Two Shoutouts

Or is it “Two Shoutsout”? Anyway…I want to start with a shoutout to those who went on the Great Migration Bird Walk on Sat. 9/29 at Paradise Creek Nature Park. It was a beautiful, birdy morning. Paradise lived up to its name. And we had a great group of 16 people including a few young people who were exploring the hobby. I had a nice conversation with one young lady (Epona?) who was on her very first day trip. She’d gone on an owl prowl previously. I asked her if she sensed any excitement in the others on the trip. She responded with a smile and a very definitive “yes.” That meant to me that she was excited too. I have a feeling she has caught the birding spark. That’s my hope, anyway.

This group did an especially nice job observing, locating, and tracking down. We were fortunate to have so many great eyes and ears. And no one wore a poncho, or squeaky shoes, or shuffled his feet (inside joke). So that worked out as well.

Great Egrets to Goldfinches

We started with a Great Egret in the marsh. Then we went right down the taxonomic list from there. One of the birds we saw from on top of the mound was an Osprey.

Immature Osprey in flight
Immature Osprey

We also saw Mallards, Chimney Swifts, woodpeckers, American Crows, Brown Thrashers, 3-4 warbler species, Indigo Buntings, blackbirds, goldfinches and others. Aside from birds we had fun observing spiders, orb webs, and butterflies (including a migrating monarch butterfly). The trip, in my opinion, was a home run out of the park.

Migrating monarch butterfly feeding
Migrating monarch butterfly feeding

The Osprey

Now a second shoutout to one of the birds mentioned above: the iconic Osprey. Ospreys, those resourceful and opportunistic birds of prey are now abundant here in the Osprey garden, the Chesapeake Bay region. Unlike in the early 70’s when there were only a little over 1000 breeding pairs in this area, there are now 10,000 breeding pairs or more. And Ospreys build their nests on anything and everything from live trees and channel markers to cell towers and duck blinds.

Empty Osprey nests
Empty Osprey nests

The nests pictured above, then, are signs of the times, at least in our neck of the woods. And they’re also signs of the season, signs of fall. The nests are all empty. Most Ospreys have left their breeding grounds, which extend from Florida up into Canada, for their wintering grounds, which extend from Mexico to South America. Some adults do overwinter here, though. So it’s not unusual, for example, to see an Osprey in Chesapeake in the middle of January.

These are just a few of the Elizabeth River watershed nests that I monitored during the breeding season. Unfortunately, two of the nests were failures. I understand that one of the failed pairs may have built a new nest–and started a new family–just across the river. The Ospreys on the other nests successfully raised their broods, which totaled 6 healthy chicks. I watched every one of them until it left the nest and then left the area.

Favorite Photos

I’ve received precious little feedback on my blog (thus far), but I have a hunch nonetheless that readers enjoy the photos. So I thought I’d provide larger versions of a few that were in the smaller format photo composites and feature photos. If you don’t know this already, you can click on and enlarge any blog photo except the feature photo.

Tubing on the Elizabeth River
Tubing on the Elizabeth River

The photo above is a favorite of mine. It was tough because of the backlighting. It’s generally better to shoot with the sun behind you. But when the powerboat that was towing these three approached, I knew I had to capture them anyway. Where the sun was, was irrelevant. One photographer friend said the following when he saw the shot: “I love the moment and their expressions.” I would agree. You want to capture those moments and expressions in your photos.

Here’s another photo that I enjoy. This was a lucky capture, but again–it captures a moment and tells a story.

Immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron eating a grasshopper
Immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron eating a grasshopper

Lastly is a close-up of Beau: part retriever, part pointer, and part red drum.

Beau (a dog) and his ball in the Elizabeth River
Beau and his ball

I actually thought that Beau was mostly red drum the way he navigated the river and relished the water.

Quip, Question, Quote

In response to my “Why Do You Bird” survey, Tom and Sheri Roberts, a couple from PA, responded in a number of ways: birding fills our souls, we are in awe of birds, and we find solitude while birding. But of all their responses one stood out for me. Here’s that response in their own words: “We bird because we have to.” What great one-line haiku. So a shoutout to them, as well.



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