Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cliff Swallows Debating Nest Furnishings




While not the sharpest photos we've ever posted, we had to put these up because what happened made us both laugh out loud at the same time. It depends on which one of us tells the story as to who is the male and who is the female (we can't tell them apart.) Chris was watching with the bins and Mike had the camera. One bird is in the nest just sitting there with some white fluffy material for the nest. The other flies in and looks at the mate and the material. Then it takes it away from it. We both assumed it was just taking it to add to the nest, but without much hesitation, it dropped it right out. That's when we both laughed out loud and, of course, had our anthropomorphism moment talking about the interaction between the two. "No, honey, we won't be using that."

In our house, Chris has made all the design decisions since she got rid of the beer keg lamp Mike had in college, so that's why she assumes it's the female doing the discarding. Mike just thinks in the bird world, the males are dominant.

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Cliff Swallow Nests

Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows

It's been a long time since we had an opportunity to get the boat in the water due to hot weather and a nice vacation. There have been a lot of reports of cliff swallows in the area, and we had seen the beginnings of these nests about a month ago. Our plan was if the weather cooperated, we would head out in the boat very early to check up on them. We were happy to see a colony of about 10 nests and a lot of activity.

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Red Winged Blackbird Nest

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird Feeding

We're not the greatest fans of the red winged blackbirds, at least Chris isn't, but this morning while out in the boat, we found this nest and we are big fans of baby birds. When we first passed it, we didn't know whose nest it was. On our way back, we saw the female first feeding several times. It was really fun to watch them, and we hung around long enough to see the male come to the nest too.

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American Goldfinch: The New Jersey State Bird

American Goldfinch

The bananaquit is a bright yellow bird with black wings that is common in the Carribean. New Jersey's state bird, the goldfinch, has nothing to be ashamed of and compares quite favorably to the bananaquit. Its yellow is even more brilliant in the summer.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Black Crowned Night Heron on Floating Island

Black Crowned Night Heron
Frequent readers of this blog will know that we put an anchored floating island out on the lake, put some plants on it, and hoped to have a little Galapagos Island off our dock. We've had a sandpiper or two, several turtles and eleven baby ducks who ate the expensive plants. Tonight, we were pleased that a night heron made a bouncy landing and fished for a while. We're also glad to see some plants growing back.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

House Wren's Summer House

House Wren

This spring we put up an all natural wood wren house. The next day, there was a heavy rain and we saw a sparrow trying to get into the wren house but it couldn't fit through the small opening. We immediately ran out to nearby stores to get a house with a bigger hole. In the emergency, we settled for a tacky red mushroom house from Wal*mart that went unused until now. It looks like we'll have more house wren babies this summer. We hope with the perch on this model, we get to see some babies stepping out before they fly away.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Babycakes: Caribbean Elaenia from Antigua

Caribbean Elaenia
Caribbean Elaenia

Caribbean Elaenia
Caribbean Elaenia

When on vacation, Mike and Chris tend to rise early; it seems to be a great time of day to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the nature and surroudings of our new environment.  By about the third or fourth day, Chris is content to stay in bed, trusting that Mike, who still is up at sunrise to alert her to anything particularly special. That was the case with our friend Babycakes.  The first thing Mike said to Chris one morning when she joined him outside was, "would you like to meet Babycakes?"  He had been watching this flycatcher stay in the same tree and sing a call that sounded like babycakes (or bb king,) and was anxious to point it out to Chris.  This bird was most cooperative, and even after Chris took a walk down to Babycake's tree with Mike, it continued to spend a lot of time in the same spot entertaining us. Each morning after that babycakes would sing for a few hours and we could even hear her from the beach.

Below is a video of 'babycakes" mainly to record its song.


video

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American Kestrel in Antigua


American Kestrel in Antigua

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Antigua: Black-Whiskered Vireo

Black-Whiskered Vireo
Black-Whiskered Vireo Black-Whiskered Vireo

By our last day, we thought we had seen all the birds near the villa, but Chris spotted this Black-Whiskered Vireo in with the flycatchers, Antillean bullfinches, and bananaquits,

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Antiguan shorebirds: American Oystercatcher, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron

American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher

Molting Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron (molting)

Green Heron
Green Heron

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Antigua: Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler
Most warblers spend the winter in the warmer climates and come north for the summers. This yellow warbler decided it wasn't worth coming back north. Sometimes, we think about staying in the Caribbean ourselves.

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