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!

Monday, November 14, 2016

11.14.16  Birdwatching - Wixon Innovation Middle School
Dennis, MA

I was very excited to see the bird nerds today because I'd prepped for one of my favorite classes: Nest Buiding!  My supplies: cardboard tubes, cut up cardboard box, yarn, cut up old (washed!) socks, string, pipe cleaners, duct tape, scissors, cut up wig hair, small naturally shed oak branches, string, rope, cut up nylong produce bags... and probably some other stuff I can't remember to list here.  My cat Krejci decided to provide assistance once he noticed the yarn...

Nest building is engineering.  If you ever come across a nest, in the woods, fallen on the ground, on top of a telephone pole, inside a nest box... they come in all shapes, sizes, locations, using different materials.  Human waste sometimes shows up in nest in that it's yet another avian adaptation to them having to live with us.  I NEVER support your trash going anywhere but to recycling, composting, reusing or to the last resort garbage... though it's amazing to observe what the birds can do with it. I know folks who brush their dogs outside (especially in the spring) so that the birds will hopefully find it useful for nest building.  

The bird nerds seemed excited when given the project at hand and I let them choose their own partner/teams. They didn't have too much time to complete their task and given the materials they had to work with... I gotta say... they did a wonderful job!  This project is always a HIT! Collaboration and engineering as a team to create a sturdy, soft & safe place for imaginary eggs. Bravo young bird nerds!  At least I didn't require you to use your feet and your face as the birds do!
(double click images to enlarge)

Our List:
Song Sparrow
American Crow

Practicing patience and quiet as we snuck up on 
a Song Sparrow

Nest building in progress

Braiding some yarn to use as a strong support

Building a sturdy base out of recycled 
cardboard and cardboard tubes

Choosing the proper branch for construction

Long shadows in the sunshine as they get to work

Getting a glimpse of an Osprey nest, which can weigh
hundreds of pounds if it's an older nest that's 
been built on year after year

Focused energies

Explaining the intricacies of this pouch-like nest

Looks like they're enjoying the teamwork!

Joint effort!

That is one fancy nest!

Testing the nest in the tree

Dr.Seuss would be PROUD!

Bird nerd engineers!

Proud nest builder

Happy Birding young bird nerds!