Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's Best Dressed Bird in New Hope

Not loved by many, but can you really deny his beauty?
In fifth place- Grackle!
Mr. Oriole is looking a bit resentful, but it's a tie for fourth -
Oriole and the chickadee finial.
Third place- Ms. Oriole!
smack, slurp- "I'd like to thank the voters..."
Stopping in for a quick bite to eat, our bird in second place is Mrs. Red-winged Blackbird.
Ant the winner of The Best Dressed Bird in New Hope is....
I've has a Harris' Sparrow visit my yard for the last several years, staying only a few days. I was getting a bit worried that he wouldn't show up this year but I spied him two days ago. He comes scratching under the back feeders several times a day. I've got to say- I really think he's the best looking sparrow.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

We Remember

A section of the monument near the grave of John F. Kennedy

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Korean War Veteran's Memorial

"Freedom is not Free", part of the Korean War Veteran's Memorial

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial


Photos from our family trip to Arlington National Cemetery and Washington, D.C.

November 15, 2003.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dove Love is in the Air

I've been watching this lovey dovey pair cooing around the yard for the last week. They're inseparable. I wonder where their nest is.
Yesterday morning I was upstairs folding clothes and other mom chores and kept hearing a pretty robin's song out back. Something about the song was both familiar and different. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak? I scanned carefully but couldn't see a thing in the thick leaves. I gave up and went in to the bathroom to put towels away and there he was- singing happily right outside the bathroom window.

This picture was taken through the window screen and so is a bit fuzzy but I like the dream-like quality. I wonder what he's thinking.

Here he is awake! He stayed at the feeders all day and even took a few baths. I didn't see him at all today. Moved on I guess.

He seemed to enjoy the company. Do you think I have enough feeders on this pole?
Mrs. Oriole came for jelly by really like the meal worms I tossed in the ant moat.
I spied an American Redstart checking out the bird bath dripper. He watched here on this solar light while he thought it over. That was the longest time I've seen a Redstart not in motion. Check out his black legs and feet.

I've never seen House Wrens eat suet before today. This cheeky little tyrant chased away birds three times his own size.

My yard has more than its share of gray squirrels. They're such pigs but if they don't ruin my feeders, they can stay. They all disappear when this little red squirrel shows up. I've watched him eat fallen seed until he's full then hide around the corner of the shed. The gray squirrels think the coast is clear and come running back only to have the red devil spring out and attack.
Looks like he's found another hiding place!
I'm watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and am finding myself creeped out by Johnny Depp. I really love Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka and this version is just
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

They Made Me Laugh

Sunday evening, I though I'd try to get into a good book. I am a big reader but haven't been able to commit to a story for the last several months. I guess there have been too many distractions and my mind has been very unsettled. I picked up a few books at a garage sale last week that looked interesting so I settled down in my chair by the window to see if one of them would grab my imagination. No luck. Again, feeling easily distracted I started looking out the window. It's an upstairs window which sets me at about the mid-height of our large maple tree out back. There had still been a few warblers passing through but they were tough to spot in the thick maple leaves. A flash of movement caught my eye. Out of a clump of leaves popped a Magnolia Warbler! He sat at the tip of a bare branch and preened. The longer I watched the more movement I detected in the tree.
HA! I caught a Redstart perched!! By now I was laughing loud enough to bring my kids running.
"Oh, it's just Mom. She sees a bird."

By the time this Wilson's Warbler popped into view I was beside myself. I've tried so hard this spring to get a photo of a Wilson's but they've been too fast for me. I checked the times that these three pictures were taken and they were all within five minutes. Such a gift.

I stalked this Ovenbird, trying to get a good look all day yesterday. He spent the day creeping around under the lilac hedge. He was cagey, never coming out of the shadows for long. Finally he made his way out to the ground under my feeders.

Who needs a stinky Wilson's Warbler when you have ME in all my golden beauty?

I still need to start a book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More From Eagle Lake

I made two trips to bird the west side of Eagle Lake last week. With Thomas' emailed directions I first went by myself. There's a freedom in exploring a new area for the first time by myself. Having no expectations, everything is new and it feels like every discovery belongs only to me.
Swamp sparrows (life bird) were plentiful.
I followed a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers through a stretch of woods, trying to get a good picture. They were foraging a lot on the ground
and it was hard to get a good look. I was so intent on catching up to them that I nearly got too close to a skunk. Luckily I smelled him before I got any closer. I was really excited to find this Marsh Wren (lifer). I've only ever seen House Wrens before so now I have a whopping TWO wrens on my life list!
I think I lost track of time watching a dozen or so Barn Swallows swooping over the cattails and under the foot bridge. After a while they didn't seem to mind my presence and I just stood there, turning slowly, watching them all around me. Speed and grace in a beautiful little package.
Eastern Wood Pewee? I'd heard it's call but don't think I can id it just by looking at it. Help please!
How about a snoozing Song Sparrow?

While walking through the woods Thomas and I could hear a White-breasted Nuthatch scolding nearby. The trees held many cavities and finally she shot out of this one.

Thomas, being very familiar with birding this area showed me a Cooper's Hawk's nest that he's been watching this spring. I could just make out a tail sticking over the edge. The hawk was sitting very low on the nest. Suddenly a Coop shot out of the woods chasing close after a Gray Catbird. They flew back and forth among the branches of a large flowering crab apple tree until the hawk gave up and flew back up to the nest. Thomas suggested we walk int to woods under the nest to see if we could spot the mate. Almost immediately we saw the mate in a tree with a red squirrel.
Thomas showed me that we could approach closer if we walked slowly with our heads down, not making eye contact and not walking in a straight line.

I must have taken fifty shots of this beautiful raptor. Finally after I got my fill watching, she gave a warning call and left- with her lunch!

Thanks again to Thomas for sharing this terrific birding location, along with his knowledge and tips!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where Are You?

Here's a snapshot of where the last 20 visitors to Hasty Brook blog are from:
United States
Minneapolis, Minnesota
United States
Sacramento, California
Iran, Islamic Republic of
Gostar, Hamadan
United States
San Francisco, California
United States
Orlando, Florida
United States
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Wilmington, Delaware
Lyse, Rogaland
Carnaxide, Lisboa
United States
Minneapolis, Minnesota
United States
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Leiden, Zuid-Holland
United States
Aurora, Minnesota
United States
Saddle Brook, New Jersey
United States
Austin, Texas
Napanee, Ontario
United States
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Iran, Islamic Republic of
Iran, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari
United States
Waterford, Pennsylvania
United States
Glenwood City, Wisconsin


I guess it really IS a small world after all...

Home and Hasty

A quick Sunday morning post here. Yesterday was a gorgeous day here in Minnesota. Sunshine, and breezy. Except when it was gusty and raining. A little bit of everything ! Art and I spent most of the day outside watching Molly play her opening day softball games. I so enjoy watching girl's softball. We keep lawn chairs in the car all summer. We bring along jug of water or iced tea and a bag of "spitters" (sunflower seeds) and we're good to go. I always bring binoculars and a camera too.
Art is leaving this afternoon for a week in Nashville to get his A and P. He's been working on the testing to get his Airframe and Powerplant FAA license for the last two years. When he's finished he'll be certified to be a aircraft mechanic. He's been an actuary since I've known him but was a helicopter crew chief years ago in the Army and working toward his A&P is something he's always wanted to do. Because of all of the losses in my family this last year he's postponed this final step in the training until now. I'm so proud of him. GO ART!!
I have just a few thing to share from this last week before I forget about them.
I liked this picture of a Blackpoll Warbler twisting around to investigate the tip of an oak branch.

Hey lady! Can you spell Welch's?

A Lincoln's Sparrow has been hanging around under me back yard feeders all week.

A pretty Nashville Warbler spent the morning in my plum tree yesterday. He carefully examined the blossoms looking for insects. He seemed to be licking the centers. Do they eat nectar too or was he just getting bugs that way?

I drove up to Hasty Brook on Friday by myself for a day alone. The bear took my feeders apart from two weeks ago when Art and I went. Three of them were repairable and the rest were smashed. He bent the shepherd's hook feeder poles right over at the ground level. I straightened them and filled two feeders just for the day and took them down when I left. I don't think I want to encourage bears to make our campsite a regular stop on their shopping trips. The Black and White Warblers were singing up a storm. They nest up there and sing all summer.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere. My favorite bird watching spot up there is a place where you can look down about 25 feet to the creek level. It leaves me able to scan easily near the tree tops and also to see the woods floor from above, at least until the undergrowth leafs out. The butter-butts were zipping through the trees along the creek fast and furious, almost enough to make my eyes wiggle.
It was from my birding spot that I spied this Northern Waterthrush. Thomas pointed one out to me last week at Eagle Lake (that was a life bird for me) but I was thrilled to find and photograph this one on my own. This bird walked so slowly and was able to slip along on top of the submerged grasses and twigs so that it seemed it was walking on water. I watched this bird for a long time until he slipped from my sight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Warblers in a Super-saturated Solution

I went birding this morning with a swell birder named Thomas. I have been reading his posts on the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union listserv and had emailed him last week to get directions to a birding spot that he'd posted about. We met this morning on the west side of Eagle Lake in Maple Grove (about five miles west of me in New Hope). What an amazing morning. Warblers have always frustrated me. They're flitty, often high in the trees, against bright sky, and often obscured by leaves. Well, today I think I moved up a bit on the learning curve. Experience has helped me to be able to spot the bird and get it into view in my binoculars more quickly. Reviewing my field guides and comparing common field marks has helped me at least narrow down my options. Today, thanks to Thomas' generous help, patience and tips I had a 17 warbler day!!
This Black-throated Green Warbler was actually the last bird we saw this morning.
A lifer for me and for Thomas.
Not a terrific picture but I've always liked capturing (accidentally) birds in motion.
This Golden-winged Warbler is one I found at the same Eagle Lake area last week. I was excited to find and identify it on my own. Lifer! Whoot!

Sweet Magnolia Warbler. Lifer!
Blackpoll Warbler. Lifer!
Chestnut-sided Warbler.
I think this Blackburnian Warbler is one of the prettiest birds I've ever seen. And it's a lifer!

American Redstarts were everywhere this morning. I couldn't get any nice perched pictures but these two were putting on such a great show.
They match the siding on this house.
Yellow Warbler from Cirque du Soleil.
Black and White Warbler- the only warbler song that I know.
At one point Thomas gave a yelp and said that a bird nearly flew into my legs. It landed in a nearby pine and look who it was- a Bay-breasted Warbler!! Lifer!"OUCH!!" Pine needles are tough on the toes.
I must have taken 50-60 pictures of this beautiful bird.
Just look at one more!
Why is it called a "Common" Yellowthroat? What's so common about this little beauty hopping along around the forest floor?
My list for today:
Canada Warbler (L)
Magnolia Warbler (L)
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler (L)
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (L)
Black and White Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler (L)
Northern Waterthrush (L)
Blackburnian Warbler (L)
Palm Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (L)
Golden-winged Warbler (later in the day at another park)
Great Crested Flycatcher (L)