Face to face with an Osprey!

Osprey pocasset 1 July 30 2010
A quick trip down the Cape yielded some great birding. One of the highlights of the day was my husband getting these amazing closeup shots of an Osprey as circled overhead. In this picture, the Osprey is looking at the photographer as if he is potential prey.

Osprey pocasset 2 July 30 2010
A man-made Osprey nest at this location was occupied, but it was impossible to tell from our location whether the two black and white birds on the nest were young Ospreys. If so, their parents would be hard pressed to provide enough food for two full grown but still dependant offspring.

Osprey pocasset 3 July 30 2010
There are usually osprey to be seen at this marshy location, but rarely do they descend this low with humans about.

Osprey pocasset 4 July 30 2010
A magnificent predator, the osprey is also has a magnificent and intimidating appearance. In my opinion, they are as impressive as our other large black and white predator species, the American Eagle!


Delicate Doves

mourning dove looking up

Mourning Doves are pretty common, ordinary birds. But did you ever take a close look at them? They have some lovely luminescent colors. And they have a nicely shaped head and pretty eyes, too.

mourning dove sideview

Check out the iridescence epaulets that sparkle and change colors in the sunlight. Check out the polka dots, too.

mourning dove with seed

In my yard, mourning doves usually eat under the feeders. Lately, the frenzy at the feeders has meant less seed on the ground, so there are mourning doves in the platform feeders almost every day.

juv mourning dove

Here is a juvenile mourning dove. As you can see, she lacks both the exquisite colors and the grace of her mother. Pretty eyes, though!

juv mourning dove 2

A face only a mother could love? No, I'm kidding. A very attractive young bird!


Flickers from Flickr!

flicker concord 4
Northern Flickers are one of my favorite birds. Who can resist a woodpecker that often doesn't peck wood? A woodpecker that is down on the ground more often than not. Who can resist the subtle but startling coloration of a Flicker, for that matter?

flicker concord 5
This shot gives you a good look at the lovely spotted underside of a Northern Flicker.

flicker concord 3
Their streamlined shape of a Flicker contributes to an overall impression of grace and style. You can also see the familial resemblance to a Red-bellied Woodpecker in this shot.


Black-Bellied Plovers

black-bellied plover on rocks
The black-bellied plovers should be one of the easiest shorebirds to ID, right? But a few factors to consider are; 1) other plovers species have black bellies. 2) black-bellied plovers don't always have black bellies. How black a belly they have depends on age, time of year, breeding cycle, and numerous other factors. This is a breeding male Black-bellied Plover.

young black bellied ploverlover
This is (I believe) a juvenile black-bellied plover. Personally, I recognize the big, round eyes more than the striped or mottled plumage. The white belly is another clue.

black bellied plover family
I think there is a female, a male, an immature, and a juvenile - along with various other species. What do you think?

black bellied plover 2
Breeding male, most definitely.

go plovers go
Black-bellied Plover family in flight. I have no clue who's who here. How about you tell me?


Petes Puffins, Glossy Ibis, Black Guillemots, Common Loon, etc.

puffin 2
Pete and Melinda went to Maine for the weekend, and saw so many birds that I am very jealous. I will try not to show it, though. They went on a boat and saw PUFFINS! I love puffins! They are so adorable that they look like cuddly toys.

Look at him! He is irresistible! People have seen the occasional straggler in Massachusetts, but you really have to go north for puffins.

glossy ibis
A Glossy Ibis! This really hurts. Glossy Ibis are right at the top of my 'must see' list. Evidently Maine is a birder's paradise! Who knew?

How about this beautiful Common Loon? Stunning, really. I have seen Common Loons before, but I want to hear one making a spooky call across the water. I don't know if he got to hear this loon calling - I kind of hope he didn't! (How petty can I be, right?)

Northern Parula Warbler
This little beauty is a Northern Parula Warbler. How gorgeous are those colors? What a stunning and glorious little bird.

This is a Black Guillemot (rhymes with 'spill-a-lot'), which breeds along the coasts of Canada and Greenland. It is a member of the puffin family. One notable feature of the Black Guillemot is it's bright red feet!

Her is a bunch of Black Guillemots on the rocks. If you look carefully you can see the bright red feet. Pete and Melinda saw even more species than I included here on their weekend trip to Maine. I am now convinced that a trip to Maine is in my future as well. After all, I have family there!


Goodbye Midnight. We love you and we miss you.

midnight II 2009
I'll bet you think this is a half-grown kitten, but Midnight was actually more than full grown when this was taken. In fact, she was 16 years old! I'm posting pictures of Midnight to celebrate her life, a life that ended all too soon as far as we're concerned.

In 1993, Midnight and her mother and brothers and sisters were abandoned by a heartless owner who snuck away in the dark of night, never to be seen again. The next day my youngest son had brought the big mama cat and a piteously mewing black and white kitten home for some food. By the time he finished explaining the plight of the homeless kitties, I was hooked. The next thing I knew I was shopping for cat food and arranging for a vet.

Midnight's mother, Fifi, was a terror all her life. To be honest, Midnight herself could be dangerous when crossed. But we didn't care about a few scratches and bites - we loved her to death, and (except for my husband) we were her willing slaves for life.

middy in the grass
Midnight was Pete's cat at first, but she gradually accepted the other kids too. Children grow up and away, though, and after eight or ten years Midnight was reduced to spending most of her time with me. When our youngest left for college, Midnight moved with us to a Framingham apartment, and a year later she settled happily into our Framingham house. By then, she and I were inseparable.

midnight sleeping
Actually, Midnight and I were inseparable only when my daughter was away at school. She would move back into Meg's bed whenever Meg was home. Midnight's true love, however, was reserved for the boy that saved her life. She didn't care that her boy was now a man, or that he didn't live with us anymore. She was as loyal and as appreciative and loving as an animal could ever be.

midnight bed
For the last few years, Midnight and I were always together. I loved her and she loved me back. When she first got sick, I gladly spent whatever it cost to nurse her back to health. I don't regret even one of the emergency visits to Tufts Animal Hospital, because each time she came home healthy and well. Honestly, Midnight was a kitten till the very end. But then came a day when she didn't get better; a day we all saw her  pain. On that day we released her. She deserved that much from us, no matter how hard it was to let her leave.

Weeks have passed and I still see Midnight whenever I walk into a room or go around a corner. I hear her voice behind every door, and I see her curled up in my bed every single night. But she isn't there. I spend too many hours alone, and I am often lonely. She was my constant companion for more years than I had a right to expect, and I miss her very much. We all miss her very much. I know we will miss her and love her forever.  We will forever be grateful that Midnight shared her life with us for such a long, long time.


Willets: Stunning and Surprising Shorebirds!

I'M BACK! I have been away from blogging and flickr for three weeks, during which time I sold my mom's house, sorted through more than two tons of stuff that had accumulated over the last 55 years, helped my husband remove the two tons of stuff and bring it to my house, paid all the bills and made all the legal arrangements, and finally, a few days ago, we finally closed the sale. I am far from finished with the job, since I now have 55 years worth of treasures and trash mingled together in boxes and bags stuffed into every inch of my garage and overflowing throughout my house, all of which must be re-sorted and put away eventually. But at least the buyers have a nice and virtually empty house to tear down next week. And I think I can take the time to finish some blog posts that were left half done!

This is a Willet. My first Willet, actually, but after just a bit of reading and research I've leaned how to recognize Willets nearly 100% of the time.  The trick is to look for what cannot be seen!

willet pair
Willits are shorebirds that bear a slight resemblance to other sandpipers, but it takes a moment or two to realize they aren't your run-of-the-mill sandpipers at all. At rest and on the ground they are hardly a breathtaking bird in terms of plumage or coloring. In fact they are pretty unremarkable. They are larger than most shorebirds, standing about 14 inches tall, but they seem otherwise to be pretty drab.

willets sychronized takeoff
As you saw in the first picture, however, these birds are far from dull when they raise their wings to fly. The dramatic coloring underneath their wings will make you gasp with surprise the first time you see it!

synchronized takeoff 2
This pair of birds are obviously practicing their synchronized flying routine. They are damned good at it, too!

synchronized takeoff
They are in near perfect harmony every time they move. When they raise their wings, all pretense of drab and dull conformity is wiped away, leaving most observers with the impulse to respond with applause and appreciation.

synchronized takeoff 3
Willets in flight are not only decorated with bold patterns and eye-catching style; they prove themselves to be are exceedingly graceful and skilled as they move off together as one.