Monday, April 29, 2013

Caught By Surprise

Browsing the web, I was surprised to see reports that across New England the Alewife have been running about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. At the Damariscotta fish ladder there were reports of them running Saturday & Sunday. With a combination of good weather, favorable tides, and a small window in my schedule I decided at the last minute to head up there with the thought of spending two days photographing Osprey (and other birds) feasting on fish.

I arrived on the scene early Monday only to find that; Yes the alewife had been running and Sunday there had been birds feeding, but no alewife had come in since yesterday. Most of the fish were in the ladder, with only a small number waiting at the mouth to enter.

All was not lost. It was back in the car and further up the road to check another river. At one spot nothing, but the other there were some fish headed up stream with attendant osprey and gulls trying to catch them. Unfortunately, the action was sporadic and often far from the accessible areas along the river bank. However, occasionally the fishing action would be close by (if close is measured by a 500mm lens with a teleconverter attached) some of the successful "fishermen" would fly by with their catch on their way back to the nest.

Here are some of the photos I took. Click on the image to visit the gallery where you can click on Slideshow to see full screen versions.

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

Light Chronicle: Osprey &emdash;

On the whole it was a productive day. However, checking back at the fish ladder no new fish had arrived. With almost freezing temps overnight, plus a colder day forecast for tomorrow, I didn't expect my luck would change, so my two day adventure was transformed into a very long day trip.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brown Creeper Nest

One afternoon I headed over to Mass Audubon's Rocky Hill sanctuary in Groton. I had read that because of some cliffs and ledges you can view Great Blue Heron nests at eye level. That sounded like it had the potential to make some pretty unique photographs.

It was probably a mile hike (or more) with tripod, camera, lens and supporting gear. The longer I walked the greater I figured my competitive advantage would be at camera club; after all many people wouldn't want to drive & walk this far. Getting to the view point it was everything I heard ... except the nests we just too far away.

Disappointed, I relaxed and started to observe the area around me. That's when I noticed it, a brown creeper. It was flitting from tree to tree, often returning to the same general area with material in its beak. Watching closer, I finally saw the nest.

For those of you not familiar with brown creepers, they are some what unusual. They build their nests as a hammock of sorts under a piece of loose bark on a tree. The Mass Audubon Breeding Bird Atlas site has some more good information about creeper nests. Here are some photos I took of the nest building process

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Nest building in process

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Portrait shot

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Some of the pieces were quite big. You wondered how the bird was going to get them in there, especially only using its beak and feet.

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
But it pretty deftly maneuvered it in there

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Next question, how was it going to fit in there

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Cozy, but it looks like a tight fit

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Leaving is also requires grace

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
After all if the bark pushes away from the tree

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;
Gravity will grab the nest

Light Chronicle: 2013-0422 Creeper &emdash;

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Visit to Broadmoor

One of my New Year's resolutions is to increase the areas that I visit for wildlife photography. I am ashamed to admit that I do not make very effective use of our Audubon membership. With those two facts in mind, I set my mind to visiting Broadmoor on a scouting trip.

One of the challenges of visiting any new place, is avoiding wandering around in search of those special areas. Kathy Dia was kind enough to give me a brief overview of a few places that I should check out.

With notes in hand, I headed to Broadmoor on Saturday morning. The weather was breezy, cool and cloudy, certainly not conducive to photography, but the forecast was for clearing and sun at mid-day. Unfortunately the clearing didn't materialize until much later.

However, it was an enjoyable day exploring and wandering the trails. I'm glad I had Kathy's comments, I started with those spots and then decided to explore some of the longer trails to get a better idea of the terrain for future visits.

Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;
Male Wood Duck caught by surprise

One area that was quite "birdy" was the area by the Mill Pond / Stream. Early in the morning it was pretty dark, so I didn't get many usable photos there with my "walk around" 70-300. However, after I tired myself exploring, it was getting brighter (not bright, just brighter). I wandered back with my 500 and was able to get some shots I like.


Thrushes down my the Mill Stream
Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;

Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;


There was a nice sized flock of Palm Warblers. It was rare to get one to rest for a moment; even rarer for there not to be a branch in the way.
Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;

Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;


Near the waterfall, I captured some photos of this Phoebe. Identifying it was driving me crazy. I have sequences of photos where it's pumping, its tail; others where it was wagging its tail. The lighting wasn't great so I wasn't 100% sure on the coloring, but Sibley's comments about nesting on man-made structures was the deciding factor.
Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;

Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;

Light Chronicle: 2013-0413 Broadmoor &emdash;

In all it was a fun day. I'm kicking myself for not going earlier, but it won't be so long until my next visit.