Recently, I signed up for a couple of birding listservs which have been incredibly informative. However, this morning, there must've been some bad juju in the air because the following three postings came over the wire in pretty rapid succession:
First, I was reading a post about a woman who was birding at Scotia Barrens; I was looking at her rather short species list and thinking, "oh--she saw a pileated and a wood thrush--I gotta get out there!" but then I read why her list was so short: she and her husband were the victims of a flasher who stalked them and then exposed himself! I won't be going there alone any time soon!
Then, I read a post titled "Millbrook Marsh TICKS" (not my marsh) in which the writer started a discussion about how many ticks there are in this area now. Ticks? Isn't it still too cold? And these aren't just any ticks--they're deer ticks, the ones that give you lyme disease! Then someone mentioned finding sixteen ticks on themselves after a hike through (where else?) Scotia Barrens! Boy, I don't care WHAT kind of birds they have out there--count me OUT! You know, I was on the marsh this weekend, and I didn't even think to check myself for ticks. What if I have a little deer tick somewhere like behind my knee or something, and I get lyme disease and die!?
Finally, I got what I guess was some sort of public service announcement about the forthcoming "Spring Gobbler Season," which warned that birders and hikers might want to consider going somewhere besides State Game Lands during the season. "You don't want to interfere with lawful hunting activities." Well, no I don't, if by "interfere" you mean I'll be walking along some verdant path, looking for a brown thrasher or something, and then BOOM! I catch a bullet in the chest. In that case, no, I guess I don't want to interfere!
I didn't realize birding could be so dangerous. Sheesh!
While on the marsh this weekend, I did get some interesting photos as I scouted out a path to better observe where the herons of last year seemed to hang out. Here's a shot of the area, looking toward the back of my house in the center of the frame:
My house looks so small from this vantage point.
In this photo, the second tree from the right, set back a little way, is--I think--the tree where the herons roosted last year, and right near where I saw the heron a couple of weeks ago, coming in for a landing in the grass:
It's kind-of hard to tell whether that's really the tree or not; I mean, usually I'm about 200 yards away, viewing this whole scene through the scope. This time, however, I was maybe 20-30 feet away from the tree in question, standing on a mown path next to the creek that runs behind the marsh. I didn't want to traipse in there and start looking around and stirring things up (smart move, after reading about the ticks everywhere!). I just don't know if I'd even recognize a nesting site if I saw one, so I just wanted to scout locations and then have a really good birding pal come over and do the professional looking, you know? That'll happen in May, so be sure to check back then for a full report (and hopefully some photos).
While I was out there, I was really hoping the heron would actually come in for the evening. Now it was really cold this past weekend, and I was very bundled up (complete with peripheral-vision-blocking hat) because I have a cold or allergies or something, and it was snowing on and off. It was late in the afternoon, about 6pm, so the light was dim at best. Suddenly, I saw something flying over! I jerked my camera up and snapped a shot, almost falling over in my excitement. I got one good shot, then tried to hide in some cover, then lost the bird. I wasn't even sure it was a heron, but I knew it looked huge! So I go home, download the photo, and here's what I got:
Obviously, that's no more a great blue heron than the man in the moon. However, it is a pretty neat shot of a raptor of some sort! Not too bad for a half-way-tripping-over-my-own-feet photograph! Any offers as to what kind? All the buteos seem to have more fanned-out tails; this guy's is obviously long and straight. Some sort of falcon? I won't even try to guess what kind. Help, oh ye raptor people out there!
I also saw some Canada geese coming in for the evening:
I love their plaintive little honks. You can hear them all night on the marsh, getting stirred up (I guess whenever they hear something moving) and honking and complaining until everyone settles down again.
Once I got home from my little adventure and warmed up with some hot tea, I got some great baby photos:
Kisses (top) and Cookies on the Little Tower of Kitty Power.
Clawsie on my desk, next to her new little friend.
Niblet, however, refused to sit still for more than one photograph. Seems he had some very official E.B. (Easter Bunny) duties--dying eggs, gathering candy, etc.--that he had to attend to. He was rather serious about his duties.
Can't you see I'm busy?
However, now that his big day is over, I'll go grab a quick snap of him. I think I hear him in the living room . . .
Hey! Is that my trig homework?