The Eastern Bluebird is one of the prettiest birds with its vivid blue and rusty colors, at least for the males. As usual for birds, the females are gray and not as noticeable in the wild. It’s a bird I have not been able to photograph successfully until now, despite putting out four Bluebird houses around our backyard. House Wrens usually end up taking over those birdhouses and I have not yet found a way to discourage them from doing so.
Today, I was photographing some yellow Magnolia flowers when a male Eastern Bluebird flew by and perched not more than 10 feet (3 m) from me. It stayed there for a while, perhaps checking out a nearby birdhouse, and allowed me to take the following photos.
I haven’t taught my Golden Retriever, Jackie, too many tricks, but one game she loves to play is frisbee. Neither she or I are very good at it. However, over the past few days warm and sunny weather has allowed us to play a few games of frisbee as you can see below.
The URL for this challenge is: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/prolific/
This week we were gifted a Natal Lily (Clivia Miniata) with bright orange blooms which immediately brightened our living room. The plant originates from South Africa and is reputed to be a prolific bloomer as well as a nearly indestructible house plant in our temperate climate. It belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family, so it is related to the better known Amaryllis flowers. However, it is much sturdier and requires less care. Even benign neglect, especially as far as watering, would do.
Here are some photos I took of this new plant as soon as the sun made its appearance inside our house.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is now a regular at our bird feeder where he takes his time munching on sunflower seeds until he has his fill, or until Blue Jays come and chase him away. Today I used my camera with a tripod to get some better photos of him.
What about the American Goldfinch who started all these photo shoots? Here he is.
He was joined today by a pair of Cardinals who waited patiently for the Blue Jays to finish their meals.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is definitely one of the most colorful and handsome birds of North America. A male landed near our bird feeder two years ago, and I took a couple of photos which turned out amazingly good, probably due to a happy confluence of lighting and luck (see https://neihtn.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/rose-breasted-grosbeak-and-hummingbird/). However, since then it has not come back, even though I have been looking out for it in our backyard every now and then.
Early yesterday I saw some Goldfinch in their best breeding yellow color. As I set up the camera to take their pictures, I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak by the bird feeder. It waited for a Blue Jay to leave the scene, then spent a leisurely 15 minutes eating the sunflower seeds and did not flee when I opened the patio door for a better look.
Temperatures went as high as 84°F (29°C) yesterday, but today they are back down to 40°F (4°C), and it is very windy and cold. Even though I took the following photos last month and last week, they illustrate well this challenging weather we are having.
It was very warm today with temperatures above 80 °F (27 °C), as if we went from winter to summer, bypassing a fabled spring. I went out to Sayen Gardens for pictures of flowers and found a snake and a turtle.
The snake was caught near a pond by a man. He showed it to his son, explained that it was not venomous, then released it right after I took the above shot.
On a small island in the middle of the pond, a turtle was sunning itself. I am no expert, but I think it was a Diamondback Terrapin Turtle. If you can identify it, please let me know its correct name. Update: Eliza identified it as a Red-eared Slider, another kind of terrapin.
Hundreds of Great Egrets were still sleeping or waking up and preening at a pond at the refuge. It was a bit nippy and there was some fog and frost on the brown reeds. I had never seen that many Great Egrets in one place, but could not capture the entire flock in one photo.
All the birds were in their best breeding plumage and colors, with long white aigrettes that ladies at the beginning of the last century would have paid dearly to adorn their headdresses with.
Red-winged Blackbirds are everywhere at the refuge, with the male birds sporting red and yellow shoulder badges. This time of the year the males fly to find high perches from which they belt out their incessant songs. They show no fear of cars and humans, and are easy to photograh.
We are still having a little snow today and tomorrow. When I went around looking for flowering plants at the refuge, there were none. The following couple of shots are perhaps interesting, but Spring flowers they are not, yet.
I saw the first Ospreys for this year at the refuge less than a week ago. One of them was very busy building her nest on a platform.
At another part of the refuge, a pair of Ospreys was making distinct noises. Was the female telling her mate to go fishing?
After several minutes, he had enough and flew away to land on half of a fish that he must have brought in earlier and left on the ground not far from their nest .
He just stood on the fish for a long time as she kept calling out to him. Was she still hungry?
He would not budge, and at times appeared to take a nap!
She flew up to a top pole of the nest platform, and kept calling for him.
He did not move until a Crow flew in.
Another Crow showed up.
The Crows definitely wanted the rest of the fish but the Osprey held on. The female Osprey kept calling out.
He held on firmly.
One of the Crows started cawing, perhaps calling for reinforcement. The standoff went on for much longer, but I had to leave. Crows are known to attack Ospreys at times, so I am not sure whether these two Ospreys were able to keep their fish or not.
Early this morning I went to Colonial Lake, a small lake about 5 miles (8 km) from home where at least one Bald Eagle has been seen on a daily basis. Not more than 15 minutes after I arrived, an eagle swooped down and plucked a big fish out of the lake. I was not quite ready yet, so my first shot is not the best, but at least you do see the action.
The eagle took the fish to a high branch on a tree and proceeded to eat it there.
He ate the whole fish in less than 10 minutes, after which he took off right above me to go for a drink.
He had several drinks, looking up each time to check his surroundings.
Then he shifted position.
Then he flew up to a nearby tree, perched on a branch, and looked down on the lake and the other birds there, ignoring the few humans who wandered around along the lake shore.
I think he eventually took a nap for I did not see it move from his perch for almost half an hour.
This is the second part for this Weekly Photo Challenge at the following link: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rise-set/
The shot below is of the most colorful sunset I ever saw at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
This WPC is at the following link: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rise-set/
The following sunrise shot was taken one early morning in December 2017 at a farm about two miles from our home.
Weatherwise, Spring is late this year with temperatures around the freezing mark, but otherwise it is already here for the birds, ducks, and geese. Spring is breeding season for them, and nature can’t wait. Today, I saw what is likely a courtship ritual between two Canada Geese at the refuge. It went on for about three minutes before the pair swam off together into the sunrise.
It’s been snowing since early this morning and will not stop until late tonight. So far, eight hours into our fourth Nor’Easter only about 5 inches of snow fell, but the forecast is calling for at least double that by the time the storm ends.
As usual, I cleaned and stocked the bird feeder with sunflower seeds and all the usual birds came, emptying half of the feeder by the end of the day. I did not miss the opportunity to take some photos as they posed among the magnolia branches.
Last week, heavy and wet snow fell, blanketing everything with a thick white coat while reducing light and visibility. Many birds still came to the feeder in our backyard, especially Dark-eyed Juncos which seemed impervious to the elements. There was one Carolina Chickadee that took a brief time-out under the magnolia branches heavily laden with snow. Here are two versions of the same photo, one in color and the other in black and white.
This week a second Nor’Easter dumped heavy snow in our region, with as much as 2 ft (60 cm) in some areas, but much less in coastal areas. I stocked up the bird feeder and many birds braved snow and wind to come during the storm.
Here are some shots of the birds. It was so dark I had to use the flash.
The URL for this challenge is: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/out-of-this-world/
I took the following photo at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado almost three years ago. Looking at it now, I am struck by the straight line outlining the dune in the middle of the picture. It seems to be drawn not by the wind and other forces of nature but by some unnatural being.
I am writing this as a Nor’easter is raging outside, dumping rain and snow, with strong winds added to the misery. Keep safe, all of you who are affected by it!
A few days ago, some brave Crocuses were starting to bloom in the mild weather we experienced for a few days.
Inside, the Orchid and Amaryllis are in full bloom, with no bud left that has not opened up yet.
Today was the warmest February day for this area, and it felt like summer as I stood at the observation area near the Inlet/Outlet Tower of Merrill Creek Reservoir in Harmony Township, NJ, and watched tens of thousands of Snow Geese resting on the water during their migration back to their tundra breeding grounds. In the photo below, the geese form that white band in the middle. A birder next to me estimated there was probably 50,000 Snow Geese in that long band.
Suddenly, something disturbed the geese and they flew up in the air.
The sound was extraordinary, like the noise a million bees would make when they swarm. The undulating cloud of thousands and thousands of Snow Geese was a sight not to be missed, with shapes and colors changing as the geese turned in synchronized motion according to signals that only they could understand.
Once again, there was no easy way to get closer to the geese, so these photos taken from at least half a mile away will have to do. However, I may try again another day.
Shortly after the Snowy Owls, thousands of Snow Geese appeared at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. New Jersey is on their migration path, and the refuge is a rest stop for them as they fly back to breeding grounds in the Canadian and Alaskan tundras.
The sky was a painterly mix of blue with gray and white clouds, and it was good to be clicking away knowing that one can get good shots no matter what. If you miss one there were always more geese to oblige you.
I photographed my first Snowy Owl in December 2013, and again in January 2014 and 2015. Then for two years in a row, it made itself scarce. There were reported sightings in New Jersey, but every time I went to those places it was nowhere to be seen.
This past Sunday, there were two Snowy Owls at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. However, they were quite far, and there was no way to come nearer to them. I had to crop as much as 90% of the images, and the final results are disappointing.
Update: the banner image is from a photo taken in 2015.
Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year, and according to the Chinese zodiac, it is the Year of the Dog. I thought it would be appropriate to post a photo taken of a man and his dog in October of 2015 at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
On a snowy day three years ago, I watched the birds flock to our feeder. Traffic was heavy, with the Dark-eyed Juncos being the most assiduous and energetic. With my camera on a tripod from inside the house I tried to get shots of them flying and competing for seeds.
I still have not ventured out since coming down with the flu. There may also be quite a few people similarly afflicted for the local pharmacy shelves have been laid bare of the more popular flu and cold medicines. The weather has not been cooperating either, being mostly cold, snowy at times, and windy almost always. This has given me time to cull through some recent shots of Blue Jays and other birds in our backyard.
On a short trip to California, I came down with the flu last week and have not gone out to take any picture after coming home. Hopefully soon, as I am feeling better today. In the meantime, here are some pictures of Mourning Doves taken since 2017, including one taken at the beginning of this year.