West Rutland Marsh and Deweys Pond

Monday of this week I took a drive to the West Rutland Marsh and Powerlines.  On the way home I stopped briefly at Dewey’s Pond in Quechee. Because of other commitments, these may be the last bird photos I take for a while.

The easiest photo of the day was a Saw-whet Owl chick.


Since the location and the fact that Owls are nesting here has been widely publicized, I don’t think there is a problem showing the spot. The view below looks almost directly west. The arrow points to the nest box.  I took these two photos from the middle of the road.


The marsh was fogged-in until mid-morning. I got an Eastern Kingbird in the early light at 6:25 am.


And hour later I managed to get a shot of a Red-winged Blackbird flying.


A few minutes later a Virginia Rail walked across the road in front of me, just like an American Bittern did the Second Week of May. It did not seem to be too concerned about my presence.


Here the Rail is working the area just below the road.


Not to be outdone, a muskrat swam by very near where the Rail was.


It was still foggy when I started up the Powerlines at around 8:30 am. A Veery posed and sang for me.


Next up was an Eastern Towhee as the sun started breaking through the fog.


The first warbler along the Powerlines was a Prairie Warbler. Here is one taken early, and a second one later.



I met two people doing a survey for Audubon. They told me they found Blue-winged Warblers far up the road/trail. I wanted to get photos of them so I did the hike with a heavy camera and tripod. The fog was clearing and it was getting hot. This Blue-winged Warbler seemed to have a small orange patch on its head.



Heading back to NH, I made a quick stop at Dewey’s Pond. Yellow Warblers were “everywhere”. Here is one.


Without searching I found a nest. A Yellow Warbler flew in.


I photographed female and male Red-winged Blackbirds.



Here are a few more photos I took this day.

Third Week of May, 2016

During the Third Week of May I did not travel as far as during the Second Week.  I visited spots in NH and VT about equally — Mink Brook in Hanover twice and Norwich and Thetford in Vermont. My bird photograph week started Tuesday and ended Friday, although I got a hawk in my yard Saturday.


Common Yellowthroats were plentiful, and the trees were in bloom near the Mink Brook Nature Preserve in Hanover, NH.


Much of early morning Tuesday found me along the Quinn Trail. I took some photos that, while not “pretty”, told a story.

It is rare I get both genders of the same species in the same photo. Here are a pair of Common Yellowthroats.


Below are two different Common Yellowthroats than in the photo above. The male with a small bit of food is on the left; the female is on the right.



If you look closely at the bird on the left you might notice something above its eye. It appears to be a tick. Below is a cropped photo showing the tick closer up.


George Clark sent me a LINK to a discussion about ticks on birds. If you are squeamish about ticks you probably do not want to click on the word LINK.

I heard some loud noises down along Mink Brook. I turned and got a poor shot but one that shows an interesting interaction between species.


I got several photo of a Chestnut-sided Warbler with a red eye. Several others show the red a bit better, but the photo below is a better overall shot.  Any ideas what causes this?


As I approached a small part of Mink Brook that extends quite far from the main river’s course, I noticed something dive below the bank. I was able to get a quick, poor shot of a Common Yellowthroat taking a bath.


Nearby was a Chipping Sparrow.


The photos above were taken along the part of the Quinn Trail that is west of the entrance gate. The photos that follow from Tuesday were taken along the Quinn Trail inside the gate to the east, but before the brook first comes close to the trail, not very far from the entrance.

I photographed a Veery teed up nicely for me on a dead piece of a tree.


The Veery then flew to the path near the kiosk and proceeded to walk toward me as it fed along the ground.


And I found an inquisitive-looking Tufted Titmouse.


Down among the ferns a House Wren sang.


And an Ovenbird made its presence known with its loud song, then popped out for a few photos.


My favorite bird of the morning was a Wilson’s Warbler. I only got one good photo of it Tuesday; I would have better luck Wednesday. Below is the photo from Tuesday.



I returned Wednesday morning to the Quinn Trail with a photographer friend. He has gotten some excellent photos of Great Blue Herons, Barred Owls, Bald Eagles, and feeder birds this season, but has had relatively little experience with fast moving warblers. So I was hoping to help him find a few, preferably somewhat below tree-top level.

Along the Quinn Trail and the nearby Brook Road we found Chestnut-sided Warblers.


And American Redstarts.


Beyond the entrance gate I heard, then saw, a Veery.


I also got photos of a Magnolia Warbler and a Canada Warbler that are good enough for identification but not for publication.

There were a pair of Red-eyed Vireos actually down near eye level instead of high up like they often are.


Again, the prime bird for me this morning was a Wilson’s Warbler. It moved nearly continuously and quickly but fed not much above eye level, something important for decent bird photos.

Below are two photos of the Wilson’s Warbler wearing it customary black cap.




I checked out Campbell Flats in Norwich, VT Thursday morning but found little. Perhaps if I stayed longer there might have been a lot to discover, but I had two other spots I wanted to visit.

Heading back to Route 5, I had to stop to let a family of Canada Geese cross the road.


I hiked the railroad tracks at Kendall Station between Route 5 and the river. A Baltimore Oriole sang loudly from a birch.


A female Common Yellowthroat worked the brush down low.


Not much above eye level, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker fed with fast movements seeming oblivious of my presence.


I travelled just a bit north to Stevens Road in Thetford. I was searching for an Eastern Meadowlark, but no luck. I settled for a Bobolink as a consolation prize.


Back home in Etna, my wife and I went for a mid-morning hike. Not far from our start I got this Chestnut-sided Warbler.


Near the end of our walk I managed to photograph an Ovenbird.



I joined the Mascoma Audubon’s “Feathered Friday” walk at the Union Village Dam area in Thetford. But I decided to start early. A few feet from my car I got my first bird, a Common Yellowthroat.


Surprisingly, this one also appeared to have a tick on its left eye.


After crossing the river I was able to photograph both a male (top) and an elusive female (bottom) American Redstart. There were chasing each other around madly through the low trees.



Nearby was a Yellow Warbler.


I don’t often bother photographing Song Sparrows, but I managed to photograph one of the banded birds from this area.


By far the most prevalent species of the morning was the Chestnut-sided Warbler. It loudly sang possibly trying to drown out the House Wrens.


As the group arrived I was photographing a Least Flycatcher. The group was only a few yard away but behind some brush, when I took this photo of the Least Flycatcher.


It was foggy all morning. This made it a bit chilly, but really didn’t hamper the birding.


While we watched, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak flew to a tree nearby. It stayed long enough for a photo.


I photographed two birds with similar-colored breasts. The first was a Baltimore Oriole singing loudly from the large tree in this spot.


The second was an American Robin. I liked the way it was partly hidden by the blur of yellow from the wildflowers in this spot.


I accidently flushed a Green Heron from the edge of the Pond. When it perched in a tree above the pond I was able to get a photo. There are two photos of it returning to the pond in a slide show at the end of this Blog.


I got a White-throated Sparrow along the road back to my car.


It was a nice end to the week of my travelling to photograph birds .

But there is more here. Please continue.


I returned from my Saturday morning photography adventure to find a Broad-winged Hawk awaiting me in my Etna yard. Perhaps it knew I would be taking no bird photos after Friday morning unless it posed for me.


My photographic endeavors Friday evening and Saturday morning and evening were at the Experimental Balloon festival in Post Mills, VT. This is a great event that you might want to put on your calendar for next year. If you click the image below or HERE you will be taken to a page that discusses this event and more importantly provides links to two past events and to an amazing ballooning accomplishment I had the privilege to witness.


Here are some of the other bird photos I took the Third Week of May.


If you would like to see the photos I took the Second Week of May, please click those words.

Second Week of May, 2016

After taking relatively few bird photos for several years, I renewed my interest in photographing these beautiful and sometimes-elusive creatures this spring. Some of the photos I captured and places I visited the Second Week of May are presented here.


On Monday I spent a bit of time south of Main Street Pond in Enfield.  I was hoping to get some more photos of the species I had seen here May 6.  Sure enough the Brown Thrasher was still singing loudly from high up in a tree.


But it could not drown out the warbling Warbling Vireo.


Or the swee swee swee ti ti ti swee singing of a Yellow Warbler.



At Mink Brook Preserve early Tuesday morning, I found a group of Cedar Waxwings near the river a short distance from the parking area.


I’m not sure what happened to the stem still attached in the photo above.  Here is a sequence of another Cedar Waxwing struggling with one.

I headed east along the Quinn Trail named after friend and informal mentor Brian and his wife, Allie.  Something was moving near the base of a tree. Turns out it was a Pine Warbler gathering nest material.



Below is a brief slide show of the process.

Near this spot I was able to photograph the male (top) and female (lower) Pine Warblers seen below.EH725F--Pine-Warbler

After lunch I visited Campbell Flats in Norwich, VT.  There I found a Yellow Warbler …


… and a single Solitary Sandpiper.


Arriving home, a pair of Black-and-White Warblers were keeping our nesting Eastern Phoebes company.



I joined the Mascoma Audubon “Warbler Wednesday” hike at Boston Lot in Lebanon. Unlike the previous week, I did not start before the group but generally stayed with them.  While searching for birds close enough to photograph I took some wildflower photos.  Here is a brief slide show with red trillium, fringed polygala, jack-in-the-pulpit, and a tiny wild ginger flower.

Back to the birds. My best luck was in the field to the left before the lake. I saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker industriously working a tree.  I was able to get a few partially-clear shots through the brush.


In the same area but a few steps into the woods, while trying to photograph an uncooperative Ovenbird, a Veery flew in front of my lens.


At Boston Lot Lake a group of Mallards launched from the far side.  I photographed them at a slow shutter speed (1/15 sec) while panning to get a motion blur effect.


Heading back down I got a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and female Baltimore Oriole in the same tree. An American Redstart also landed there very briefly, but I was not quite fast enough to get it.

EH746D EH746F

Heading back to Hanover, my friend and fellow photographer, Marc, and I stopped at the Mink Brook area. A cooperative chipmunk posed for us.


Along the Quinn Trail, the Pine Warbler was apparently still building its nest. This time it had a bill full of milkweed fluff.


Before departing I was able to get a photo of a female Common Yellowthroat.


During an afternoon hike with my wife through the Trescott Ridge Wetlands, I got another winged species flying — a bee working the marsh marigolds.




Thursday found me in the Kearsarge region towns of Sunapee, New London, and Newport. At Wendell Marsh in Sunapee I found a family of Canada Geese.


I checked out the loon raft on Lake Sunapee to see if the loons who hatched and raised the first chicks on the lake in over 40 years were back.  Sadly they were not nesting.  It is possible that they fished out the area and got discouraged. But we can hope.  You can read my story about them in the Summer issue of Kearsarge Magazine due out soon.

At Cricenti’s Bog in New London (officially the Philbrick-Cricenti Bog), I managed to get a photo of a beautiful Magnolia Warbler.


My wife and I hiked the rail trail along the Sugar River in Newport. We watched a Black-capped Chickadee disappear into a hole in the top of an old stump.  I snapped the photo below as it emerged.  It sat there for a long time even though I was very close.


We also saw a House Wren and an American Redstart.

EH776B--House-Wren EH778I-American-Redstart

I think the most beautiful bird of the hike was a Common Grackle glowing in the early afternoon sun.



On Friday we travelled north to Bedell Bridge State Park. This is a beautiful and diverse area, much improved over what I remember from some years ago.

I got a quick shot of a Yellow-throated Vireo with bold yellow eye rings. I misidentified this bird in an earlier version.  Thanks to Susan Wrisley for correcting me.


A White-breasted Nuthatch had captured an insect.


A beautiful Common Yellowthroat cooperatively posed for me.


I spotted a Green Heron in a tree above the wetland.


Across a part of the pond I photographed a bird searching for food. I couldn’t figure out what species I had captured so I consulted George Clark, my go-to-guy when I am stumped, which seems to happen often. He identified it for me, but you will have to make it to nearly the end of this blog before I will reveal the answer. Here is a three-photo slide show of the bird.

A Baltimore Oriole had caught a small something or other.


A Common Grackle sang near the edge of the water.


And a Chestnut-sided Warbler posed nicely for me.


Unfortunately my schedule for the morning only allowed me to spend about an hour at this spot.  I hope to return again this spring.


I had to travel to Hopkinton Saturday to photograph an assignment for a magazine. I was able to do some bird photography before and after that.

Near the shore of Kezar Lake in North Sutton, NH, I found two thrushes.  Here is a Veery.


And below is a Hermit Thrush.


Near Smith Pond in Hopkinton, I found a Northern Cardinal high up in a tree.


In Contoocook Village I photographed a Warbling Vireo along the Contoocook River.


Since my main focus for the day was the magazine assignment, I didn’t expect many birds. But I decided to stop at Cascade Marsh in Sutton on the way home. There I saw my fifth American Bittern in three weeks.  This one and three others were quite close to me at spots in Thetford, VT, Norwich, VT, and Lyme, NH. This was the first time I had seen a bittern in Sutton.

This bittern was quite vocal.


Below is a 19-shot slide show of the bittern calling.  This sequence lasted 10 seconds.

The bittern moved a bit to a spot that afforded a reflection.


The bittern then disappeared in the tall grass only to reappear walking through the sparse woods toward me. I zoomed out but could only capture part of the bittern.


It then ambled across the road right in front of me.


It walked through some brush and grass toward the pond on the other side of the road. When it emerged and gave me a view, its feathers looked quite messy.


The day was not over yet. I still had to help a snapping turtle along the road near George Pond.


I did not leave until it was safely back in the small wet area across from the pond.  It had a face only a mother could love.


A number of years ago, 6 miles from this spot as the warbler flies, I got a sequence of photos of snapping turtles mating. As you will see if you click this link, it is not a gentle process.

Bird Identified and More  Photos from the Second Week of May

As I promised, the bird I photographed Friday at Bedell Bridge is a First Year Male Red-winged Blackbird.  My photos do not look like the two drawings in Sibley, but if you examine the photos I took you can detect a bit of a “red” coloring emerging in two of them.

Here is a slide show of other photos from the Second Week of May.

UVD, Trescott, Bear Pond, & bear

George Clark, Peg Ackerson, and Blake Allison led a Mascoma Audubon bird walk at the Union Village Dam/Mystery Trail area in Thetford, Vermont, Friday. This is a beautiful area with diverse habitat.  I mostly listened to the birds and took relatively few photos.

Below is a panoramic image of the group near the pond. You can double click on the image to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.

In the area near the pond a House Wren sang almost continuously.


I saw a Pine Warbler gathering nest material from milkweed pods but wasn’t able to get a photo. I did get this one of it with more nest material.


As we were walking back to our cars, an Eastern Towhee was spotted down by the river.


On Saturday, David Merker and Gail McPeek led a bird walk sponsored by the Hanover Conservancy on the Trescott Water Company Land in Hanover. They were ably assisted by Len Reitsma, so there was no lack of expertise in identifying the bird songs. Again I took few photos mostly just enjoying the area, hearing the birds sing, and the company.

I did get a photo of an Eastern Phoebe with something in it beak that I cannot identify.


This was a small but serious group of birders. Here they are scanning the Parker Reservoir…


…as a pair of Buffleheads crossed the water.


Inspired by Len I paid a quick trip to Bear Pond Saturday afternoon. I hoped to photograph a Northern Waterthrush, but no luck. However, I did find a cooperative Black-and-White Warbler. It was pretending it was a flycatcher over the Mascoma River near the entrance to the area.

I left Bear Pond and found … a Black Bear.  It was about 1/10 of a mile above Downtown Metropolitan Etna.