Sunday, September 28, 2014

Livin' the Island Life...The Longest Twitch Continues...

 Hard to believe, but we're actually early!

A good friend invited us over to Kelleys Island for a weekend escape from reality. We had to think about it...for a second...almost. It was a gorgeous weekend with temps in the seventies, clear skies and fall migration at hand. After loading up the birdmobile with food, clothes, bedding, camera gear, more clothes(girls!,) binoculars and I'm sure there was more we started out early for our drive to the ferry dock, you know that Doodles...have to be first in line! No dawdling for The Doodles.

As you can see by the above pic...we were just a little bit early! When the ferry arrived, I drove aboard. When it departed the docks, we learned something...DON'T SIT IN YOUR CAR WHEN THE FERRY IS ROCKIN! Yoiks. It was amazing how fast the stomach rolled and the vertigo kicked in...even for The Doodles. Getting out and standing on deck cured everything. Lesson number two...when you get out into the lake, beware of all the little gnats that will fly up your nose. Ick.

So...The Longest Twitch...there are four sites on Kelleys Island that are part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail, and we went to all of them...and needed a rest afterwards. We'll start out at the Scheele Preserve, one of a few areas owned and managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

This preserve has a nice trail winding through a meadow and into the woods to a gorgeous beach on Lake Erie. A very quiet and peaceful walk without another soul in sight. We were followed along the trail by numerous black-capped chickadees and warbly things hidden away amongst the trees. And then there were the snails...lots of snails. The Doodles noticed the first one atop a common milkweed. I thought some wise guy saw a pretty shell and placed it there for all to see...then it moved. Then we looked around. AND THEN...we realized what that crunching sound was as we walked along the trail. More ick. Oh well. We apologize for the snails harmed in the making of this blog. We were more careful on the way out...sort of...ick again...

 It's just a little breezy on Lake Erie...just a little...

 This is called "choppy" water...don't try this at home...
 At first glance I called this an American Kestrel, but after looking at it a few more times, I think it may be a Merlin.
Opinions on my crappy photo?
(Still waiting for that Canon 500mm by the way!)

This young Bald Eagle circled for a bit before alighting in this dead tree.
He's looking down at the American Crows that are calling him rude names.

 Hey! There's a...never mind...Belted Kingfisher not sitting on that snag.
 At least Black-capped Chickadees will sit still for a second.
AND it's almost a butt shot!
That doesn't seem to happen much lately!
  Yes kids, it's that time of year! 
Hmmm...mild streaking , short tail, wing bars, greenie butt, oh, and look at them little feeties!

 There were loads of these guys zipping around the trees.
See that broken eye ring and the yellow breast?
"Bugs for lunch anyone?"
Did you guess Blackpoll Warbly?
He's a lot different than his springy self!
 Even squirrels love being on the beach.

 I could live here.
The Doodles says "no skinny dipping allowed!"

 Peaceful and serene...

  Another fall warbly!

 This time it's a Chestnut-sided Warbly...without the chestnut sides.
If you love Warbly Things, you need to get "The Warbler Guide" by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. Even though they spelled "Warbly" wrong...

 You won't find these in the Warbler Guide...'ll also find a few less on the trail thanks to our big feet.

 These are Grove Snails, Cepaea nemoralis.
They were visiting from Europe and decided to stay.
I can't blame them.
We have lots of photos of them in a variety of colors and patterns (and alive.)
More in later posts!
 If you look closely among the Double-crested Cormorants, 
you may see a few of those gray and white birds...
uh...gulls, yeah, that's it, gulls.
I like snail more than gulls.
Though gulls don't crunch under foot.
Not yet anyway.
 We shall leave you for now, dreaming of the island life...
So...until we meet again...aloha!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Not Everyone Dislikes Dandelions...

Last weekend, me and The Doodles went to visit Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, formerly known as Dike 14, formerly known as Cleveland Lakefront State Park, formerly just water in Lake Erie. After years of dredging, voila! We now have this great place right near downtown Cleveland that is a magnet for wildlife. The great Cleveland Metroparks are in charge now and have greatly improved the trails and to make The Doodles happy...they have benches! AND it's part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail!

Fall migration has started...warblies are zooming through as well as the tail end of the the ducks will start. BUTT...first...
We saw many Cabbage White butterflies in the restored meadows and along the trails.
He's the attacker on top...attitude.

 An aerial attack from above!
The butterfly trying to enjoy a little dandelion wine is a Checkered White.
We don't see them as often as the Cabbage Heads, accidentally introduced here from Europe.

Before you start yanking all of those dandelions from your lawn, think of the butterflies you may see enjoying them!

Chemicals bad. Weeds good.
Keep chanting that to your neighbors with the perfect lawns that don't help anyone or anything.
Except Monsanto and Scotts...

Next time we'll get to a few warbly things!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I SHOULD be working in the garden...butt...

 So....I'm outside "working" in the gardens in front of our home when I see this large shadow move over me. We get lots of hawks and Turkey Vultures zooming over our little oasis on a regular basis, so I don't always take notice. This shadow "felt" different for some reason. When I turned around and looked up it was a Bald Eagle! They do nest within 15-20 miles of us and we have seen them zooming overhead before. Of course all I had near me was my camera with a 100mm macro lens, what the heck , I'll take a couple of evidence shots.

When I blew them up on the computy thing, lo and behold, he's holding a fish in his sharp lil talons! Yum...dinner! I will always look up from now on! I will also try to keep a longer lens close by! Wouldn't it be nice if I had that lovely Canon 500mm telephoto lens? Hint hint!

Oh well, back to gardening...for a second...
 The Doodles pulled a weed(aren't all of plants weeds?) and found a gang of caterpillars in it.
Turns out to be a Ailanthus Webworm Moth caterpillar.

 And this is what it will look like when he's all grown up! 
Cool, eh?
Ya never know what those caterpillars will turn out to be...besides bird food.
 This is a Silphium perfoliatum, or more simply, a Cup Plant.

 It's called a Cup Plant because of the cup formed where the leaves meet the stem.
Native Americans used the resin to make a gum to prevent nausea and vomiting and to freshen breath!
So handy...

 This is one of our tiny Green Frogs.
The Mink took the adults "away."
We still have a number of little froglets hopping about!

 This is one of the larger of the brood.
He thinks he's hiding.
Good job, froggy.

 I never knew Mint had such nice flowers.
If you accidentally mow it over, every thing smells so fresh!
And you can't keep it a secret anymore...

 This is a yellow flower.
It has a name.
I thought it was pretty until I looked closer.

 Red Aphid, of the Uroleucon family!
The flowers have since deceased.
Not the bugs though.
So sad.

 This is the sportiest insect in the garden!
Red-banded Leafhoppers look fast with that racing stripe through their eye!

This is a Sweat Bee, Halictus ligatus loving this flower!
He was so excited he was shaking as he gathered pollen.
At least I think that's why he was shaking.
Maybe he got a "Sugar Buzz!"
(Get it? Bee...Buzz?)

 Anyway...I love my bees and my macro lens!

 It's amazing what you see when you get down to their level and really look closely!

This Black-and-white Warbly wasn't really in our garden.
I just miss him.
Fall Warbly Migration!!!!!
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coots and Cootlets...

" Two's company and here comes the crowd!"

 So we are on another exciting adventure! Well, for us getting out of the house and putting off a little gardening to see some birdies is an adventure! On this delightful day we went to an area called "THE LORAIN IMPOUNDMENT."  Sounds like a place where bad birds are sent.

It's part of the Lorain Harbor AND it's on the Lake Erie Birding Trail...of the Longest Twitch fame...or something...

Well you know summer birding, not always a lot to see, but what you see, you'll see a lot of! Those wacky American Coots have been busy as bees...or more like bunnies...out there. LOTS of babies wandering aimlessly and kids tend to do. ya go. Have a look...

 "Great, Mister Big Feet is gonna try to fit in here!"

 Cruisin' for food...

 So many babies!
What was going on in that marsh?!

 A proud parent with the kids in tow...

 Did you know that there are sometimes bumps in the water?

 Eating more...and more...and more...

 "Hey! What's that guy doing over there?"
 "Oh...huh-huh. I can see my feets!"

 "Whoa...too far!"

 "Stoopid kids...sheesh..."

 "Just watch me, not the duck!"

 This is the infamous "Pushmepullyou" subspecies of the American Avocet.
I should send this to the National Enquirer with those UFO photos...hmmm...

 Black Swallowtail butterflies have some mighty dangly legs!
 Be vewy, vewy qwiet...We're hunting wabbits!

 Hey! You got something on your beak!
House Finches are so messy!
 Oh my!
It's a Monarch sitting still!

 Trying to hide in the weeds, eh?
I found you!
(That's an Orange Sulphur.)

Say goodbye!