Reaching the peak


Maple on fire!

What a morning. We are reaching the peak of color out back by the pond, field and red maple swamp.


White-throated sparrow, a bird we see in winter.


Sun coming up, moon going down. Pretty sure this tree had leaves yesterday!


Must remember these colors. They go so fast. And we go soon. House closing date is Nov. 29.




A nice place for a dog walk.


Yellow-rumped warblers are still here.

The chosen pond


Solitary Sandpiper is not alone.


Bird is here.

The garage beyond is affectionately known as the Pondhouse. Photos were taken yesterday. We are reaching peak color here at the edge of the red maple swamp.

First year I’ve ever seen a Solitary Sandpiper. Also the first year we’ve ever had a significant muddy clay beach rimming the pond due to extreme drought and low water levels.

The rock in the photo below was underwater and invisible to us for the 18 years we’ve lived here. The streams around here have completely dried up. At least it’s been a pretty mosquito-free summer and fall!


There was one SS stopping over at the end of September. I assume this is a different one, also on its way south.


Pretty markings.



Food is small invertebrates, sometimes small frogs, picked off the mud as the bird works steadily around the edges of its chosen pond.

NYT: Scenes from New England’s Drought

Some private wells have dried up. Farmers face millions of dollars in lost crops, and federal agricultural officials have declared much of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut a natural disaster area. Parts of rivers have withered into a series of ponds or wide stretches of stone, harming the ecosystems that depend on them. Bears and other wild animals are venturing into human habitats in search of food because there is little in their own.


Hunter’s Moon and… wood storks?


You can’t see any birds in this photo but they are there, finding their secret night time roosting spots. Almost-full Hunter’s Moon was rising over the pond last night as I took the dog for one last walk.

Our contingent buyers got their house under contract and we now have a closing date of November 30. Hard to think of saying good-bye at the most crazy beautiful time of year. I will close my eyes and think of the wretched cold, gray, months-long winter plus mud season instead. And of new adventures.

We are making an offer on a house in Florida’s Treasure Coast. Soon I will be learning some strange new birds…


Like the Wood Stork.

A large, white, bald-headed wading bird of the southeastern swamps, the Wood Stork is the only stork breeding in the United States.

I took these photos on our vacation last April. A spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon in Stuart, FL has been adopted by nesting birds of all sorts. It is a very short boat or kayak ride from the neighborhood we hope to live in.

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Arrow points to Bird Island. The town/peninsula of Sewall’s Point is our hoped-for new location.


In April, we went on a pontoon boat nature tour and had lunch next to this island, watching storks, brown pelicans, white ibis, spoonbills, snowy egrets, cormorants, night herons, osprey, and even a few magnificent frigatebirds!

Will this be in my new “backyard”? …


A bizarre wading bird of the southern coasts, the Roseate Spoonbill uses its odd bill to strain small food items out of the water. Its bright pink coloring leads many Florida tourists to think they have seen a flamingo.

Flamingo? We will not make that mistake, oh no.



At the edge of the swamp


Where’s Waldo?


Swamp Sparrow in the alder bushes.



Temps in the 40s this morning, but standing still in sunshine trying to photograph some birds I was hot in my jacket. The light is SO great for photography now.


I did not edit these photos at all, just slapped ’em up on the blog. These light conditions are good for my point-and-shoot bird camera, the Canon Powershot SX60, almost always on auto setting. Someday I will upgrade my skills and equipment. Meanwhile this camera has served me well for watching and learning.

#59 is a butterbutt


There were warblers in the maples out by the pond this morning, but what kind?


Maybe 8 or 10 flitting around, hard to see, mostly making chip noises, sometimes trilling faint tuneless trills.


Later, comparing photos with internet photos and descriptions, and checking local eBird checklists, I thought they might be Yellow-rumped Warblers. But I didn’t have a photo of the defining feature, the yellow rump patch.


Bird Watcher’s Digest: One of the best-known warblers in the United States—and easily the most widespread and numerous in winter—the yellow-rumped warbler is a paradox: Its plumage and its habitats are very variable; yet, it is relatively easy to identify whenever you find it. The yellow-rumped warbler is 5 to 6 inches long, with a sharp thin bill and slightly notched tail. In breeding plumage, the eastern male is blue-gray with a white throat and belly, black streaking on the back, a black face patch, two white wing bars, black bib, and yellow spots on the crown, shoulders, and rump. Spring females are browner and duller than their mates. Immatures and fall adults are brown above, with brown-streaked underparts and little or no yellow visible. The one constant in all plumages is the bright yellow rump.

Looks like its plumage winter.


I went out to the pond at lunchtime and tried a few more photos. I thought I saw the yellow patch but I did not get a photo. They don’t hold still very long!


Finally, 4:15 p.m… bingo!

“I got your butt,” I told this little bird.

Breeding in the far north, the eastern race of the yellow-rumped warbler is known in most of the country only as a migrant or winter resident. Migrants can be found in woodlands, hedge-rows, thickets, and even along beaches as they stream through in large flocks. Winter birds congregate wherever they can find berries, their principal cold-weather food. In Florida, yellow-rumps are known to drink the juice of broken or fallen oranges, and throughout their winter range they will consume weed seeds large and small. Some yellow-rumps come to backyard feeders where they eat a variety of fare.

I learned a new bird today! and it was one of the challenging (to me) warblers. Also, it is backyard bird #59.

A Facebook friend said birders nickname the Yellow-rumped Warbler “butterbutt.” I love that.

Birds in October sun

The tube feeder is hanging in the gingko tree out front. I sat on the front porch steps for a few minutes yesterday and observed the birds.


Black-capped Chickadee inspects the seed mix.




Finding a good one.


Scruffy little American Goldfinch.


Two goldfinches.


Goldfinch with sunflower seed.

“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Keeping an eye on Hampton marsh


First thing we noticed, bird-wise, on our walk in Hampton marsh yesterday was the enormous flock(s) of crows swirling around and making a ruckus. This photo captures about a quarter of the number we saw (and heard).

Why were they there? It looked like a big crow meet up.


It’s a great place for a dog walk, with the long, straight path of the old rail line cutting right through the marsh. Except Radar doesn’t like to walk across the scary old bridge so he swims and meets us on the other side.


Crows everywhere, keeping an eye on us. Keen students of human activity that they are.


We also saw several lone sandpipers… Greater Yellowlegs.


John and Radar on the path, with crows watching.


Greater Yellowlegs keeps an eye on the sky. (Later we saw two Bald Eagles a few miles away, when we stopped for lunch at Applecrest Farm in Hampton Falls.)


The two yellowlegs species are very similar. Size is marked different when they appear together and can be compared against each other. Greater Yellowlegs‘s bill appears slightly upturned and blunt-tipped, while Lesser Yellowlegs’s bill is straight and sharp-pointed. Lesser’s bill is always dark, while Greater’s bill is grayish at the base in nonbreeding season. Voice is best distinguishing character: Greater gives three or four piercing notes, Lesser two rapid, softer short whistles (sometimes or or three).

This bird was calling, and definitely with three piercing notes.


Although the Greater Yellowlegs is common and widespread, its low densities and tendency to breed in inhospitable, mosquito-ridden muskegs make it one of the least-studied shorebirds on the continent.





A very sweet looking bird, if you ask me.


Greater Yellowlegs takes off. Marsh is getting its October colors.

We saw egrets and herons from a distance, but my photos weren’t great. Here are a couple of pics from a few weeks ago in the same marsh…


Great Blue Heron.


Great Egret.