Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Summer Southerly Migration...


 Beautiful Biltmore Lake in the early morning mist...

Once again, I made the ramble through the mountains of West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina. I made my first visit last fall to visit this guy that thinks he's my boss(Brian) and his wife Caron(she's really the boss!) and wander the woodlands of their beautiful area. I had such a great time...and I didn't seem to annoy them...too much...I needed to go back when the breeding birds could be found. One thing led to another and I postponed the trip for a few weeks, but the birding was still great!

Brian is even giving in to the brainwashing I've been performing on him! One of the next posts I'll show you the amazing find he had one evening! I was stunned! In the meantime, here's a few photos from the first couple of days down south...y'all.

(I just have to get him to invest in binoculars a little newer than the 50's...)

 They had Chickadees, Nuthatches, Wrens and more nesting behind their home.
There were LOTS of Eastern Bluebirds looking for Pops to fill their gullets!

 There's always one kid that's a little odd...not that there's anything wrong with that...look at me!
Well, on second thought...

 Poor Dad...just a little frazzled....

 I found him a little later hiding behind this tree...smart guy.

 There were Eastern (South Eastern?) Towhees hiding and singing all along the lake trail.
This one actually came out to say hello!

 ...well, out for a second anyway...

 Lots of good eating down there!...and for me as well...but not bugs...BBQ!!

 The butterflies up here in Ohio have been far and few between...I think they're all living it up in North Carolina!
This is a Gulf Fritillary.

 This is a Painted Lady...that's not what my dad told me a painted lady was...but that's for a different blog...

 No otters, no bears, no deer, one squirrel and one chipmunk...the only mammals.
One day...

 We also hiked on Mt. Pisgah...a name that makes me giggle because I'm so immature...if you haven't noticed by now... Anyway, this is the view of Looking Glass Rock. When it rains the rock becomes very glossy and reflective. No rain. Much better for me!

Oh look! There's people over there!

 
 Yoiks! There's crazy people hanging from ropes up there!
No thanks...too hard to take pics of birds like that!

 
 Caron and Brian leading the way!

We hiked along the Mountain to Sea Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway. What gorgeous woodlands! They told me the trail led to "Skinny Dip Falls!" I saw lots of folks heading that way and back...and I thought, "Wow, there's a lot of folks that like skinny dipping down here!" This will be fun since it was so hot.
 Imagine my dismay when I discovered "Skinny Dip Falls" was just a name...
No skinny dipping allowed...no sense of adventure!

Oh well, back to hiking and looking for a bird. It was the awkward time of day when the smart birds are chilling out...skinny dipping in puddles and creeks staying cool...

 Back to reality and butterflies...almost like the sky on this day...a Cloudless Sulphur.

 A bird at last!
I could barely hear their calls in the woods...this one was close enough to really get my attention!
A Dark-eyed Junco! We don't see those often this time of year in my neighborhood.

 I'm lichen this tree!
That joke never gets old...maybe.
Lots of lichens and mosses covered these trees.
 
 We even saw a few, very few, Monarch butterflies while hiking in a few different places.

PLEASE! If you have a garden, don't use pesticides or chemicals. Those chemicals don't know the difference between helpful and harmful insects. They will kill them all. Bee and butterfly populations have dropped dramatically in the past few years and our overuse of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals are not helping things.
No pollinators means no food...
 
 Imagine life without beautiful flowers like this Rhododendron growing wild in the mountains...

 We'll see you soon with more memories from North Carolina soon!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A New Place to Wander!


 

 Along the banks of the mighty Cuyahoga River lies Brust Park in Munroe Falls. I've driven past it dozens of times, saw the paved bike path and never gave it a second thought. I don't like walking near bikes after getting run off the trail a number of times. The last time I was at Tallmadge Meadows(see my last post) I was speaking with a volunteer from Summit Metroparks and she mentioned the path along the river. If I walked far enough I would find a pair of nesting Osprey! That piqued my curiosity!

So off I went...and what a surprise this place was!

 This American Robin was the first bird I spotted...I thought that grub was going to attack him!

Not very far down the trail, under the Route 91 and along the river is a clump of trees...and what treasures they held! I stood in awe of everything that was zooming in and out! a fire station is right across from here, they were all bust cleaning the vehicles while I stood, shooting almost non-stop for at least an hour!
Here's a few of what I saw before I decided to get out of the sun and travel a little further...

 The Baltimore Orioles were very noisy!
This female must have seen a threat nearby...me?...nah.

 Then I noticed this male...AND another...an interloper!...that explains all the racket.

 A flock of Cedar Waxwings were also busy in the tree....or should I say "gang" of Waxwings...

 A Chipping Sparrow popped out to get a little morning sun...which was heating up quickly!

 My buddy the Gray Catbird came out to say hello.

 I thought I got buzzed by a bee!
It turned out to be a Ruby-throated Hummingbird heading to a nice open limb to catch some rays and take a little morning nap.

 Even a Warbling Vireo came out of hiding and down low to take a peek at the crazy man with a camera.

 This poor American Goldfinch was a little embarrassed of me taking his photo...from behind...

 I decided to get out of the sun and head down the trail and some shade.
I looked up and there was an American Robin sitting on her nest.

 Surprisingly, I haven't seen many butterflies other than Cabbage Whites this year.
People need to STOP using pesticides in their gardens...it kills more than pests!
 
 This Eastern Kingbird found the perfect perch to hunt from.

 As I was walking around a small pond surrounded by fishermen, I saw a tree that had fallen and was laying over the water. I noticed a dark blob along the trunk, looked closer and saw this Eastern Kingbird sitting on a nest! Amazing!

 Northern Cardinals are usually very skittish, especially around me!
These berries must have been fantastic because he didn't budge an inch while he was chowing down and I was taking photos.

 One day I'll stop posting this photo...maybe.

 At first I thought this was a young Baltimore Oriole, but after looking at all of the photos, the black goes too far down the throat...it's an Orchard Oriole!

 A stealth Song Sparrow, hiding and singing...

 A far piece down the trail, a slightly meting Loopy finally found the area with the Osprey nest.
See those two poles WAY out there? 
They're on the pole on the left of this shot.

 These are cropped a bit, 500mm is almost enough to pull them in!
It looked like two nestlings were in there....and at least a dozen House Sparrows  were also nesting underneath all those sticks and twigs.

 One flew off in search of a meal for the hungry kids...

 Waiting "patiently."
Kids are never patient when it comes to meal time!
I stood there for a little over an hour and never saw the mate come back.
I got hungry myself...
 
 Just in case you were wondering...yes, I did see a few more of my favorite little buddies!
SONG SPARROWS! YEA!

 This Red-bellied Woodpecker found something good to eat is this dead tree.

 This Red-winged Blackbird seems to be missing some feathers around his ear.
Something you don't see often.

 One last Song Sparrow on the way back to my car...

 I saw something fly over my car while I was getting ready to leave...zoom-zoom...and right up in the tree was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak!
A great way to finish a day in a wonderful new place to bird!

 Oh my, I am so far behind in all of my photos...I have pics going back to May I haven't even looked at yet! AND on top of that, I went to Asheville, North Carolina for a few days to visit boss and friend for some more birding, southern style! So, that will take up the next few posts!

Until then, get outside and take a hike!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

...Meanwhile, Back at Tallmadge Meadows...

 Yes, I still love Song Sparrows!
Especially when they're singing songs.

Tallmadge Meadows and Munroe Falls Park are great places to find some nice birds and get a relaxing walk. I usually spend so much time in the meadows that I never have the energy left to hike through the woodland areas...one of these days.

This night after work I didn't see as many flycatchers as in last weeks post. There were still some around, but they seemed to be hiding better or too far away. Oh well...there were a few more exciting finds on this walk!!
 The American Goldfinches were checking out the latest crop of thistle.
There's gonna be babies to feed soon!

 This was one of the exciting finds of the day!
I had no idea American Kestrels could be found here.
I saw this out of the corner of my eye as I was looking at a Song Sparrow(go figure!)








Of course, when you see a bird and stare at it too long, it will leave.

 But it flew into a very large tree...and lo and behold! A second Kestrel was tucked away in there!

 The first finally took off on a hunt around the meadow...then disappeared...

 Meanwhile...I snapped back to reality(or what I think of as reality...sort of...) and there was a Common Yellowthroat singing to his special lady friend.

 Oh boy! Another Song Sparrow.
This one had a peculiar look about him...bad feather day I think...
He was whistling like he may have been in trouble...
"Toodle-doo...don't look over here...there's nothing to see here..."

 Crappy photo of day!
There's an Eastern Kingbird hiding in that unfocused fuzziness...
Look at the tail...there ya go.

 This male Indigo Bunting kept zooming from tree to tree as I was walking past.

 Then I noticed some movement low in a nearby tree.
He was trying to distract me from this female and a nest!

 He's keeping tabs on me as I walked away...
"Can't be too safe with these crazy camera people around!"

 Getting sick of this photo yet?

 LOTS of Red-winged Blackbirds out there!
Most don't sit still long enough...always zooming around protecting their nest sites.
This guy stuck his neck out to give me the once over...

 And then he started to yell at me...rude kind of guy...
 
 A flock of Red-wings were mobbing this scrubby area...
...must have been something in there that was very annoying!
 
 Yep, Song Sparrow...

 Just think, I didn't post photos of all of the Song Sparrows I saw!
Lucky you!

 There's always a few Turkey Vultures circling overhead when I'm there.
I wonder if that means something? I better walk faster...

 The other surpise of the day was a Yellow-breasted Chat!
I had no idea they sometimes nested there.
There were two males singing back and forth, though I only saw one of them.
Of course I get a butt shot!

 He wouldn't come out of the tangles...I'll have to go back again...maybe he'll come out to play next time...

What?!

Until next time kiddies! See ya out there somewhere!