My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

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Virginia Rail

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Virginia Rail

By: Pat Coate

Many thanks to Jim Adams (http://ayearinoatka.blogspot.com/) for recently helping me add a couple life birds to my list. One was this Virginia Rail, seen at Mendon Ponds Park near Rochester, NY.

Normally a secretive bird, this one was easier to find than usual due to a shortage of open water this winter. Virginia Rails feed by probing shallow water and mud for insects, fish, frogs and other aquatic animals. The small area of open water where it was forced to feed is near a hiking/cross country skiing trail in the park which allowed for unusually good views.
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Some birds of St. James’s Park, London

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White Pelicans

By: Pat Coate

While in England traveling with my daughter we spent a day in London. We took the train into Waterloo Station and spent the day walking all over taking in the sights – Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The Eye, Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery, and Trafaglar Square. Despite a February visit, London was filled with tourists and vacationing English families (schools were on break). Despite the crowds, London’s parks were full of wintering waterfowl side by side with the captive exotic waterfowl. These pictures were all taken at St. James’s Park.

King James I, in the early 1600s, was the first to keep exotic waterfowl in the park. White Pelicans arrived in 1664 as a gift from the Russian ambassador. The pelicans are looked after by wildlife specialists, receive a daily feeding, and are quite friendly. Other exotic waterfowl we saw included Black Swans and Red-crested Pochard.

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In Search of Robin Hood…Robins and a couple other birds of Sherwood Forest

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Robin

By: Pat Coate

Had a marvelous opportunity to spend two weeks in Great Britain traveling with my daughter. One stop was in the Sherwood Forest/Nottingham area – the land of Robin Hood. Whether fact or fiction, we had lots of fun walking through hallowed Sherwood Forest, visiting Nottingham Castle and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and checking out Edwinstowe where legend has it Robin Hood married Maid Marion.

Though certainly not a main purpose of the trip, there were many wonderful birds along the way and it would have been a shame not to try to capture a few photos. One bird we saw throughout was the Robin – a very cheery, friendly bird. It is much smaller and daintier than our American Robin.

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Rough-legged Hawk

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Rough-legged Hawk

By: Pat Coate

Besides the Snowy Owl, we have another Arctic bird of prey wintering in our area – the Rough-legged Hawk. These birds breed in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America, Europe and Asia. In Europe and Asia they are known as Rough-legged Buzzards.

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Snowy Owl Harassed by Common Ravens

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Snowy Owl being harassed by Common Ravens

By: Pat Coate

I recently sat in my car with the window down observing and photographing a snowy owl perched on its usual utility pole. I heard and saw a lone raven flying from the north, quorking (one of the common raven’s vocalizations) as it flew. The snowy owl seemed to hear the raven too as it immediately flew directly over my car and landed on the ground along the driveway at the gravel pits.

Another car drove into the gravel pit driveway spooking the owl which then flew off across the frozen quarry.

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Snowy Owls

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Snowy Owl

By: Pat Coate

As we all shiveringly know there has been an amazing influx of frigid Arctic air this winter, reluctantly causing us to add the phrase “Polar Vortex” to our vocabulary. But, thankfully, the Arctic region has provided us with more than just frigid temps this winter – it has also provided us an influx (or more appropriately an irruption) of one of its stunning birds of prey – Snowy Owls.

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Groundhogs Day 2014 in Allegany State Park

Me

To all my blogging friends; I Allegany Tom on the 2nd of February 2014, did not see my shadow when I woke up this morning (actually had snow falling and was a whiteout). I predict that spring will come early this year.
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