Birding in Our Woods – April 27

Cormorant display, May 1, 2015
This morning Anita was at the gym so I went out at around 8 AM on my own without my favourite spotter, but with my old, trusty Bushnell Birding Series 8X binoculars in case I spotted anything.

Heard the chipping sparrow’s machine-gun call as I stepped out the front door. It was in the large willow across the street from us. They had arrived in some numbers and I heard them throughout my one hour walk in Our Woods. The spectacular, dependably early, Myrtle warblers were out in force finding tiny insects invisible to me. Peewee commonly heard. Redwing blackbirds were abundant and the males plenty vocal as usual. Saw a couple of females, too. They cautiously don’t announce their presence. Saw the ruby-crowned a few times.

By the two blue benches near the small, well-maintained playground I walked down to the creek that runs SW through the park and flushed what I assumed was a great blue heron, which flew NW along the creek to escape me, probably to the lower “lake,” one of two “made” from the three old quarry pools when the old quarry became a housing development, though I didn’t see it again as I walked counterclockwise around both lakes. The Myrtles, also called yellow-rumped, were plentiful at the N end of the lower lake.

Out of duty I report a grackle in the wild, having already seen a couple, uninvited, at the sunflower seed feeder off our backyard deck. We like to assist the nuthatches, white and rose-breasted, chickadees, juncos, downy and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals and occasional blue-jays by shooing the gourmand blackbirds when we see them. Ah yes! Mustn’t forget the double-crested cormorants, seen today: 4 on the lower lake and 11 on the upper. We first noticed them in Our Woods in 2015.

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A Little More Macro

The two above photos were taken on a walk through “Our Woods.” Since I was part of a twosome and the only keen shutterbug in our faithful pair, I did not set up a tripod. Both of these shots were thus necessarily hand held and taken, purposefully, at f 2.8, the maximum aperture of my Tamron 90 mm macro lens. The camera was my Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D DSLR, a dependable relic from around 2006. Focus was also manual since I wanted quick and interpretative control over subjects that were moving in the breeze. The speed was 1/400 sec – as fast as possible at 100 ISO.

I also took one of a small bee in a yellow flower, but that will be in a future post. Bees are endangered by various threats such as, many suspect, pesticides. The corporations that make pesticides are, sadly, not endangered. They thrive with the help of deep pockets, too many rights and unscrupulous legal hound-dogs. Apparently they can sue all of Europe simultaneously.

So this little bug got me thinking about the world – which is usually followed by compulsive writing…

When Camera Meets Hummingbird

Hummingbird at feeder

For a few years now the hummingbirds have stayed all summer. We’ve experimented with different types of feeder. This one I bought this spring at Canadian Tire. It comes in three parts: the antique glass bottle, an all-metal flower plate and a plastic bowl. It is the best one we’ve had: it’s easy to clean and fill and a key advantage is that the flowers are metal and do not detach, like the plastic insert flowers do. Probably less chewable if the squirrels get to it – but they don’t usually get past the cone below the feeder.

We have lots of hummingbird attracting flowers in our yards: monarda, nicotiana, and Wiegela shrubs, among lots of others. Haven’t noticed many males at our feeder. The males have the ruby throat. Our feeder gets visited about every 10 minutes – not quite a fast-food drive-thru, but there are plenty of flowers to give our tiny clients some variety. Sugar-water food: a third of a cup of sugar boiled briefly in a cup of water lasts about a week. I change it once a week to get rid of the bugs, so the easy clean feature is welcome.

These photos were taken with a 5 year-old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D digital SLR camera using a Sigma APO DG 70-300 mm f-4 – 5.6 zoom lens, which does a great job in well lit situations. Early morning, lower light shots are tricky, since this lens has to be steadied against something to avoid hand-held camera shake at these magnifications.

 

DO Hug The Trees In This Park

Never noticed this sign in Our Woods before. We were in search of blue herons who we’ve observed for the last few days in the two small lakes NW of our house. Yesterday we saw one about 15 feet away with a 10″ trout or bass in its mouth. It just stood there. We wondered why it didn’t eat it straight away.

Possible heron hesitation explanations:

  • It was put off its food by our sudden passing
  • It was trying to decide whether food so close to human habitation was safe
  • It was shocked to find anything other than big carp in the water
  • It had babies but had forgotten where the nest was

Possible explanations for the above sign:

  • Too many baseballs ending up in the lake
  • Too many windows nearby
  • There is no place to use a bat properly in Our Woods
  • Some potential improper uses make the authorities nervous

Some suggestions for additions to the above sign:

  • Do not use bows and arrows in the park
  • Do not use catapults or land mines in the park
  • Definitely do not drag huge, heavy objects, such as self-standing basketball hoops, into the park

One might assume that the above  sign suggestions are silly and unnecessary, but the third one might have actually prevented a real event. This, of course, assumes that the neanderthals that dumped their trashy hoop apparatus in Our Woods were capable of reading.

One positive suggestion for a sign:

  • DO hug the trees in this park