Purple Sandpiper at Thomas Point State Park

A gloomy morning after an evening rain quickly turned into a mostly sunny and warm day, and I left for Thomas Point after an early appointment. I met my friend Emily there, and we quickly discovered a small treasure trove of birds, including a Purple Sandpiper neither of us had seen before. I’m sure I also saw an easrly Swallow, but I didn’t get a picture. A few Bald Eagles were in the area as well.
We visited my friend Theresa on Thomas Point Road, looking in vain for the Wood Duck, then we split up and I spent an hour or so at Quiet Waters before heading home.

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

This Purple Sandpiper flew into the rocks right at our feet. Neither of us had seen one before, and it took a while to get an ID (I hope I have it right).

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

This Bald Eagle was flying North, and met up with another some distance away.

Bufflehead

Bufflehead often fly across Thomas Point.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

This pair of Common Goldeneyes took off together.


Bufflehead 70

Common Loon

Emily spotted this Common Loon. It’s the first I’ve seen at Thomas Point.

Canvasback

Canvasback

Canvasback

Canvasback

Canvasback

It’s a privilege to get this close to a Canvasback.

Lesser  Scaup

Lesser  Scaup

I confess to preferring the gaudier ducks, but the Lesser Scaup is a beauty as well.

Canvasback Mallard

Canvasback Mallard

I knew there was somethimg odd abput this duck I saw at Quiet Waters, but I didn’t know what it was until I uploaded the image. It certainly appears that a Canvasback has mated with a Mallard.Update:This is more likely to be an inbred Mallard

Canvasback

A large raft of Canvasbacks continues on Thomas Point Road.

A Day of Hawks at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

The weather didn’t look at promising this morning, but I’ve been looking forward to a Jug Bay trip for some time, and it’s only open on Wednesdays. I set out around 8:30, with some trepidation, and the skies looked much better by the time I finished the 40 minute drive.
I met the receptionist and signed up for a year’s membership, then began exploring.
The lack of ducks was almost shocking, and I looked far and wide. There were a few distant ring necks, and plenty of gulls and geese, but none of the expected varieties. Perhaps the high tide was a factor.
In any case, I had to settle for a few hawks who circled the Railroad Bed Trail.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

This Red Shouldered Hawk was flying low and slow, perhaps looking for a meal.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

This Cooper’s Hawk also appeared to be hunting.

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Distant hawks can be difficult to identify, but the Red Tailed Hawk can be easy.

Dark Eyed Junco

A Dark Eyed Junco for my sister.

Beaver

A pair of Beaver were very busy around their lodge.

Beaver

This is the Beaver’s lodge.

River Otter at Wooten’s Landing Wetland Park

Our weatherman friend promised rain and clouds today, but the morning had just enough promise that I decided to take a chance and traveled to Wooten’s Landing. This park features several areas of marsh, and sits right next to the Patuxent River, a great mix of habitats.
In truth, not much was going on, and it looked like a Downy Woodpecker convention, as that was the predominant bird by far.
I’ve seen River Otters in other places. but not for a long time, so it was a surprise and a treat to see one fishing in one of the small marsh ponds.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

There seemed to be a Downy Woodpecker in every other tree.

River Otter

River Otter

River Otter

River Otter

From The Chesapeake Bay Progfram:
“The river otter is a large, brown, weasel-like mammal found along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and lakes, streams, rivers and marshes throughout the Bay watershed. Grows to 26-40 inches long, not including the tail, and weighs up to 18 pounds”

Red Breasted Nuthatches at Patuxent NWR

The weatherman delivered the perfect weather he promised, so I set out for a look at Bacon Ridge, but there wasn’t any good public access I could find, so I went on to Patuxent, where some good birds have been seen. They didn’t show for me or the other three guys met, and the day was pretty much a bust except for some Nuthatches.

Northern Flicker

This Northern Flicker was one of the few birds worth photographing.

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatches are very agile as they search for food.

Carolina Wren at Quiet Waters

I’ve gotten to be a weather watcher these days, as so much depends on light and precipitation. The morning didn’t look like “warm and clear” when I awoke, but it cleared up quickly as promised.
I had planned an extensive trip to Quiet Waters, but it din;’t look at all promising after and hour or so, so I went to Thomas Point and then Truxtun Park.
I was lucky enough to visit my fiend, Theresa, on her birthday, and she allowed to get a few more images of her backyard waterfowl. The Truxtun trip was a bust, but I met a nice lady who works in the conservation field, and we swapped some stories and may explore a mutually beneficial professional relationship.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

This Carolina Wren was singing loudly and happily.

Lesser  Scaup

This pair of Lesser Scaup was among the few ducks at the point.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan

There were 50 or more Tundra Swans present.

Canvasback

Canvasback

Canvasback

I don’t know much about counting birds, but I’d bet there were two hundred or more Canvasbacks along the shore.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is mysteriously beautuful.

Red Bellied Woodpecker

This Red Bellied Woodpecker will be nesting soon.

Theresa

Happy Birthday, Theresa!

Wood Ducks at Thomas Point

The weatherman predicted rain and snow, but the morning looked more promising than that, so I pointed the truck toward Thomas Point to see what was happening. The Point, in fact, was nearly deserted, but I noticed a large flock of waterfowl along Thomas Point Road, so I stopped by my friend’s house to see what was there, and I found my long sought Wood Duck in a mixed flock of Swans and Ducks. Calloo, Callay!
As I approached, a juvenile Bald Eagle flew by, and I got a few quick images. Later, I went looking in the direction he flew, and found one of his parents.
I also stopped by Quiet Waters on the way home and got a nice look at a Common Loon.
You just never know.

Tundra Swan Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan I don’t often get a chance to photograph a Tundra Swan from this angle.

Canvasback


Canvasback
This Canvasback took off just as I approached.

Bald Eagle Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle This juvenile Bald Eagle flew quite low along the water, and may have been looking for a meal.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

The Tundra Swan appears to be looking out for the Wood Duck.

Bald Eagle

I was looking for a juvenile, so I was surprised to find this adult Bald Eagle .

Common Loon

Common Loon

I’ve only seen a few Common Loons, and they’re a treat to behold.

Hemit Thrush at Glendening Preserve

I had time for a quick trip this morning, so I chose the Glendening Preserve near Lothian. A previous visit wasn’t very productive, but they have a new boardwalk through the marsh that seemed worth checking. Well, it wasn’t. The boardwalk itself is a healthy hike from the entrance, during which I saw a Wild Turkey, who elected not to pose. It’s only my second sighting, so that was worthwhile. A Hermit Thrush was more cooperative, but that was about it for birds in the woods.
The boardwalk is on a steep hill, and not particularly easy to navigate. The steps are not well placed, and the boardwalk itself is quite narrow, with no railing. There wasn’t even enough room to set up my tripod, and I’d imagine two-way traffic could be perilous in the right conditions. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort, and I’m sure the cost wasn’t minor, but I’d say it’s borderline dangerous. The fall would only be three feet or so, but that’s enough to casue a problem.
You do get a very good view part of the marsh, and the viewing platform could probably handle 4-5 people.
A Cooper’s Hawk passed through, but there was no other action, but that’s the breaks.
I stopped at Quiet Waters on the way home, and had better luck.

Hermit Thrush

This Hermit Thrush was a willing subject.

Cooper's Hawk

I had a chance to get a better shot of this Cooper’s Hawk, but I fumbled.

Red Breasted Merganser

This Red Breasted Merganser may be heading North to breed before too long.

Pileated Woodpecker

I mistook this Pileated Woodpecker for a Red Bellied, briefly.

Cold and Windy At Bombay Hook NWR

“Stretching eight miles along Delaware Bay and covering 16,251 acres, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for wildlife. Four-fifths of the refuge is tidal salt marsh with a mix of cordgrass meadows, mud flats, tidal pools, rivers, creeks, and tidal streams. The upland area includes forests, freshwater impoundments, brushy and timbered swamps, and fields of herbaceous plants.”

I’ve heard a lot about Bombay Hook, which has a large variety of habitat and bird life, so I printed out a map and took the nearly two hour trip this morning. While it wasn’t an overwhelming success, I got some good pictures and saw some wonderful scenery. I hear it’s a rough trip when the mosquitoes are out, but I’ll definitely schedule another trip.

Red Tailed Hawk 32

Red Tailed Hawk

This Red Tailed Hawk was my first significant sighting, as he hunted over the marsh.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

I saw several small flocks of Hooded Mergansers foraging in the marsh.

American Coot

It may look a bit odd, but this American Coot is feeding, and most dabblers spend a lot of time in similar poses.

American Coot

Typical feeding habitat at Bombay Hook and other marsh refuges.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintails were present in almost every marsh.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swans were feeding right alongside the ducks.

Green Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal

I was surprised to see a small flock of Green Winged Teals foraging in the mud flats.

Great Blue Heron

I felt mildly guilty about startling this Great Blue Heron.

Mallard

Mallards are the ducks I see most often.

Black Duck

Black Ducks were very common also.

Ring Billed Gull

This Ring Billed Gull seemed to be checking me out.

Northern Shoveller

Northern Shovellers were plentiful.

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

This Red Tailed Hawk appeared as I was exiting the refuge.

A Quick Trip to SERC

The weatherman predicted rain and cold this morning, but there was a brief window of partly cloudy. Our local parks are closed on Tuesdays, so I decided on a quick trip back to SERC to get a little more familiar with the place.
One Bald Eagle was very cooperative, but not much else was going on.
Still, I’m going to continue exploring the place.

Canada Goose

Canada Geese were present in small numbers.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

I had just arrived on the main dock when this Bald Eagle flew into a tree on the shore.This is a young bird who hasn’t acquired his full adult coloration.He flew off before long to join his mate in a distant tree.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

This American Kestrel was hunting in a nearby field, and I felt lucky to get this shot. He’s carrying something about the size of a mouse.

Hermit Thrush at SERC

The day was sunny and cold, and I decided to head back to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Facility in Edgewater, MD. I visited several months ago with the AABC and it looked like a great facility.
This time, it was closed for the holiday, and I was on my own. After wandering a bit, I found a trail that followed the water’s edge, and I can see that the place has great promise. I didn’t have a whole lot of luck, but I believe I’ll head back before too long.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Like all the Hermit Thrushes I’ve seen, this bird was foraging on the forest floor.

Red Breasted Merganser

Two Red Breasted Mergansers were hanging out near the pier, but waterbirds were generally scarce.

White Breasted Nuthatch

Most of the time you’ll find a White Breasted Nuthatch headed in the opposite direction.

Great Blue Heron

This Great Blue Heron was nervous about my presence.

Canada Goose

There were only a few Canada Geese in the water.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks were the predominant waterbrid.