Sunday, May 28, 2017

Robin Chicks ready to fledge

Hungry, hungry robin chicks nearly ready to fledge. The male robin with the deeper colored breast feeds the chicks from the left, while the female robin with the lighter colored breast feeds the chicks from the right. 

Of course, no baby robin video would be complete without some pooping action;-) The parents either take the fecal sac away from the nest, or they eat it (when the chicks are very young.) Note that the fecal sac is rather balloon-like and is similar to a disposable diaper. Check out this article titled, "The Scoop on Poop - Disposable Diapers for Birds." Good stuff! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Maple Trees with Maple Seeds

I spent some time looking up, whilst sitting on the front deck. So much of our landscape is surrounded by trees, and those trees are greening up and developing colorful seeds for sowing.
We have lots of red maple trees on our property, and the seeds are such a pretty red color as they form. Soon, they will be twirling in the wind, as they drop from the trees, in search of just the right ground to sprout in.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


It is nesting season and birds are in search of nesting materials. Drew put up a cage of cotton for the birds to pull strands from. Chickadees are the only birds we've witnessed using this material, thus far.
This chickadee spent quite some time pulling out just the right the fibers for its nest, before flying off with a huge mouthful!

Wild Turkey

This turkey was wandering through the yard next door, and down our path. He was displaying periodically, just in case some lovely females came into view.
Turkey pulling earthworm from the ground
I photographed him early in the morning from our front deck. While in the yard next door, he began foraging...on earthworms! He gave a tug.
Then, he successfully pulled the worm from the ground.
And, he happily slurped it for breakfast!
Finally he wandered off, presumably on the lookout for his harem or another tasty meal;-)

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Popham Beach at low tide, near Fox Island
One of my students asked me if I knew where the word "sand" came from. I said, "Hmmm...that's an interesting question. Where?" He said, "It's called sand because it's found between the sea and the land!" Well, this got me smiling.
Old Orchard Beach Sand (with lots of feldspar and quartz)
magnified using 100 mm lens with stacked 36 mm, 20 mm, 12 mm extension tubes
You see, I love sand. Years ago, one of my former students could not understand why and said, "Gee, all sand is alike. Why would you find it interesting?" 
Sand Beach at Bar Harbor (with shells, sea urchin spines, feldspar, quartz, etc.)
 magnified using 100 mm lens with stacked 36 mm, 20 mm, 12 mm extension tubes
My answer was because the grains of sand can give you some idea of the rocks  and/or organisms that it originated from. 
Rocky shore at West Quoddy Head
And, if you know the types of rocks and minerals in the sand, then you have an idea of the geologic forces at work, and you can go back in time...
Layers of sand and vegetation near Fort Popham
and figure out whether the land was originally under the ocean or from volcanic origins (for example.)
Wave sculpted sand at Popham Beach
Or, whether the sand originated from weathering of rocks by wind or waves. No matter what the origin, sand is fascinating...sand is variable...sand is beautiful...
Footprint at Popham Beach
And, there is no place more soothing than the beach where you can walk on sand that supports you. All those tiny grains compacting and shifting under your weight, conforming to the shape of your foot, and collecting between your toes. Ahhh.....sand... What's not to like;-)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Beach Hazard - warm air and cold ocean water

I don't remember ever seeing this weather statement issued before, but it sure makes sense. I know that kids, especially, don't seem to feel the cold as much as adults do. I've only ever gotten up to my knees in the Maine ocean surf;-)
Beach Hazard Statement for Sagadahoc County, Maine

Thursday, May 18, 2017

High temp for today

Wowee, it's hot outside! Our thermometer reads 92 F in the shade! Luckily, tomorrow's temp will only rise into the mid-70s, and the next 14 days will be in the 60's.

Ticks, ticks, and more ticks

The ticks are out enforce this year. Drew walked our pups along a trail and pulled 9 ticks off of them. He bought Permethrin to spray on our boots, socks, and pants to kill ticks. There is a new and lethal tick disease to be warned of. Geez! 

Do tick checks often when out walking in the woods, or even along the side of the road. Wear light colored clothing so that you can easily see the ticks. Don't touch the ticks with your bare hands if at all possible. And, wash your hand asap if you do have to touch the ticks to remove them from your clothing.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Weekly Weather

I am finally getting my wish for a bit warmer weather. We've spent way too much time in the 40's and 50's, and now we are jumping into the 60's with a few blistering hot days thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Three cords of wood, but who's counting?

Only Drew was counting the cords as he spent several days stacking wood...
The wood pile is not as tall as in the past, but is quite long.
Drew left space through the center for good air circulation. And, the sides only lean on each other right at the end. There are also support sticks poking through, from side to side, all along the length of the stack. The top is uneven so that a tarp can be draped over the stack to keep the wood dry. This wood will be here for 1.5 years before it is needed for the winter of 2018-2019. Three cords is generally all we use to heat the house each winter. 

We always stay a few years ahead of what we'll need. There are some trees that will need to be felled soon, so we'll have more wood drying on the back stack (which is currently filled, and will be emptied beforehand into the wood shed for next winter.)

Blackflies are here and are biting!

Yowzer, the month of blackfly bites has begun. Augggghhhhh...

Hairy Woodpecker Nest Hole Excavation

A mated pair of Downy Hairy woodpeckers have been excavating a nest hole, in the ash tree adjacent to our back deck, for the last several weeks. Here you see the male doing the majority of the grunt work, and the female flies over to inspect it after all is said and done;-)

Josh Fecteau corrected my bird I.D., as I am notorious for getting it wrong;-) I always wait to see what he says as there are so many tiny details that I miss. So, you can learn along with me...
"For a couple of reasons, I'd say these are Hairy Woodpeckers. Note how the white eyebrow of each bird is broken in the rear with black (Downy, according to David Sibley, usually shows a continuous white band). Both birds also have unmarked outer tail feathers (I'd expect some black bars/spots on the outer tail feathers of a Downy). And lastly, though we don't get a true side profile, the bills look proportionately long to me.

An excellent way to tell them apart in the field is to learn their call notes. I hope this helps..."
(Aughhh...I had looked at the following characteristics: It seemed to me that where the bill contacts the head there was a conspicuous tuft of nasal bristles, but they must be much more mustache-like on a Downy;-) I was looking at the bill and thought it looked long, but I was thinking that with the close-up photo it may have just looked long to me... Now, after looking at the female bird and stopping the video, I focused in on the area at the forward part of the upper eyelid and the Downy females have a black area that breaks up the white eyebrow, whereas the Hairy female has a continuous white eyebrow like I see here. And, the Downy woodpeckers really do have a short bill.

Thanks, Josh!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Chipping Sparrow and Chickadee

Chipping Sparrow with a brightly colored brown cap of breeding plumage!
Well, even though my focus of late has been the warblers, I must say that we have quite a few other regulars who visit the feeders. The Chipping Sparrows have arrived and will spend the summer here for breeding purposes.
This chickadee said, "Whatcha looking at, Laurie?"
And, I would be remiss if I didn't photograph a chickadee. They are one of my favorite bird species who are with us all year long.
They frequent the suet as well as the seed feeder.

Female Yellow-rumped Warbler

Even the female has a bit of yellow on her head.
Yahoo! We have a pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers! I got to photograph the female this afternoon while she visited the suet feeder multiple times.
The female has a brown mask.
The female doesn't have the black mask that the male has. She is much more brown in color, and the striping on her breast is finer. Of course, she also has that yellow rump!
She was not skittish at all. She continued to feed even though I was only about 18 feet away. I was leaning against the stacked wood pile.
In fact, Drew was stacking wood all afternoon and both birds flew in to feed even with all the commotion. I only saw the female this afternoon.
I heard the male call and the female may have called back.
But, feeding was her main purpose. I hope they build a nest around here somewhere;-)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Alert

Drew saw the first Ruby-throated hummingbird of the season at our feeder at 1:30 pm today! Spring has truly sprung in our neck of the woods;-)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Yellow-rumped Warbler v2 (male)

Check out his crown. More yellow feathers are filling in for mating season;-)
We are loving our little male Yellow-rumped Warbler. He flits around the suet feeder on and off all day long, and not being a clinging bird, he isn't very adept at gaining access to the feeder, but he tries hard. 
This afternoon, I grabbed the camera and stood as still as possible on the front deck in order to get a few shots of the bird. Of course, it was around 5pm, and was very cloudy, so conditions were rather dark. He spend a bit of time on the ground, probably picking up bits of suet.
And, he flew from tree to tree at the edge of our yard.
I love his black mask!
Here he is playing Peek-A-Boo behind the branch... or maybe he thinks he is a Ninja;-) I hope we see a lot more of him in the future.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Sink Or Swim Day! (aka The Rain in Maine...)

Oy! Rain, rain, rain! Check out the next 12 days! Uggah Buggah! It's great weather if you're a duck;-)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wood delivery

We received our wood delivery on Wednesday. Drew has three cords of mixed hardwoods to stack for drying.
Just a tiny bit of the wood has been stacked. I photograph the process and let Drew do the hard work. Because, for those of you who know wood stacking abilities leave a lot to be desired. We'll use this wood in two year's time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yellow-rumped Warbler (male)

I love springtime. Our bird feeders are host to birds that we often don't see until they migrate through. Today, it was a male yellow-rumped warbler who enjoyed the suet. Drew saw this bird while I was at school, so I wasn't able to view it personally. But, he got photos through the kitchen window again, thus they are a bit blurry. But, you can see the characteristics of this bird.
Here is a view to show you its breast and black mask patterning.
And, here is the yellow rump! Drew knows to photograph all actions of the bird for I.D. purposes. 
Could this be a male with the beginnings of the yellow crown feathers starting to come in? 

By the way, these birds are very common and are found in open woods and brushy areas during the winter, both of which we have in abundance all around us, and in coniferous forests in summer. It is strange that we've never seen them before at our feeders...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Many moods of a Brown Thrasher

Drew mentioned how striking the eyes of the thrasher were.
Wicked cool! We just had a brown thrasher visit our suet feeder today! Drew happened to be looking out the kitchen window when he noticed a bird that he had never seen before. It stayed around for quite awhile, knoshing on suet, giving Drew time to snap several photos through the window glass so as not to scare him off. Yahoo!
Let's look at characteristics of this member of the Family Mimidae. Thrashers are basically solitary and would be observed on the ground most of the time. That it was up on the feeder was surprising to me. The brown color of the bird is referred to as "rufous" colored. The breast is streaked.
Drew's first mention of the bird was it's long, pointed beak and long tail. These birds forage on the ground and use their long bill to turn leaves over and to scrape the dirt to find food. They tend to run on the ground with their tails raised. Later, we both saw it on the ground behind our bird feeder where there is a thicket of blackberry vines and other shrubby plants. By the way, they spend the summer in Maine for the breeding season.

Being members of the Mimidae family, they have a lovely range of musical sounds. Click the link below to go to the All About Birds website to listen to their songs and calls.
The male sings a loud, long series of doubled phrases with no definite beginning or end, described by some people as “plant a seed, plant a seed, bury it, bury it, cover it up, cover it up, let it grow, let it grow, pull it up, pull it up, eat it, eat it.”