From "A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold



Friday, April 11, 2014

Black-crowned Night-Herons at Culler Lake

For a number of years there have been Black-crowned Night-herons nesting at Culler Laker. These birds are used to the activity of walkers, joggers, etc. in the park and allow one to approach uncommonly close...



The bird in the next photo was napping on the edge of a nest.  It did not awaken while I was present...


Each year I look forward to the arrival of these beautiful birds.  They add a special quality to the ambiance of Baker Park...

 
Thanks for visiting, come back soon.



Two Woodpeckers and a Groundhog

On my way to the Monocacy National Battlefield I passed a Groundhog that was eating on the side of the road.  It quickly ran to its' den but paused long enough for me to get a photo before entering...


At the battlefield there were a number of Northern Flickers foraging on the ground for insects...



After a few minutes I was surprised to see a Pileated Woodpecker join the group...



Both of these birds are normally shy and difficult to photograph.  I was thankful when they allowed me to take these photographs.

Thanks for visiting, stay well, and stop back soon.




Once A Captive, But Free Again...

This pesky young Raccoon was caught in a live trap on the farm, belonging to a friend, where it had been getting into mischief...


Fortunately for the raccoon, his captor was not vindictive and it was released several miles away, completely unharmed...

 
Here are some interesting facts about these animals gleaned from the National Geographic website:
 
"Bandit-masked raccoons are a familiar sight just about everywhere, because they will eat just about anything. These ubiquitous mammals are found in forests, marshes, prairies, and even in cities. They are adaptable and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of fare.

In the natural world, raccoons snare a lot of their meals in the water. These nocturnal foragers use lightning-quick paws to grab crayfish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. On land, they pluck mice and insects from their hiding places and raid nests for tasty eggs.

Raccoons also eat fruit and plants—including those grown in human gardens and farms. They will even open garbage cans to dine on the contents.

These ring-tailed animals are equally opportunistic when it comes to choosing a denning site. They may inhabit a tree hole, fallen log, or a house's attic. Females have one to seven cubs in early summer. The young raccoons often spend the first two months or so of their lives high in a tree hole. Later, mother and children move to the ground when the cubs begin to explore on their own.

Raccoons in the northern parts of their range gorge themselves in spring and summer to store up body fat. They then spend much of the winter asleep in a den. There are six other species of raccoons, in addition to the familiar northern (North American) raccoon. Most other species live on tropical islands."

When I was a youngster, growing up in the hills of Appalachia, hunting raccoons was a popular sport, and many people kept specially trained dogs just for that purpose.  Raccoons were valued for their fur and many folks, including my family, enjoyed them as table fare.

 
Because they are normally nocturnal most people don't realize that raccoons are common in their neighborhoods.  If something has been getting into your trash, it could easily be a raccoon.


Second Wilson Snipe Encounter at Lilypons...

I found this snipe at Lilypons yesterday.  It is probably the same one I saw a couple of days ago.  This time it was a little more animated and allowed me to photograph it for several minutes...




 

 
According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology:
 
"The Wilson's Snipe was recently recognized as a different species from the Common Snipe of Eurasia. The two snipes look extremely similar, but differ in the shape, patterning, and usually the number of the tail feathers. The Wilson's Snipe typically has 16 tail feathers, whereas the Common Snipe has 14. These numbers vary, however, and a Common Snipe may have from 12 to 18 tail feathers.
 
  • The hollow, low whistled sound called "winnowing" is used by the male to defend his territory and attract a mate. It is not a vocal sound, but rather is produced by air flowing over the outstretched tail feathers with each wingbeat. The outer tail feathers are greatly modified to produce the sound and are thin and curved.
  •   
  • The long bill of the Wilson's Snipe is flexible. The tips can be opened and closed with no movement at the base of the bill. Sensory pits at the tip of the bill allow the snipe to feel its prey deep in the mud.
  •                                                                                      
  • The clutch size of the Wilson's Snipe is almost always four eggs. The male snipe takes the first two chicks to hatch and leaves the nest with them. The female takes the last two and cares for them. Apparently the parents have no contact after that point."

  • There is so much to learn about nature that we can never hope to satisfy our quest for knowledge.




    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    A Few Photo Subjects Not Published Yet

    Most of my photographs are of random subjects observed during my daily outings.  This post is an example of what one might see on a short drive. 
    First a Red Tailed Hawk in the early morning light...


    Daffodils growing on the side of a country road...


    A diminutive Song Sparrow...


    On the way to the Monocacy National Battleground, I passed at least two recently road killed deer.  This Turkey Vulture preferred to seek scraps from the hide of a winter kill that had lain in the field for months...




    I guess there is just no accounting for taste preferences.





    Monday, April 7, 2014

    Watching Wood Ducks

    I always look forward to seeing the colorful Wood Ducks return to our creeks and ponds.  They are by far the most beautiful of all the wild ducks, at least they are to me.

    There are only adult "woodies" around now, but soon there will be a line of ducklings following the adults.  Sometimes these family groups number as many as ten or more...










    I hope you have a chance to enjoy these beautiful ducks where you live.




    Catching Up With Wild Turkeys

    No matter how many photographs I take of Wild Turkeys I can't seem to resist taking even more whenever the opportunity presents itself.  The photos in this post were taken from February 16 through April 2.  I must warn you that there may be more turkey photos to come as the mating season heats up and turkey activity increases...






     
     
     
    The next set of photos were of a different group of turkeys, found in another part of the county on a different day...

     
     

     
     
    These last two photos, of the same gobbler, were taken on public hunting land.  Judging from his beard length, this old turkey may prove too smart for the hunters that will soon be out looking for him...



    Thanks for visiting, and allowing me to share my turkey obsession with you. 
    Stop back again real soon.
     
     

     

     





    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    Receipe For Disaster at Lilypons???

    I always check out the Great Blue Heron nests when visiting Lilypons.  At this time of year the adults are usually feeding their young or sitting on the nests. 
    That's why I was surprised when all of the herons were perched on branches just about as far from the nests as they could get.  Only the nest near the center had a bird on it, and not just any bird...


    It wasn't until later, when the occupant of the center nest flew over, that I realized why the herons were perched on the ends of the branches...


    It was an immature Bald Eagle, and the only reason I can think of for it to be in a herons' nest at this time of year was to have breakfast...


    Only time, and continued observations, will tell if the eagle was there to eat the heron chicks.

    Red-winged Blackbirds are beginning to fill the wetlands with their calls...



    Not all of the herons were at the rookery...


    But that may be where this one is headed...


    This Common Grackle was one of a pair visiting the ponds...

     
    This Snipe is my first sighting of the year...
     
     

    Lastly, this American Kestrel was watching the fields for prey...

     
     
    Is it any wonder that the Lilypons Water Gardens is one of the most productive and popular birding locations in the area?