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Being more a photographer than a birder, I don’t just have a list of birds I’d like to see, but a list of birds I would like to photograph. It’s not a formal list since it exists mainly in my head. If you asked what birds are on it, I’d have to think for a bit. Not infrequently, they’re birds I’ve seen but somehow missed getting a decent shot.

Today, as I was checking up on my lady goose to see if the eggs had hatched or not, it started to rain. I was tucking away my camera in my bag. The sky cleared for a few minutes and I heard a bird call close behind me. I turned around to see on the top of some stairs a Norther Flicker. They’re not uncommon birds, but I don’t see them very often. There was a pair that lived somewhere near my sister’s yard. I think they’re quite beautiful birds. They’re a type of woodpecker, but the prefer to eat ants and beetles and spend much of their time much close to the ground than other woodpeckers. They’re about 30 cm in length with a wingspan of about 45 cm.

The bird flew down and landed in a shaft of sunlight at the top of some stairs, putting it on eye level with me.

The bird flew down and landed in a shaft of sunlight at the top of some stairs, putting it on eye level with me.

This is clearly a female since the males have streaks on their cheeks that resemble a mustache. From this angle, you can see part of the black, breastplate like, mark on her chest. With their colorful splotches and spotted undersides, I think they resemble circus clowns.

This is clearly a female since the males have streaks on their cheeks that resemble a mustache. From this angle, you can see part of the black, breastplate like, mark on her chest. With their colorful splotches and spotted undersides, I think they resemble circus clowns.

In this photo, you can see the yellow feathers under the tail.

In this photo, you can see the yellow feathers under the tail.

You can also see the wing feathers have yellow on them, which is hidden when they are still by is visible when they fly. It's this flash of yellow when they fly that gives them their name.

You can also see the wing feathers have yellow on them, which is hidden when they are still by is visible when they fly. It’s this flash of yellow when they fly that gives them their name.

Here's the last photo, taken as someone approached and scared her away. You can see the red mark at the nape of her neck.

Here’s the last photo, taken as someone approached and scared her away. You can see the red mark at the nape of her neck.

Today, I saw an American Redstart. It’s another tiny little warbler. First I noticed the male, and then a few minutes later a little gray bird caught my attention. I didn’t know what it was, so I snapped a picture. I believe it’s the female.

Redstart-Male

Redstart-Female

At the edge of the lake, I saw a sizable bird that resembled a heron but was not one of the herons I know. Looking it up, I found out it was a Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned-Night-HeronWhen he turned his head, you could see the long plumes.

Black-crowned-Night-Heron-GroomingBy some bushes, I heard some loud cries. I watched and an adult American Robin hopped along the ground followed by two fledglings. The adult continued to hop forward and the babies followed making quite a noise. The adult appeared to be showing the young ones how to forage for themselves. It was very cute.

Robin-FamilyFinally, I saw the irises have started to bloom.

Iris-by-Lake

The other night, a Mockingbird singing outside the window woke me up at 2 am. He’s sitting outside right now singing his little heart out. My mother’s apartment building has a lawn in front with several oak trees and it’s surrounded by hedges. An ideal spot for a Mockingbird family. Although both sexes sing, it’s the male who sing more songs more loudly, usually sitting in a prominent spot. This bird likes to perch towards the ends of the branches of the oak trees. I don’t know my birdsongs well enough to know exactly what he’s singing. I’ve recognized the distinctive Cardinal song in the mix, but he has quite a few others I can’t identify. Unmated males sing more and often into the night, which is why I suspect this fellow does not have a mate.

Today I saw a charming sight. Two wrens were at the bird feeder and one was feeding the other. Previously, I’ve only seen one wren alone.two carolina wrens on a bird feeder

Later that day, one of the wrens flew up into a tree and was singing his little heart out.

singing-wren

 

Twice, on consecutive days, I've seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I'm  wondering if there's babies in there.

Twice, on consecutive days, I’ve seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I’m wondering if there are babies in there.

Once squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here's his pursuer.

One squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here’s his pursuer.

An American Robin.

Two Robbins foraging on a slope.

Two Robins foraging on a slope.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He'd (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He’d (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

A face-off between two squirrels.

Then one chased the other.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatters hoarders. The deposit nuts all over the place and it's quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatter hoarders. They deposit nuts all over the place and it’s quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

The moon.

The moon.

A neighbor's cat. He was crying at a door, but I've seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

A neighbor’s cat. He was crying at a door, but I’ve seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.

 

My sister injured her back, so yesterday I went to visit. I brought my camera with me because, as I said to my sister, “If I don’t bring it the animals are sure to do something cute.” So, I sat outside for a time taking photos. I got one picture that made me think about all those pictures you see showing “nature’s wonderful camouflage.” So, go below the fold and see if you can find the bird…

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There was some excitement for us today. We went to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and saw some American White Pelicans. They are not common in this area, so I’m glad my sister was there or I would have thought I was terribly mistaken. The volunteer at the visitor’s center confirmed that the Pelicans have been seen there in recent years. He said a few days ago several people reported seeing a flock of thirty to forty, which seems to be exactly what we saw today.

A flock of pelicans.

Another first for me was a muskrat. I’ve seen their lodges before, but this is the first I’ve seen one the animals.

muskrat

Finally, Blackwater has a lot of Great Blue Herons. We saw several on both visits, but they’re so beautiful, I thought I’d post a picture anyway.

heron

We didn’t see as many different types of birds as we saw last time, although we heard many we didn’t see. Also, we still haven’t seen one of the rare squirrels.

Lately, I’ve found the regular habitues of the bird feeder have become more relaxed about my presence. One blue jay could even be called “friendly.” Well, he or she now has a couple of fledglings who have been following him to the bird feeder. They alternately scream for food and get it themselves. It’s fun to watch them watch their parents and learn. One thing they seem to have learned is that the people who emerge from our backdoor are not particularly scary.

Young blue sitting ontop of a support for a birdfider looking at a metal silouhette of a bird.

I sunk into a pretty bad, clinical, depression last year. I found the wild animals in the back yard gave me a level of solace I wasn’t getting from people. Especially after they lost their fear of me. Now, it’s like seeing all of your friends stop by to show off their new babies. Isn’t Blue’s baby adorable?

Scarlet Tanager

Lately, I’ve given up on the possibility of meeting anyone who can actually tolerate me, but for a decade, starting from the age of thirty five, I had profiles up on dating sites. Whenever I’d fill out those profiles, I’d feel really self-conscious about my hobbies and interests, all solitary and sedentary. So, I’d add hiking. Now, my idea of hiking is essentially a long walk. If it requires buying equipment at REI or EMS, well call the EMT because I’m about to start hyperventilating. But I do like a nice walk in the woods, so in order to not sound like a lump on a log, I put down hiking as an interest on dating sites.

About seven years ago, through one of those dating sites, I met a boyfriend who was a serious birder. This means waking up at the crack of dawn to go tramping through a swamp until sunset. Sorry folks, coming home and checking each other for ticks is not my idea of foreplay. I want lunch. I like to take a break and sit once every four or five hours. This is why I call myself a lazy birder. I’m probably an embarrassment to real birders like my ex-boyfriend.

Here’s my list from our weekend trip to western Maryland. New birds are in bold.

  • Northern Cardinal (we saw a male feeding a female, which is a courtship gesture)
  • White Crowned Sparrow
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Black Capped Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Goldfinch
  • Tufted Titmous
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Purple Finch
  • Song Sparrow
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Green Heron
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Killdeer
  • Wild Turkey
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • American Robin
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler

And, after we left the state park and headed off to dinner, a Pileated Woodpecker!

Photos for those who are interested Read More