We put up a new feeder pole on the other corner of the deck this week, along with a branch I saved from pruning the cherry tree last fall. The birds started using it immediately. I also added one of those metal screen thistle feeders to replace the thistle sock, which never, in the past three years, attracted a single Finch. That too was a success. The Goldfinches, which came to the Black-oil Sunflower Seed feeders even if they did not come to the thistle sock, started using the screen thistle feeder on the second day. They also like the cherry tree branch, which is straight in line with the deck door and easily visible from the breakfast table…if I am careful I can get the door open a crack before the birds fly, hence this shot of a Gold Finch at close range. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
More shots of the acrobatic Red-winged Blackbird from a few days ago at the drainage pond at Southern Maine Medical Center in Kennebunk. Endlessly entertaining…unless they are at your feeder :). (And maybe even then, depending on your tolerance.) Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. Assembled in Framemagic.
The other day, while out on a photoprowl on my ebike, I happened on two large flocks of Wild Turkeys…or maybe it was one huge flock and I just saw both ends of it while it was spread out over 600 yards or so…along the road into our local beach. There were two big handsome Toms at the very far end of the two groups, feeding in tall grass. When I stopped my bike one of them decided to disappear so it sat down in the grass with only its head sticking up. As though that bright red head would be inconspicuous in the green grass. 🙂 600mm and 1200mm equivalents (1200 with 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
While dragonfly hunting the other day, out on my ebike, the Red-winged Blackbirds entertained me around the little drainage pond at Southern Maine Medical Center here in Kennebunk. The males were super vocal. I am not sure if they were responding to each other or to me being at their pond! This one hopped from cattail reed to cattail reed about 30 feet from me for as long as I wanted to watch, yelling at the top of his lungs. Though they are common, Red-winged Blackbirds are not easy to photograph. It took some careful post-processing to being out the subtle plumage details in the black on black bird. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
They have put up two new Wood Duck boxes at Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, complete with sheet metal shields below to protect the nests from predators…but as you might expect, the Tree Swallows have taken both. Hopefully, if Wood Ducks decided to nest there, they will evict the swallows. 🙂 In the meantime the swallows seem happy with their new accommodations. The nice big door/window makes an ideal perch to survey the world. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
A second shot from the sequence of the Red-tailed Hawk at Laudholm Farms on Thursday. Such a handsome bird! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Despite my still healing bruised tailbone, I am getting out for photoprowls on my ebike most days when it does not rain all day. Yesterday, after the rain stopped, I rode down to the Bridal Path to check for dragonflies (not yet) and to Rachel Carson to see if the huge Jack-in-the-pulpits were opened out (not yet), and then to finish the circuit rode into the Laudholm Farms parking area before looping back around on Rt. 1 to home (just over 10 miles). I was headed out of the Laudholm parking lot when I caught the hawk on the bluebird boxes behind the hedge at corner. I was able to get off the bike, get my camera out of the rear rack pack, and approach as close as the hedge would allow without the hawk taking alarm, so I got a whole series of photos. It turned out to be an immature Red-tailed Hawk, perhaps drying from the rains in the sun on its handy perch and not in any hurry to go anywhere. Though it might look like it is about to take flight here, anyone who has watched sitting hawks very long knows what comes next…and I have a great photo of the white-wash stream to prove it. They do often fly right after, but this one settled down and remained on the perch until I decided it was time to finish my ride. Sony RX10iv at 840mm equivalent (1.4x Smart Zoom…in-camera crop). Processed in Polarr.
I shared my best single shot of this courting pair of Cedar Waxwings offering an apple petal to each other…but I took more than 50 shots at 3 frames per second as they passed the petals back and forth several times while I watched. This is one sequence. (It reads left to right then down and left to right again.) I am not sure why the female is “puffed out” but it seems to be part of the ritual. Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) in Wells, Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
I rode my ebike down to Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) yesterday to see if I could find any Jack-in-the-pulpit in bloom. I did not, not there, though they are in bloom near the headquarters buildings at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge just up the road. While hiking the boardwalk loop at Laudholm I encountered my first Cedar Waxwings of the season for southern Maine…just a few, in the very tops of the trees…but as I hiked on and turned to come up through the old apple orchards…full of blossoming apple and crab-apple trees…I found more and more waxwings. I had to keep revising my estimate up, but I am convinced there were at least 100, maybe 150, Cedar Waxwings feeding in the apple blossoms. They were all around me, sometimes two dozen or more in a single tree.
I was not far into the Cedar Waxwing experience when a pair landed right in front of me on a low branch. Each had an apple blossom in its beak, and I got to watch as they apparently passed the petals back and forth for several moments. At the very least they were offering the petals to each other. I had never seen that behavior, obviously courting behavior between a pair, before, and found it fascinating. I took a lot of photos, and came home feeling totally blessed to been in the right place at the right time.
When I showed this photo to Carol, she immediately remembered seeing another like it on Facebook already within the past 24 hours. Some searching around found not one, but three other recent photos all taken…from Maine to Michigan…of Cedar Waxwings offering petals…Dogwood and Apple…to each other. A forth appeared in my stream shortly after my search. And who knows how many were posted by people I don’t know. Cleary this behavior is synchronized with the bloom of large white showy flowering trees, and evidently they are, at least this year, all in bloom at the same time across the north east quadrant of the country.
So, as it turns out, this is just my contribution to the courting, petal passing, Cedar Waxwing show. I still feel privileged to have seen it…to have been in the right place at the right time…but I now know myself to only one a small select group of people all across the country to have this experience on the same day. How special is that!
Peregrine Falcons nest on the Dry Tortugas and are seen most days hanging out on the radio tower at the southwest corner of Ft. Jefferson. In fact, in a spotting scope view, the radio tower is often decorated with bird body parts left over from Peregrine meals. The nesting seabirds provide a constant smorgasbord for the efficient Peregrines. This shot is from out last, early morning, visit to the Fort on our way back to Key West. We were there just long enough to catch the early light on the tower and the birds. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed and cropped in Polarr.