Might makes Right!

bb plover w worm sony copy
Humans are not the only species that steal.  We are not the only bullies on the planet, either.  The natural world is neither idyllic nor peaceful.   Check out this little scenario for an example of the Might makes Right philosophy.  The Black-bellied Plover has a worm bigger than he is!  But catching a worm may not translate into eating a worm in the avian world.

bb plover fishing sony copy
The plover has to work very hard just to get enough to eat.  The competition for food is fierce.

bb plover fishing catching worm sony copy
Getting a fat, juicy worm (or whatever) will keep him going for another day.

bb plover attack copy
But the bullies are never far away on the beach. They steal from everyone; including each other. You have to use it or lose it! Eat it or beat it! It is a bird-eat-bird world at the shore; just as it is everywhere on earth.


Scary Night Visitor

possum night
I've long suspected that I write this blog for my own benefit rather than anyone else's. Since I haven't had time to think about anything but my mom's situation for weeks, I've neglected my photography and my blog, which has had a negative effect on me.  I realize that I have to spend some time on what make my life meaningful pretty soon, or I'm going to lose it.  (That won't help Mom's situation at all.  If I blow, things go downhill fast.  I know this from personal experience!)  Starting now, I've vowed to at least spend a few moments each day taking pictures outdoors.  I'm also going to ease back into regular blogging by completing some unfinished posts, etc.  Maybe it will help my sanity and improve my concentration.

These pictures were taken in early November by my husband.  He used the Sony H50's 'night-shot' option. Personally, I am not a fan of Opossums. To me, they resemble massive rats. In the above picture, however, the possum looks cute.

possum night 3
Here he is not so cute. The tail (shudder) is not cute even in the most flattering image.

possum night 2
The night-shot images are fuzzy and impossible to clean up, but this photo would reveal his MASSIVE and SHARP teeth if it weren't so noisy.

possum night 4
Here's a baleful stare! The opossums I've seen are completely unafraid of humans. I have looked up and seen them on the deck, peering through the door at us. Knocking on the glass and yelling has no effect whatsoever. I'm more afraid then they are!


Mourning and Memories for my Mom and Mentor

Memories of a Mom and a Mentor
I haven't been taking any photos lately. I haven't posted anything to my blog, either. All my attention has been focused on my mother's health problems. A series of small strokes has taken some of my mom away from me; and from all of us. It is a bad time for the family, but a good time to celebrate the gift of birding and love of nature that she gave to three generations so far.

Mom with her parents and sister
This picture was probably taken in 1924. Mom was six or seven when the stock market crashed in 1929. Nonetheless, she called herself a depression baby, which probably had a lot to do with her sense of values. Money was not something she sought in life, and she never confused wealth with happiness or good character.

Mom's extended family
Her family was a mix of Irish and German stock. Some of my cousins look exactly like the unknown relatives in this old photo. I am not actually related to anyone here - I'm not even related physically related to my mom, since I'm adopted. But this is my heritage and family anyway.

Mom and her siblings
This is mom at about 12 years old. Her baby sister, who is ten years younger than mom, is now her only living sibling. From the five kids in her family came twenty something grandchildren and god knows how many great grandchildren. I would estimate that almost all of us know that she and my dad were passionate birders for as long as anyone can remember - and very many of us are passionate or casual birders ourselves.

Mom probably wouldn't thank me for posting this picture, but it was the best likeness I could find on short notice. Today, she looks pretty much the same but she doesn't know her birds anymore. She can't see them very well or hear them at all. It hurts me more than I can say knowing that life has stolen something so precious away from her. But the rest of us will hold her in our hearts whenever we see or hear one of her special feathered friends - forever.


Duck, Duck, Goose

broadmoor duck
I went to Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick last weekend to see the Grebe that had been there all week, but I never saw him. I saw lovely mallards by the dozen, however.

Broadmoor Mallard
The sheen of a male mallard's head is gorgeous in the sunlight. The sun speckled water was pretty, as well.

broadmoor mallards dappled light
Late fall colors are far different than the riotous hues of peak foliage season, but the muted colors are lovely in their own right.

mallards Broadmoor
There were mallards all over the place. All the vegetation at Broadmoor provides great cover for water birds; even male mallards are hard to see. If there was any other species of duck around, I didn't see any sign of them.

Broadmoor ducks in flight
One the other hand, who could complain about seeing too many mallards? They are beautiful, after all!

reflected goose Broadmoor
Canadian Geese are lovely in their own right, too. Even lovelier if they are perfectly reflected in sun dappled water, like this one.


Underwater Attack at Broadmoor

broadmoor canadian goose
This image was taken at Broadmoor in Natick minutes before a terrible fracas began, yet the goose looks wary and alarmed, as if he knows trouble is coming. Maybe he sensed some sort of danger, or maybe he saw or heard something I didn't notice.

goose terrified of otters
A very loud chorus of honks drew my attention, and I saw what looked like a torpedo heading for a pair of agitated geese. The underwater projectile was moving fast and headed straight for one goose, who panicked and tried to escape.

terrified goose 2
In his panic, the goose squawked and stumbled across the water with something in the water following at high speed.  I was trying to convince myself there were no crocodiles or alligators in Natick, even though that's what I seemed to be seeing.

terrified goose 4
By then a small crowd had gathered. I was still taking pictures of the goose, but most people were watching the wake of the still invisible assassin. Whatever it was traveled at lightening speed, and sometimes skipped along the surface like a skimming stone.

terrified goose 5
The goose finally managed to get airborne.

broadmoor goose flying
He was still honking at the top of his lungs as he flew.

broadmoor geese flying two
His mate was right behind him, making quite a ruckus herself. I didn't look to see the predator until the birds were safely in the air. (I am as curious as the next person, but I also have a thing for taking pics of birds in flight.)

broadmoor geese flying
It turned out that the "attacker" was a pair of cavorting otters! The otters were playing - and they played a great trick. They went right underneath the goose - and I think they goosed him! The otters were adorable and agile.

swimming otter Broadmoor
I only got one blurry picture of a sleek little otter's head breaking the surface of the water, but you can clearly see that it is an otter and not a beaver or muskrat. What a show they put on for us!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Back Yard Turkeys
These Wild Turkeys visited us last fall, only a few months after we moved in. They were one of our first encounters with The Nature of Framingham. I may have posted their pictures previously, but I find the images delightful and very appropriate for Thanksgiving day.

Wild Turkey Closeup
Today, I'm very thankful that I can look out my dining room window and see a face like this one - even if it happens only once in a great while. What marvelous creatures share this corner of the world with us!

Wild Turkey
Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Robins at the River

American Robin Sudbury River
I was lucky to catch a flock of American Robins at the Sudbury River last Saturday. In the spring and summer months you see one or two at a time, but at this time of year they gather in large groups. I think this is a great picture because it captures the "essence" of an American Robin. You can clearly see the broken white eye ring, the striped throat, and the ruddy red breast.

female robin sudbury river
Most of the Robins were eating from what I think is some type of cherry tree. I recently noticed the same tree at my mothers house, but not a soul is eating those berries yet.

male robin
A good view of the black striped throats shared by both sexes.

American Robins Sudbury River
Unlike the flock of robins I saw at my house last December, these birds looked well fed and healthy.

American Robins Sudbury River
I got a series of shots of this vibrant individual.

American Robins Sudbury River
Here he is vocalizing. He may have been warning me off, but I don't think he was.

American Robins Sudbury River
A very handsome fellow!

female robin sudbury river
This typical robin's pose makes the bird appear cheerful and alert. Even their call is a happy one; it is usually described as sounding like "cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up."

female robin sudbury river 2
I think this particular bird is a female. The female American Robin has the same coloring as the male, but is slightly duller overall.

female robin sudbury river 3
The head of a female robin is more gray than black.

male robin
Robins are abundant, but that doesn't make them common. Seen up close and personal, their striking features add up to a very beautiful bird!


Woodpeckers at the Sudbury River

downy woodpecker 1
Saturday I went to the Tennis club on Edgell Road around 9:00 AM. There was NO ONE THERE! That has never happened before - even at dawn! I snapped a picture of a Downy Woodpecker who seems VERY INTENT on his work based on his facial expression!

downy woodpecker 2
How do you like the look on his face? In a human it might be interpreted as anger. Frustration? Annoyance? Or just intensity?

downy woodpecker 3
This is a female Downy Woodpecker. Females lack the red patch at the nape.

downy woodpecker 4
Males have a red nape patch. Male Hairy Woodpeckers also have the red nape, but they are larger and have bigger bills.

red-bellied woodpecker sudbury river
I also saw Red-bellied Woodpeckers on the river bank. I believed this was a female Red-bellied woodpecker, based on the lack of red on the forehead.

red-bellied woodpecker sudbury river2
This is a bad photo, but the lack of a red forehead is much more noticeable here. Definitely a female.


The Many Shapes of Great Blue Herons

heron ready aim
I love how Great Blue Herons can assume so many different shapes.

great blue heron s-curve
The S-curve is my very favorite.

angular s curve
This is a modified, angular S-curve

neck tuck heron
With his necked fully tucked, you would never know just how long this bird can get!

GBH or Ostrich
Sometimes, a heron can look more like an Ostrich!

Red Highlights
And at times, Great Blue Herons actually appear more red than blue!

great blue heron catch
This heron fished from inside a boat - and caught a little something!
He looks pretty happy to me.

salem end heron standing
Most of the time, I get lousy shots of Great Blue Herons. This picture was taken the day after I went to Charles's pond.

salem end GBH
These last two were taken from the woods near Salem End Road bridge in Framingham. In the old days, I would have been happy just to see a GBH.

heron fleeing lake cochituate
This was taken last week at Amputee Veterans Park on Lake Cochituate. The Great Blue Heron and a family of Mallards took off as I approached.

This was the best I could get today, at the same location. In my defense, I have had little time for birding or photography this month. But I will keep searching for Great Blues whenever I can!