Friday, February 6, 2015

Our backyard is very frozen, except for the tiny bit of Koi pond water that we keep open for birds and other wildlife throughout the winter.
From the photo above, some of our  many bird feeders can be seen, what you don't see is the ton's of seed that we also toss on the ground every morning and late afternoon for the many species of birds such as sparrows, cardinals, junco's, dove's, plus a few squirrels that feed off the frozen earth.

Of course all this bird food attracts bigger birds such as this Cooper's Hawk from a few days ago.
But when night time rolls in, the day time birds and squirrels go to roost and other nocturnal species move in.
This we know.

While lighting the outdoor grill this evening, I saw something move across the snow below the sunflower seed feeder.
It was well  hidden in very dark shadows and I could not make out what the tiny creature was, I thought perhaps a mouse, but was not at all certain.
 Looking through the dim light,  it looked somewhat like a chipmunk, but what the heck would a chipmunk be doing out in this arctic blast and at night? 
I ran inside and put a spotlight on the critter and was very amassed to see that it was a Flying Squirrel!

Wow, we never saw one of these in our yard!

It had no fear of us, our spot light or camera flash

It fed underneath this feeder for about thirty minutes.

Eating the seeds that I tossed to the ground, just before sunset, 
for tomorrow mornings birds and squirrels.
We just were not expecting this nocturnal squirrel.

What a cute little rascal!!!
Note the white area below it's arm, this is the membrane that folds out to help it "fly"
We hope to see him again soon!
BTW, it did not see it's shadow! So spring is right around the corner!
(if you live in Florida)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Backyard Cooper's Hawk

We have a number of bird feeders in our Norwalk CT backyard, Using mostly sunflower seed, suet, peanuts and thistle, plus we also have a small fish pond that is kept unfrozen even during the coldest winter days and nights for fresh drinking water for the many birds and mammals.
Of course all this feed and open water attracts many birds, chickadee's, titmouse, cardinals, bluejay's, doves, woodpeckers, nuthatches, sparrows and ton's more.
One of those species are hawks, mainly the Accipiter Species that watch our bird feeders such as Sharp-shinned Hawk  and Cooper's Hawk. 
These species make most of their living feeding on other smaller birds, as in those first mentioned,  larger hawks prey more on mammals, fish and carrion.
Late this afternoon while I was prepping this evening's dinner,
 I noticed a quick shadow blot out the low winter sun though our kitchen window, 
It passed to quickly to be an air plane, I've seen this too many times at our feeder and started scanning for the hawk.
At first I didn't see anything  and continued chopping the veggies.
Then another sudden flash flew across the backyard, I barely caught it out of the corner of my eyes, there were now no birds at any of the feeders, so this can only be one thing.
I searched and searched from the kitchen window and then finally I saw it, their it was, perched in on of the cedar's horizontal branches, a Cooper's Hawk!

 I thought he was just perched there,viewing through my bins I saw nothing other then a perched hawk. Oh what the heck, I grabbed my camera and very slowly inched my way out the side door, taking all the time in the world, inch by inch with little to no movement, I was able to get within ten feet of the hawk, he paid me no mind.

                                             Now I saw  that indeed he did catch dinner
                 I hope it was not one of our Cardinals, then I saw the black irredescent feathers
                 It was a Starling, that the hawk captured, one of the many Starlings that have been                                                                  enjoying the feast in our back yard.
      After a few shots I backed off as slow if not slower then I came, trying not to upset the hawk and                                                                  let him fill his belly
              .I made it back inside as he continued to feed for another ten minutes and he flew off.
     Sparrows, Cardinals and the whole bunch returned to the feeders to fill up before the dark set.

       I do not intend to upset anyone with these photos, I only try to show nature as it happens.
                               Sometimes I am blessed to be there at the correct time.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Terns, turtles and gulls, but no Booby

I left my boat slip at sunrise just a few mornings ago.
This Double-crested Cormorant is already drying itself off in the early morning sun.
I'll be looking high and low for the Brown Booby, but I know my chances are slim.
Common Terns are nesting on Cockenoe Island.
That is Peck's Ledge Lighthouse in the back round.
The sand spit on Cockenoe Island had a lone American Oystercatcher sitting on it's nest.
Other oystercatchers have already hatched their chicks, I saw at least ten oystercatcher chicks running about on this island, still a few adults are nesting.

One of several Willet

I notice this turtle making it's way out of the water and up a sandy shoreline area of Cockenoe Island.

For those not familiar with Cockenoe Island, there is very little fine sandy are to be found, but this Diamondback Terrapin found it....

...and started digging a hole to lay her eggs... I left her alone, wished her good luck, and went on my way, wow was that incredible!
I must mention that this turtle is nesting only feet away from public campsites that thankfully have been closed for the season due to Sandy.

Back on the main bar at Cockenoe sits this Common Tern,
a close look...

...shows a metal band, but not clear on the id numbers.

Behind the tern, oystercatchers are having a loud early morning squabble.
You fill in the Drakes words for this one? P.U?

One of only a few Least Terns sitting on nest

Although I had a total count of five hundred Common Terns on the sand spit.

The green vegetation is slowly returning, this spot had been wiped clean by Sandy.

Not Cool!

Great Black-backed Gulls eggs are just hatching.

a few more chicks.
This Black Tern just finished a bath as I caught him preening on Cockenoe Island.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Norwalk CT Brown Booby

Around 11:30 this morning I saw a post from Patrick Comins on CT BIRDS, about a Brown Booby that was spotted on a boat in Westport CT waters.
Several minutes later I received a phone call from Nick Bonomo alerting me about the Booby, moments later Patrick calls to tell me what he knows.
For those that don't know me, my boat is in the water year round and these waters have been my backyard for more then fifty years.
I started a search north of Cockenoe Island in Westport, the winds were Southwest near twenty and the seas were kicking up to that nasty two foot Long Island Sound chop, a wave about every second.
With the dropping tide I did not want to test the rocks on the south side of the islands, so I took the safe way in calmer seas, passing north and then east of Cockenoe, I spotted a few Double-crested Cormorants along the way that made me take a closer look.
With the rocking and rolling I did not want to venture further and started returning to Cockenoe to see what was happening with the terns and oystercatchers.
I watched from a distance as one oystercatcher pair had its hands full with five Fish Crows while trying to protect thier nest. Further on I did find one Oystercatcher hatchling, other adults mating and others on nest, at least three hundred Common Terns on or near the Cockenoe Sandbar, several Black terns, can't say I saw or heard a Least.
Back to the Booby.
Weather is coming my way so I decide to head back to port, as I start to head north into Norwalk Harbor I see rain in front of me so I decide to hang out a bit and wait for it to pass. I decide to go over to the Norwalk Power Plant and check out the many new Osprey nest.
On my way I come across what I initially think is a Common Loon in the water trying to swallow a fish, as I pass the bird I see that I'm very wrong .

It's the Brown Booby attempting to eat an Atlantic Menhaden.
I'm sorry about this photo, but in my haste to grab my camera I accidentally  turned it to a really bad setting and over exposed  it.
Soon the bird took flight and flew off to a harbor light, at this time Nick and friends were on his boat watching this happen.
On the Harbor Light
Another look.

After twenty or so minutes it flew over to Calf Pasture Beach, where it was mobbed by Gulls.
The booby headed east, we lost sight but headed in that direction.

I had to stop in choppy waters for this potential booby, still some Common Loons in the area.
We couldn't resight the bird, so with weather again at our doorstep, I headed back up the harbor and fast.
When I came close to my marina, I again saw gulls mobbing something, I figured this one out right away. 

It was the booby trying to escape the gulls, it headed over to my marina and set down on a friends boat.

 I never thought lightning could strike my boat twice in the same day, but wow!

Here he is, and he (she) seems to have no fear of me.

This bird had been reported perching on several working oysterboats today.

It had no problem posing

After a few minutes it flew off towards Veterans Park in East Norwalk

Where it was met again,

by some angry gulls.

So what does a Brown Booby do when being attacked by mobbing gulls?

Land on the nearest boat.

In this case, that was my boat!

So now I have a new friend onboard that is only a few feet away.

Back at the dock, it was not shy in the least, if fact it was very friendly, walking closer and closer to me. Perhaps it is used to getting handouts?

Frank Gallo did his best to get some sardines for him, but for no apparent reason it flew off.
We could not resight this bird.
Hopefully Tomorrow!