Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birding - Montezuma 9/28/11

McDonald Road
This morning amid threatening skies and fog shrouded roads I made my way to Montezuma. McDonald Road was starting to show Fall color.
Martens Tract
My first stop was Martens Tract. Quiet with only a few ducks in the duckweed and the resident Great Blue Heron way back on the far edge. Then I heard a new sound for me coming from the tall grass. Then two Sandhill Cranes took flight overhead. Rather then focus the camera I followed them with binoculars as they circled overhead continuing to make noise. A dramatic presentation. As I got back into the car 72 Canada Geese flew over heading southeast.

At the end of Cancross Road as I drove up a Great Blue Heron took off.
Great Blue Heron

Before getting to the DEC office on Morgan Road stopped at the pond on the right. There counted 17 Wood Ducks and one Great Blue Heron. While in the DEC parking lot noted the 50+ Canada Geese flying overhead as well as 2 Mourning Doves. Driving back to the main road a Northern Harrier flew across the farm fields.
Wood Ducks

Pulling into Muckrace Flats found only a lone Mallard and 3 American Crows.

Went down Railroad Road. The Trumpeter Swans were still in residence. Far out a Song Sparrow flew into a barren tree.
Trumpeter Swans

 Song Sparrow

True to its namesake the road entertained two trains today. One heading west and one going east.
West Bound
East Bound

Usually I try to remove litter from the refuge. But in this case it was too high up there to dislodge.

Making my way to the end of Van Dyne Spoor Road came upon 3 Pied-billed Grebes, 3 Great Blue Herons, 17 American Coots, and 7 Ring-billed Gulls.
American Coots
Ring-billed Gull
The rain was picking up so I headed for Mays Point. There the skies dried up momentarily. This proved to be a good fortune since I was able to photograph a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and a juvenile Bald Eagle.
 Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Since the rest of the day was taking on the character of a wash, made the decision to call it quits. All in all still a great day for birding.
May's Point Observation Deck

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Thirty-Nine - 13 to Go

Mr. Pelecanos knows the streets of our nation’s capital. Here he turns a teenage incident into a urban parable. The characters are well developed. The conclusion gives one hope for the future of the inner city.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Marvelous Wonderettes

Shake, rattle and roll! Four fabulous girl friends take you from their Senior Prom to their Ten-year Reunion.

This evening Joan and I attended the highly entertaining oldies song-athon steeped in the days of bobby sox, bubble gum and Bobby Darin.

The four girls, Missy Miller, Cindy Lou Huffington, Suzy Simpson and Betty Jean Reynolds (gotta love the names) performed it seems every jukebox favorites from the 50s and 60s.

While the play could have gone easily over-the-top, the actresses cleverly referenced the songs and advanced the story.

The true stars of the show were the tunes that get those baby boomers in the audience clapping, singing and remembering the old days. For some reason "Mr. Lee" is still ringing in my head.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birding - Montezuma 9/21/11

 Savannah-Spring Lake Road

Today the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) scheduled a birding tour. Photographer-naturalist Dave Spier was the leader for the event. Once again arrived at the MAC to discover that only Dave was present. We made the decision to take my car and drive toMontezuma NWR - Puddler Marsh.

Before entering the MAC drove over to Savannah-Spring Lake Road looking for the gentleman who usually walks there early in the morning. On July 19, 2011 took his picture. Stopped to capture the deer shown above and then I saw the fellow coming towards me. Gave him a copy of this photo.

Pulled in the turnaround across from Colvin Marsh. Walked down to the kayak launch area on Crusoe Creek.
No birds but took this early morning shots.

Dave and I took to the road and our first stop was at Muckrace Flats on Savannah Spring Lake Road.  A Greater Yellowlegs was very cooperative and got up close to us.
At the far end were a Killdeer, 3 peeps sp. and a Semipalmated Plover (a life bird for me).

From here we proceeded to N. Montezuma WMA-Railroad Road. Walking the center dike we met a young man, Michael, who doing a wetland plant survey. Michael was helpful in confronting that the 5 birds we flushed out were Black-crowned Night-Herons (a life bird for me).

This being a day for cooperative birds 2 Night-Herons landed in nearby trees.
 Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

We drove to and then walk the east dike. During our hour visit to Railroad Road we saw 17 different species, including Blue-wing Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, and a Bald Eagle.

Retracing our steps we headed for Towpath Road. At the end we pulled into Montezuma NWR-Puddler Marsh. Thanks to Dave toting his cameras and the scope we were able to view 3 Stilt Sandpipers (a life bird for me). During our 40 minute stay we saw 13 different species, including a Cooper's Hawk, a Black-bellied Plover, a Semipalmated Plover, Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs, and Ring-billed Gulls.

Making our way back to Rte. 89 we decided to take a quick look from the May's Point Pool observation deck. Glad we did. We saw 3 Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs landed to our right and then they were immediately attacked by a Peregrine Falcon (a life bird for me). During our 15 minute viewing we saw 9 different species, including Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egert, Turkey Vulture, Canada Geese and Ring-billed Gulls.

Another great day for drive around Montezuma and Savannah looking for birds.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birding - May's Point Pool 9/18/11

After walking Seneca Meadows Wetland Preseerve I decided to visit the May's Point Observation Deck. There were three birders there when I arrived. They left after a few minutes. During the next 15 minutes seven other birders who would pass through. Listening to their conversations I determined that they were on their way to a lecture at the Montezuma Audubon Center. Plus they brought to my attention two sandhill cranes. Got excited, since I have been looking for sandhill cranes for several weeks
Sandhill Crane
There were several Great Egerts and Great Blue Herons in the pool.
As I was getting in the car caught sight of a bird in the water near the parking lot. With binoculars noted it was a Green Heron.
Turning the car around noticed a Great Blue Heron preening.
So glad that I stopped.

Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve

Seneca Meadows, Inc. is a waste management and recycling facility dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the environment. Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve is the company's most recent initiative. The Preserve features over seven miles of trails through diverse native plant communities.
On a recent birding trip Dave Spier had mentioned this spot. Plus I found that there are two geocaches hidden on the grounds, Praire Overlook Cache (GC32PGE) and Oak Tree Pass Cache (GC32PFK). So I decided to visit the area.

Upon arriving I found the parking full. As I made my way to Praire Overlook I came across several women who were gathering wildflower seeds. This explains the lot overflow. The walk to the cache was pleasant. The trails of crushed stone are smooth and flat which made for easy walking.
View from the cache.

As I made my way to the second cache I stopped to observe the flowers and grass.
Reaching the Oak Tree Pass Cache the clue enabled me to find the cache quickly.
View near the cache.

I continued west on Oak Tree Pass until I came upon the rain shelter. Headed north along the Main Loop. Noted that beavers had been busy recently. Coming to some water notice two wood ducks under a fallen limb. An ATV was coming towards me. The rider stopped and introduced himself. His name was Andy and he informed me that he built this preserve.
Rain Shelter
Near where I saw the ducks

When I came upon the trail to the Northern Overlook I ventured up it. This platform provided a panoramic view of the preserve.

When I got back to the parking area I was the only one there until a photographer drove up in his Mercedes. Decided to spot at May's Point Observation Deck before returning home.

Footnote: Returned here with Joan on Sunday, September 25, 2011. She was impressed. We both plan to visit again.

Birding - Montezuma 9/14/11

Noga Blind

Today the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) scheduled a birding tour. Photographer-naturalist Dave Spier was the leader for the event. Arrived at the MAC to discover that only Dave was present. We made the decision to out to the ponds.

Reaching Sandpiper Shallows we observed a well camouflaged Green Heron. Walking in the truck tracks we made our way south along the Shallows and then Dave trudged through the cattails to the edge of the mud flats.
Sandpiper Shallows

There we were able to closely observe several shorebirds - Killdeer, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, and a White-rumped Sandpiper (a life bird for me).
Dave took this photo of the Pectoral Sandpiper  and the White-rumped Sandpiper.

Great opportunity to get up close to these shorebirds.

Pectoral Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

This close-up venture through the cattails was an experience that I will attempt again thanks to Dave's instruction on how to approach it.

Heading back to the center we walked by the north pond. There we heard a Common Gallinule and observed 6 Green-winged Teal.

Once in the center while visiting with Becky a Northern Harrier flew out over the fields.

Stopped by Martens Tract on my way home.
There on the far end perched on the duck box was the Great Blue Heron. There were 3 Great Blue Herons flying around.
Thanks to Dave's gracious sharing of his knowledge of birds and photography had another wonderful day in the bird world.