Archive for the 'Fieldnotes' Category



When Doves Sit

Mourning Doves: one of our earliest local — that is, non-migratory — nesters. Their rudimentary stick nests can be tucked into trees or your windowsill. Here’s another pair on our fire escape recently. One or two has been showing up there or on the roofline a lot lately. (These were photographed though window and screen.)There’s a great view from this fire escape, but it’s awfully exposed for a nest. It’s a good place to throw your coo, though.The eyes are closed while grooming. Safety first!Got to see the familiar cooing up closeThe beak is closed, the throat puffs up, presumably like a resonating chamber. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before.

Northern Water Snake

Nedordia sipedon sipedon are fairly melanistic in our neck of the woods.The species, with four subspecies in the east, is highly variable in coloration and patterning, but these dark ones are the only versions I’ve seen.There is some lighter coloring and markings on their underside, as these chins suggests.They can get up to five feet in length.A very nice look at the keeled scales in the pictures above and below. The keel, or ridge, along the center of each scale is quite prominent in this species. Figuring out if your snake has keeled or smooth scales is a good first step in identification. For instance, the somewhat similar Racer (Coluber constrictor) has unkeeled scales.These things will eat a huge variety of fish and amphibians; young ones will go for invertebrates, too.Snake-killers, a particularly nasty subspecies of H. sapiens, often target this species (as well as other harmless snakes) because they’re mistaken for cottonmouths or other venomous snakes. Fish-killers, and their game warden allies, also kill this species because they mistakenly think the snakes are serious competition for game fish.

Old Nests

The nesting season is already upon us, especially for such early nesters as owls, some raptors, doves. So, here’s one last look at some of the previous year’s nest. These have all made it through the winter, in one form or another. Above, the rough pottery suggests American Robins, who line the inside of their nests with mud.It’s remarkable that these dangling woven bags made by Baltimore Orioles manage to hold eggs, adults, and squirmy youngsters. And then make it through the winter. More and more artificial fibers (rope, fishing line, ribbon) turn up in these things: will some be re-purposed this year? Not that this is necessarily a good idea! Fishing line, for instance, can easily choke nestlings. (On this note: I gather well-meaning people are giving various fibers to the birds, thinking this is a good idea: it isn’t.)Very twiggy in a shrub. Mockingbirds?About two feet above the water, this one looks brand new. Red-winged Blackbird? Another woven affair, about fifteen feet up in a maple. Perhaps the product of one of the locally breeding vireo species.
***

Rebecca Solnit on the problem with heroes.

Wood Frogs


A year ago on April 1st, 2018, we heard Wood Frogs and saw their spawn floating here. It takes about a week for their eggs to rise up from below, where they’re laid. This year, on March 30th, we heard the frogs and saw them both mating and egg-laying for the first time. Male Wood Frogs sound like a bit like ducks as they announce their presence. Half a dozen of them can produce a helluva sound.The females are notably larger and redder than the males. You might think they were a different species if you saw them on their own.We didn’t see any on their own. This is amplexus, Latin for “embrace,” the amphibian mating stance.The females are full of eggs — the black spheres seen under water in some of these images — lots and lots of eggs. She can spawn a 1000 at a go.

At the end of the bath…

And so our saga comes to an end. I had walked around a corner and there was this Red-tailed Hawk on the edge of the water. A large weeping willow was near by, so I used it as cover to get a bit closer. I got this look. It wasn’t as if the bird didn’t know I was there. But it didn’t give a fig (leaf?) for my presence and went about its ablutions. The whole sequence can be seen here.
***

Allow me to call your attention to this excellent short essay on humor in our dark age.

Raptor Wednesday

There’s no mistaking the white head and tail of a mature Bald Eagle. The white-black-white pattern is visible from quite a distance. This is better practice, though. This is another Bald Eagle, but a young’s, without the white head and tail feathers yet.But what’s this? A Common Raven, one that seems to be missing the ends of its tail feathers. The wings are pretty ragged, too. The bird was calling, which certainly cinched the identification. What was the story with the feathers, I wonder?And now a new champion enters the lists of high overhead birds. Returning from wintering down south (some locals nesters have be tracked to Colombia), Osprey are now overhead. The somewhat gull-like shape of the wings and the color patterning of the underside help to help distinguish these.

How To Bathe, Part 5

Grooming.Never forget your surroundings.Air dry.
Part 4.
Part 3.
Part 2.
Part 1.


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 574 other followers

Nature Blog Network

Archives