, which he said was good because they often don't survive harsh winters like this one. Oh, yeah, and the Oregon Junco is still hanging around! My feeders were very busy today with 15 different species counted. I took many photos but am reserving this post for the yellow-bellied sapsucker:)

Isn't he a handsome gent!?!?

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's Missing Here?

Recently I was telling Toni (A Spattering) about a Mourning Dove (MODO) I had at me feeder that was missing something. I knew right away there was something different about her (the bird, not Toni:)) but it took a few minutes for me to realize what the problem was.

Can you tell what's missing?

Does this help?

Compare their back ends...Yes! I knew you'd get it. Her tail feathers are missing!

It didn't seem to bother her at all. In fact, I think I was more distraught than her. I'm not sure what the other MODOs were thinking but one got a little violent with her.

She just took it all in stride and kept on eating.

A few posts on PABirds stated that missing tail feathers in MODOs can be caused by their tail feathers freezing to the surface on which the bird is perched. The bird takes off and leaves her feathers behind. OUCH!! It can also be caused by predators such as a hungry, but just a little too slow, cat. I'm not sure how poor little "No-Tail" lost her feathers, but I hope they've grown back by now and she is again strutting her stuff.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Raptor Rapture

We took a ride up to the Pymatuning/Linesville area last week just for a quick getaway. The lake was almost completely frozen over so we didn't see many waterfowl or gulls but we did get to see a few raptors along the roadside. One new one I can add to my list (I do have to start keeping one!) is this red-shouldered hawk. The in-flight shot is an adult, while the one perched on the wire is an immature. If you look closely (photo 3) you can see the anomaly in the lower mandible (beak) of the immature. It is twisted and juts out and past the upper mandible. I've been told that this may be due to an old injury and that it may keep growing, like a fingernail, since there is nothing there to impede its growth. As for now s/he looks pretty healthy and well-fed.

This past summer we pontooned on Pymatuning Lake and I had seen and photographed a barred owl that had a nesting box in the woods near the picnic area where we had docked for lunch. As luck would have it we drove around and were able to find the picnic area and not one but a pair of barred owls:) As before, they were fairly cooperative and allowed me to get a few shots.
Barred Owl August 2008

Barred Owl February 2009

I'm sure we'll go back up to Pymatuning to pontoon and kayak again this summer. Maybe there will be some baby barred owls then:)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Another Day at Presque Isle

I headed down to Presque Isle SP on Sunday in hopes of seeing some white-winged crossbills that had been sighted along Pine Tree Trail. I told myself that I would start there and then make a few more stops on the east end of the park. That meant skipping my favorite complex of trails, Old Gas Well, Duck Pond and Canoe Portage Trails. Guess what...I couldn't do it! I stopped and hiked out onto those familiar trails. I was surprised to see many foot prints from the day prior. I thought I was the only one to frequent those trails but I could tell they had been heavily traveled recently. I felt like one of the three bears..."Who's been eating my porridge?" Whoever they were, I hope they enjoyed it. Really! Not too far into the trail I heard a very familiar song. It sounded like springtime! I came upon a large flock of robins feeding on a bush covered in red berries. I'm not sure what kind of plant it was.
While I was photographing the robins I kept hearing a loud drumming that I assumed was the pileated woodpecker I've seen along these trails. It sounded like she was down low on a tree behind some brush between her and I. I got up from my spot behind the tree and saw the pileated fly over into a tree down the trail. I followed her for awhile but then told her I'd try and catch her on the way out as I was on my way to see some more cooperative birds. Maybe even an owl, so there! Well, as luck would have it, there were no more cooperative birds down the trail:( I did spot some golden-crowned kinglets and as I was trying to capture (digitally, of course) those little rascals I once again heard the busy work of the pileated WP. I found a good vantage point and waited, and waited, and...finally she popped her head up for a short time and I was able to get a few shots of her. This is an adult female, note the black malar stripe (vs. red in males).
Then she flew off and I headed for Pine Tree Trail for those crossbills...but wait...I had to stop and take a look at the channel where lots of cool ducks had been seen recently. I did see a canvas back duck,a ruddy duck, lots of mallards and gulls.

One ring-billed gull was looking for some ham and cheese to go with the piece of rye he had found. Then there was the herring gull looking for some bread to go with his fish.

I had only planned on being at the park for 3 hours so I headed toward my car...but wait...look at that cute little chickadee...but you can see 100s of those a week in your back yard...oh, but this one is soooo cute!! They are all cute! I'll give you that.

Finally, I made it to Pine Tree Trail in search of the crossbills...of course, I saw none. That's OK though. There's always next week. Right, Mr. Chickadee?!