Something Completely Different and Crazy Looking!

Do you know what this is? I didn't have a clue what I was looking at when I saw a bunch of these birds at a farm this weekend.   This is a Guinea Fowl.  Isn't it the coolest and strangest looking thing?  Guinea Fowl are originally from Africa, but they have been introduced to other ecosystems all over the world centuries ago.  They are in the same family as Chickens and Turkeys, but less domesticated.  The absolutely coolest thing about Guinea Fowl is that they eat DEER TICKS!

This is the other full grown adult in the bunch.  Which is the male and which the hen?  I haven't a clue.  There are many varieties of Guinea Fowl, and from what I have been able to figure out, the males and females of each variety are supposed to be identical.  That's why I think this pair is a mixed marriage, so to speak.  I thought this bird was the female, but in retrospect I don't know why I thought that. 

This family has 14 youngsters, which are pretty damned cute themselves!  I swear, I could spend hours watching these guys - which is probably why they are often bought as more or less pets.  They aren't friendly towards humans, so they really don't make good pets - but they make great pest eaters!  They eat all sorts of nasty bugs and things.  They also make for good eating, or so I'm told.  They are sometimes known as the 'poor man's pheasant'.

Here is a shot of Mom and Dad with some of their offspring.  If anyone knows who is the Dad in this picture, please let me know! 

I'll leave you with another shot of a baby Guinea, also known as a keet because of the cute little noise they make.  I'll have more images and more information about Guinea Fowl to share with you later on this week, but at this point don't you just want some of your own?  I know I do!


Ospreys in Detail

I never believed that I could have too many Osprey photos - but I do!

This must have been a banner year for Osprey.  I have dozens of shots of an Osprey right overhead, and Tom captured twice as many as I did!

This one is starting the typical 'Osprey Dance' that signifies that the hunt is on.

When it looks like they are dancing on air, they are actually searching for prey and getting ready to dive in and snatch it up..

Sometimes they dance for so long I give up on ever seeing a dive, which is what happened here!


Black, Green, and Gold: American Black Ducks in the Summer Sun

After a morning watching Eiders at our beach, these ducks were initially confusing - but lovely!

They may not be flashy or exotic, but the American Black duck is far from dull.

When you hit it right, the water in the marsh is like glass.  If it weren't for the deer flies and ticks, it would be heavenly!

When they spied us, they both turned and headed deeper into the marsh.  It looked like they were entering Never-Never Land!

Even watching them fly away was a pleasure!


Cape Cod Cormorant

cormorant 2011
Cormorant om the rocks

cormorant one 2011
This cormorants fluffed up and fancy

cormorant two 2011
Here he is with two friends.

cormorant three 2011
Here he is stretching the heck out of his neck

cormorant five 2011
A strikingly handsome fellow, despite being somewhat troublesome at times.


Herring Gull Captures Conch!

gull killing a conch
I saw a Herring Gull circling overhead with something in his mouth that didn't look much like a clam shell.

gull killing a conch 2
I realized it was a little conch seconds before the gull dropped it on the beach to break open the shell.

gull killing a conch 3
The gull dropped down nearby, looking pleased as punch with himself.

gull killing a conch 4
He then proceeded to unceremoniously tear that little animal out of it's shell . . .

gull killing a conch 5
. . . and eat it up!


Dancing Double-crested Cormorant

shaking double crested cormorant
A blue eyed Double-crested Cormorant shaking off his water-drenched feathers.

shaking double crested cormorant 2
Unfortunately, it's hard to tell from the images that this guy was really quite vigorously thrashing about in the water.

shaking double crested cormorant 3
He looked like he was frantically dancing to some wild and crazy beat.

shaking double crested cormorant 4
Not that shaking along is sufficient for a cormorant's feathers to dry out. They stand around in the sun for a thorough drying off.


Killer Eider gets Common Crab!

My husband, Tom, managed to capture these actions shots of an Common Eider catching a crab near the beach of vacation rental house in Pocasset, Cape Cod. The funniest shot of this series has to be when the eider throws the crab up in the air.  I think she is trying to kill it by drowning it!  Of course, another explanation would be that the crab pinched her, and she tossed it away instinctively!

 She immediately grabbed it out of the water, though.  Then she proceeded to shake it vigorously for over five minutes.

The crab was tough to kill, if that's what she was trying to do.  I saw a Herring Gull tear a crab to pieces and eat it alive this weekend, but I imagine that is pretty tough to do while swimming.

The Common Eider shook the crab for quite a while, and then she tossed it down whole.  Catching and eating these good sized crabs was a fairly common practice for ducks, gulls, and osprey this year.  Evidently it is a very good year for crabs!


Gull and Blue Crab on Cape Cod!

Juv gull with BLUE crab Since I didn't see the beginning of this drama, I'm not entirely sure this particular gull was responsible for catching the crab in the water or not! What I found most interesting was the color of the crab. Unless it was a trick of the light, I was sure the crab was BLUE.

Like every other gull, duck, and osprey I saw on vacation, this young gull knows that crabs make for good eating, no matter what color they are! He isn't about to let a meal like this one walk or float away from him.

Juv gull with blue crab 2 Dragging the crab up onto the beach is not an inconsequential task. It take quite a few tries before the gull makes any headway at all.

Juv gull with blue crab 3 When he pulls the crab from the water, it becomes apparent that this is indeed a blue crab. I had to google this phenomenon to verify that there were blue crabs on Cape Cod in the first place.

Juv gull with blue crab 4 According to an article by Dana Eldridge in the Cape Codder, blue crabs are only an occasional visitor on the cape. These lovely colored fellows are more likely to be found in Chesapeake Bay than in Cape Cod Bay. Occasionally they get carried up here by the tide, however. When this occurs, it is good news for birds, people, and many other predators because evidently blue crabs are a tasty little treat for all!


Great Egrets Flying (and Dancing!)

egret flight 2011 A Great Egret. You can almost always count on seeing Great Egrets at Leary's Conservation area in Bourne, Massachusetts.

egret flight two 2011 This Great Egret was simply too close to miss! He basically flew right over my head.

egret flight three 2011 Seeing such a spectacular bird on a regular basis doesn't make the sight of a massive Great Egret flying above any less awe-inspiring!

dancing great egret
Tom captured this magical shot of a Great Egret touching down (very lightly!) to land in the shallow water.

egret learys 2011
Tom also captured quite a few outstanding shots of an egret hunting in Monks Cove, which is near the Pocasset River on upper Cape Cod.


Green Heron on Dock

Green Heron on Dock Green Heron from about 10 feet away. Green Heron on Dock II He was standing on the dock next to the Lobster Trap restaurant. I almost always see Green Herons here. Green Heron on Dock III Going into hunting mode here. I don't know what he thought he was going to hunt from the dock, though. Green Heron on Dock IV Stalking Mode. Check out the size of those feet! green heron minnow He did eventually catch a little minnow, and Tom captured him with the fish in his mouth. If you look closely, it almost seems like the fish is smiling! Unlikely, I know!


Osprey Catching a Huge Fish Offshore

osprey catching fish Osprey after a dive. That's our little catamaran in the photo

osprey catching fish two Rising from the deep with a really large fish!

osprey catching fish three So heavy he almost drops it. . .

osprey catching fish four But he manages to get a grip.

osprey catching fish six Then he is off for a long spiral flight back home with his prize.

osprey catching fish five Believe me, every beat of his wings takes a tremendous effort!

osprey catching fish seven It is not the most graceful Osprey flight you'll ever see!