Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Island Twitch that never seems to end...part...uh...3?

 This is a very angry Blackpoll Warbly in his fall finest.
He will eat your face.

Meanwhile...back on Kelleys Island...
Hard to believe how many places we visited on our short weekend visit! We hit four spots on the Lake Erie Birding Trail, that puts us at 38...only a "few" more to go... 

We also went to see our friend, Tom Bartlett's bird banding operation at Long Point, part of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History's preserves. Tom enjoys teaching visitors and residents of the island about the wonders of these birds and their amazing migratory adventures. Folks come away with a much better appreciation of our tiny friends and what they go through twice a year. Thanks Tom!

If you ever have the opportunity to meet Tom, do it! He'll be banding northern saw-whet owls sometime this month on the island, and he does the "Big Sit" every year(20 years in a row!) at The Biggest Week in American Birding.
 This is Tom talking nicely to a bird.
Sometimes he doesn't...

 Tom kindly showing off the butt of this American Redstart.
He's so helpful!

 Don't worry, The Doodles didn't kill that bird.
It's just tired from his flight and is resting.
Within a few moments, off he flew and on to South America!
And that's why he needed a little rest.

 Lincoln's Sparrows are much more comfortable skulking around in the leaves and debris than in your hand.

 Did I mention that there are a few Grove Snails on the island?

 Back to birds...
Swainson's Thrushes are much calmer than sparrows.
 Black-capped Chickadees were abundant...and fast today!

 In between banding, we wandered around a few of the other parks and preserves.
We found this Least Flycatcher on the North Pond Preserve.

 Yep, that's a Magnolia Warbly hiding in the leaves.
They would not come out.
I even said please!

 You never know what you'll find in the woods...
Like an old truck from the 30's or 40's with trees growing through it.
I checked the spark plugs, they looked okay...

 And of course...just a few more Grove Snails.
If only I liked escargot...

 There were still a few butterflies like this Pearl Crescent floating about.

 Have you ever had a berry so tart that it made your head spin?

 This Philadelphia Vireo avoided that sour berries that made the others head spin.

 So...I was looking at the fruit on this flower and couldn't believe how bright they were.
"What is that stick on top?" I said as I was looking at the photo on my computer...

 Funny how you get so focused on one thing when you're out in nature and sometimes miss the bigger picture.
When I looked closer and followed the "stick" up the frame, I found that it was attached to something!
A Katydid!
What a surprise...The Doodles didn't notice it either, even when she was looking at the same thing with her 10X50's!

 The Doodles did spot this Wilson's Warbly hiding in the branches.
He never did come out to say hello.

So sad, we had to leave the island BEHIND!
Ha! Gotcha on that one!

There may be one more part to this island adventure...stay tuned!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Island Twitch...part 2!

 What do you do to a terrible photo?
I heard that! So, Besides deleting it, you make it infrared!
I know...just delete it next time...

 Meanwhile back on Kelleys Island...
The friends that we stayed with are connected to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and had access to a new preserve still closed to the public. Shhhh! The Huntley-Beatty Quarry has globally endangered Great Lakes Alvar habitat with a dozen state endangered plants growing among the rocks and scrub. Special thanks go to the Ohio Wetland Association for discovering these plants hidden away here. These quarries haven't been used in decades, but in the past produced much of the limestone used in a number of the great public buildings in northwestern Ohio.

The museum is protecting 800 acres of habitat on Kelleys Island and we'll have more in upcoming episodes! In the mean time, enough talk, let's see what there was to see...

 That's a Carolina Locust hiding in there.
We saw plenty of grasshoppy things hopping among the rock.

 Double-crested Cormorants are goofier looking!

 Everyone walked right past this Drone Fly looking for pretty flowers and plants.
Gotta give equal time to all the insects that keep the world going!

 This Eastern Carpenter Bee in having a wonderful time on this unusual Goldenrod.
They must be a dwarf species as they were only a foot or so tall, compared to normal goldenrod which is about 4 to 6 feet tall.
More fun facts you will never use...I'm here for you!


Don't be scared, it's only an  Eastern Hognose Snake or heterodon platirhinos.
Fancy , eh?
It's only a baby snake, less than a foot long.
Attitude makes up for his size!

This is Green Milkweed, one of the rarities on the preserve.

This Hackberry Butterfly has lived a rough life.
You can see his proboscis sucking up minerals from the rocks...

 Our co-hosts grandson and his friend found a number of fossils in the rocks, but this was a special find for them!
They also found the pelvis and it looked like it may have been a squirrel once upon a time...

Stoopid Merlins.
ALWAYS flying away from me!

 Hmmm...we can't remember what the name of this rare Orchid is...
We'll call it "Pretty White Orchid."

Yea! Another bird!
The birds were few and far between today.
There was a small flock of Palm Warblies that zoomed through.
A day with warblies is always a good day!

 This is a cut running down the center of the quarry.
We didn't see a single fish or frog in there.

 You want to know an easy way to identify this butterfly?
Besides looking in a field guide...

 See that little silvery spot?
Use your imagination looks like a question mark!
Therefore this is a Question Mark Butterfly.
A comma Butterfly would have a smaller mark without the dot at the end.
Really and for true, this time I'm not making things up!
Maybe later though...

 Another rare milkweed, a Whorled Milkweed.
I dream of whorled peas.
One day.

This is a flower.
Yep, it is.
Which one you ask?

So, until next time...have a peachy swell day!

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!