Thursday, May 19, 2016

Apple Blossom Time = Abundant Bird Life

A most welcome visitor to our yard and a long time favorite of ours is
 the Northern “Baltimore” Oriole.
Another reminder that our Father in Heaven oversees all things in the circle of life is currently unfolding before us.  Apple blossom time and songbird nesting season go hand in hand. Each day a variety of colorful songsters arrive, a good number of them attracted to the aromatic white clusters in search of insects. Some species still prefer to dine at our bird feeder and a few of our feathered friends will indulge themselves both at the feeder and on the bugs they find among the apple blossoms.  After all, it is nesting season and there are hungry little mouths to feed!   

The Yellow Warbler has a very familiar and cheery call.
This colorful visitor is the Yellow warbler, each one a tiny study in perpetual motion as they rapidly flit about seemingly non-stop while probing the apple blossoms for a meal.  Their call is most pleasing to the ears, one can't help but smile when they're around.

The Red breasted Groseak prefers to be heard, but not seen.
The easy to identify Rose-breasted Grosbeak is another visitor that is both colorful and bears a cheery song as well. We have two nesting pairs in close proximity this year.

The Indigo Bunting, seen here atop our feeder, is often mistaken for a blue bird. 
We’ve been seeing more and more of this species in recent years. 
Here you have four of our favorites, we hope your enjoy them as much as we do.  Each one is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but, the ear as well.  Their songs range from sweet to melodious to cheerful. We’ve heard it said the joy of the Lord will put a song in your heart. What might the songbirds be trying to tell us?

Until Next Time,
Jim & Claudia.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Transition Time in the Wetlands

The Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area.
There is something I really enjoy about the wetlands in the weeks immediately following ice-out. I find the contrast of brown cattails and blue sky reflected on the water aesthetically pleasing. The lack of foliage in early spring makes for great bird watching and wildlife sighting, a perk that is rapidly dwindling as scenery changes are underway. New cattails are sprouting and will soon be lush & tall as will the phragmites, those giant reeds with plume-like heads. In addition, leaves have already begun to emerge on a variety of trees.

The Black-crowned Night Heron
Claudia was able to shoot a series of photos of this Black-crowned Night Heron on our latest visit to the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area but once the foliage is in full bloom finding photo subjects like this will be difficult.  As the name suggests, this bird is most active just after dusk. They are able to hunt their prey without being harassed by other species of Heron and Egrets. 

Let's zoom in for a closer look.
A Lesser Yellowleg on the hunt for aquatic bugs
We saw this Lesser Yellowleg at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.  It was using its long bill to probe the silt and mud of the marsh bottom for aquatic worms and snails. It’s a bit more tolerant of human approach than its cousin, the Greater Yellowlegs, though it is difficult to tell them apart. All too soon both species will depart for bogs and marshes much farther north.

Wary of human approach, this Great Blue Heron was easy to spot with no grassy obstructions.
Though I’m waiting for warmer weather like most everyone else, there are a few things I’m going to miss about early spring in the wetlands; a greater field of vision, early-departing migratory species and, lest I forget, the absence of annoying winged pests like mosquitoes and deer flies.   

Until next time,
Jim & Claudia