common merganser2
New Species for me! Life Lister, life Lister! Hooray! I went to see where the river had flooded at Saxonville, and there they were! Common Mergansers! And I found them all by myself!

common merganser males
They are just beautiful! Long and slim looking, with dark, dark green heads, and very orange beaks that are tipped with black. Really cool!

common merganser female
I didn't know what the hell they were, of course! The only think I noticed was the female with her reddish fuzzy head looked similar to the female Hooded Merganser.

common merganser
There seemed to be four or maybe five males and one female. Considering what I witnessed the squirrels getting up to yesterday, I'm thinking mating season must be around the corner, maybe?

common mergansers and canada geese
The Canada Geese did NOT like these mergansers one bit. They squawked at them and raced across the water like they were going to attack. But the ducks weren't fazed a bit by the display.

common merganser2
All the way home I was singing, "I'm finally getting ducks! I'm finally getting ducks! Like everybody else get ducks!"

Believe me, I am appalled by myself at times!

Common Goldeneye male and female
Poor pics or not, I am posting these guys come hell or high water. Its another species of duck that I have always wanted to see - and now I have! The Common Goldeneye!

Common Goldeneye male and female 2
NEW SPECIES #2!!!! Common Goldeneye - another LIFE LISTER for me. These images are horrible because it was getting very dark ( and snowing) when I found these two.

Common Goldeneye female
Honestly, I thought this was a loon or something the whole time. The female Common Goldeneye looks nothing at all like the male. I mean, even their heads are shaped differently!

Common Goldeneye male
My only beef is with the word "common" in both species names. They sure as hell were not common to me! They sure as hell don't look at all common either! They are some damn fine looking birds!


Gray Nuthatch on a Gray Day

Gray Day Gray Bird
It stopped raining for a few seconds yesterday while I was near the river, so I went into the woods to see what I could see. The river was overflowing it's banks and flowing very fast. No ducks in sight, but I did catch a glimpse a White breasted Nuthatch.

Nuthatch in the Rain
A gray little bird that blended in well with the overcast sky and foggy forest.

Nuthatch Sudbury
Nuthatches are striking birds, but like everything else they look better with a little more light than was available today.

White breasted Nuthatch
Kinda nice profile shot.

bird on branch per colographicalchemy
This was a poor imitation of a dramatic/artistic shot until it was much improved by colographicalchemy, a flickr photographer with artistic talents and superb post processing skills. Thanks again, colographicalchemy.

Rainy Day on the River
I ended with a magical photo where everythong glitters like diamoands. (That would be nice!)


Nature Posters of Framingham

Dead Wood Poster
Bad weather and bad health have kept me inside for a while, and I'm sick of taking pictures of sparrows through the window. I decided to make some artistic/educational posters just for fun. I like the artwork on this one about the benefits of standing dead and downed trees in our forests.

Sudbury River Poster
This shot was taken near my Mom's new assisted living facility, a beautiful place called Carmel Terrace in Framingham. It is right on the Sudbury River.

Great Blue Heron Poster
I'd love to print this one and hang it up all over town. I meet so many people that are astounded to learn of the huge GBH population in Framingham.

Twisted birches
Another artistically enhanced image that was originally shot at Carmel Terrace.

Tree Growths
The last picture of a poster for my Posters of Framingham blog post. (Say that three times fast!)


Sunday on the Sudbury

A Sunday stroll near the river only resulted in one decent picture - so, of course, it must have been shot by my husband! Nonetheless, it was my first Nuthatch image this year!

nuthatch heading down
The nuthatch went up, down, and around the tree - as nuthatches tend to do.

nuthatch tail
Believe it or not, you are looking at the nuthatches tail from below. From this angle his tail looks red, not white.

chickadee bittersweet 2
Both of us captured dozens of chickadees on camera. I like these images because of the contrast with the tangled vines.

chickadee bittersweet
Chickadee preening. They must feel safe among all the protective vines.

spring buds maybe
I think these buds are a sign that spring really is approaching!


Nyanza Chemical Contamination may be Too Deep

Nyanza Chemical Contamination may be Too Deep
By David Riley/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Feb 21, 2010 @ 02:15 AM

I knew this would come out, eventually.  Even I, with only a cursory self-education in the topics of hydrology, geography and geology, knew without a shadow of a doubt that we were screwed.   

warning mercury copy
These signs are around for a reason!

Even I knew that capping a toxic chemical dump made no sense.
Questions:  So . . . we don't eliminate any toxins, but we keep them underground?  By pouring cement on top?  Isn't cement a porous and permeable substance?  What happens to the poisons underneath the cement?  What contains them from spreading into the water?   

Answers:  Capping a toxic dump hides it from view.  Eventually trees and grass will grow, and people forget it's dangerous.  It accomplishes nothing in regards to protecting the water supply or the soil where we get our crops. 

It looks like a harmless field.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency previously found dense chemicals in the bedrock"
Ground water, as the name implies, is water found below the land surface in the pore spaces between sand grains and in fractures in the bedrock.  (Maine Geological Survey)

Chemicals in the bedrock, therefore, means there are chemicals in the GROUNDWATER!  Some people are not aware that GROUNDWATER IS EVERYWHERE, and that GROUNDWATER MOVES EVERYWHERE!
"Much like the flow of water in a river, however, the flow of ground water is subject to gravity and is almost always in motion, flowing from areas of higher elevation to areas of lower elevation. (In the case of ground water in confined aquifers, it is pressure rather than gravity that makes water move. In this case, water flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.)" PURDUE UNIVERSITY, "GROUNDWATER BASICS"

Note: if "nearby groundwater" is contaminated, then far away groundwater is contaminated, too. (see above)
AT NYANZA, the "Nearby groundwater, however, still shows elevated levels of chemicals once used as solvents"
While the EPA is still making sense of the results, DiLorenzo said the most likely explanation is contamination seeped into deep fractures in the bedrock. That would make it harder to find and potentially hundreds of feet into the bedrock - beyond the reach of existing technology, he said.
"You can't dig through it,'' said DiLorenzo. ``You can't blast through it."

The toxins are there, but beyond our reach.  If we somehow located these chemicals, containing them or decontaminating them are beyond our capabilities. In other words . . . we're screwed!

over a 60-year period of industrial use ending in 1978, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of mercury were released into the environment from a variety of sources at the Nyanza federal Superfund site in Ashland. Much of that mercury made its way into the Sudbury River. Although there has been no industrial activity on the site for 18 years, fish taken from the river today still are not safe to eat. (Massachusetts department of environmental protection)

The Sudbury River, where dye companies dumped mercury for decades, remains contaminated . . .

The only consolation is knowing that virtually every inch of the United States is equally contaminated.

But we don't need any one's pity or censure, however. Find someplace where it isn't just as contaminated before climbing on your high horses. The whole world has to work together to solve this problem! Remember, if its in the groundwater, it is EVERYWHERE! 


House Sparrows at Home

house sparrow female III
House sparrows are not particularly interesting or exciting, but how can you dislike a little cutie like this?

Notice the delicate little feet and the strong, seed-cracking beak.

An even closer close-up.

House Sparrows
I was so focused on the female that I didn't even notice the male at first.

House Sparrow Male
I was able to get quite close to him, as well.


Blue Jay in the Backyard

Blue Jay Feb 12
A quintessential backyard bird seen on day one of the Backyard Bird Count.

Blue Jay V Feb 12
Images taken through a window, as are most of my Blue Jay pictures. It is hard to sneak up on a Blue Jay. Like all corvids, Blue Jays are always alert and aware of their surroundings.

Blue Jay III Feb 12
I love the black trim on his face. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "the black bridle across the face, nape, and throat varies extensively and may help Blue Jays recognize one another."

Blue Jay IV Feb 12
This one is a little blurry, but I like how it highlights the blue and black on his back.


Black-capped Chickadee, the Massachusetts State Bird

chickadee close
Wednesday was a beautiful day, and I actually shot these pictures OUTSIDE! Not through the window like the last hundred or so backyard pics! This chickadee was hungry enough to swoop past me to the feeder a few times, so I got some good close-ups.

chickadee close up 2
One more short hop and he'll reach the food.

chickedee wings in motion
Whoa! He missed the target! Cool wing shot, though.

chickadee close up
I love the delicate reddish tints and the many rich shades of gray capped off (get it?)with jet black on brilliant white.

chickadee close up 4
Caught in mid landing!

chickadee close up 3
I think everyone loves chickadees. Surely everyone in Massachusetts does, anyway.

chickadee close up 6
I love all the onomatopoeia bird names (birds named after the sound they make), but the chickadee is by far the best one. It even sounds cute! I know I was really tiny when my mom taught me to recognize both the chickadee-dee-dee and the phoe-be sounds. I taught my kids to recognize both chickadee sounds when they were really young, too.

chickadee close up 5
I snapped this one as he grabbed the seed and started taking off. I didn't exactly freeze the action here, but personally I like the wings-in-motion look.


Carolina Wrens in the Snow

carolina wren suetfeeder
I didn't know wrens ate suet!

carolina wren suet
The snow was falling, and I thought I saw a goldfinch at the suet feeder, but it wasn't a goldfinch. It was a Carolina Wren.

carolina wren snow feeder
This is the new woodpecker suet my husband bought for me. I guess Carolina wrens like it too! Don't you love his profile?

carolina wren one
I'm in love once again!

carolina wren two
Love that alert little face that morphs into a body.

carolina wren suet 3
Carolina Wren in the snow. Doesn't sound right, does it?

carolina wren suet 2
Suet is high in fat (all fat, really), and good to eat when the weather turns bad.