Friday, December 30, 2016

12.30.16  Bird Nerd Moment - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History - Brewster, MA
Old Yarmouth Inn - Yarmouthport, MA

Feeling grateful!  We're on the edge of a new year, and yes, I realize ... it's another day on the calendar when we start a new year, but it IS symbolic.  It can mean a fresh start, facing new challenges, swearing off habits you'd rather not continue... clean out the STUFF! It feels GREAT to do so!  I realize not everyone sets new year resolutions and often it is a time to reflect upon the past and all of the amazing accomplishments you've had, the time you spent wisely, the wonderful people who've made those impressions upon you.  In our family, we love watching It's A Wonderful Life around this time of year for that very reason... 
Once you stop and think about how many lives one life touches, it's staggering...and can be inspiring.  We are all connected.

I was reminded in person, not once but TWICE, in two consecutive days just how much the love of birds can also connect us.  I presented Birdwatching For Beginners yesterday at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.   That's where I also am in charge of Birding 101, the KidSummer session for 7-12 year olds during the museum's summer day camp program.  Well I had a lovely surprise... one of my former KidSummer Kids joined in by bringing his mom and grandmother to the class so they could learn more about birdwatching, so they all can continue to enjoy it together.  Shame on ME for not getting a photo with him!!!  I was rushing toward the end of the presentation to get to my other job...
I know we'll see each other again and Happy Birding until we do Bird Nerd!

Today, while I was at the job I just mentioned at the Old Yarmouth Inn in Yarmouthport, I was pleasantly surprised to get to see a very special customer and her family (her younger sister, and her grandparents who'd been in for lunch a few weeks ago).  This time I was more prepared and was SURE to take a photo with my KidSummer Bird Nerd!  What a very special end of the year treat for me!  I got to hear her story about a Cooper's Hawk she saw and how she was doing.  It was just the BEST!  She is a gift!  I KNOW the birds appreciate her!  I sure do!
Happy New Year Bird Nerds!
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12.20.16  Bird Nerd Moment - my backyard tonight
Yarmouth, MA

I don't know about you, but when I hear a Great Horned Owl calling out & hooting away in the darkness, well... it makes my night.  I always tell my family... and those that are interested, step outside and listen, for a few minutes.  It seems they call out about every 45-60 seconds.  I LOVE THEIR SOUND!  I really cannot explain why, but it makes me feel so special... like I heard a secret that I promise to keep... like it was calling out to just me (I know s/he wasn't)... like "Happy First Day of Winter"...
So, Happy first day of winter to you too.  That's what I'll choose to believe that owl was just calling out about.

Wish you could've heard it too.

Here is an illustration that my daughter drew of a Great Horned Owl,  many moons ago. When I showed her this post, she wanted to draw a comparison illustration... 
I will post it when she completes it. (double click photos to enlarge)

Happy Birding!  Whooo hoooo hoooo hoooo... HOO hoo...hoo...
Nighty night...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

12.13.16 Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail - Secret Trail - Lee Baldwin Trail
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA

The Supermoon Effect!  What a nice crowd we had today for Tuesday Tweets!  When I chose this particular date months ago... I didn't check the tide chart, nor was I aware that we'd be having another Supermoon tonight!  For the Tuesday Tweeters and myself who are familiar with these trails, seeing the saltmarsh flooded certainly gave us pause.  I have heard stories of Cape Cod visitors who are not familiar with the tides, or at least less so. Some Cape Codders HAVE to know the tides for their livelihood, their transportation, their's an interesting concept to need to be connected to.  I do believe it tends to connect one even more with the natural ebb & flow of our world.  It's remarkable how something relatively simple can affect so many variables.  I couldn't take my eyes off the salt marsh - which I realized, probably seemed kinda weird for the new comers!  I'm a nerd.  I can't help it.

Due to natural forces, we needed to keep our feet as dry as possible, so we were able to visit as many trails as the tide would allow.  When we crossed over 6A to the Lee Baldwin Trail, the marsh was deep with water, more so than I've ever seen.  This was exactly at high tide and while we were standing at the top of the trail, watching a Red-tailed Hawk's soaring grace... some of us got our feet wet as the tide literally rose around our boots!  In the distance, we heard it AGAIN!  A Belted Kingfisher!  I LOVE their calls and I get excited to hear and see them each time they appear!  I like to believe we'll be seeing this bird(s) throughout the winter since they tend to stick around wherever they have successful fish to eat.  We'll see if the climate can provide.  We also had a nice visit from Steve Haines from the Cape Cod Times whom now I feel is a good luck charm!   When we first met Steve, we were treated to a swooping Red-tailed Hawk show... and today's was even more dramatic! If any of his photos make it to the Times, I will let you know!  Thanks Steve!   Thank you Rick as well for the stunning photos I get to post here in the blog along with my photos!   It makes me feel like I should be asking Santa for a new camera!  (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
House Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
Tufted titmouse
Red-tailed Hawk
Downy Woodpecker
Baltimore Oriole ?!?!
Canada Goose
Belted Kingfisher
American Black Duck

The tide was creeping in SO FAST!

Wing Island in the background - showing off it's 
island-ness thanks to the Supermoon high tide

The saltmarsh behind the museum was 
waterfront property this morning!

Black-capped Chickadee, teasing us while hiding in the reeds

Black-capped Chickadee acrobatics

Tuesday Tweeters checking out a Red-tailed Hawk

One Blue Jay & a small flock of Canada Geese

Red-tailed Hawk   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Gull in background & Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Blue Jay

Tufted Titmouse   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

This looks like a Baltimore Oriole - female...
but I cannot explain it!   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Red-tailed Hawk   PHOTO CREDIT: RICK

Belted Kingfisher   PHOTO CREDIT: Rick

Lee Baldwin Trail flooded out 

Bird Nerds overlooking the saltmarsh from the viewing platform

Supermoon high tide - south side of 6A

Looking northward to see how Wing Island
is an island today!

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.17.17 $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Holidays & Happy Birding!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

12.8.16  Birdwatching For Beginners - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA

Once a month, at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, I give my presentation: Birdwatching For Beginners.  It's about an hour long and at the end, we head outside, weather permitting, to see and hear the birds to test the tips we just discussed.  I also hand out birdoculars to whomever is interested.  One of the class participants asked that if my home made birdoculars didn't magnify what she was looking at, how are they useful?  I smiled and answered, "Well, you tell me when we get outside if you find them useful...". She was pleasantly surprised!  I didn't even have to ask her what she thought because she voluntarily said how much they DID help focus and also to shelter her eyes from the glare. EXACTLY.  

Yes I'm a bird nerd... we're everywhere, much like birds.  I feel very strongly about passing along ways in which to reuse what would otherwise become waste.  I don't think that's anything out of the ordinary.  Fortunately for me, I get to work with children whose perspective I find inspirational.  They think differently, and they often view the world in ways that we have lost as adults.  Of COURSE binoculars are a more powerful tool, but not everyone can afford a decent set.  They do make a great gift though!  Birdoculars are simple, and so is their concept, so I like to share them.   Here's a photo of them being put to good use, by some bird nerds I just met.  I'm hoping to see them again for Tuesday Tweets!  
How cute are these bird nerds?!

Next opportunity for Birdwatching For Beginners: Thursday 1.26.17 Members: no charge, Non-members: included with museum admission fee.
The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History will be open for special programs only 12.31.16 through 2.17.17.  It will reopen 2.18.17

Monday, November 28, 2016

11.28.16  Birdwatching - Wixon Innovation Middle School
Dennis, MA

These kids really love being outside - which is exactly why I do what I do - to get people, of all ages, OUTSIDE!  We've been fortunate with the weather as well and we had previously discussed walking through the woods to the vernal pool that I'd seen in these woods before with previous classes. The main obstacle getting there is that there is not a great trail, and certainly not one that's maintained.  We did our best.

I'm not sure what it is about wooded trails...
Supposedly I have Native American in my lineage, I say it that way because it's what I've been told, but have never formally checked the family tree...we have some major branches missing.  I bring it up because I have ALWAYS been drawn to trails.  I love walking in the woods.  When I'd be traveling with my family in the car and looking out the window along the way, I'd often notice trails leading to... who KNOWS where?  I always wondered though. There's something about discovering where it leads, does it loop around, what will I experience along the way...that makes me want to find out & walk that trail.  I know I'm not the only one.  Of course there are obstacles along the way, mosquitoes, ticks, poison ivy... they're always going to be there.  All you have to do is take precautions to prevent any inconveniences from those obstacles in order for you to enjoy your time among the trees. Certainly don't let them STOP you from visiting interesting places.  Bring a buddy.  Be safe. Enjoy some quiet time & let your senses take over.  Stop talking & listen.  The forests are hidden treasures.  These kiddos know... they couldn't WAIT to go exploring, and so we did. We took precautions.  We warned each other about thorns and branches and bugs... and we had a brief adventure in the woods.  We even got to dance the limbo under a bent branch that crossed the trail!  I hope they visit trail after trail long after our time together has ended.  I hope they are always curious about the woods and that the trails call out to them as well. (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
American Crow
American Crow - a great silhouette to practice bird identification on

Doing the limbo under a branch

Hiking and respecting the trees, branches, thorns 
and each other

A discovered shelter at the base of a tree

Practicing bird identification

A lucky visit with some happy friendly pooches!

Friendly critters bring a smile to everyone's face

Happy Birding young Bird Nerds!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

11.22.16 Tuesday Tweets - John Wing Trail - Secret Trail - Lee Baldwin Trail
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Brewster, MA

So eight brave bundled up Cape Cod Museum of Natural History members joined me for Tuesday Tweets!  Its so nice to be greeted to smiling faces on a chilly morning.  With the winds, I just wasn't sure who we'd end up finding in the hour we had together.  The sun was a huge help, it turned out, and I thoroughly enjoyed our morning walk while we adjusted to the seasonal temperatures.  

As we began on the trail next to the museum, I noticed a Mourning Dove, cleverly disguised as a rock, about 20 feet in front of us.  S/he was all hunkered down from the winds and it's not common to find them solo.  I snapped a photo and asked our group to just wait for a minute, just in case this was an injured or sick dove.  Well s/he seemed fine and as we all slowly approached, s/he took off providing the familiar Mourning Dove flight sound.  It seemed all was well.  

Sometimes I'm guided by a, "Let's just check out this spot...", which is how I was feeling about the salt marsh this morning.  I was NOT going to head all the way to Cape Cod Bay today given the elements we'd be facing.  When it's so windy and cold that your hands are shaking and your eyes are watering... it's not a good time to be at the shore.  I did want to glance at the marsh though, and I'm so VERY glad we DID!  There was a Northern Harrier female hunting over the marsh!  What a sight!  She wasn't really close to us, but we all got to take in her arial stalking and hunting of something out there.  Pretty soon the cold got to me, so we headed back to the shelter of the trees & to (what I like to call) the "secret trail". 

We made our way to the south side of 6A as well, to the observation deck that overlooks the marsh.  Suddenly the sun beams took over and it wasn't quite so cold.  We were then pleasantly surprised by sighting after sighting, including 3 White-tailed Deer!  About a minute or two before they came out of the foliage, extremely well camouflaged, I KNEW I could hear something walking in there - though I couldn't see - until they showed up!  I was TOO EXCITED to get a decent photo, but I tried.  It was just one of those "had to be there" instances... it was a gift.  Yes, Tuesday Tweets is primarily about birds, and nature in general of course... when an unexpected mammal shows up, it's that surprise BONUS!  We were all SO DELIGHTED!  When I'm out there, appreciating all that I'm surrounded by: birds, trees, sunshine, DEER (!!!) and I'm with the same type of nature-loving folks... happy doesn't seem a big enough word to express how it all makes me feel.  Fulfilled. 

As if that wasn't we were leaving and about to cross 6A, Regina (a returning Tuesday Tweeter) and I first heard and then spotted, not one but TWO Belted Kingfishers darting this way and that, right over the road,calling out all the way,  and eventually flying off in different directions. It was the ultimate finale!  What a terrific Tuesday Tweets! (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
Black-capped Chickadee
Mourning Dove
Northern Harrier 
House Sparrow
Blue Jay
European Starling
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk
American Goldfinch
Rusty Blackbird (???)
Belted Kingfisher (2!!!)

Damage to a pitch pine from beetles, birds & mammals

Mourning Dove

S/he is OK, and flew off as we slowly approached

Northern Harrier - female

Northern Harrier - female, hunting over the salt marsh

Enthusiastic bird nerds! ( I LOVE THIS PHOTO!)

Northern Harrier - female

Downy Woodpecker - female

Downy Woodpecker - female 
(note: no red spot on the nape of her neck)

The newly installed Osprey nest protecting bevel

The list from inside the vitrine on the secret trail behind the museum

Some scientists are conducting a 
climate change study along the salt marsh

The colors of Thanksgiving week on the salt marsh

Red fox tracks?

On the secret trail

Bittersweet climbing up the evergreen

A young oak sprouting its leaves and showing 
off autumn shades

This is a good time of year to spot nests in the tree boughs

I am wondering if this is a Rusty Blackbird... the tail just didn't seem long enough
to be a Common Grackle's, though I realize this photo does not show the tail length

Red-tailed Hawk, not a welcome silhouette if you're a small mammal

Red-tailed Hawk, you can barely see the sun 
showing off the reddish color of the tail

Maybe the worst photo of White-tailed Deer...

Looking southward over the Paine's Creek salt marsh - it was so 
warm in the sun, despite the chilly wind

Remnant of the super moon

American Crow silhouette in the blue sky

Next Tuesday Tweets: 12.13.16 $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!