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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Artist Conk


This photo is of an Artist's Conk (a fungi which lives upon the side of trees). It is known as an Artist's Conk due to its amazing capability to tattoo its underparts . . . nah I'm just joking. People (mainly artists - hence the name) can etch pictures on to its pale white bottom (like the Bald Eagles shown above.) Actually I recently collected some Artist's Conk just the other day! Maybe I will get around to using them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trustom Pond continued



I just realized that I forgot to mention in the last post that we discovered a pair of green feet (we found them on the side of the path a few feet away from the waters of Trustom) which apparently had lost their owner. They where sickly green with lobed toes and some gray feathers on the top of the legs (the feathers were stuck to some blood and gore which in its turn was stuck to the legs).

We easily identified them as recently belonging to an American Coot.

I wonder what got the bird: maybe it was an Otter (we've seen Otter tracks here at Trustom before) but River Otters eat mainly fish, frogs, crayfish and mollusks. A more likely possibility would be a Bald Eagle - they often winter around Trustom and this apex predator has an appetite for Coot. Sadly though we will very likely never know what took out this Coot!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nov 18, 2010 10;30-1:50 sunny 50` windy Trustom Pond, South Kingstown RI





It was a sunny day, with a cool breeze which rustled the bows of the trees. Above us soared a Red-Tailed Hawk watching our car as it pulled into the parking lot at Trustom. As usual the feeders were covered with birds. White-Throated Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Dark-Eyed Juncos and Mourning Doves littered the ground (they were so plentiful that they had worn away the grass under the feeders) while above them Black-Capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, American Goldfinches, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers flitted constantly from bush to feeder and back to the bush.

We started down the trail stopping here or there to watch a Murder of Crows passing overhead or the occasional Blue Jay, on another occasion we found a flock of Golden-Crowned Kinglets flitting through the over-reaching bows of an old wrinkled tree which bore more of a resemblance to a witch then any commonplace plant.

Golden wings flashing, over went a Northern Flicker. We paused to watch a Brown Creeper scramble up a tree. A little further on I peered into the undergrowth and discovered a Hairy Woodpecker watching us (Hairys are very similar to Downys except they're hairy and are larger).

On the pond we found a huge flock of Mute Swans at least 50 strong. Mixed in with the Swans was a large flock of scaup species and Double-Crested Cormorants. Scattered over the pond was a large assortment of waterfowl: Common Loon, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, American Black Ducks Gadwalls, teal species, American Wigeons, scaup species, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots.

The Coots were the most exciting of the waterfowl. There were huge number of them only 20 or so feet from the observation deck. We stayed for quite a while photographing them and watching the Northern Harrier and Herring Gulls in the background.

We saw three species of mammals on the walk: 1 White-Tailed Deer, 1 Red Squirrel and my mother saw one mouse which was running about in circles and then vanished down its hole.

It was great day all in all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

October 17, 2010 2:45-4:30 Sunny 65' Allen's Neck, Dartmouth MA






Scrambling up a tree went a Brown Creeper, body fading into the bark, curved bill probing hungrily for an insect to munch upon. We were only twenty feet down the path and already the birds were all around us; Titmice, Chickadees and Kinglets flitted through the bows which radiated from the trees like hundreds of stiff arms crooked and notched, worn and beaten, ripped at by both rain and wind they still held fast sticking to the trunk that gave them life.

A burst of screeches came to our ears alerting us to the presence of two Blue Jays shrieking "bloody murder".

Squealing, a wild band of piglets passed across the path and headed towards their parents who were presently stuck in their muddy but still cozy pen where the females and youngest piglets were kept. Even the electric fence did nothing to constrain the rampaging little piglets. The pigs were lucky enough to be living in one of the most pig friendly farms in history. The larger pigs were kept together in groups of around five and each group had a plot of about 1000 square feet surrounded by an electric fence. Surprisingly some of the electric fences actually touched the footpath-there was an accident just waiting to happen as any passerby could clearly see (luckily none of us were zapped). The teen age pigs were kept in one big pen where they could romp and rollick whenever they pleased.

In the bushes Northern Cardinals were chirping and singing away, the males with crimson body, head, wings and crest, black mask shining darkly and the duller females with their red crests and their brown bodies, their faces lacking the males black masks.

Gray wings flashed as a bird left the ground, the bird landed in a cedar 20 feet away, I raised my binoculars; red breast, gray back, gray head, gray wings and tail, its bill was thick and straight it cocked its head quizzically at us beady black eyes examining us fascinated by the family watching him then the Robin took off and shot away in his gray wings.

In the fields which littered the Audubon we found large numbers of birds mainly sparrows and Yellow-Rumped Warblers but also some gulls and raptors. In the fields we saw; 2 Song Sparrows, 1 Field Sparrow, 1 Great-Blue Heron (flying), 3+ Yellow-Rumped Warblers, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Savannah Sparrows, 1 Greater Yellowlegs (calling in the distance), 20 Canada Geese (flying in a V formation), 1 Red-Tailed Hawk (soaring), 1 Peregrine Falcon (flying), 1 Carolina Wren (heard singing), 1 Northern Harrier (flying), 1 Great Black-Backed Gull (flying), 1 Bowhead Whale (flying), 1 Herring Gull (flying) and 2+ Golden-Crowned Kinglets. Butterflies seen; 1 Monarch, 1 Red Admiral and lots of Sulphurs. It was an excellent day all in all.

ps Note to Santa: we would love to get a cute pet piglet!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oct 10+11 2010 Sunny cool breeze 60` Cape Ann MA

Annisquam is a beautiful town in North Eastern Massachusetts. It is located on a peninsula known as Cape Ann. The birding is excellent, a point driven home by the nearby famous Plum Island, an internationally known birding hot spot. Not surprisingly we had a huge list of birds by the end of our three day stay.

We were staying at my Aunt Liz's house above the restaurant that she cooked for. The house had a great view of the bay from the balcony on which I could be found scoping on at any hour of the day. Common Eiders were easily viewable through a scope or pair of binoculars. Double-Crested Cormorants who's dark forms littered the water sometimes turning the water black with their numbers. Their fishing tactic was a sight to be seen; hundreds of Cormorants gathered together in large flocks all diving frantically then they would take wing, fly a little way and then repeat the procedure again (it wasn't just the cormorants that went into a frenzy, me and my brother would grab our cameras and then rush out the door, we would be deleting photos off our cameras for hours after).

On the opposite side there were some tidal flats where at low tide large plovers foraged, they were light brown with mottled brown backs (seeing that we have two plover species that look like this in late Summer and Autumn we were unable to identify them positively but seeing the the Black-Bellied Plover is the far more common of the two it was more likely that).

Gulls were ever present, flying gracefully on their white and gray wings and perching on the boats moored in the harbor (we saw four species here Herring, Ring-Billed, Great Black-Backed and Bonaparte's). Once we saw a seal surface by the restaurant dock. Kingfishers and Great Blue-Herons were also fairly common. Mallards were often seen floating in the bay trying in vain to look like bobbing boats (for no apparent reason).

On occasions a Red-Tailed Hawk, a Turkey Vulture or an Accipiter would sore overhead, Crows and Rock Pigeons also commonly traversed the sky around the house along with an occasional flock of Brant or White-Winged Scoter.

On dry land birds were every where: Golden and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets flitted through the thickly wooded neighborhood mixed in with Chickadees, Titmice, Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, Starlings, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, House Finches, Goldfinches, American Robins, Dark-Eyed Juncos, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves and Blue Jays. All these could be easily seen any day.

It was truly a Beautiful place to spend a vacation. Highlights of the trip included; Bonaparte's Gulls, Peregrine Falcon, White-Winged Scoters, Merlin, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Green-Winged Teals, Pied-Billed Grebe and a Brown Creeper. In all we saw 212 bird species (just joking we only saw 48!) Sadly though we were unable to get our mother to take us to Plum Island, a situation made worse by the fact that there was a rare Curlew Sandpiper taking up residence there for the time being.