Dog knows “leave it.” Human, not so much.

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I’ve been meaning to get some pictures of the small flock of Northern Flickers that has been visiting the back field for a week or so, but instead I got flicker feathers. Picked them up from under the big wild cherry tree about an hour ago.

Radar is the one who found them, in fact. “Bird,” I said. “Leave it. Back up.” He did. Hm, amazing. Is almost 14 months old the age German Shepherds achieve sanity?

A hawk has been hanging around, medium sized, mostly dark brown. That’s who I’m going to peg as the flicker predator.

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Do other people save pretty feathers? Maybe someone I know will want them.

Dear flicker, I’m sorry you died. But your life-force lives on, food for that hawk, and bits of your beauty live on, in this ziplock bag.

Feather ID… CLICK HERE to see a Northern Flicker in flight.

It’s still phoebe summer

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Eastern phoebe in the bayberry bush by the pond.

I’m happy to see this summer bird is still around.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Eastern Phoebe Migration

Short to medium distance migrant. Eastern Phoebes are among the first migrants to return to their breeding grounds in spring—sometimes as early as March. They migrate south in September–November, finding wintering habitat in the central latitudes of the United States south to Mexico.

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Phoebe on the garden fence.

Cornell Lab cool phoebe facts

In 1804, the Eastern Phoebe became the first banded bird in North America. John James Audubon attached silvered thread to an Eastern Phoebe’s leg to track its return in successive years.

Fisher king

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It’s a kingfisher, I swear! And I’m counting it as backyard bird #57.

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I have been trying to get a photo of a Belted Kingfisher out by the pond for a few years now. I either don’t have my camera with me when they are perched and holding still or I do have my camera with me and they zoom past like little aerial missiles (see above).

With its top-heavy physique, energetic flight, and piercing rattle, the Belted Kingfisher seems to have an air of self-importance as it patrols up and down rivers and shorelines.

They are noisy and I often hear them before (or without) seeing them.

Male and female Belted Kingfishers give strident, mechanical rattles in response to the slightest disturbance. When threatened they may give screams, which males sometimes combine with harsh calls.

Sandpiper on our pond “beach”

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This bird is not just alone, it’s Solitary.

I think it’s a Solitary Sandpiper.

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Our pond is so low now due to drought that it has a new “beach” along the edge. And now it has a sandpiper too!

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the Solitary Sandpiper

Breeds in taiga, nesting in trees in deserted songbird nests. In migration and winter found along freshwater ponds, stream edges, temporary pools, flooded ditches and fields, more commonly in wooded regions, less frequently on mudflats and open marshes.

Backyard bird #56!

Do not fetch the bird

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We surprised a cormorant, fishing in a spot right near where we were walking on the old rail bed through Hampton Marsh.

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Instead of flying away, the cormorant paddled off. The dog decided to give chase.

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The bird hit the spot where the tidal current rips fast under an old bridge.

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The dog is a good swimmer but I thought that current might be too much for him and he’d be swept down the river through the marsh then out to sea.

“Radar, come back!”

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Good boy.

Sneaking up on a small heron

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I stalked a stalking bird this morning. I spy backyard bird #55, a Green Heron.

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This stealthy little bird has been fishing and hunting around the muddy edges of our pond for a week or so, according to my husband who has been spotting it off and on.

This morning I left my husband and dog inside and tiptoed through the woods to the pond.

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From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest.

I first saw and photographed one in the Everglades a couple of winters ago, along the Anhinga Trail. Photos HERE.

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Cool fact from Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.

I will keep an eye out for that!

Green Herons eat mainly small fish such as minnows, sunfish, catfish, pickerel, carp, perch, gobies, shad, silverside, eels, and goldfish. They also feeds on insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents.

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Nicely camouflaged.

Green Herons are common and widespread, but they can be hard to see at first. Whereas larger herons tend to stand prominently in open parts of wetlands, Green Herons tend to be at the edges, in shallow water, or concealed in vegetation. Visit a wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunch-backed bird with a long, straight bill staring intently at the water.

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We are in a drought right now and the pond is the lowest level it’s been since we moved here 18 years ago. I hope some rain comes soon to replenish.

House sale update: we may be under contract soon.

Looking good, little peep

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Tiny little sandpiper spotted splashing in a puddle in the parking lot of Little Jack’s seafood restaurant, Hampton Beach, this morning.

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Extremely adorable shorebird.

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Since it is so tiny and has yellow-green legs, I think it is a Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers known as “peeps”—not much bigger than a sparrow. They have distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched creep call.

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This little bird is just passing through. It’s migration time.

Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles.

That is mind-boggling.