Thursday, May 07, 2015

Making Baby Tree Swallows

Everyone likes birds. What wild creature
is more accessible to our eyes and
ears, as close to us and everyone
in the world, as universal as a bird?
~David Attenborough

About six weeks ago or so we put up a bluebird nest box, after seeing a pair flitting around the yard. Less than 60 seconds after finishing getting it set up, a bluebird landed on it.

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We watched the pair move in, carry nesting materials into the box. They don't seem to mind our presence or the sound of the lawnmower.

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Since that was such a success, a couple weeks later we set up another nest box far away at the other side of the front yard. The bluebirds in the first box showed interest in that one as well, occasionally going into it. But they quit doing that, apparently settling for their first choice. We named them Pete and Gladys.

We are now hearing peeping sounds coming from the first nest box, so it seems that a family has been started!

Another week or so went by with no activity at the new nest box, until a pair of birds we had never seen before started landing on top of it and going inside. We pulled out all my bird ID books and discovered that they are tree swallows. They are really striking birds. They swoop around, and have been seen carrying nesting material into the house.

They are difficult to photograph, they never seem to hold still at all. I went out again today to try to capture them with the camera. We named them Ruby and Richard. One of them spent a great deal of time in the box, poking its head out the door and checking out the new neighborhood.

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There is a large wire that runs across the yard, over the house (I think it's the phone line). Many birds use that wire as a resting place; it's also over a couple of bird feeders that are popular. While I was sitting outside with the camera, I noticed that Ruby and Richard were both on the wire just a short distance above and in front of me. One of them was flip-flapping over the other. I sat there (camera on my lap) wondering what they were doing. Oh! Wait! Making little tree swallows! So I whipped the camera up and was able to get some pictures. 

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC MATERIAL THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR SMALL CHILDREN. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

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And then off Richard goes, with a cheery "See ya!" I'm sure.

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So! Maybe we will soon be hearing peeping sounds from that nest as well.

I am writing this on a computer next to a window with a clear view of that phone line and Ruby and Richard's house. As I was writing that last paragraph, they had another session of procreating. Randy little birds, aren't they?

It's getting close to paddling time here, and we found some new lakes last year that we want to try out.

Stand by.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet, SC

Happiness is when what you think, 
what you say, and what you do
are in harmony.
~Mahatma Gandhi

We have been in NC for almost a year now, and I don't think I have seen an egret since we got here. Unthinkable! I have also missed the beach, so I planned a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC (not camping this time) with the idea of visiting Huntington Beach SP, which was said to have shorebirds.

It did not disappoint!! I can't tell you the joy I felt at finally pointing my camera at a long-legged wader again! Felt very natural and right.

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Shortly after you enter the park, you drive across a causeway, with water on either side. That's where the birds were on this day. After crossing the water, there is a parking lot, making it simple to walk back along the bridge to see and photograph the birds.

This egret was flying toward my general area, where there was another egret.

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Uh oh, he spots me!

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I really like that image because it shows the great expanse of their wings. I guess I was considered harmless, as he went on flying by. Note the green nares (area around the eyes), an indication that it is breeding season for them.

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A little farther down the causeway I came to a great blue heron stalking fish along the edge of the water.

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It's fairly easy to tell when they spot something and are ready to snatch it out of the water.

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I noticed that despite all these gorgeous birds flying around, the majority of people were pointing their cameras at something else in the water. As you know if you have read much of this blog, this subject is very "been there, done that" for me, but for old time's sake I did the same.

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That's something I don't miss at all from Florida....

I hope I can get back around the big birds again before another year has passed. If not, I can focus on the small ones. A pair of tree swallows has just taken up residence in one of the nest boxes in our front yard, and we have bluebirds with hatched babies in the other one. I plan to aim the camera at them soon.

Stand by.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Hummingbirds! (And a Hummingbird Moth)

Like the hummingbird sipping nectar
from every flower, I fly joyfully through
my days, seeing beauty in everything.
~Amethyst Wyldfyre

We have a new deck (finally! Yay!), on which we have placed several planter boxes with flowers, and also a hummingbird feeder. There is a comfortable chaise chair near the feeder, but not so near that the hummers are afraid to come to it. This gives me an excellent opportunity to photograph them. I suspect I will be doing a lot of this in the future...

Here are a few photos I got recently:

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This guy was very wary of me as he snacked at the feeder...

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While I was sitting there, I noticed one of them perched in a tree above me. The lighting makes this just silhouettes. 

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Meanwhile, still in the realm of hummingbirds (sort of), we have hummingbird moths that come to our butterfly bushes in the back yard every day. So I took a few photos of those and decided to include them in this hummer post.

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I'm sure there will be more hummingbird photos coming along. I enjoy photographing them. It's a challenge, as anyone who has tried knows! Speedy little birds...

On the paddling front (as long as I'm here), we recently drove to check out Thorpe Reservoir as a possible paddling spot. It's close by, very pretty, though the launching access is much worse than at Chatuge. They have not made any accommodation for paddlers, so the only launch spots are concrete ribbed boat ramps--certainly less than ideal for kayak hulls. But once in, it should be a good spot. This is a rainy time here, but it looks like we might get some clear days next week. Stand by.