To complete this week’s postings, here are two different shots of the sun setting on Chincoteague Bay. On the advice of a fellow camper, I took them this past Thursday from an observation point on Assateague Island National Seashore.
Less than two months ago, I posted photos of a Great Blue Heron under Fish for Lunch. Today, I saw another Great Blue Heron wading carefully in a pool at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna, DE. I had my camera aimed and focused on it for at least five minutes, but it kept advancing step by step, catching no fish at all.
Suddenly it turned around.
The following images perhaps need no narrative.
Spring in the East would not be the same without Dogwood (Cornus Florida) flowers, and traditionally farmers would not plant their crops until they saw such flowers. This morning I went around our town and took the following pictures of pink, red, and white Dogwood flowers.
My favorite is the Pink Dogwood, which is slowly disappearing due to some disease. I could only find one tree today, although there may be others hidden elsewhere.
It has been a really cool spring this year. One day, I suddenly realized that there were no flowers on our Magnolia Soulangeana trees which in other years would be covered with thousands of pink blooms. The frost had killed all but two of the buds, so no flower show this year! Fortunately, our Jane Magnolias, which bloom later did not suffer from the same fate. Thus we still have some pink Magnolias around the house.
Some other late bloomers also came through with a good showing.
Our Asian pear trees also did very well.
Finally when the Goldfinches molt and change their winter coats for bright breeding colors, you know that Spring has arrived.
I could not miss these Oystercatchers even from a distance. They are larger than most shore birds, and are quite colorful with red eyes and bills on a black head and a brown and white body. They use their pointed bills to kill partially opened shellfish. Their call can be a long series of “wheep” easily traced back to them.
Oystercatchers are on the endangered list of birds, but I have seen them almost every year at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
First a brown shape dove straight down from the sky, at a blazing speed. It was gone almost instantly. Then I saw a Snowy Egret floundering among a group of Cormorants swimming at the spot where the dive bombing occurred.
Then the Cormorants began fleeing the scene.
Eventually the Snowy Egret managed to fly away and went hiding among the tall grasses of the marshes. Meanwhile, a Peregrine Falcon was perched on top of a nearby pole, watching. I wonder if it was the same one who had dive bombed and scared every bird away. Peregrine Falcons are super fast and capable of reaching 200 mph (320 km/h) on a dive. They are also known to attack mid-sized birds and ducks.
One of my favorite flowers is Marsh Marigolds (Caltha Palustris), a brave perennial that lives near water and puts on a brilliant display of gold and yellow in the spring, a real feast for the eyes. Last week, they were there at the Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, NJ, next to a small pond, outshining other flowers that did not fare so well in the cold and rainy days we have experienced these past few months.
Ospreys stay at the refuge from Spring to Fall, making their nests on platforms built for them. Last week I saw a pair at one of the nests which can easily be seen from Wildlife Drive. She was eating half of a fish that he had brought to her. He observed her for a while, then took off flying. He flew around the nest before circling back to her.
All of this love making lasted just a few seconds. In about two months I may be able to have pictures of Osprey chicks at this same nest. Note that the female was banded on one leg.
At another nest, a pair of Ospreys had already finished their breakfast and were just enjoying some down time.
Geese form beautiful skeins when they fly, and capturing them in flight is irresistible to most photographers. A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to see both Snow Geese and Canada Geese in V formation heading along on their Spring migration paths.
In previous years, Crocuses were the first flowers of the year, appearing as early as February, and all but gone by March. This year they were buried under snow until this past week. Today there was no rain and the sun was bright and perfect for the following shots of Crocuses in our front yard.
As bird photographers, we are often told to focus on the bird eyes and make sure they are not only visible but also stand out.
Chickadees are quite common in our area, at any time of the year. Up to now in most of the photos I took of them, their black eyes blend in and are indistinguishable from their black cap. Recently, at sunset, one of them posed long enough with its head turned to the sun, and revealed its bright eyes.
The female Ruddy Duck has brown eyes, usually lost in its brown cap, until the sun shines on them.
Sparrows have brown eyes which are more visible, but a ray of sunlight also helped to bring them out.
On the other hand Red-breasted Mergansers have devilish red eyes that cannot be missed.