Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ernie and Burt

Actually, Ernie did not show. And neither did Bert, but I did spend time with Burt (Road) twice last month. Mid May I took a Sunday afternoon two weeks in a row to go just east of town to a dirt road which is all but closed due to a bridge over Fairchild's Creek which has been condemned and never replaced.  The quiet lane passes through a mix of settings including the creek, low scrubby growth, open farmer's field, and then some hardwood forest.

Down by the creek, a couple Yellow-rumped Warblers were flitting around collecting bugs.  I believe this one is a 1st year male.

1st year male Yellow-rumped Warbler

As I walked along an Indigo Bunting scolded me and then sung from the tops of the trees, keeping out of view for pictures.  I heard lots of protest from blackbirds in the distance and wondered if I might find an owl on my own. But soon after, the reason for the noise flew over - a Red-tailed Hawk with some Red-winged Blackbird pursuers on the attack.

Red-winged Blackbirds repelling a Red-tailed Hawk

Across the bare farm field, some deer stood watching me and then finally trotted into the bush.  I decided to follow and hiked around in the woods in that direction.  At one point, both a deer and I spooked each other as I came around a clump of trees... it must have been bedded down in the long grass and jumped out to flee, scaring me as well.

White-tailed Deer

On the way back, I passed along side an open scrubby area full of lower bushes and tangles of still dead raspberry stalks and I thought I'd see if I could raise some sing of life from some perfect habitat for Common Yellowthroats.  I use it sparingly, but resorted to playing bird calls from my phone with Sibley's Bird app [link].  Immediately I got the reaction I expected with the chattering scold to warn the interloper.  It was accompanied by lots of posing, tail up and head down and forward ready to attack.

male Common Yellowthroat

aggression pose of the Common Yellowthroat
The little guy was so intent on seeing who the offending visitor was, it was hardly even aware of me and came quite close.  Almost two close to keep up with with the camera to take a picture.

male Common Yellowthroat

The activity brought out the female as well and I got a pretty good shot.  It was early enough in the season that I'm thinking she was likely not nesting yet and maybe thought the new male was worth checking out.  Most of the time she would stay low to the ground and skitter through the tangled undergrowth, just giving glimpses of a view.

female Common Yellowthroat
As I stood up to leave the pair in peace, I noticed a raccoon sleeping up in tree not are into the bush bordering the Yellowthroat's territory.  However, it seemed to look odd and not quite right. I realize they can look quite strange while wedged into a crook in the treed, but this one looked some how very large in the body, and with quite a thin and matted head.  I'm not sure if it's pregnant (seems late), sick (would seem to match the strangely thin looking face and flat head hair).  Not surprisingly, when I returned on my next Sunday visit, it was no longer there.

Racoon (pregnant, sick, awkward?)

A few Turkey Vultures flew overhead and swooped quite low and fast over me.

Turkey Vulture

On my first trip, a Indigo Bunting was passing back and forth between two trees, singing its song to ensure everyone knew where it had claimed home to be.  I didn't get any great shots.  But my second Sunday outing was much better finding a second bird not very far away in a clump of isolated trees in the field. I was surprised their territories would be that close. I could actually see the other Bunting flying around along the lane way a short distance away still visiting the same trees.

Indigo Bunting ruffled by the wind.
Again, I thought I'd try the bird calls briefly and saw for the first time the phenomenon I had saw and shared [link] in a previous post of a video showing the wing wage warning.  The next two pictures show it clearly.

Indigo Bunting wing warning.

Indigo Bunting wing warning, more pronounced.
A bright and brilliantly coloured bird!

Indigo Bunting

Heading back to the car, as usual later than I should be because of the one more picture delay, my eye caught the tips of two big ears just barely poking out of the grass behind where the Common Yellowthroats put of their show for me the previous week.  In the picture below, the female White-tailed Deer I had spotted had already noticed me and was trying to figure whether she needed to get up from her comfortable spot.

White-tailed Deer doe.
Decision is made and the white flag was lifted and soon she bounded into cover, and then proceeded to let me know she was not impressed at all with a long series of surprisingly loud snorts. I didn't see any other activity and was half hoping I'd see some fawns come out of the grass somewhere with those warning sounds.  If they were there, I saw nothing.

White-tailed Deer doe.

On the way back, I spotted a Blue Jay busy making a nest, busily carrying and arranging twigs in a big, old Sugar Maple.

Blue Jay nest building

Just before getting back to where I left my car, I was delayed even further with a Eastern Bluebird who also wanted its picture taken, though shyly as it would not let me get too close.

Eastern Bluebird

I'm getting really far behind here on posts...Lots of chores around the house this spring so the picture editing and posting does not happen as often. I've not been out birding in a while either. Hopefully I can change both "problems" a bit soon.

Till then...
Keep enjoying HIS handiwork!

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