Osprey in Sherborn, MA!

I almost fainted when I saw this Osprey fly over our heads yesterday.  We were at a pond in Sherborn, Massachusetts in the middle of November.  There shouldn't be any Osprey here!  Thank goodness my good friend Pam was there with her camera ready!  Pam - who has never before photographed a bird in flight -  was able to get some outstanding photos to prove we saw what we saw!

I was jumping up and down with excitement, but neither Pam nor Carolyn are birders.  They never heard of an Osprey, so it wasn't that much of a thrill for them to see one fly over a pond in Sherborn in November.  As for me, I still can't believe that I saw him - and I still can't believe that these gorgeous shots were taken by someone who has never photographed a bird before.

From very far away I thought it was a GBH; as he came closer I decided it had to be a Great Black Backed Gull because it couldn't be anything else . . . I didn't recognize my summertime Cape Cod friend until he was practically overhead!

If Pam hadn't taken these amazing shots, I probably wouldn't have felt confident enough to report this sighting on eBird.  I get very intimidated by the warning messages and the comments required when reporting a rare bird.  With such indisputable proof in hand, however, it felt great to confirm and submit seeing an Osprey in Sherborn in November.  Rare Bird Alert - with pictures posted on The Nature of Framingham blog!


Birding with Socrates

 Birding at Callahan State Park in Framingham is always fun.  Birding at Callahan State Park with Socrates is a skill I've yet to master, however.  That's why I'm so proud of catching a few photos of a Great Blue Heron today.

Of course, Socrates is far and away the best dog in the universe.  (He's also so adorable that he attracts attention everywhere we go).  There is nothing he loves more than running through field and forest at top speed, chasing after rodents and looking for canine playmates around every corner.  Today he had a terrific time!

 Socrates made a new friend and truly had fun racing around with the pup.

He bounded in and out of the pond and did his best to get filthy dirty.  He did a good job of it, too!

In between breaking up some overly energetic entanglements with other dogs and screeching at Socrates not to jump on infants and toddlers, I managed to catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron hiding in the reeds.  Even this photo is quite an accomplishment considering the small lens I was carrying and the chaos all around me!

When Socrates came too close, the Great Blue Heron took off across the pond.  He was gorgeous!

Even his reflection was lovely in the afternoon sun.

The little dog pond that is usually such a madhouse suddenly became a vision of loveliness.

Despite the mud and the mishaps, Socrates and I had a wonderful day!


Great Blue Goes Fishing in a Boat!

My husband Tom captured this entrancing series of Great Blue Heron photos from the backyard of our cottage in Pocasset, MA.

The big fellow climbs right onto the edge of the boat.

Evidently, there is something edible inside the little red boat!

 Did he get anything?  I really can't tell!

 In any case, he decides to give up on this particular fishing trip.

He is a spectacular beast, isn't he?  He'd look a great deal more spectacular if the camera settings hadn't been mysteriously reset.  I can't imagine how it could have happened, but nearly every custom setting - including the picture size - had been altered.  All the photos that my husband captured on vacation were taken in the default JPEG normal size; which I NEVER use on any camera.  All the more credit to the photographer for getting such marvelous images with a less than optimum setup, right?


A Living Symphony of Grace and Joy!

Is there anything as beautiful as a tern?

Their every move is grace personified. Just watching them will soothe your soul.

A flock of terns is like a symphony of pure joy.

Even in conflict they appear harmonious.

Terns are poetry in motion.  
 "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world
Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann


Plenty of Piping Plovers!

piping_plover four birdathon 2012
I'm still inconsolably bummed by the loss of a camera and lens that I can't afford to replace, but there's no reason not to share a few Bird-a-thon photos!  I have tons of Piping Plover pictures, for instance.  This one is an unusual view of a Piping Plover, 

piping plover plymouthbeach three 2012
Piping Plover Looking Up

piping_plover two birdathon 2012
Piping Plover Fishing

Piping Plover in a Tire Track


Piping Plover Escaping the Tire Track



Socrates Joins the Family!

I may have lost a two thousand dollars worth of photography equipment, but it is hard to complain when I am lucky enough to have adopted a new best friend named Socrates.  He is without a doubt the best, smartest, and most adorable dog on the planet!

Socrates was a 'Rescue Dog" from Louisiana.  I was not aware until I started looking for a rescue dog that the vast majority of dogs in shelters facing imminent euthanasia are from our Southern states.   Evidently, they don't do a lot of spaying and neutering in many states down south, so there's a vast overpopulation of dogs and cats.  

I could not figure out why such a bright, fun, loving, adorable little dog ended up in a shelter.  But it was no longer much of a mystery after he bit right through four leashes in less than four days.  He doesn't like to be on a leash AT ALL.  He also bit through the collar you see in these photos.  Luckily, I was just a few feet away every time.

The leash above is sliced neatly in two also, come to think of it.  But he is just as bright when it comes to learning what he's supposed to do, and he is the best canine companion I could ask for!  How about this:  Socrates sits and watches birds with me without barking or chasing them, but he's a dynamo when it comes to chasing gray squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits.  They are OUTTA HERE!  

Here we are on the day we finally saw each other for the first time!  I was already in love, and I tracked him on Facebook as he journeyed 2,000 miles to find his 'forever home.'   Thanks to April Reeves at Mutts4rescue, and thanks to Greg and the crew of Rescue Road Trips (who have transported over thirty thousand dogs to new homes in the northeast!!!), and thanks to all the volunteers that come out in droves to care for the dogs at every stop along the way - we have a new family member.  I'm ever so pleased to introduce (drum roll, please!) . . . Socrates!


One Camera Destroyed, But Still Trying!

I'm not complaining or anything, but things have been even tougher since I destroyed an expensive camera and an equally expensive lens during Bird-a-thon.  Actually,  Mother Nature was wholly responsible for the carnage - I was 100% innocent. 

I'm devastated, discouraged, dismayed, and despondent about my sandblasted Nikon D7000 and my beloved Tamron 200-500 lens.  It was the freakiest thing you could imagine, really.  Tom and I were sitting together on the beach at Sandy Neck in Sandwich when a terrific blast of wind sent a ton of sand right in my face.  I had sand that felt like glass in my eyes, sand in my nose, mouth, ears, hair and every inch of skin - exposed or not.  Far worse was how much sand got deep into every crevice of the lens and camera, and even blasted a nice windswept pattern on the front lens itself. 

Tom just happened to be facing in the other diresction, and he didn't even notice the sandstorm until he noticed the tears as my eyes tried to expel the little razor blades behind both eyelids.  I'm always the lucky one in the family!

I'm pretty sure the camera is no longer under warranty, and I am afraid to find out that the lens won't be covered because I didn't register it in time or something.  I mean, I think I did, but knowing me . . .

All of these were taken with the Nikon D300 and Tom's Tamron 200-500.  His stuff is still in flawless condition, while I am royally screwed.  Go figure!


Bird-a-thon Birds!

A collection of our Bird-a-thon photos.  Here's a Piping Plover.  We saw a million of them during Bird-a-thon!

My favorite shorebird; an American Oystercatcher!

A gorgeous Common Tern.

A Tree Sparrow at Sandy Neck in Sandwich.

A Least Tern at Sandy Neck beach.


Birding for Mother's Day!

My mother was a birder, so I grew up watching cardinals at the window feeder and listening to bird songs on the record player.  I also grew up visiting Mass Audubon Sanctuaries frequently, so I think it's fitting that I honor my mother by participating in Bird-a-thon on Mother's day weekend.  After all, I wouldn't be able to bird for 24 hours straight if I hadn't learned birding at my mother's knee, so to speak.  

Bird-a-thon will be crazed and exhausting and fun, as usual.   My goal is to increase the number of species we see by at least 10.  Tom and I were so intensely focused on shorebirds last year that we forgot to look for familiar feeder birds like the American Goldfinch pictured above. (Such idiocy is hard to believe, I know!)  Believe me, that won't happen again.  This year Mother's Day will be on my mind, and I'll remember my mothers favorite backyard bird without fail!

My mother taught me all about birds, but I am just one of many amateur birders that she inspired.  Her four siblings used to laugh at mom's bird-watching, but eventually every one of them had a feeder or two in their own back yards!  I know that many of my mom's nieces and nephews are at least casual birders, and that all my cousins brought their kids up with a real appreciation of birds and nature in general, as I did.  My second cousin's blog, BirdingGirl, inspired me to start blogging myself, and now my son has a birding blog (Nature of Oregon), too.  Three bird bloggers in one family, for goodness sake!

I admit that I was less than enthusiastic about tagging along on bird-walks as a kid - especially before I got my first pair of glasses.  I was blind as a bat, and couldn't see a bird in my hand, never mind a bird in a bush (or a tree, for that matter.)  But Mom never gave up on me.  She dragged my sister and I to every birding hot-spot in the state long before anyone invented Important Bird Areas (IBAs).  Looking back, I can't help but wonder how the real birders put up with two little kids tagging along on trips to Block Island or Mt. Auburn Cemetery.  (BTW, I'm the one with the glasses; my mother is the tall one, and my sister is the blond.)

Mother's Day is going to be really tough for our family this year.  Mom's been in a Nursing Home for over a week now, and that is a desperately sad place for anyone to be.  I doubt I would have signed up for Bird-a-thon if I had known what was ahead for my mom.  I want to cry every time I think about how excited she was to learn that I was giving another Bird-a-thon presentation for all her friends at Carmel Terrace.  She told every resident that they had to attend, never imagining that she wouldn't be attending as a resident herself.  It hurts just thinking about it, but the show will go on anyway.  I'm doing the presentation in her honor, and she'll be there to see it if I have to carry her there!

Actually, participating in Bird-a-thon and raising money for Mass Audubon is a very appropriate way of celebrating my mother on Mother's day.  It is thanks to her that I love nature and it is thanks to her that I love birds and birding.  What better way to show my gratitude than raising money for Mass Audubon and helping to ensure the nature of Massachusetts will still be here for other generations to enjoy?

Donating to Bird-a-thon is an excellent way to honor your mother this Mother's Day.  Why not make a donation in her name right now?