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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Surf Scoters


Tried to post this to the blogger website, yesterday, where our blog is hosted, but I couldn't get through. Seems to be working today.
Rain storms and high winds are hitting New England. Some people might want to curl up with a good book indoors under such conditions, but this is exactly the time hardy birders head out to the coast to see what birds might get blown in towards shore with the storm.
Large numbers of scoters migrate along both coasts and this would be a good time to see some. An acquaintance just told us he had seen thousands of Black Scoters from the MA coast. The above photos are of Surf Scoters, our favorite scoter, who can often be seen in mixed flocks with Black and White-winged Scoters. The male Surf Scoters have the striking black-and-white head pattern, (females have less distinct brown head with whitish patches) hence the male's nickname, "skunk scoter". Makes it easy to remember them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Big?

How big is Phoebe, our new puppy?
This big.
About as big as a medium size pumpkin. She is 12 weeks old today.
It is so amazing to have such a little being living with us. She is so little, we have to be careful not to step on her, especially since she follows us closely everywhere, a trait of the herding dog she is. But every day she is getting stronger, smarter and growing. It's fun to watch.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Audubon Society of Rhode Island


We just gave a talk at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island's annual meeting. What a nice bunch of folks they are, and working so hard to protect the environment. They gave out lots of awards and even had the two candidates running for Governor of Rhode Island speak to the gathering about their environmental policies.
It was announced that Rhode Island will now have an Osprey license plate that people can buy and proceeds will go towards conservation.
We did a book signing as well and Stokes Birding Series binoculars were sold by the society. One couple, who each bought a pair of Stokes DLS binoculars, took our advice that we said in our talk.. "the secret to our marital harmony is...don't share a pair!!"

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ruby-crowned Kinglet & Phoebe


Yesterday we saw a lovely little Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitting through the fall foliage. These little birds give new meaning to the word "hyperactive" for they move so fast. They constantly flick their wings as they forage in the leaves. The ruby crown is rarely visible but I got a photo showing the little red patch partially exposed.


Speaking of fast moving little things, of course we had to add some photos of our new puppy, "Phoebe". You'll have to pardon us in the coming weeks if we post photos of her, we are totally ga-ga over this adorable pup. But we'll also keep the bird photos coming.

Gotta go give some talks, see you next week. Have a nice weekend. Go see some birds!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Welcome Phoebe! Happiness is a Warm Puppy



Remember when we said back here, after our beloved Corgi, Daisy, died, that we saw a sign that read "When one door of happiness closes, another opens. Often we spend so long looking at the door that has closed, we do not see the door that has opened." Well this beautiful new Corgi puppy that we just got is the door that has opened for us. We, of course, had to name her after a bird, and the name "Phoebe" seemed perfect. The day before we got her, an Eastern Phoebe (the bird) landed on our balcony right outside our bedroom window and stared in at us for a long time. We hadn't seen this species for quite some time, we thought they had migrated. We took it as a sign that puppy Phoebe coming to us, was meant to be.

After Daisy died, we began a search for a new Corgi and thought it would take a long time. By a great coincidence, a wonderful Corgi breeder had moved near us and had just had a litter of puppies. We were fortunate enough that the breeder allowed us to have this gorgeous puppy. Even though we still miss our Daisy, we have learned that we can fall in love, again, with another dog. Phoebe is not a replacement of Daisy, for she is a very different dog. She is an addition to our lives and we look forward to moving through the door that has opened and building a wonderful new relationship with Phoebe.

Friday, October 13, 2006

White-throated Sparrow

This morning, this White-throated Sparrow was in the willow shrub next to our feeders, its white throat gleaming, even though the rest of it was fairly camouglaged against the shrub. The sparrow migration is beginning. Lots more to come.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Common Yellowthroat

I needed a photo for our blog, so I went out to photograph some Palm Warblers I saw by our woodland edge. By the time I had gotten there, they had flown away and I had no luck. Just as I was about to leave, this lovely Common Yellowthroat female popped up and allowed me to photograph her. Photographic serendipity!

As the lyrics to the Rolling Stones song goes, "you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometime, you find, you get what you need."

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fall Canoe Ride





We are at peak foliage color here at our home, "Bobolink Farm", in southern NH. The mountain that we look at is ablaze with vivid colors. It's magical to take a canoe and go out on the pond and paddle into the reflections of the trees. We were surrounded by the reflections that look like molten gold on the water. We treasured the moment and wanted to share it with you.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Birding Cape May, NJ, continued

Osprey

Sharp-shinned Hawk pursuing a...

Palm Warbler in flight

Don and Michael O'Brien at Higbee Beach

Higbee Beach "morning flight" platform

Mute Swan

Canada Geese

Cape May Hawk Watch platform

Don with Stokes Birding Series "Sandpiper" spotting scope

Red-tailed Hawk (immature)

A "kettle" of Broad-winged Hawks and Turkey Vultures

Lillian watching the "kettle" of hawks

Monarch Butterfly flying past Cape May Lighthouse

Monarch Butterfly in flight

Black Saddlebags Dragonfly

Here are more images from our recent trip to the premier birding hotspot, Cape May, NJ, which has many places to watch birds. In the morning, we went to Higbee Beach platform, a traditional place birders start the day, because there is a "morning flight" of songbirds where you might see hundreds of warblers flying by at warp speed, a real ID challenge. In hot pursuit are the many Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks. Don is standing on the ridge next to the platform with Michael O'Brien, co-author, along with Richard Crossley and Kevin Karlson, of the excellent new book "The Shorebird Guide". Michael is keeping the official count of the birds flying by.

Our next stop was the Cape May Hawk Watch platform where there is a constant stream of hawks overhead. In the water area in front of it, there are many other birds, such as Mute Swans, Canada Geese, herons and shorebirds.

In addition to birds there were an incredible number of Monarch Butterflies passing by. There are also migrating dragonflies, such as the above Black Saddlesbags.

So if you want to see and have the opportunity to learn lots of birds, plan your next birding trip to the incredible Cape May, maybe we'll see you there!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Birding Cape May, NJ

Cape May Lighthouse

Overlooking "Cape May Meadows"

Merlin at Sunset

Photographing the Merlin

We are down in Cape May, NJ, one of the country's premier birding hotspots. The lighthouse is at Cape May Point State Park where the hawkwatch takes place. At sunset we went to Cape May Meadows, a Nature Conservancy refuge where there is a platform overlooking a pond and lots of paths through the habitat. Thousands of landbirds pass through here each season on their migration. Raptors like this Merlin frequent the area, looking for a songbird meal. We just got here, and will do more birding tomorrow. More photos and information to come.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Western Reef-Heron last reported 9/20/06

This Western Reef-Heron that has been thrilling U.S. birders since its first appearance in Kittery Point, ME on 8/18/06 seems to have left. On 9/18/06 some birders saw the Western Reef-Heron fly with Snowy Egrets, to an evening roost on the Isles of Shoals, about 5 miles off the NH coast. That was the first time it was confirmed roosting there, although birders suspected all along it had been going there at night. It was last reported on the NHBirds listserv on 9/20/06 near Rt. 1B in New Castle. It had regularly been seen in that vicinity since 8/19/06, when first discovered in NH.

Who knows where it will go next. We thought it might stop in Barbados, where there is a breeding colony of Little Egrets and Western Reef-Herons have been know to show up there. In a communication from E. Massiah, who studies the breeding colony of Little Egrets there, he noted that "dark morph Little Egrets have never occcurred in Barbados". He did say that they had a WesternReef-Heron, similar to our photo, several years ago in November.

The taxonomy of Western Reef-Heron is still being worked on and some authorities think Western Reef-Heron is really a southern subspecies of Little Egret.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Leaf Peepers in the White Mountains, NH

Mt. Lafayette on left

Sugar Maple leaf

Indian Head
Across a pond

Mt. Washington and cog railway trains

Yesterday we went "leaf peeping" in the White Mountains of our state, New Hampshire. Tourists flock to this area at this time of year and are dubbed "leaf peepers". The weatherman here gives not only the weather report, but the foliage report as well. The report was for peak foliage color hitting northern NH this weekend, so we drove north up route 93 and had stunning views of the mountains clothed in brilliant oranges and reds. We saw Mt.Lafayette, "Indian Head" mountain and more. Then we turned onto route 302 and headed east towards Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., at 6,288 ft. above sea level. We were surprised when saw it because we realized the white area on top was snow! One can drive up Mt. Washington (we knew it would be too crowded that day for us to attempt it) and there are even little cog railway trains that go up the mountain, shown in photo above.
We had a wonderful day and it made us appreciate the beauty and grandeur of these mountains in our home state!