In yesterday’s post, I wrote that I did not see the Osprey mother while the father was feeding the chicks. Today, with more time I saw the final picture I took of the father and the chick, and he was looking up at the sky.
He had seen his mate! I did take a picture of her right after that, but she was so far away that I almost discarded the shot. However, as you can see below, she was flying in with an even bigger fish.
I saw the Barn Swallow below under a walkway at the refuge. It did not seem to mind my presence. This type of bird gets along very well with people and has become established in our lore, culture, and even religion.
I went to a part of the walkway right above it, and it was still okay with that, even looking up calmly.
It also sang and kept singing during the whole time I was there.
Barn Swallows are very social birds that live together in large roosts, some containing as many as millions of birds. There were not that many at the refuge, but I saw several of them just twenty feet away from the one above. One bird was building its nest with mud. The others were typical onlookers, just like us humans observing our neighbors fix their houses.
Yesterday I arrived at the refuge, near the nest of the Ospreys I have been following this year. The two chicks were not visible, but the two parents were there, with the mother making loud calls.
He seemed oblivious to her calls. After about twenty long minutes he finally flew away. She watched him soar toward the marshes.
Some twelve minutes later, he was back, with no fish!
In no time she sent him back out again. Another half hour passed during which she flew around to look for him, leaving the nest without adults protecting it.
The two chicks were making noises and eventually stood up in the nest.
Finally, the male Osprey came back with a big catfish.
The father proceeded to tear out pieces of catfish and fed them to one chick while the other waited for its turn without complaining. It would not be fed until the first chick had finished eating.
I did not see the female Osprey again, but she was probably somewhere nearby either fishing or eating her fish. I had spent roughly an hour and a half watching the nest and it was time for me to go.
Recently I encountered a new bird, for me anyway, the Common Yellowthroat, a small warbler with a Lone Ranger black mask, a white head top, and a very yellow throat.
This House Sparrow was preening itself one morning, and looked down curiously at a photographer.
Meanwhile, a female Mallard took off from Colonial Lake.
A Common Grackle laughed at the scene.
Have a great weekend!
One day last week I had to stop several times to let turtles cross the road in front of me. Here are a few shots of them at different places in the refuge, and one shot at Colonial Lake closer to home.
At the beginning of last century, Terrapins were eaten by humans, almost to extinction. It was only two years ago in 2016 that New Jersey officially banned the hunting of Terrapins for any reason. They are currently classified as a species of Special Concern. Snapping Turtles are classified as Least Concern.
I arrived at the nest just as the male Osprey brought in a fish it had caught that morning, presumably after it had eaten the head. The female Osprey was waiting with two lanky and hungry young chicks.
Having delivered breakfast, the male Osprey flew up to his perch, but he seemed to be nibbling something at his feet.
Forster’s Terns have impressive sky diving skills when they hunt for fish, and I have been trying to capture them doing aerial acrobatics in photos. Yesterday’s several of them put on a fantastic show at the refuge under a sunny sky.
A flock of Black Skimmers, those amazing birds that draw perfectly straight lines with their beaks on the water as they look for fish, was parked on a sand bar at the refuge. They were quite far away from me, and those that were fishing were flying fast.
Here’s a picture of one that I took last year.
Here’s one from 2015 where the straight line is seen clearly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canada Geese are always present in our area, even in the deep of winter. I found a group of them sleeping on ice at the EBF refuge, with temperatures in the teens (-10°C) during the day and even colder at night.
Some, however, were not sleeping and were already dabbling for food in a patch of water.
Buffleheads are very small ducks, about half the size of Mallards. I have found them to be difficult to photograph because of their size and colors. Females are gray brown with white patches on their cheeks. Males are white and black. In both sexes, the eyes are hard to distinguish from the dark areas surrounding them, unless there is good light, which is not always the case in winter.
A few days ago, I went to the refuge on a cold and windy day. The marshes were mostly frozen and there were only several gulls and Buffleheads. There were also very few cars, and so I was able to zoom in closer on some female Buffleheads who were actively diving for food.
There was no male Bufflehead at EBF on that day. The following photo shows one taken a few days earlier near Barnegat Lighthouse.
Here’s how the refuge looked on a cold day, when the highest temperature was well below freezing.
This Great Blue Heron was catching fish literally left and right. In the five minutes I spent photographing it, it managed to snatch five fishes out of the water. They were small but enough of them would be equal to a big catch. When I left, it was still looking for fish.
I am not sure about this bird’s name, which may be Cape May Warbler. If you know that it should have a different name, please let me know. Update: Jerry from https://quietsolopursuits.wordpress.com/ has been kind to identify it as a female Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Anyway, last Saturday morning I found her eating juniper berries. She did not fly away when I came near enough to photograph her.
She even turned around to look directly at me.
Hooded Mergansers are my favorite winter ducks. The males really look cute with their black and white hood, especially when they try to get a female’s attention, like the one below. He was among many of its kind at the refuge yesterday.
Meanwhile, a Mute Swan flew overhead, a rare sight for me.
A bird with a name like Lesser Yellow Legs must have something to show for it. Indeed it has bright yellow legs, which are shorter than those of the Greater Yellow Legs, but still quite long, making it stand out among the birds of the marshes. I saw one while it was searching for food.
The next instant it was half submerged in water.
According to Audubon, Dunlin means “little dun-colored (gray-brown) bird”. It is a very common shore bird migrating about now from their breeding grounds in the Artic to coastal areas of the United States.
Dunlins are easily identified as they fly in groups ranging from a few dozens to hundreds or even thousands. They seem to have a way of communicating effectively with one another as they bank, turn, or climb up and dive down in perfect unison. Their flight is an amazing sight that I tried to capture in the following photos, with just a few members of a band of Dunlins.
Tundra Swans number over a hundred thousand, making them the largest swan population in North America. Yesterday some of them arrived at the refuge from arctic tundra regions, then faced a strong wind as they landed in one of the pools inhabited by Mute Swans. They were a good distance from me, so they appear small in the following shots. In fact, they are only slightly smaller than Mute Swans, and have a black bill compared to the orange bill of Mute Swans.
This morning was cloudy and windy, but I went to the refuge anyway, and among the many birds and ducks I saw a young Bald Eagle who put on an impressive flying exhibition.
People in several cars were trying to take its picture, so the Bald Eagle took off.
It looked as if it was preparing to dive.
But it just banked and flew away.
Here’s another shot of it against a small portion of the sky that was blue.
Like many of us, whenever I see a colorful sunrise or sunset I try to take a picture of it, if possible. Since the refuge is where I go most often to shoot pictures, in the past several years I did manage to have some sunrise and sunset shots from that place.
The following photo was taken 14 minutes after the shot of the pinkish sunrise I posted here a few days ago at https://neihtn.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/fall-at-the-refuge
In the shot below, the sun hid behind thick clouds, but as it plunged below the horizon it produced magnificent colors ranging from blue and purple to red and yellow.
Here are some more photos of the swan that conducted from the marshes at the refuge. It spent a long time preening, diving into the water, splashing around, and must have ended with a thorough washing of its entire body.
Egrets stayed around at the refuge later this year because the weather has been warmer than usual. Not today though as Artic air has brought temperatures to lows unheard of since the 1930’s. Anyway, last week I saw a Snowy Egret by Wildlife Drive at the refuge and stopped my car not more than 20 ft (6 m) from it.
Other cars then began stopping behind me, and the Snowy Egret decided it had enough and flew away.
Looking through my files, I saw the following photo taken in November 2014 at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. I did not post it before, perhaps because at first glance it appeared too dark. But lighting was falling on the egret and not on the marshy background. So here it is.
Fall colors at the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge have not been as vivid this year as in the past, mainly because of sparse rain during the summer. Still I tried some landscape shots to see how they would turn out.
Phragmites, an invasive grass, did very well this year, with widespread stands of dried tall grass in many parts of the refuge.
I had to to dig out of my archives the following sunrise shot of the refuge taken four years ago in September. Things looked prettier then.
At high tide, ocean water pours into the salt marshes at the refuge, and provides a fish bonanza to the birds that hover near the sluice gates. I saw a band of Seagulls diving with abandon into the churning water and I began shooting them. Only when I came home and looked at the images on the computer did I see that some of them actually had caught small fish.
A Cormorant was equally successful, though they usually catch much bigger fish. Perhaps this one was young and still learning.
As a side effect of hurricane Philippe, we are being drenched with rain today, and I am staying home. Here are a few shots taken over the past several weeks that did not fit into any previous post.
I am guessing the following two birds are immature Yellow-crowned Night Herons. October has been warm this year, and these two had not yet migrated South.