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


Random Chincoteague Photos

Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Merganser

I promise these are my last Chincoteague photos!

Great Egret [Wordless Wednesday]

Great Egret
Great Egret


Greater Snow Goose at Chincoteague

Greater Snow Goose
Greater Snow Goose in flight

Chincoteague Refuge was originally established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds (with an emphasis on conserving Greater Snow Goose), today it provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and song birds, as well as other species of wildlife and plants. (Taken from the Chincoteague brochure)

Afternoon in France Brook

colts foot
Colt’s Foot

Woke up to the sound of the irregular drumming of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (CHECK)! I love waking up to first of the year birds without even getting out of bed! I continued the day with the Eastern Phoebe’s singing most everywhere I visited. I even had one vocalizing next to my little platform on the side of the house where they use to nest!! Maybe we will have some baby Phoebes this year?

Salamander Migration 2009

Wednesday night was about the Salamanders with the blue-black body and distinct overlaid rows of yellow spots along its sides, back and tail. Its scientific name is Ambystoma maculatum and since “maculatum” means spotted . . . . . we call these guys the “Spotted Salamander”. But predicting the movement from their wintering holes to their breeding pools can be sometimes is a little tricky.

Spotted Salamander
Smiling Spotted Salamander


Last Nights Salamanders

Spotted Salamander
You need to be fast for the perfect Salamander photo!

By 8pm the migration had not started yet . . . . . but our sprinkles were quickly turning into heavier drops!! We investigated the Vernal Pools again by 10:30pm and were welcomed by a few amphibians just starting their migration! The migration of the Spotted Salamanders only happen a few nights a year when we receive the first warm rain of the season. I am busy with my time right now but promise my next post will include the full details on our amazing night!!   Here are just a few teaser photos for everyone!

back to birding

Common Golden Eye
Common Goldeneye

I took advantage of the sunny day on Saturday with a great day of birding with 51 different species observed! I have been a little busy the past few weeks and this birding adventure was very much needed (what can I say, I am a birder!)! I started the morning over at Chautauqua Lake outlet in Celoron and ran into a few birding friends (great seeing Bob and Jim).

Addicted to Spring

duck specks
Waterfowl and Gulls at Chautauqua Lake

I am addicted to this spring time sunshine and ended up with 7 first of the years birds to report this weekend! CHEERS! Patty has been showing me all of the hot spots around Chautauqua Lake and although we were not successful in relocating the Tundra Swan she had earlier in the day . . . . . we still had a great time together on the outlet!

Nothing new along the Allegheny

Hooded Merganser
Hooded Merganser photo from 2008

I made a quick stop for ducks along the Allegheny River today. Still waiting for many of the migrants to arrive but I did get some Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Mallards, and Black Ducks.

Northern Saw-whet Owls Report for 2008

Saying So Long for Another Season

This year the Allegany State Park (Northern Saw-whet Owl) banding station was open for 15 nights and captured 26 different individuals (not including 1 Barred Owl). We didn’t capture as many owls per day like we did last season but the number of days we could open the station was reduced due to weather conditions. (more…)

The Owls Have Arrived

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

We caught our first of the year Northern Saw-whet Owl Saturday night! Been a slow start to their movement but I believe that is due to warmer temperatures and the bright moon shining down on the nets. Their numbers should be picking up in a week or two as soon as the moon starts rising later in the evening!

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler

While driving through Allegany State Park today, I encountered my first of the year Prairie Warbler (CHECK) singing in one of the abandoned fields near the Red House entrance. I slowly worked my way closer to the bird and hit the jackpot in finding a non-camera shy bird! I did see the female once but she wasn’t as cooperative as the male was! But I do feel that the female was close because I had suspected the male was following her around and singing his trilled song (reason he was ignoring me)! Other first for the year birds that I had today included the Alder Flycatcher (CHECK) and Willow Flycatcher (CHECK)!

Northern Mockingbird in Allegany

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

Last Friday (16 May 2008), I found this Northern Mockingbird in Allegany State Park while traveling through the Quaker area. You might wonder “what’s the big deal in finding a mockingbird” ?? The truth is that these guys are not commonly found within Cattaraugus County and I would assume it is because of our hilly terrain. I will watch to see if this bird sticks around the area for a while but I assume the bird was just passing through the area!!

International Migratory Bird Day

Northern Mockingbird

Ya, Ya . . . I am about a week late with this report but it has been a busy few days for me. I have been trying to getting ready for the Allegany State Park Geobash Event that we are having this weekend.

On May 10th 2008 the Cattaraugus County Bird Club headed out for our annual Presque Isle State Park field trip for International Migratory Bird Day. (more…)

Wrap up to an amazing trip

Redheaded Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker

We had such a wonderful time visiting the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (aka Crane Creek) with seeing so many great birds and having the opportunity of meeting such great birders. I noticed that the Black Snake Bird Observatory’s Banders Blog reported (Friday 9 May) “We also had the pleasure of a few banders from New York and surrounding states. It is always a pleasure to have visiting researchers see our operation and share ideas and talk shop.” and then said . . . “For the day we had a total of 190 new birds including 30 species and 38 recaptures.” Can you believe they had 20 species of warblers that day??? I knew we should have stayed till they closed up nets! Anyways . . . . I would like to thank Kim Kaufman and the many staff members of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory who helped in making our visit so spectacular.


More Warblers from Ohio

American Redstart
American Redstart

And you thought I posted all my good warbler pictures!!! All I can say is that these pictures can tell the rest of the warbler story!

Our Banding Adventure

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

Young Naturalist J and I take these trips to the different banding stations for helping us explore how these organizations conduct their studies. Each project is different and they always have a way of showing us something that we had never seen before. The Navarre Marsh Banding Station in Ohio and the Presque Isle Banding Station in Erie PA were no exception and both stations were different in many ways. The truth is that we take these trips to enjoy the many wonderful birds that are not normally caught at our banding station (and for us to capture a few photos)!!

Banding in the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Bay-breasted Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (CHECK)

Friday morning Young Naturalist J and I were invited to join the Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s “Navarre Marsh Migration Monitoring Banding Station” in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Last Sunday when we made the first plans to visit . . . . we never realized that this station was located on a National Wildlife Refuge and the hoops that we needed to go through to visit the banding station. I guess driving behind a Nuclear Power Plant to band birds requires some security issues to contend with. Without a doubt this adventure was well worth the hoopla because I ended up with 10 year birds (1 being a lifer) and Young Naturalist J ended up with 3 lifers on this trip!

Banding at Presque Isle State Park

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal carefully being banded

Young Naturalist J and I joined Toni from A Spattering and Linda from Eries Argonaut over at the Presque Isle State Park banding station this morning to see some migrants up close. We had such a wonderful time together and saw many great birds being banded by Sarah S. from PA Audubon (Thanks for letting us join you Sarah)! Below are just a few pictures that we captured at the banding station:

more new birds and butterflies

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel wondering what birds I am seeing!

I love waking up to my morning alarm clock again and I was extra excited hearing a Woodthrush (CHECK) singing along with my buzzing hummingbirds!! Not bad hearing two great birds before getting out of bed in the morning!! Later in the day I saw my first of the year Indigo Bunting (CHECK) singing up in a tree and didn’t expect in finding the Meadow Fritillary (CHECK), Juvenal Duskywing (CHECK) and American Lady (CHECK) who were also flying roadside! Yeah . . . . to the butterflies!

New birds from yesterday

The Male Protecting the Feeder
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I almost forgot to let everyone know about my first of the year birds that I saw yesterday!! I put my hummingbird feeder up in the morning and found 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (CHECK) buzzing around the feeders by lunch time (actually the two males were fighting over the feeders territory). I then found an American Redstart (CHECK) singing up in the tree while waiting for some fellow employees (actually it got very close to us and wished I had my camera with me). Later in the day I found a Red-eyed Vireo (CHECK) singing in an area that we were working in . . . . well kinda . . . . I think I had them over the weekend but wasn’t 100% sure it was a Red-eyed Vireo until today’s find.

Birding at Moms House

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

I did a little birding in Allegany State Park this morning and of course it was raining!!! Didn’t see anything unusual but I did capture a picture of a Gray Catbird. It took visiting my mothers bird feeders to add two first of the year birds to my checklist (did I mention it stopped raining by the time I arrived at my parents house?)!! The first bird I saw was a White-crowned Sparrow (CHECK) and the second bird was a Baltimore Oriole (CHECK)!!  But didn’t get an opportunity to photograph the Oriole but heard it many times! Below are some of the other birds hanging around her feeder:

New-tropical Migrants [Poem]

Chestnut-sided Warbler

New-tropical Migrants

We have always seen warblers
as brilliancies of the North Woods:

lemon yellow of Black-throated Green
flame wings and tail of American Redstart

But the Redstart is Cuba’s “Little Candelita,”
the Black-throated Green flies his colors from Ecuador

Our boreal yellows, reds, blues are tropical,
burnt orange of Blackburnian,
orange-red of Bay-breasted

What do we send back?
Blackburnian with only the yellow,
Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Pine we can not tell apart – –
“Confusing Fall Warblers.”

Color them up, we say.
Paint back the cheeks and flanks of Chestnut-sided,
brighten back the pigments of Black-throated Blue

Send these warblers back.
On the Big Day in May
in Sugar Maple and Tamarack
we will check off glories of the rain forest

By: Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr ©


Morning Surprise at my Feeder

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I looked out my window this morning and found this Rose-breasted Grosbeak (CHECK) trying to get seeds from my thistle feeder! “Hey Mr Grosbeak . . . your bill is too large for those little thistle holes!! Just look at how the Goldfinch is able to get the seeds!! They have much smaller bills than you do”!  We had a frost last night and birds very busy around the feeders! I couldn’t get the sunflowers into the feeders quick enough!!!