a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer flowers

A delicious sunny day today, thought I'd take some pix of my flowers.
I love astilbes! I have ones ranging in color from white to really dark reds. Love the flowers and foliage.
Gaillardia is also a favorite, pretty in the garden or cut for the house. They spread but not as rampantly as those yellow flowers (oenothera - evening primrose) in the background!
I love hostas too. Mostly for the foliage but the flowers are pretty.
Siberian and Japanese irises do much better in my garden than the larger bearded iris. For me, the bearded irises bloom and the leaves get skanky so I need to cut them back. While the other types have good foliage year round. (Notice more yellow flowers in background)
This is a perennial digitalis. It spreads! boy does it spread! But those flowers are loved by hummers and bees.
Snickers was also enjoying the cool morning while the grass was still wet. The dog days of summer!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Plum Island Birding Day

   Least Bittern (c/o webshots.com)

   We spent 10 hours birding Plum Island (Parker River National Wildlife Refuge) in Massachusetts yesterday. Our main reason for going was to get another "lifer" and it would be a lifer for all 4 of us. Two black rails had been found in the marshes or rather "heard" on May 31st. A quote from Audubon explains; "Small as a sparrow and quiet as a mouse, the elusive Black Rail fascinates researchers and birders.Breeding and wintering in the United States, this smallest relative of coots and cranes inhabits a variety of salt and fresh water marshes dominated by grasses and sedges. With the precipitous loss of wetlands in the United States, the Black Rail may be in trouble." For this reason we were all content to just hear it! And we did!! As did about 10 other people waiting and listening too. It hadn't been heard in Massachusetts since the 1990's, a real rarity.

   The least bittern was a lifer for me and we had a great view, the best view ever for some. It flew across the marsh for what seemed like a minute altho it was probably 10 seconds. Usually they fly up and dart back into the marshes and before someone can say "least bittern" it's gone.

piping plover
   There were piping plovers nesting all over the beach and sections were closed off to keep people out. We managed to find one on a beach that wasn't restricted.

red knots and black-bellied plover

   There were lots of shorebirds; red knots, black-bellied plovers, dunlin, semipalmated sandpipers, sanderlings, short-billed dowitcher, killdeer, willets, greater yellowlegs and spotted sandpipers. There was also an unusually high number (258) of Northern Gannets just off the coast plunge-diving and resting on the water. We heard Virginia Rail and Sora and saw lots of Gadwalls, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets.

 orchard oriole 1st year male (c/o webshots.com)
We also saw an orchard oriole nest and were lucky enough to have the pair return to see them too. It was a 1st year male and his mate. The mature orchard orioles are a very dark rusty orange color.

    Purple martins were flying all over the area when we first got there. There were two of these houses for them.

   Of course there were lots of Canada geese with young, this pair seemed to have the oldest group of goslings in tow. They looked like mini versions of their parents.

   No fuzzy pictures this time! Here's a Bobolink calling from his perch. Their populations are declining because they nest in fields and if the fields get mowed before the young fledge..................... fewer bobolinks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Island Pond Birding Trip

We went to the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont yesterday for a day of birding around the beautiful Island Pond and Moose Bog areas. Some of the highlights were Wilson's Snipe, Common Loons, Northern Parula and boreal chickadee (altho we only heard his call). Near Moose Bog we came across this white lady's slipper, pretty rare!

 We also saw a moose munching on greens right along the road, he/she hid behind a tree when we stopped the car to take pictures.

 Even though it was very quiet (hardly any birds singing) Moose Bog itself is worth the trip, it's a gorgeous, pristine area.
Of course my blog wouldn't be complete without one of my blurry pictures, I could blame this on the weather (it was quite foggy when we arrived) but rather I think it's the photographer! This is a Wilson's Snipe atop a dead tree. There were at least 3 or 4 snipe calling and flying about doing their mating flight display.