Friday, April 27, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • X • aiX Sponsa

X is for "aiX Sponsa" ..... okay this is a little bit of a cheat, but there are only a few birds whose Latin name begin with "X" and not only have I never seen them, but they also aren't birds that visit or live in Massachusetts so they never even had a chance to be on my A-Z list.  So for "X" I am taking a little poetic license because when you say "aix sponsa" it sounds lie you are saying "x sponsa" so I stand by my bird choice for the letter x.

Now, without further ado, the aix sponsa is better known as a wood duck.  These are a magnificent specimen of water fowl, sporting such a handsome profile and rich colors.

You would think with this spectacular coloring it might be hard to blend in, but you can see from this photo of a male, and his less colorful mate, that they blend into their environment quite well if they need to.

This wood duck couple lives in the same pond that I view the osprey family, and the green heron family.  Honestly - could I be any luckier to have this opportunity to view such fun and gorgeous birds so frequently!?!?

And if you think just seeing the wood duck and his gal pal are lucky enough, hold onto your hats, because I'm about to deliver you, your daily dose of cuteness! I practically squealed with delight one morning when I approached the shoreline of this favorite pond and this mama wood duck and her babies scurried away!


I was lucky enough to observe these babies for a couple months over the summer.  The clutch size seemed to shrink a smidge as the summer wore on (there are also plenty of snapping turtles and river otters in that pond!), but it seemed that four - six of the wood duck hatchlings continued to thrive.

I am so excited that I have already see the wood duck couple a few times in the same pond this year, so I am crossing my fingers for another clutch this summer.

I hope you will join me for the letter Y tomorrow where there may or may not be some baby birds involved!

Today's challenge earrings are a simple choice, but sometimes less is more! I love using cultured sea glass (from ZnetShows) in my work, and these are such a gorgeous red. Don't forget to comment and you will be entered in a drawing for seven pairs of earrings!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • W • Wren

W is for wren.

Wrens are sweet little birds with distinctive songs.  These birds flit about low bushes and grasses and are also distinguished by their long rectangular tails which is often standing up taller than the wren's head.  Their beaks are long and thin.

There are a few types of wrens that visit New England.  Here is a shot of the house wren that I viewed last summer on one of my regular hiking trails.

One thing I noticed immediately about this wren, was that it had no tail!

It's tail-less status didn't seem to impeded its flying or any other behavior.

A lovely visitor I had to my feeders this winter was this Carolina wren.  It seemed to only visit at dawn so I never had a chance to grab a snap in full light.

Finally, a bird that is somewhat elusive, is the marsh wren.  The marsh wren spends most of its time in the low grasses of a marsh belting out a distinctive song.  Occasionally it will pop up to the top of a reed or straddle some grasses, but if you blink you might miss it!  Here was the only snap I got of a marsh wren last year, though I heard many wrens singing, on a walk one day, through a marsh trail on the coast of Massachusetts!

Only three more days of the A-Z blogging challenge.  Please visit tomorrow for the letter X!

I seem to have a penchant for turquoise this month, as I was drawn to these turquoise Delicas and crystal to create these peyote triangles!  Please comment for a chance to win a week's worth of earrings.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • V • Vermivora Cyanoptera

V is for Vermivora Cyanoptera or more commonly known as the blue-winged warbler.

Last year was the first year I laid eyes on a blue winged warbler.  I had never seen or heard of this species until one fine day in May of last year.  This bird treated me to good looks during its brief stay in Massachusetts, seemingly spending all of its time on one of three bushes, as that is where I saw him every time I hiked one of my regular trails.

Like many warblers, these birds are often heard before they are seen, and this blue winged warbler was no exception, heralding its own presence with his song.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you will join me tomorrow for the letter W.

Today's challenge earrings are a dangly crystal pair of earrings.  As a reminder, anyone who comments during the A-Z challenge will be entered in a drawing to win seven pairs of earrings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • U • Uria Lomvia

U is for URIA LOMVIA, the latin name for the sea faring bird, the thick-billed murre.

When I filed this photo away a couple years ago, I had marked this bird as a thick billed murre in my photo tags.

But as often happens to a new birder (or seasoned birder!), misidentification is quite common. My growth as a birdwatcher has been helped along with books, birding apps, and becoming a member of many birdwatching groups on Facebook.  

I discovered my mistake when I started learning about the common loon and a similar water bird, the red-throated loon. I learned that their winter plumage is quite different from how they look the rest of the year. And, of all the CRAZY things....they leave their regular lakes and ponds, only to go east and spend the winter in the cold ocean!!!  When I learned this and saw a photo of the loon's winter morph, it tickled my brain that I had seen this bird before.  

Looking through photos of sea birds, I found, yes, indeed, I have seen a wintering loon off the coast of Massachusetts and mistakenly marked it as a thick-billed murre.  

Here is an actual photo of a non-breeding thick-billed murre, taken from the reliable website, All About Birds!  Can you how I would have been confused?  I think they look very similar!

One of my favorite Facebook groups is "What's This Bird", where users can post a photo of a bird, and other members help identify it for the user.  I usually try to ID my birds myself through apps and books, it helps me learn! But there are plenty of times I am stumped and I turn to "What's This Bird".  Most often identification is swift, but every now and again you'll get treated to a lively debate which is not only amusing but a great learning experience as well.  

Now excuse me while I go add thick-billed murre to my list of birds I need to see!

Today's challenge earrings are two pairs featuring slightly different styles, but using the same components.

Thanks for stopping by! If you commit on any posts this month, you will be entered in a drawing to win a week's worth of earrings!

I can't believe there are only five letters left! Please join me tomorrow for the letter "V"!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • T • Turdis Migratorius

The early bird gets the worm.

T  is for turdis migratorius, or much more commonly known as the American Robin.

Just like the sparrow, from the letter "S" post, the robin is incredibly common.  As common as they are however, they are a striking bird with their dark head and wings and their red breast.  The males are even richer in color during mating season.  You often find them on lawns pulling worms out of the ground, in trees gathering insects, or enjoying berries or seed on bushes.

This past year I had the pleasure of also viewing two robin families raise a clutch of eggs.

I thought this nest was so pretty sitting in a hydrangea bush, made up of the usual twigs and sticks, but also supported/decorated with dried hydrangea flowers! Is this nature or Home Goods!?!?

I'll leave you with this last photo of a single robin hanging out with a handful of starlings.  I often find robins amongst other birds or wildlife and they are always a pleasure to view.

Today's earrings are seed beads brick stitched around a silver metal connector.   All commenters who comment on during the A-Z challenge will be entered in a drawing to win 7 pairs of earrings!

Thanks for stopping by, please stop by tomorrow for the letter "U".

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • S • Sparrow

S is for sparrow.

You can't even imagine the depth of the furrowed brow I get from non-birders, when I stop to grab a snap of a sparrow!  To a non-birder, a sparrow is about as common and uninteresting as a bird will get.

But in fact, there are actually so many different species of sparrows! Once you start to see the little differences, it is quite fun to stumble across a sparrow species you have never seen.

The above guide is very helpful, but I have this image below, on my phone to help me in a pinch. I usually just stumble across the same 5 or 6 species though, so I can identify them pretty easily.

Admittedly, the house sparrow is the most eye-roll-inducing, annoying species amongst the sparrow family. They are a genuine nuisance, often kicking birds out birdhouses, and/or nesting in incredibly inconvenient locations. Their habitat is usually near people.  Still they are a handsome bird.

Next up is the field sparrow.  I see these in fields, as their name suggests, and also in brushy low-bush areas, such as paths where there are power line rights of way.

The song sparrow is also quite common, and I typically only see them on hiking paths and near rivers and swamps.  These are one of my favorites because their song is so lovely and they arrive to my region when the warmer weather does.

The chipping sparrow stops at bird feeders quite often, but I've never seen anyone hate on the chipping sparrow the way they do on the house sparrow!

I always find it a treat to see the savannah sparrow. This is probably because the only place I've ever seen one, is at the farm on one of my work's properties!

Finally - a more unusual sparrow is the swamp sparrow.  I only saw this bird once, when I was observing other birds at a pond, and this swamp sparrow was in the swampy area by the shoreline.  I knew I should be excited about this observation, because after I posted a photo of it on a bird ID website, the photo received a lot of comments like "Wow, nice find!" and "Cool, where was this?"

There are many other sparrows out there and I may have forgotten a few that I have seen! Here's to hoping a stumble upon a few new sparrow species this year!

Today's earrings are one of my favorite 'go-to' seed bead designs, a simple peyote fan, starting with a small bead and working your way up to larger beads.  These were made with a mixture of purple and muted gray seed beads.  Anyone who comments on the A-Z posts this month will be entered in a drawing for seven pairs of earrings!

See you Monday for the letter "T".

Friday, April 20, 2018

Blogging from A-Z • R • Red-Tailed Hawk

R is for red-tailed hawk.

These hawks are so widespread and prevalent, I see them almost on the daily.   Usually on my ride to or from work I see them perched on the trees along the highway. On a good day there might even be upwards of 10 to 12 on a 22 mile stretch that I drive.   They are also very common in my town and I know of a few hotspots I check to see them.  

Red-tail hawks have a very defining characteristic you might think it’s there red tail.  However not all red-tailed hawks have a red tail.  It is something they grow into. But if you see a hawk and you’re not sure if it’s a red tail hawk because it doesn’t have a red tail one thing you can look for is the markings around the belly. Often referred to as a belly band.   Even if they don't have their red tail yet, a red tailed hawk will always have a belly band. 

On one of my hiking trails in town, there is at least one established pair, and throughout the summer, the juveniles very loudly call out for their parents attention! 

One of my favorite encounters with a red tailed hawk occurred when I was visiting the Nashua River with hopes of viewing a bald eagle.  The eagle was a bust, but when my friend and I return to the parking area which was basically a small field abutting new construction we came across a young juvenile red-tailed hawk.

This bird did not seem to care one whit that we were nearby, so we spent about an hour with it while it flew about the field unsuccessfully hunting.  

This photo here below, is one of my favorite photos from that day, although unfortunately only the pine needles were in focus. I was really rooting for this juvenile hawk to find this chipmunk as he was trying so hard to get a meal. 

Finally after many many attempt, this hawk managed to capture a vole and consumed that snack right in front of us!

Maybe I only imagine a bird is displaying a personality, but some of them really seem to exude my mind this red-tailed hawk said, "How do you like me now?" 

Before he strutted away.

Today's challenge earrings are a simple dark copper swallow charm with a pink stone!  If you comment on any post during the A-Z challenge, you will be entered in a drawing for seven pairs of earrings! 

Thanks for taking this photo walk with me, I hope you will join me tomorrow for the letter "S".