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Monday, October 18, 2010

July 22, 2010 11:30-1:30pm Sunny and clear Brewster Natural History Museum, Wing's Island, Brewster MA


(captive) Diamond Back Terrapin


Clearwing Moth


Clearwing Moth


Red Spotted Purple


The birding was exceptional! An American Crow flew purposefully overhead and a Red-Winged Blackbird screeched nosily from the salt marsh shoulders blazing red and gold in the morning sun. Red Spotted Purple Butterflies flapped lazily about while a handsome Osprey took a relaxing break on his well built stick nest.

A man at the trail head showed us the museum's pet Diamond Back Terrapin which he was taking for a stroll on the grass. The Terrapin was a deathly white color which the man told us was due to the years of captivity.

Black-Capped Chickadees flitted through some trees calling cheerfully. A goldfinch dashed buoyantly over the salt marsh. An Eastern Grey Squirrel (the bane of bird feeders) foraged through the fallen leaves in hopes of finding a yummy acorn to make a mess with on a log (which any ordinary Squirrel would tell you is the second best thing to do with a nut after eating it of course).

An American Copper, a small and common butterfly, fluttered leisurely by, enjoying the beautiful scenery and praying not to be the next meal of the Eastern Phoebe who was now perched on a branch waiting for a delicious insect to pass him by. A Common Yellowthroat darted from bush to bush while a lovely House Finch flew over head and a House Wren flitted through some scrubby bushes.

A Song Sparrow sang its rich and buoyant song from the branches of a small evergreen while a pair of Downy Woodpeckers scaled an oak tree in search of a fresh and juicy bug. An Eastern Kingbird surveyed the salt marsh from a post, watching the Yellowlegs species hunting for worms in the marsh.

At last we reached the source of the salt in the salt marsh - we turned a corner and were confronted with a large and heavily populated beach and past that a larger and more heavily populated Ocean. Peeps and Piping Plovers scuttled about on the muddy tidal flats taking wing at the slightest sign of danger which often was us. Two small and beautiful Least Terns dived for fish in the blue depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

A Laughing Gull flew by and Great Black-Backed and Herring Gulls rested on the beach. Millions of tiny fish zipped through the water hunted after by the Least Terns, one prehistoric looking Double-Crested Cormorant, a Great-Blue Heron and most any bird who had an appetite for fish. Three Willet flew by madly flapping their flashy wings adorned with a banner of black and white. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flew gracefully by while a Blue Jay shrieked as it dashed past.

The real excitement came when we found a pure red bird moving through a tree and a pure red bird is a good bird (unless it's a Cardinal and then its just an ordinary bird) - it stayed for only a few seconds then it vanished into the forest. It was acting like a tanager staying at the top of the tree and shyly flitting through the canopy. We have two tanager species in New England: the common red and black Scarlet Tanager and the uncommon and pure red Summer Tanager. The bird we saw had red wings - the scarlet has black. Sadly we were not able to see its face which would have positively identified it. We walked away wandering if it was the common Northern Cardinal or a Summer Tanager which would have been a very nice addition to my life list.

A Red Squirrel chattered from a tree and an Eastern Towhee sang cheerfully from a tree. A Black or Spicebush Swallowtail fluttered by while a large and mean looking Beefly (a big black bug who true to its name resembled a bee) buzzed by us.

Back at the visitor center we found some House Sparrows, a Grey Catbird and lots of Clearwing moths who resemble hummingbirds as much as they resemble moths. It was a very enjoyable day all in all!

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