Friday, August 31, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 30


Great Spangled Fritillary. The butterflies seem to like the White Snakeroot flowers that line the creekside, though the plant is poisonous to livestock and humans when ingested. This plant is the source of "milk sickness" caused by cows eating the plant and passing the toxin along in their milk.

Spotted Sandpiper. The number of sandpipers along the creek is starting to decline now.

Belted Kingfisher. Always vigilant!

Great Blue Heron. Also vigilant!

Eastern Phoebe. The summer residents are now starting to come out into the open again. With breeding season behind them and the environment filled with food, there is no longer a need to defend territories. Instead, it is time to start fattening up for the coming fall migration!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 29


Great Blue Heron. The juvenile herons are becoming a bit of a fixture along the creek of late. There are at least two that are hanging around pretty reliably.

Monarch. There has been a bit of a Monarch population explosion along the creek. Instead of one or two, there are now half a dozen or more. The rest of the park has seen a similar increase of Monarchs flying about, too.

Spotted Sandpiper. Tonight someone in the park was telling me that these birds breed in the park along the creek, as if this were common knowledge. It may be for some, but a check of the New York State Bird Breeding Atlas, 2nd edition, lists this species as only a "probable" breeder in area that includes the northern half of Oatka Creek Park. (The park straddles two atlas blocks.) In this case, I would believe this person based on my person observations and discussions with those behind the atlas about how hard it is to cover the state in detail with too few observers available. (Atlas observers are all volunteers. By the way, the field work for the 3rd edition atlas begins in 2020, so get ready!) Fortunately, he had fairly detailed information about where to look for their nesting sites. Now that that I know where to look, I'll be looking next spring!

Baltimore Oriole. More birds are beginning to emerge from hiding, it seems, like this juvenile.

Eastern Wood-Pewee. These birds are *very* vocal right now, in stark contrast to most other species. They are also cool customers, not seeming to be very disturbed by my proximity.

Eastern Wood-Pewee. "Pee-a-wee! Pee-wee!"

Indigo Bunting. This juvenile, that I encountered a couple weeks ago along the creek, is still in the same area. It was giving machine gun "spitting" calls. It's a wonder I got a picture with its bill closed!

Belted Kingfisher. My daily picture.

Downy Woodpecker. Woodpecker activity from multiple species has picked up sharply this week, too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 28


Great Spangled Fritillary. These large orange butterflies are still hanging on along the creekside.

Spotted Sandpiper. This is a juvenile with a very pronounced white eye ring.

Monarch. Despite its petals being finished, this Green-headed Coneflower still appears to be inviting to our winged friend.

Panicled Asters. Suddenly, these flowers are becoming numerous along the field trails of the park.

Goldenrod along Bluebird Trail. The goldenrod has not yet peaked as witnessed by all the green among the yellow. Two of the bluebird nesting boxes can be seen in the distance as tiny specks left of center. (You may wish to click on the picture for a larger version.)

New England Aster. Another fall wildflower has begun blooming. This was an isolated plant, also along Bluebird Trail. I also saw my first fall migrant passerine (song bird) today: a Yellow-rumped Warbler. The changing of the seasons is fast upon us!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Irondequoit Bay • August 26


Lesser Yellowlegs. The mud flat at the southern tip of Irondequoit Bay has formed for the season and is a magnet for migrating shore birds. Though observable from the shore, being seated in a nearby kayak allows you remarkable access to eye level perspectives of these birds. 

Lesser Yellowlegs. You can literally ground your kayak on the mudflat and the birds will not care in the least if you make no sudden movements. Today I chose not to approach that closely and to stay afloat instead.

Killdeer. The killdeers were a bit more skittish than the yellowlegs today.

Lesser Yellowlegs. Looking at all my field guides, it appears this yellowlegs (if not all the ones pictured here) is a juvenile.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Double-crested Cormorants. There were hundreds of cormorants roosting and milling around the bay today.

Great Blue Heron. Well, I hope the person who owns the boat that this bird is perching on doesn't mind heron poop.

Double-crested Cormorant. Note the leg band. I did some searching on the web and this bird may have been banded as part of a Cornell Oneida Lake project from 2001-2004. I have contacted the project leader with all the details. We'll see if I hear back and if they are still tracking these birds 10+ years on.

Double-crested Cormorant. These birds were making their deep guttural grunts or croaks at the roost site. I found it vaguely intimidating for some reason. Maybe I felt with hundreds of these birds perched overhead I was too vulnerable to a High Anxiety style attack. (See the Mel Brooks movie.)

Double-crested Cormorant. Again, in a kayak you seem to present a profile that the bird do not find threatening, so you can approach quite closely without upsetting anyone.

Double-crested Cormorant. It is easy to see here how their webbed feet have no problem wrapping around a branch.

Double-crested Cormorant 

Belted Kingfisher. The kingfishers were all about and being kingfishers: calling alarms all up and down the shore of the bay and being nervous about my proximity.

Great Egrets. These are one of my favorite water birds to migrate through our area in the fall.

Great Egret. No, I couldn't (and probably shouldn't) get as close to the egret as I could the yellowlegs. What a pity! :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 25


Eastern Wood-Pewee. It was another quiet late summer morning along the creek today. It was already quite hot by 9 AM and most birds were already in hiding from the heat. Pewees do not seem to be as affected by the heat, though. Perhaps this is because they generally stick to the heavier wooded areas.

Belted Kingfisher. The kingfishers were in typical form this morning, tearing up and down the creek, raising persistent alarm calls as they went.

White Admiral. This butterfly was certainly keeping an eye on me, as you can see!

Red Admiral. I chose to expose this picture to bring out the details of the underside of the wings. The butterfly seems to be feeding on minerals, e.g., salts, from the ground. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 24


Shadow Darner. It is easy to identify this dragonfly as a darner. It is much harder to figure out which *kind* of darner it is. Shadow is my best guess.

Shadow Darner

Viceroy. This butterfly is smaller than a Monarch and has extra markings on its hinds wings. Finally, as I saw today, when a Viceroy glides, it holds its wings absolutely flat across. Monarchs hold their wings in a V when gliding.

Pearl Crescent on a Green-headed Coneflower. Coneflowers seem to be a particular favorite of bees. I have to push my way past many coneflowers with bees on them as I walk Trout Run Trail these days. Fortunately, none of them are stinging bees!

Great Blue Heron. This juvenile flew into the middle of the creek as I was crossing the bridge to leave the creek area. It really wanted that perch despite my relatively nearby presence. It was a hot afternoon, broke a weather record, I believe, so I won't think the bird wanted to sunbathe.

Panicled Asters. Another sign of the approaching end of summer. Asters are starting to bloom in small numbers at the base of Maple Hill. Well, at least we made it through most of August first!

Cedar Waxwing. No waxwings were at the creek today, but a small number were flycatching over Maple Hill. This bird here is taking a break to pant a bit in the hot sun before going after more bugs!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 23


Spotted Sandpiper. It was a warm and very quiet afternoon in the park today. This juvenile sandpiper was picking through the mud flats in the creek. An Osprey whistled nervously above, but always stayed hidden within the tree canopy. The kingfishers rattled back and forth along the waterway.

Eastern Wood-Pewee. Despite the hot afternoons when the loudest sounds are from the insect chorus, pewees and towhees still call out at regular intervals. This pewee was flycatching from a perch over the water.

Eastern Comma. White Cabbage butterflies are everywhere and Orange Sulphurs are fairly common. I saw another Eastern Tailed-Blue today, but it avoided the camera lens. Pearl Crescents complete the list of common butterflies at the present. I may only see one Eastern Comma a day, now. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • August 22


Belted Kingfisher. It was another relatively warm day along the creek. The kingfisher here is panting, having worked itself up flying up and and down the creek, giving warning calls to everyone that I was in the area.

Belted Kingfisher

Indigo Bunting. Today's surprise was this juvenile Indigo Bunting that producing nonstop "spitting" alarm calls when I passed by its territory along the creek. It seemed to be torn between wanting to inspect me and wanting to leave. It ending up staying on a given perch until I got a direct bead with my camera at which point it would shift perches. This continued for several moments before I became too quick at reframing the scene, at which point it left.

Great Spangled Fritillary. Joe-Pye Weed blooms are still flourishing and providing ample nectaring opportunities for the butterflies.

Indigo Bunting. On my return trip down the creek trail my new best friend came out for round two! Is that an inquisitive look or what?

Eastern Tailed-Blue. Today this small butterfly kept its distance as it flitted from White Clover to White Clover along Bluebird Trail.

Eastern Tailed-Blue. This was the best shot that clearly shows the tails and the orange spots both beneath and above the wings.