June 30, 2012

There was a ferocious storm last night, hugh winds and heavy ran such that there were a lot of power outages and the governor may declare a state of emergency. We got an automated phone call to conserve water until July 2, as the power is out at the water plant and they are running on a generator.
I was especially concerned about my flycatcher nest, so I went to Truxtun Park to check up on it. There were downed trees to the left and right, but she and the chicks were fine. Mother Nature is a powerful force.

Red Winged Blackbird

This another low light shot (ISO 3200), and I kind of like the look of this Red Winged Blackbird. It’s vaguely oriental.

Crow

I’ve often had trouble getting Crows to stay around long enough for a decent shot. but this guy was very cooperative.

Great Crested Flycatcher

This Great Crested Flycatcher was very active.

Robin

There were several Robins feasting on worms driven to the surface by the heavy rains.

Acadian Flycatcher Nest

Look just below the butterfly to see the open mouth of one of the two chicks.

Acadian Flycatcher Nestlngs

Here’s a better shot of the nestlings. (ISO 3200 again)

Cardinal

You’ll never go wrong with a Cardinal close up.

Chickadee

Several Chickadees were flitting about, as usual.

Red Eyed Vireo

I like this shot of a Red Eyed Vireo. I have often had trouble getting a good capture as they frequently inhabit the higher branches.

Red Eyed Vireo

This might be my best Red Eyed Vireo to date.

June 29, 2012

I returned to Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, planning a short day as it was already hot at 5:30 AM. The entrance gate was still closed, even though it’s supposed to open at sunrise. I entered through the exit gate. Later, I found out from an employee that the guy responsible for opening at sunrise has Fridays off. OK.

Mockingbird

I would bet that this is the same Mockingbird who greeted me yesterday. He would occasionally fly straight up a few feet and return to his perch. If I knew songs better , I could tell you what birds he’s imitating, and he seems to have a large repertoire.I made a YouTube video you can see here:
Mockingbird Singing

[caption id="attachment_329" align="aligncenter" width="1160"]Canada Goose A couple of Great Blue Herons flew off as I approached the lake, but this Canada Goose, and a large family nearby, continued on in serenity. It was very cloudy, so this shot was at f 6.3. 1/125 ISO 3200, giving the grainy effect.

Orchard Oriole

There were two female Orchard Orioles feeding in this small evergreen bush near the lake.
f6.3. 1/125, IO 2800

Flycatcher

This Flycatcher was poised on a branch to catch breakfast in typical Empidonax fashion.

Tree Swallow

This Tree Swallow posed on a tree branch, instead of a sign, as all the others have done.

Chipping Sparrow

This Chipping Sparrow kept picking at the white string you can see, attempting to carry it off, probably for nesting material. It was all tied together, so he wasn’t successful during the time I watched him.

Tree Swallow at Patuxent NWR

I arrived at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, South Tract, about 6:00 AM and had the place to myself. The plan was to stay until 8:00 or so, then get a look at North Tract, which I haven’t visited before. It was a cool morning, but warmed up very quickly, so I only stayed at North Tract about an hour.

Mockingbird

This Mockingbird was the first bird I saw this morning.

Carolina Wren

This Carolina Wren was singing loudly, greeting the morning, and was a very willing subject.

Carolina Wren

For a brief while, I had two Carolina Wrens in the viewfinder.

Carolina Wren

A classic Carolina Wren shot.

Robin (Juvenile)

This juvenile Robin was foraging in what appeared to be newly planted grass.

Sparrow

I’m not sure which Sparrow this is, but I like the shot.

Cardinal

This female Cardinal was a little camera-shy.

Bluebird

This Bluebird was quite distant in the low light.

Blue Winged Warbler

I’m not sure of this ID (Again). This little guy was very active, and I was able to follow him for several minutes.Update:It’s a female Orchard Oriole.

Canada Goose

This family of Canadian Geese was out for a walk. Later, I saw them foraging in the tall grass.

Sparrow

It was nice of this Sparrow to pose so neatly.

Great Crested Flycatcher

This Great Crested Flycatcher is a little too bright, so he’s just here for the record.

Butterfly

This butterfly was feeding right outside the visitor center at North Tract.

Dragonfly

I couldn’t pass up this Dragonfly who stopped for a while right in front of me.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

This Blue Gray Gnatcatcher was at the pond near the North Tract bridge. He flew around quite a bit, but kept returning to the same tree.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Another look at the Gnatcatcher.

Butterfly

Maybe it’s a moth. Someday I’ll find the time to ID these guys.

Tree Swallow

The Tree Swallow is an elegant looking bird.

Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge

I decided to visit Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge this morning. I called ahead to verify hours and places, and was misdirected by the biologist who answered the phone. A staff member at the North Tract directed me to the South Tract, which opens at Sunrise, my preferred birding time. I met a couple of interesting birders, including a guy from New Zealand who knows Lucy Lawless, star of the greatest TV series of all time.

Bluebird

There is a nesting box attached to the pole this Bluebird is sitting on.

Great Blue Heron

I haven’t seen a Great Blue Heron quite this deep in the water before.


Yellow Billed Cuckoo

As soon as I started down the path, I saw a shaking in the tree nearest me, and managed this shot of a rather elusive Yellow Billed Cuckoo.

Sparrow

This Sparrow has me confused, so I’m checking for an ID. Update:Juvenile Chipping Sparrow

Sparrow

Yet another unknown Sparrow, but I’m working on it. Update:The experts are still unsure.

Unknown Juvenile

Another unknown bird. I was with an expert who got only a quick look, and thinks it’s a juvenile of some kind. Update-it’s likely a Juvenile Bluebird.

Common Yellwothroat (Female)

This appears to be a Common Yellowthroat female, but I’m double checking.

Eastern Phoebe

I’m not positive of this ID yet.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

This Great Blue Heron was being harassed by a swallowas he flew across the lake.

Great Blue Heron

I’ve seen a lot of Great Blue Herons, but this one is particularly colorful, in a nice setting.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

With a little luck I got this Great Blue Heron as he was landing.

Canada Goose Family

This family of Canadian Geese headed serenely across the lake.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Here he is again, just because I like this shot.


Hermit Thrush

I saw this Hermit Thrush just as I entered the woods, which abounded with insects. I was stung on the lip shortly after this, and had a fat lip for several hours.

Eastern Kingbird

This Eastern Kingbird posed very nicely.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows and Bluebirds seem to compete for nesting boxes at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

I got an email last night saying my Great Crested Flycatcher on the nest is an Acadian Flycatcher, so I’ve changed the text accordingly. Taking a closer look, I can see the person was right, and I’ve been seeing too many Great Crested Flycatchers lately. If you look up Flycatchers, you’ll see how many of them are very similar, but this little guy is 2-3″ too short.
I started the day at Possum Point, limping from a slightly sprained ankle due to an encounter with a hole at Truxtun Park yesterday. I didn’t stay long at Possum Point, but elected to go by Truxtun, where the walking would be less strenuous. Tomorrow I’m going to the North Tract at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge as I’ve heard good things about it.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

I’m pretty sure this is a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, but I don’t know these birds well. I’m checking with my experts at Bird Forum.Net.

Blue Jay

This Blue Jay was very vocal, scolding loudly for several minutes. I saw some hawks in the area, and that may have been the cause.

Red Tailed Hawk

This Red Tailed Hawk made even more racket than the Blue Jay, calling very loudly long before I saw him, and after he flew over.

Red Winged Blackbird

This female Red Winged Blackbird hovered among the fragmite a while, then landed in the mud.

Red Winged Blackbird

Here, it looks as though she’s captured a grasshopper.

Acadian Flycatcher

The Acadian Flycatcher was back on her nest. I’m going to try to get a shot of her feeding the chicks, if I can do it without disturbing her too much.

Red Shouldered Hawk at Truxtun Park

Another typical Summer day. a litttle cooler after a short rainfall last night.
I got to Truxtun Park early, and got a few decent shots.

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbirds are fairly common around marshes at this time of year, but they are still very handsome, and willing subjects for the photographer.

Many birds, like this Bank Swallow, perch on this cable that crosses the creek.

Cardinal

This Cardinal is contemplating the day’s activities.

Cardinal

Cardinals are as likely to perch on the cable as any other small bird.

Osprey

This Osprey has made her nest on top of the ball field lights, and doesn’t appear to be disturbed even when they are turned on for night games.

Acadian Flycatcher Nest

When I arrived to check on the nesting Acadian Flycatcher, the nest was empty.

Red Shouldered Hawk

I saw this Red Shouldered Hawk fly from his perch when I entered the woods, so I was pleasantly surprised to see he didn’t fly far. This seems to be a favored area, as I’ve seen him here several times before.

Red Shouldered Hawk

This close up lets you see the red shoulder patch and the excellence of nature’s camouflage.

Red Shouldered Hawk

I’m including this image because I really like these birds.

Chipping Sparrow I had to leave Truxtun Park for a computer repair, and it was convenient to stop by Hillsmere Elementary afterwards, where I captured this Chipping Sparrow feeding on grass seeds.

Bluebird

I’ve seen this female Bluebird on almost every visit to Hillsmere Elementary.

Crow

There are many Crows overlooking the playing fields.

Acadian Flycatcher Chick

After returning home and running some errands and taking a nap, I returned to Truxtun Park to check up on the Acadian Flycatcher nest, and at least one of the eggs has hatched.

Acadian Flycatcher

Mama soon appeared, carrying what appears to be a moth to feed the chick.

Nesting Acadian Flycatcher at Truxtun Park

A typical June day, with temps in the eighties early in the day. I left the house around 5:30 AM and went to Possum Point, The Nature Center at USNA and Truxtun Park.


This Yellow Breasted Chat greeted me early on.

Blue Grosbeak
I saw several Blue Grosbeaks.

Cardinal
This female Cardinal was co-habiting this shrub with a female Goldfinch.

Grackle
These two Grackles are probably planning the day’s activities.

Fox Sparrow
I’ve grown to like the House Finch.


A female Goldfinch posed for several minutes, even as several joggers went by.

Cardinal
It would be difficult to escape the sound of Male Cardinals serenading.

Osprey
This Osprey flew off his perch just as I snapped the shutter.

Great Crested Flycatcher
I’ve been watching this nesting Acadian Flycatcher for nearly two weeks, and the incubation period is about the same. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some chicks very soon.

Possum Point

Possum Point is a fishing/.hiking area set aside by the US Naval Station at Greenbury Point, the old site of submarine communication antennas. It’s probably worth multiple billions to developers, so it’s amazing some lobbyist or other crook hasn’t bought the proper politician to erect something tacky and soul destroying. I understand some mionor amenities are to be added, such as “Cabins” and a picnic area, so this ideal birding, hiking and fishing area will eventually be at least partially ruined.

The blue marker indicates Possum Point.

My Nikon D3100 with Sigma 150-500 zoom attached, at Possum Point.

 

Possum Point

Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Possum Point.

 

There are several Osprey Nesting Platforms at Possum Point, and most are occupied.

Why Birds?

I’ve always had an interest in nature, and spent a great deal of my youth fishing, swimming, biking and generally exploring the outdoors. I lived in 14 houses by the time I was 14, in places that include Mississippi, Maryland, New York, Florida and Ohio. My father was a college professor, and got better jobs as he got more experience.
I got involved in bird watching in my 30s, and more or less stopped in my 40s due to pressure of life and work.
Recently, my doctor told me to lose some weight, change my diet and get more exercise (I spend a lot of time in front of the TV or the computer and repair computers to supplement my retirement income).
I don’t like to exercise for the sake thereof, so I took my trusty Nikon L120 to the local park and began photographing the local birds. Since then I’ve upgraded to a Nikon D3100 with two telephoto zoom lenses, a Nikkor 70-300 and a Sigma 150-500. These lenses have enabled a huge improvement in my pictures, and I’ve also lost 30 pounds.
This Carolina Wren was one of my favorite early photos.
Carolina Wren
In almost all cases, images are posted the day they’re taken, in the order I shot them. I intend to post many of my favorites, usually with some dialog about the circumstances, location and information about the bird in question .
To see the full size image, just right-click and select”Open In New Tab”.