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


Presidents Day Along the River

Geese in a Row

Ducks have finally arrived on the Allegheny River after the freezing of Lake Erie. In most areas where the river was open you could find some species of duck swimming. Some of these species included:

Canada Goose


American Black Duck

Common Merganser

Hooded Merganser



Common Goldeneye

…. these Common Goldeneye.

Searching for Food!

White-tailed Deer

I woke up this morning to find that the White-tailed Deer have been playing in the snow again!


I call these snow deer angels

Fun Day With Naturalist Buddy

Bridal Falls Frozen in Time

I spent a lovely day with Jamestown Audubon Naturalist and Nature Photographer Jen S. here in Allegany State Park today. I am so glad that she suggested that I take some time off from work to enjoy some needed fresh air!! We didn’t go cross-country skiing as planned (I know that I keep on getting out of skiing) but we did hike along some of our snowmobile trails which gave us some great photographic opportunities. The temperatures didn’t feel bad with the sun out but we did still dressed in layers.


Jen captured a photo of me checking out this moth chrysalis. Jen – thanks for giving me permission to use this picture of me!

Jen finding texture texture

Jen photographing the texture of this Birch

Bridal Falls Frozen

We also enjoyed checking out the frozen Bridal Falls

Coldest day of the year!

Today was the coldest day of the year with a low temperature of -3.1F and a high of 14.7F. It is amazing how just a month ago I was discussing how unusual this warm winter has been. Now I am discussing how cold it is!! I have never seen so many weather advisories posted on my cell phone as I have in the past 36 hours. Snow just north of me has been getting dumped on by lake effect snow with whiteout conditions.


Of course the sun finally came out this morning and I did make an attempt to head outside to take a few pictures. I heard on the radio that the wind-chill temperatures were estimated to be around -15F and it surely did feel that cold!! With very few critters observed, I found myself only taking pictures of my snowshoes and then quickly headed back to the truck to stay warm!! Yesterday was equally as cold while snowboarding at one of the local ski resorts. Every few runs we needed to head inside for a short time to reduce our chances of frostbite (especially with the kids). But did have a wonderful day with everyone, thanks AW for the taking care of us!!

My snowshoes

Groundhogs Day

To All My Flickr Friends

To all my Flickr and Blogging friends; I Allegany Tom on the 2nd of February 2007 predict that spring will come early this year! Sorry everyone, I had to get that out of me!! BTW: I heard on the morning news that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning and also predicting an early spring.  I have also heard by the weatherman that this summer is expected to be very hot and muggy one.  I can only hope that we don’t get as much rain as we did last year (never seemed to end).

Happy Ground Hogs Day

You might wonder why Groundhogs Day is so special to so many people! It started from an old German superstition that if a hibernating animal can cast its shadow on February 2nd that winter will last another six weeks. But, if no shadow is seen, the legend says spring will be early that year. You might ask why is this holiday so special to me?? Well, I consider this extraordinary day to be my official first day of spring! This is when we really start to notice more birds singing, displaying and pairs beginning to connecting together. I find this years Groundhogs Day to be extra unique because it falls on a full moon. After I get my taxes done, maybe I can get out doing some night time cross-country skiing this evening! I will do my best to take some pictures for everyone!!

Baby Woodchuck

PS: if you missed it, Allegany Toms prediction was accurate after see his shadow last year!

To All My Flickr Friends

Where do birds sleep at night?

On numerous occasions I have always wondered where all of my favorite birdies end up roosting at night? I can remember a few occasions which I have actually found such birds trying to spend their evening sleeping! Of course I always seem to agitate them and then find myself feeling bad that I somehow had to inconvenience them. For example; you have those nesting birds like the American Robin who always seem to settle on that perfect location right next to the main door. During the day they will flush the nest with any attempt to approaching the door but at night they will lay very low and only flush when approached too close.


During the winter months some species will obviously make their wintering roost site noticeable by roosting together in one large group (but rarely do we see them actually sleeping). The most typical example is when the American Crows flying many miles from their wintering territories to this one specific tree in someone’s backyard. It is absolutely breathtaking to see so many crows filing to these specific trees and then together move over to their roosting trees. These roosts have been known to scare neighborhoods by their strange grouping behavior. I can also remember those sounds made by thousands of European Starlings congregating together in that one particular bridge that I walked across each day. Then on that one precise second near sunset; every starling will instantly stopped vocalizing and you hear absolute silence.

three lines of swallow

Then you have those cavity species that will spend their evening roosting in trees like the Eastern Screech Owl or Eastern Bluebird. These birds are trying to avoid the elements of the weather and there are some individuals who might use these same holes for nesting sites during the summer months. I am sad to say that I have found numerous tree swallows smothered on the bottom of bluebird box after a cold spell approached. These birds were over stacked in the box while trying to use their body heat to stay warm. Those individuals on the bottom of the box had too many birds stacked on top of them and lost their life. Lucky this doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

Am Goldfinch

This weekend I happen to come across an unusual encounter that I never expected to uncover. I saw this goldfinch flying towards the house while picking up my kitties food plates. This goldfinch was climbing in-between a 3 inch gap around the foundation of the house and some melted snow. It then climbed out of this crack and into an area that I couldn’t see from the window. I had just assumed this little fluff ball was searching for some food just before dusk (but something wasn’t right). I then decided to put on my boots and go investigate what this bird was getting into! I thought maybe it had found some stone flies or something else that was hidden in there. But, I never expected to find this goldfinch with its head tucked under its wing trying to sleep. It was cold so I assume this little birdie was trying to find a safe sheltered spot to keep out of the elements of the weather. I probably should have tried to photograph it but it was dark and some times we need to focus on the birdies best interest!!

Thistle Feeder

This evening we are expecting this to be our coldest night of the year with the wind-chills being anywhere from -10° to -20°F. I wonder where my many birdie friends will be hiding this evening with such cold temperatures approaching. I do anticipate them making an early rise and starting to fatten up with my sunflower seeds.

Update: In Feb I found where a songbird had roosted for the night and I captured a photo of it!

time for work or time for play?

american tree sparrow

This weekend I spent numerous hours working on my end-of-the-year reports and can you believe that I am still behind on my PowerPoint slide show? This tardiness is partially due to parking myself next to the window entering my endless data into the computer. Of course I was watching the bird activity at the feeder’s more than typing. I was amazed at the nonstop lake effect dumping on us and I have decided that it is officially the start of winter (which finally brought out the birds). Although winter arrived late this year; I am just starting to see true signs of spring with numerous species of birds beginning to behave differently.


The entire day I watched two pairs of Northern Cardinals showing continuously agonistic behavior between each other. I still think that they only had a few opportunities to eat a few seeds before another cardinal would chase it away. It appears that the territories of the Cardinal have already been established and I think my feeder is the no fly zone between these two pairs.

Dark-eyed Junco with seed

I also noticed that the Dark-eyed Junco’s were more frequently singing and could this be the start of pair bonding? It is still quite a few months until they begin sitting on eggs but it is wonderful to hear those junco trills again after a long quiet fall/winter. I plan on continuing to watch all the birds at my feeders and smile every time those cute little chickadee’s tell the females “cheeeeese….burg..ger”

American Goldfinch

I will continue working on my PowerPoint slide show and then start working on more year end reports for 2006 (ugg). Just someday I can get back to schedule on updating my blog on a daily basis and spend more time taking pictures of our favorite fluff balls. Sunday you can expect me taking advantage of this fresh snow going snowboarding at one of the resorts for the first time this season. I hope to try to do some cross country skiing tomorrow evening after work.


Shameless Self Promotion

Last Friday the lake effect snow parked itself over the Southern Tier (WNY) which resulted in probably more than 6 inches of fluffy white snow. Accidents were happening all over the place and it was decided that our Cattaraugus County Bird Club was going to cancel our meeting scheduled for that evening. Being stuck in the house with nothing to do, I decided work on a new blog that I have wanted to do for a while now called “birdQUIZ”!!

bird QUIZ

I then spent many hours this weekend working on some of my end of the year reports due any day now. Ok, behind because of flickr and my blog world that have been taking up much of my extra time that I have (which I did end up finishing the reports about 11pm last evening). But, I did find some time for a few pictures of some birdies at the feeder and have a few “feeder” stories that maybe I can get around to posting. I now need to focus my time on a PowerPoint program that I need to complete for the many birdclubs, nature study clubs, ect.. scheduled across the Southern Tier this spring. I promise to try to take some brakes and visit your blog or photostream here in the near future.

BTW:!! birdQUIZ isn’t a blog that I plan on updating daily but it is a place that I plan on including fun birdQUIZ pictures that I have taken from time to time. So, be sure to add it to your RSS feed for any updates that I do. Check it out at

Winter Beaver Activity


Typically this time of the year the water is covered over with a thick layer of ice and snow. Little work is done by the beavers while the females are preparing to give birth. I noticed with the above average temperatures this year that the beavers have been putting in some overtime doing what they do best. I noticed since my last visit last fall that they have been enlarging their dams, adding to their food storage and improving their lodge.

large dam beaver reservoir

It is so hard to believe that these dams are built entirely by the beavers. The picture on the left shows their main dams that’s just over 6 feet in height. Since the fall these guys have added an additional 2 feet to this dam and it is unbelievable how much water they are currently backing up. The second picture shows one of their reservoirs just down stream that they built to give the beavers more access to their food. They need to back up the water with these dams to providing protection from predators, ability to float logs back to their lodge and soften up the mud which helps them build everything up better.

winter food storage

During the fall months the beavers are very busy adding sticks to their food storage stacks to feed on during the winter months. I was shocked to find this food storage larger than I normally find this time of the year. If you look at this picture above you will see their typical way the beaver store the family’s food storage piles. This gives the beaver access to their food when the water is frozen over and limited to just their pond. Then they can swim under the ice to their food storage and bring the sticks back to the lodge to eat.

beaver lodge

As the water level rises by increasing the height of the dam these beaver will continue to work on the lodge. They will add more mud and sticks to the outside of the lodge but then inside the lodge remove sticks from the top to add it to the lodge’s floor. It is a perfect way of building the lodge up to the needed size for the family living in it.

These beaver dazzle me every time that I visit them with their ability to do amazing work with sticks and mud.

Goofy Weather Goofy Animals

wooden deer and fog

This year the El Niño weather in New York State has made this the most unusual winter than I can ever remember. It almost feels like a roller coaster with temperatures last week above average, this week average and then soon to be above average again next week. I have never experienced anything like this before and have started to wonder what effects this could have on our local animals?

Striped Hairstreak American Copper

You wouldn’t think that warm temperatures in January could affect our local butterfly communities this summer. Take a caterpillar that hatches from an egg in the early spring and takes advantage of the spring wildflowers, tree buds or even early leaf development. After constant warm temperatures in January the caterpillars could emerge extra early and now starve from not finding enough food. Numbers for that population could drop drastically overnight and take it numerous years before the population returns back to normal. Looking one step further, this could affect the migrant birds searching for food on their journey north, etc….

Little Brown Bat The release of the Little Brown Bat

The Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) will winter in underground caves, sometimes hundreds of miles away from their nursery colonies. These nursery colonies are typically in buildings, hollow trees or even in bat boxes (which we have placed here in Allegany). While hibernating they will wake up every few weeks and fly around when warm near their wintering cave. So, how is this weather affecting Little Brown Bats?? Last Thursday I was asked to move this Little Brown who found itself in an unwanted location. We rarely find them in this area of the park until March at the earliest and I never expected to find this species here in January. They should be further south in Pennsylvania, but with warmer temperatures this year; they are able to survive closer to their nursery locations than they could in previous years. This could benefit the bats if temperatures stay good but if we get a cold spell it might make it harder for them to survive?? At this point it is hard to tell!

Long Tailed Weasel Photo by flickr friend annkelliott so please be sure to visit her photostream! Thanks for permission to use this picture!

In the northern latitudes the Long-tailed Weasel will go through a color change from its basic brown with (whitish – yellow) on its belly to its alternate color phase of all white except a little black tip on its tail. Annkelliott told me this interesting fact when I emailed her for permission to use her picture. She said “I found it interesting to read that the reason the Long-tailed Weasel has a black tip on its tail is so that for example, a hawk, would see the dark tip and grab that instead of the body, allowing the Weasel to escape”. With that in mind, you have these bright white weasels running around with no snow on the ground!! Predators like hawks, owls or even the fox can now easily see this prey from a good distance and reduce its chances for survival.

Good or bad the El Niño year is part of the life cycle and animals have survived years like this before! While some species are benefiting from the warmer temperatures; some could have their cycle disrupted and lose their life. Currently we are under a snow advisory with 6 inches of snow expected tonight. I can’t believe that just last week the average low temperature was 33°F and the average high was 49.6°F.

winter solstice triggers changes in the birds

Old Nest

In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice officially occurs on the 21 st of December at exactly 7:20pm EST. At this point the sun will reach the Tropic of Capricorn making this the shortest day of the year. Here in Allegany State Park, NY we will have just over 9 hours of sunlight which I plan on celebrating by catching up on my sleep. We will begin to increase daylight hours until the Summer Solstice on the 21 st of June when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer. That is when I will be celebrating with very little sleep due to looking for many birds and butterflies.

It shouldn’t be too long before the birds start courting each other and being their nesting. Yep, I said that the birds will begin nesting here soon! By mid to late January there will be Great Horned Owls sitting low in an old hawk nest or they could even be in a squirrel nest. Mid February you can expect our Bald Eagles to be busy adding sticks to their nest and then sitting low through numerous snowstorms that will hit us. Ravens will disappear in the top of a hemlock tree deep in the forest with only a few occurrences of that bone-stuck-in-their-throat sound. Once groundhogs day arrives many of our songbirds will show changes in their behaviors with their songs being a common occurrence. Red-shouldered Hawks will be displaying high in the sky and Bluejays will be tricking me with their mimicking of numerous hawk species. Once warblers arrive, most male birds will have their testosterone at their highest levels and territory lines will be laid out. O, how spring is my favorite time of the year!!

Summer Solstice will be here in no time and I will then be discussing their fledging of nestlings and preparation of migrating south for the winter. How time flies when having fun with the birds.

Late December Bat

I took a quick walk around Red House Lake this evening with temperatures around 50 degree’s. Things really seemed like spring weather.  Snow has mostly melted away and half of the lake has already started thawing out. We are only lacking the singing birds and spring time butterflies. I did find something unique though.  To my memory, I have never seen a Big Brown Bat flying around looking for food this time of the year.  This winter is starting to become a very interesting season!

I think winter is finally here

Red House Lake

Allegany State Parks Red House Lake officially froze over yesterday. I recorded the low temperature for the day as being 9.1 degrees Fahrenheit. I guess that’s enough to freeze it over good enough to keep the ducks out. What a difference this is from just the other day.

The White Pines

I think winter is finally here. Note the current and before pictures!

No more ducks until spring Reflections

I am back on the internet again

After 15 hours without power and 24 hours without phone service; I am back on the internet blogging and flickering. Power was lost to numerous individuals in New York State due to strong winds and heavy rain taking down many high voltage power lines. The phone service was lost from a very large Beech Tree that fell on the lines not far from where my owl mist nets were set up. This photo below was taken of the windstream crew working on restoring my phone service. I don’t think they were having an easy time repairing it but its working perfectly now.

fixing my phone lines

After reflecting the evening, I continued to think about the 200,000 people that lost their power in Buffalo almost two months ago. It was only 15 hours but those from Buffalo had to survive over a week without electricity or phones. I knew that it wouldn’t be long before the power was restored but how could I not be concerned about my food in the refrigerator. A few things ended up in the back of my pickup (in the snow) and I just gorged myself with soft ice cream. (Now I need to pull out the treadmill since the power has been restored.)

Backpacking and or going camping, you find yourself prepared for all essentials to be gone. You actually leave to get away from those important daily gadgets that take over your life. I found this to be such bad timing for the numerous wonderful things about to happen. The bird club canceled our field trip to Niagara Falls looking for Gulls (will reschedule this here soon), had to cancel my haircut (starting to look like a shaggy dog) and I almost missed jennimi blogging this site!!  Jennimi  is a librarian at the University at Buffalo and she also loves her music, teaching, family, nature, and blogging! Please take the time to visit her blog at

What I learned is to always be prepared for the worse and I am glad that things are starting to get back to normal. I plan on doing some birding tomorrow and then wait out the next wave of weather that should be hitting us in the evening. – uggg

No power brings me to an early night’s sleep

Around noon yesterday there were numerous Severe Thunderstorm warnings issued by the National Weather Service! Once I got the report; I jumped right onto NEXRAD radar to see what was going on. There were numerous green, yellow and red images moving directly towards Allegany State Park. We started to prepare to notify everyone what was about to hit.

We witnessed rain like I have never seen before! With the ground over saturated, water started to puddle up everywhere!! A fellow worker called me over to her window to show me how the rain was moving sideways. I was just amazed at how the wind was pushing the puddles on the roads like waves on the beach. In just over an hour the rain had stopped with sunny and clear sky. I knew at this point this was truly a goofy day. The sun didn’t last long before the rain started up again but this time it didn’t come down as hard. Streams were rising quickly and we are all concerned that there could be some flooding.

Another Storm is Coming

About 3pm the lights started flickering and then you guess it, everything became dark. Things started to became hectic, phones ringing, people talking, ect..!! Didn’t take long before we realized that the power outage stretched further than just the park! Preliminary talk by police was that National Grid is expecting to get everything going again by 8pm (ya right). I needed to reschedule my haircut appointment and then decided to join my parents (who also didn’t have power) for a fish fry at my uncle’s restaurant (who did have power). I truly enjoyed seeing everyone and we had a wonderful meal. But we had no clue what to expect once we got home.

Daylight Moon

I saw my boss at the police office and decided to stop in to see what was going on. I learned that they had just got the emergency generator hooked up to the Administration Building and that there was a fire going in the fire place. The earliest the power will be turned back on is around 5am in the morning. I quickly went back home and spent a little time with the kitties. I figured that I would grab my laptop and return to the Administration Building to pass the time with power.

Power Out

Back at the Administration Building there were a few families there who were also trying to get out of the darkness and stay warm. Last October they had experienced the week long power outage up in Buffalo. I pulled the TV out for the kids and we all watched the “Christmas Vacation” movie!! A few employees and myself had some wonderful conversations about what we had experienced throughout the day. I really enjoyed myself and glad that I decided to spend my evening with everyone (and with electricity). I was unable to connect to the internet (to update the blog) due to my phone service being out. So, I decided to head to bed early for once.

I noticed that my furnace started working again around 5:30 in the morning. I woke up with snow on the ground and found temps inside got as low as 48 degrees F. My phone service still isn’t working but now that the state of emergency and the driving ban has been lifted; I plan on going into town to find some phone service to upload this blog.

Update: I called windstream and they told me that someone will check my house by 5pm Monday evening (maybe sooner).  I am not sure when I will be able to update the blog again (yes still have dial up).

Sun, Stars and the Night Sounds

I find myself turning off my headlamp after checking the nets for owls!! There is nothing like walking through the woods in the absolute darkness. It’s only you and the sparkling stars which are leading you back to the banding station. Yes, I slip in the mud, crunch in the frozen leaves and even trip over twigs, but there is no way I would have wanted to miss that green shooting star streaking across the sky. Looking up, I see my favorite star cluster which takes me back to the main part of the road. Hmmm ….. Oooo ….. wait…… what is that cluster called??? Ugg, I can never remember those star names!!

stars and clear sky

When you find yourself in total darkness, your other senses take control. What are those squeaking sounds?? Isn’t this where I always see that Peromyscus mouse looking for food in the mud?? What’s that smell?? Are those Geese down on the lake?? No wait, that’s a pack of coyotes vocalizing?? Quickly, headlamp comes on; flash light come out from the pocket; I start walking quicker.

This is the coldest it has been since early November when we were hit with the lake effect snow. Even with the sun out today, the temperatures never got above 37 degrees F. I seriously considered taking the day off of work to get out enjoying the sun. But, I continued the numerous projects that I was working on and dreamed about the possibilities of catching a fluff ball tonight.

The past two nights had perfect North West winds which resulted in no birds. Now tonight we had light South West winds and resulted in catching three Northern Saw-whet Owls. One of which was a foreign recaptured bird (originally banded by someone else) from Ontario Canada in 2005. Isn’t it amazing that I can report a band number to the Bird Banding Lab and within seconds have its life history?  Then again, isn’t it amazing your all reading my blog and finding out what I have been up to??

BTW: I remember now, Cassiopeia is the star cluster which I love! Why can’t I remember this Queens name??  You think I would remember!!

Following the Pot of Gold

A rainbow appeared around 3pm today after a constant 20 hours of rain. I just needed to open my windows due to temperatures being above average (71.2°F) and I wanted my cats to get some outside smells.  I had full intentions on going to Wal-Mart for some needed groceries but something told me to try to find that gold (or fluff ball) at the end of that rainbow!

OWL Photo taken by Birdmom in mid October during the Camp Flicker Event.

I have found myself reenergized after the opportunity of meeting Scott Weidensaul yesterday. We had some wonderful discussions on owl banding and I feel it helped me remember how important it is to get out each evening to study these owls.

As the sun started to set, I started asking questions like “will I continue to capture birds later than the previous two seasons”, “Could birds still be hanging around” or “could I capture any new birds tonight”?? All questions which I anticipate answering after another wonderful warm evening.

On my first net check there was a recaptured Northern Saw-whet Owl from a few nights previous but with this rain there weren’t any surprise that it was still hanging around. I did not expect that newly captured bird caught only minutes before a mini rain storm that hit. This has been my 31st bird this season.  During the 4th hour of operation the nets were closed due to a larger storm that started to approached from the south. Thank goodness for nexrad radar for giving me the heads up on this storm.

Redbacked Salamander

It’s so hard to believe that snow and more rain is predicted for the next few evenings. I saw numerous Redbacked Salamanders running along the the leaves and logs while closing my nets. It almost feels like April Showers without any of the May flowers. I don’t expect to open again until next Monday or Tuesday! 

FYI: I would like to thank my friend Bill Adams who blogged one of my owl photos from this site. Please check it out at:

A Northern Saw-whet Owl – November Surprise

Friday evening after 11 hours of banding, the Allegany State Park station had one of its best nights. What I don’t understand was that Thursdays evening also had equally nice winds (from the north) but we didn’t catch any owls. The different I did notice between the two nights was that birds normally moving south were observed in the NEXRAD radar moving in a westerly direction.

10 nov 2006 nexrad v

Within the first 4 hours of operations we had banded 7 newly captured birds and there was no doubt that I wouldn’t be going to bed until 5am in the morning. Winds were calm from the North East and then slowly shifted to the South East as the evening progressed. I had decided to close early due to a slow spell that appeared to be developing. But I have this simple rule that when you catch an owl, the nets must stay open for another net check. It wasn’t until 4:15am that I got my first opportunity to close and head to bed. I seriously considered doing an all nighter but the winds really started picking up and there was a big storm closely approaching. It was time to close everything up and head to bed.

Catching 11 individuals for the night is the stations new record!! Overall the station banded 9 new birds and 2 additional individuals originally banded 15 days ago during the Perfect Fluffball Night. The one recaptured bird was our friend from earlier in the week (Nov 6 ) which had lost 10.3grams!! Over the past 4 nights this bird has gained back 2.2grams. The other recaptured bird which I had originally banded 15 days ago had lost 5.2 grams (which is almost 6% of its body weight).

Questions that I begin to ask after looking at the data include: Are these two young birds local birds which have no intention on migrating south? Were they hatched late in the season and not ready to start moving yet? Could these birds have arrived at their current wintering grounds? Is it possible that due to weather these birds have located a stopover site and will continue migration in the near future? I hope that over time that we can answer these questions and get a better understanding of these birds Natural History. All I can hope is that my neighboring banding friends catch these fluff balls at their station!!

FYI: Many banders across the North East have been reporting this owl season being one of their worse season in 10 or more years. I have not had the consistent captures like last year but I have had 2 “BIG” nights which have taken me over my previous two year’s numbers (birds per net hours and individuals captured). The best part is that my season isn’t over yet! Check back to Mon@rch’s Nature Blog for learning how my season continues. (I think its time for a nap)!!

Night with almost a full moon

Red House Lake

This evening I had a visitor from the Buffalo area with hopes of catching a Northern Saw-whet Owl. Of course we didn’t catch any fluff balls but we did recapture that Barred Owl from earlier last month (Unusual Visitor). What was interesting was that this bird lost just over 100 grams from its last capture (~7.5% of its body weight). We both agree that it was exciting to watch it flying up into the tree (backlit by the moon), turn around to look back at us and then fly away! I regret not having my camera with me!!

I would like to thank Jerry for putting up with my numerous bird quizzes and me being me!!! I would also thank you for the Sliced Cream Cake that you left here! Hmmmm! I hope next time we will be very busy banding Owls and I would love to break that 10 bird night record!

Radar did show a little movement of birds but the winds were from the south and there might have been some rain disturbance across WNY. As discussed in previous moon blog (full moon bird observations), the capture rate of owls isn’t good when the moon is out. I think having snow on the ground with no leaves made everything appear much brighter than last month’s full moon. I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t catch any owls for the next few nights.

ducks on the lake! Raft of Mergansers

Today was a very pretty morning with a light layer of snow on the ground and the sun out! For good bird news, I had my first of the fall Ring-neck Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes in Red House Lake. I also might have seen my first of the fall Tree Sparrows along Rt. 2 but didn’t have my binoculars to confirm the sighting. It shouldn’t be long before I start to see them everywhere.

I am off to bed and I hope my next blog reports capture of some fuzz balls.

The Perfect Fluff Ball Night

Ok, let me cut to the chase!  First net check and there she was the most beautiful fluff ball that I have ever seen!!  I must admit that I had a feeling that this night would be good but I never expected this to be the best night in this banding stations history!


I really need to go back in time and tell you what is going on.  For numerous nights the weather here in Allegany State Park has not been the best for my owl studies. The discussions with other owl banders from across the eastern United States have all been disappointed by the low numbers being captured. Some of the theories are that food supply is very good up in Canada and the owls just don’t need to migrate south this year.  I guess we will never know until the season is over. Small banding stations like Allegany rely on good weather conditions to have a good owl night.  If you look in some of my previous post, you will notice that I have been watching radar for good movements of birds. Tonight’s weather is almost perfect with very calm winds, clear sky, cold temperature and a waxing crescent moon.  I believe that many of these birds were bottled up due to weather and just waiting for a night like tonight.  Please check out this radar image from this evening to see the millions of birds that are moving south. 



On my first check this hatching year female was just waiting to be banded.  She was the most perfect owl and I took some pictures of her talons for a future blog!! After processing her and then with her release, I realized that it was almost time to head back up the hill for another check.  As I turned the corner of one of the nets, I could see something up on the 8th trammel. Could that be leaves??  Nope, owl number 2 for the night!!  It wasn’t until my fourth net check that I recaptured both previously banded owls from earlier in the evening!  Not wanting to catch them for a 3rd time, I decided to take them a little further away so onward over to the Park Police station for a quick visit (they always enjoy seeing the birds being released).  I was joined by one of my neighbors for the next net check (getting excited with all the owls being caught).  It must have been his luck because we caught two more Saw-whet Owls. I quickly gave a banding demo after returning to the station and we laughed because one of my cats (Lazy) stood there looking through the window trying to figure out what we were doing.  


My neighbor and I continue back up to the hill to check the nets once again!  He said “did we catch another one”??  My comment was, “did we catch one?? we have three owls in the net”!  You talk about things starting to get hectic!!!  I just knew that there was no way that I would be going to bed any time soon  and of course I need to be at work at 8am in the morning!


My record for the station was 5 birds on two occasions and I never expected to have banded 10 new birds with 13 total captures for the night! I kept the nets open until 3:30am and I am now off to bed.  Please don’t mind any grammar errors; it’s been a long night!

Grrrrr Lake Effect!

Lake Effect

The Lake Effect Snow is moving right over my house, why couldn’t the snow band move north????!!!  We are currently in a Snow Advisory!!  Grrr

Lake Effect

Yep!! Had to go outside and take this photo!

Buffalo Mid October Snowstorm


Blustery photo was taken by who is a WNY photographer.  Please take some time to go visit his photostream.   You can see the Nexrad Radar shows heavy lake effect is still dumping a ton of snow over Buffalo.  I am going to assume that the National Weather Service lost power and resulted in the radar being down. This storm has been located in the same location for the past day and is very not typical for this time of the year.   

13 oct 2006 nexrad

There is a wonderful discussion on the snowstorm (Blizzard of ’06) on flickr on damage done on members property. It has been snowing over the city of Buffalo since late Thursday night and this is all the TV news channels have been able to talk about. This heavy snow has dropped around 30 inches of snow through out many locations in Buffalo and the melting will become an additional problem.  The news has reported that this storms has very strong winds and mixed snow lightning which has crippled the city with about 200,000 households without power.  Everyone is saying that it almost looks like “a bomb has hit the city”.

Some time between rain showers



September is appearing to be the month of rain!  I took the opportunity to get out and take some pictures between the rain showers.

Winter Wren

This Winter Wren was hanging out around the Bova area where I was looking for some snakes. What was interesting about this bird was the way it would pop up (look for an insect) and then dart back into the shrubs.  Few seconds later it would come back (eat its insect) then dart back into the shrubs!  Between all that I was able to get a few photos!

Bull Frog

This Bull Frog was located while hiking down ASP Rt. 2.  I typically encounter a splash or see a quick movement when walking along any wet area.  Rarely do I encounter or visually get a good look at these squishy little critters.  But, today was an exception. I happen to encounter it just before the big jump and started to move slowly. With a blink of an eye it disappeared into the water but just after a few clicks of the camera.   

snapping turtle

Snapping Turtles are sometimes encountered along the roadside in the spring laying their eggs.  In September you’re more than likely to find them along the waters edge looking for food.  This snapper was spending most of its time with its head underwater moving very slowly.  It seemed to peak its head out of the water, check me out and continue what it was doing.