Mt Pleasant Field Trips

Schools didn’t end until June 21st in our area so the Howard County Conservancy spring field trips were still happening into mid-June! As usual, I volunteered for field trips at both Mt Pleasant and Belmont. Today I’ll share some pictures I gleaned from before the school buses arrive at Mt. Pleasant….tomorrow I’ll do the same for Belmont.

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In late May – I noticed how lush everything was looking: the sweetbay magnolias, the blue flags, peonies, the new plantings around the flower pot people, and the trees along the gravel road toward Montjoy Barn.

By early June the flowers in the Honors Garden, like the columbines, were blooming.

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But the big draw of the Honors Garden – for me and for the children on field trips – were the green frogs in the pool. I would talk to the students before we came near the garden about walking very quietly…not talking…as we approached the pool so that we would see frogs. And I challenged them to find more than 4 frogs (or however many had been seen with my previous group). One group claimed to see 7…but I only saw 6. The pictures in the slide slow below were taken over several mornings before the buses arrived. Green frogs sound a little like a rubber band being strummed. It was fun to share the sights and sounds of the frogs with my hiking groups!

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 22, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

The royal tombs of Ur reveal Mesopotamia's ancient splendor – From National Geographic - Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur in the 1920s.

Astronomers Worry New SpaceX Satellite Constellation Could Impact Research | Smart News | Smithsonian – Are telescopes on the surface of the earth doomed? Will we only be able to study the universe from space?

Americans May Be Ingesting Thousands of Microplastics Every Year | Smart News | Smithsonian and Hawaii’s newest black sand beach already contains plastic pollution – Plastics everywhere...and there is growing evidence that it is negatively impacting life on our planet. What are we doing about it?

Image of the Day: Hot Stripes | The Scientist Magazine® - Did you know that zebras can raise the black stripes separately from the white stripes!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Communication – National Geographic Society – Birds…never can resist including a wild bird photo collections.

BBC - Future - How modern life is transforming the human skeleton – The way we live – written in our bones.

New Jersey 100% Renewable Energy Plan -- More Fiber, Less Fluff | CleanTechnica – Hurray for New Jersey….having a tangible plan to use zero carbon energy by 2050.

Eliminating packaging is a good start – but here's what supermarkets should do to stop harming the planet – I’ve made it a point to reduce the amount of packaging when I shop; I am way past the easy things…and up against the way groceries operate in my area. I buy local produce through my CSA for 5 months of the year (a good way to eliminate packaging, eat seasonally, and reduce food transportation costs) but the other 7 months of the year, I’m back to the typical grocery store for produce.

How old are your organs?  -- ScienceDaily - To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells: Scientists discover cellular structures with extreme longevity, leading to insights for age-associated diseases.

Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More – Hurricane Harvey (Texas)….Tropical storm Fay (Florida)…Hurricane Florence (North Carolina) – All three storms caused a lot of damage to the coasts when they lingered over the coastal area becoming prolific rain producers. Is this the new normal for Atlantic Hurricanes?

Roses at Brookside Gardens

May and June are the best time for roses at Brookside Gardens. It’s a feast of sights and smells…and a great place to photograph all stages of rose development and different lighting. I prefer to use my zoom rather than getting close…not tempted to step into a rose bed that way.

There are all kinds of roses – different colors, different petal density, climbers and bushes. The day I took most of these pictures, I overheard a gardener talking about the daily care that it requires to keep the garden looking so beautiful. Kudos to the staff and volunteers of Brookside!

Road Trip Scenes

Continuing our trek east from Springfield, Missouri, I got some pictures of St. Louis and the Mississippi River since my daughter was driving. The arch is easy to spot…not so easy to photograph driving east…probably would be easier on the highway driving west on the bridge with the Mississippi River in the foreground. The Mississippi was obviously high with no tree trunks showing along the water’s edge. A train was crossing the river on a bridge parallel to our route.

We stopped for the night in Springfield, Ohio. As we walked across the parking lot of the hotel to a restaurant, I spotted catalpas in bloom. The trees brought back memories of summer visits to my grandparents although I was always too late to see the trees in bloom. They already had their long seed pods by the time I visited. I read a book that described the blooms and then noticed them in a garden many years later. I was thrilled to see one in Ohio. It was growing near a water retention pond (so red-winged black birds and frogs provided ‘music’).

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In the same area – on a very manicured area between parking lots were sweetbay magnolias…and they were in bloom too. These smaller magnolias are great for places that would be overwhelmed by the larger magnolias like the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora).

Our timing in Ohio was near perfect for seeing both catalpas and sweetbays in bloom! It was a good finale for a long day of driving.

Luna Moth

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A serendipity find at a rest stop off I-44 in Missouri: a Luna moth! They are such a lovely color – a creamy green jade – and the shape with the long tails is appealing too.

Like most moths, they are sedentary during the day and this one had opted for a window frame near the door to the Ladies room for its daytime roost. It was probably there for the day unless someone disturbed it.  I took out my cell phone to get a picture…and pointed the moth out to the people going by in the few seconds it took for the picture taking. It was still in its spot when I left – unnoticed by most people.

Luna moths are native to North America east of the Great Plains. The adult moths, like many large moths, don’t eat as adults so they are very active at night mating and laying eggs. They only live for 7 – 10 days.

What a great first-stop on a long driving day!

English Botany in 12 Volumes – Sowerby Illustrations

 Now I am looking for other ‘Sowerby’ works….probably will discover some more botanical print books that I haven’t seen previously.

Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft and Cuba Botanicals

I found out about this author from a National Geographic Article: 'Lost' book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years --- and the 3 volumes are available on Hathi Trust here. The author died young (46 years old) in 1828 and her work was not finished so it is in manuscript rather than published form. It had still been referenced a few times in the 1800s and those references are what started the search for it. Eventually, it was determined that the manuscript had been given to Cornell University in 1923 by a faculty member that was a descendant of the author. It had been in Cornell’s Rare and Manuscript Collection since! These volumes are well worth browsing. I’ve included sample images below…..but there are many more in the volumes to look at online.

eBotanical Prints - May 2019

27 new books were added to the collection this month bringing the total of botanical print books I’ve found to over 1,600 - available free of charge on the Internet. The whole list can be accessed here. The list for May 2019 is below the sample images. I’ll be posting about several of the books in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

The flora sylvatica for southern India: containing quarto plates of all the principal timber trees in southern India and Ceylon V2 * Beddome, Richard Henry; Bentham, George * sample image * 1869

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V1 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V2 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V3 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Icones florae Germanicae et Helveticae V 17 * Reichenbach, H.G. Ludwig * sample image * 1855

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V1 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1863

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V2 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V3 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V4 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1865

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V5 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V6 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V7 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1867

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V8 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1868

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V9 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1869

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V10 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1873

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V11 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1872

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V12 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1886

Orchidophile V1-2 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1882

Orchidophile V3 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1883

Orchidophile V4 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Orchidophile V5 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 1 * Linden, Jean Jules * sample image * 1885

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 17 * Linden, Jean Jules; Linden, Lucien * sample image * 1901

The genera of the Eupatorieae (Asteraceae) * King, Merril; Robinson, Harold * sample image * 1987

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 2 2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V2 no 1 2008 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2008

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 1  2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 14, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds -- ScienceDaily and Hundreds of world's rivers contain dangerous levels of antibiotics – Same story from different news feeds. Antibiotics we take are not broken down in our bodies and are excreted. Wastewater treatment does not take them out of the water so the rivers are – over time – building up more antibiotics.

Ancient Fingerprints Show Men and Women Both Made Pottery in the American Southwest | Smart News | Smithsonian – The breadth of men’s finger print ridges are 9% wider than those of women…so pots that are made via pinching layers of coiled clay together using the thumb and forefinger (leaving fingerprints) can be analyzed to determine the gender of the person that made them. It turns out at Chaco Canyon that men and women made pottery…unlike the more modern tradition of the skill passing from grandmothers to mothers to younger women.

Route 66 Considered for National Historic Trail in The Park System – On a recent road trip, the Pacific, MO hotel we stayed in (west of St. Louis) was near Route 66. They had a map to continue the journey through Missouri on stretches of the old road. We needed to reach our destination quickly so stayed on I-44…but maybe sometime when we can take our time…we’ll take Route 66 where we can.

CITY SPROUTS: The Budding Movement to Integrate Garden-Based Learning in Public School Education | Children & Nature Network – A laudable goal…but it takes work. With teachers that already have a lot to do….organizing garden-based learning might be a tough addition to their job jar.

Most of the World’s Macadamias May Have Originated from a Single Australian Tree | Smart News | Smithsonian – The majority of macadamias are grown in Hawaii…so the lack of diversity within the trees in Hawaii leaves the crop open to species-level risk. This article talks about the research and search for wild plants in Australia to increase the diversity within the macadamia gene pool.

Seven US Species Invading Other Countries – Cool Green Science – We talk a lot about non-native species invading the US. Here are some that have gone the other way.

A Sea of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way for Fire-Prone Cheatgrass: NPR – Nearly 75% of the acres burned by wildfires in the west are range lands rather the forest. And what burns is sage and cheatgrass. The problem is that cheatgrass, an invasive grass, grows faster than sage and is taking over land where sage once dominated…and cheatgrass is more flammable. Put that together with climate change and the look of the west is changing.

Megacities Like Paris and London Can Produce Their Own Clouds | Smart News | Smithsonian – The urban heat island phenomenon has been known for a long time. Now studies are looking at cloud cover over cities and it appears they are 10% cloudier than rural areas.

Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia – Found in Siberia. The discovery was announced as the opening of a Woolly Mammoth exhibition in Tokyo organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists. The same team also presented a well-preserved cave lion cub.

Six fingers per hand – People with 6 fingers on a hand (a form of polydactyly) can perform movements with one hand where people with 5 fingers would require 2 hands. The brain of polydactyly subjects controls the additional degrees of freedom the additional finger provides without sacrificing any other brain functions.

June Yard Work – Round 1

I was out in my yard by 7:30 AM one morning this week. My husband had requested that I pull all the milkweed in the front flower beds. I agreed even though it probably means that there won’t be a Monarch (caterpillar) nursery at my house when the butterflies arrive in our area. There were day lilies and black-eyed susans growing around most of the plants so pulling them would not leave the ground bare. I took before and after pictures of three areas. Having the milkweed gone makes quite a difference!

I pulled the plants trying to get at least some of the root. There will probably be other milkweed plants that will come up since most of the plants came out with only a bit of the root right under the stem. Milkweed can grow new plants along their horizontal roots (i.e. a ‘stand’ of milkweed might all be the same plant). I also learned last year that cutting milkweed just causes it to grow branches. Hopefully I can continue to pull the tiny milkweed plants that emerge, and the front flower beds will look more traditional this summer.

After I was done pulling milkweed and grass from the flower beds – I carried the pile back to the forest. Before I went indoors, I took some pictures:

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An insect on a leaf.

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A tiny mushroom in the grass.

Flower parts and drowned insects in the bird bath. I cleaned the birdbath and refilled it before I went inside. It’s more visible now that the milkweed is gone.

Community Supported Agriculture – Hurray!

The Gorman Farms CSA summer season started last week. As usual – I am enjoying the bounty and not buying any produce at the grocery store. I’ve had stir fry and salads…seasoned mostly with garlic scapes and spring onions that were part of the share. Will I be able to use all the first share before I pick up the next one? Probably not. I can always use the bunch of kale to make chips; they always getting eaten fast. I’ve discovered that I like to process the salad greens in the Ninja or food processor to make very green slaw rather than tradition bigger chunks of green.

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When I got the veggies home – I just put them in the crisper as they came from the farm. It means there is a little more prep to use them than there would be if I did the first round of prep before I put them in the refrigerator. It also means that they won’t last quite as long as they would in a bag or more airtight container. Maybe I’ll do the work when I pick up the share this week.

Brookside – May 2019

I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures I took at Brookside Gardens in May: the butterfly exhibit, the conservatory – and everything blooming outdoors. So many subject to photograph – flowers, immature seed pods, seeds, leaves, garden furniture and fountains….peonies, poppies, magnolias, alliums, maples, dogwood…what’s not to like. Enjoy the big slideshow!

The side of the conservatory not used for the butterfly exhibit always has interesting plants in bloom – or photo worthy in other ways (like giant water droplets on green leaves).

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The door that volunteers and staff use is surrounded by greenery. Somehow it seems bigger this year.

I arrive 15 minutes before my shift in the butterfly exhibit. Sometimes I have a few minutes between the orientation and the arrival of the first visitors arriving to photograph butterflies.

May is a big month in the gardens. I have a series of Brookside Gardens rose pictures that I’m saving for another post.

Cape May Birding Festival Finale

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On the last morning of the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, we took a trolley tour that included the second stop at Cook’s Beach for more shore birds…but the rest stop at the New Jersey Audubon – Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education offered some different types of photography.

I indulged in some macro photography with my cell phone…targeting some of the native plants in the garden beside the building.

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There was a bee stealing nectar from the base of a flower.

I managed to capture pollen threads on native honeysuckle using the phone camera at close range (no macro lens).

Using my camera…and zooming – the cliff swallow nesting in the eaves of the building was visible. The bird kept an eye on the people below but did not move from the nest. Nearby many carpenter bees were making holes in the siding of the building. They were moving around too fast to photograph.

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As our group was getting ready to leave – someone noticed a box turtle in the front vegetation. What a beautiful specimen!

Cook’s Beach Birds

The highest density of birds we saw at one place during the  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival was at Cook’s Beach. They are drawn to the beach by the horseshoe crab eggs – rich food to fatten them up before they continue north on their migration.  I took lots of pictures and was challenged to select the ones I would include in this post. I took a sequence when something startled the birds and they took off – swirled around and landed again. The beach seemed very full even when there were a lot of birds in the air.

In some places the gulls seemed to dominate and there were a lot of horseshoe crabs still around. The Laughing Gulls (black head) and larger Herring Gulls are easy to distinguish.

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Sometimes it was a large group of just Laughing Gulls.

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I got my best picture of a cormorant of the festival at the beach. The birds were on the pilings – not the beach – and seemed to be observing the ruckus on the beach. The out-of- focus birds in the foreground are Ruddy Turnstones. The gull is probably a second year Herring Gull.

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This picture includes Forster’s Terns (the black and white birds) and Ruddy Turnstones on the pilings – preening. The Ruddy Turnstones look rounded…probably are already fattening up.

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There is a back of Ruddy Turnstone on the beach in this picture….and the bird facing the camera is a Red Knot. Both birds are a little larger than the other shorebirds.

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The crowd of birds in the picture below are all Red Knots.  The birds with reddish color are in breeding plumage. The others are non-breeding. Note that two seem to be making eye contact.

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I liked this lineup of Herring Gulls, with the mature bird in front and sitting…the immatures standing behind.

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How many birds can you recognize in the picture below:

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The easy ones are laughing gull, red knot, and ruddy turnstone. There are some smaller shorebirds in the mix as well.

I couldn’t resist one botanical picture as we headed back to the car – a rose growing where vegetation meets the beach.

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Cook’s Beach Horseshoe Crabs

We went to Cook’s Beach twice during the  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival.  It’s a Delaware Bay beach and there were lots of horseshoe crabs both times. They were there to mate and lay eggs. There were groups of males gathered around females all along the beach.

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Sometimes the groups are tossed around as a group in the surf.

The creatures are so odd looking with their tank-like shell and spikey tail….and the leggy creature under the shell.

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Sometimes they are legs-up in the sand and use their tails to turn themselves over!

The crabs sometimes get high up on the beach behind rocks…tangled with other crabs. Hopefully they will find their way out and back to the sea or over to the beach to find mates.

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They are awkward on land and at the edge of the sea.

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But more maneuverable than I expected. I took a series of pictures that shows a horseshoe crab making tracks heading back to sea.

In general – the older the crabs, the more barnacles. Evidently the barnacles are not just on the top of the shell either.

Some of the crabs were dug into the sand until the next high tide…and some had been tagged.

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Tomorrow I’ll post about the birds we saw at Cook’s Beach…enjoying a feast of horseshoe crab eggs before continuing their migration.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 8, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

5 Unusual Species Found in and Around the Everglades - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – I’ve seen two of the 4: the snail kite and wood stork!

Want to reduce single-use plastic in your life? Try these tips from National Geographic Explorer and #ExpeditionPlastic team member Lillygol Sedaghat. – National Geographic Society Newsroom – It’s hard to avoid single use plastics completely….but easy to cut back.

How big data can be used for personal health -- ScienceDaily – Yes – doing a lot of tracking of personal health information and having a baseline might be useful – but it’s not clear (from this article) that it didn’t result in overtreatment. It will be a challenge to match treatments in asymptomatic situations…that may never develop into a health problem. How well do we really understand risks?

BBC - Future - How weeds help fight climate change – And experiment in Australia showing how weeds might help in the process toward sustainable agriculture

Fracking: Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones: Computer model and field experiment data suggest a new link between subsurface injections and earthquake swarms -- ScienceDaily – Oklahoma….in the hot center of man-made earthquakes.

Do additives help the soil? Scientist suggests nature knows what's best -- ScienceDaily – Wow – a whole industry (bio-fertilizers) that is not having the positive effect on crops anticipated….and could have long-term effects on soil that are not positive. Why is the industry surviving?

Blood-squirting insects and more tiny creatures flourish in African park – Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Exploring the origins of the apple -- ScienceDaily – Large fruits developed to attract large animals like wild horses and large deer…..and probably other animals that are now extinct. The modern apple is a hybrid of at least 4 wild apple populations….along the Silk Road.

A Better Route Planner & Other Open Source Projects Need Our Help | CleanTechnica – Technology that needs to mature before Electronic Vehicles become more numerous.

Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought -- ScienceDaily – This year there has been too much rain in the corn belt. This story is over a month old but there are still areas of high water. What percentage of the corn fields haven’t been planted yet because they are still flooded?

Back Bay Birding Boat Trip

Our afternoon session on the second day at the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, was a pontoon boat trip around Cape May’s back bay (Cape May Harbor and tidal wetlands along the Intracoastal Waterway). I saw more birds than I could photograph…but the boat was steady enough for photography as well. Can you identify the birds in this picture?

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They are easy enough: American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover (2 of them), and a Laughing Gull. I didn’t identify the one facing the water.

There were lots of Laughing Gulls and they were close enough for portraits.

There were a few Brant (geese) that hadn’t left yet. From far away they look a little like a Canada Goose but smaller; taking a closer look…the markings are quite different.

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I took a picture of the Great and Snowy Egrets to provide a comparison of the two birds in the same photo: size, bill color, etc.

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There was an island where there were a lot of nesting Laughing Gulls and Forster’s Terns.

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The terns (different stages of development) were feeding on the mud flat.

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A Least Tern seemed to enjoy the bobbing of a barrel.

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By far the ‘star’ of the nesting birds were the Osprey.  They seemed to be nesting on everything sticking out of the water that could hold a nest!

The Peregrine Falcons were also using a man-made structure for their nesting site: a bridge. The bird was protecting her young as our boat went underneath the bridge. The female was with the chicks. The male was having lunch on the next bridge support over.

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Being on a boat provides a different perspective….and we would not have seen the falcon any other way. Even though many of the birds seemed to be watching our progress…they were not disturbed by the boat as they are by large groups of people moving about on land.

Rea Farm, “The Beanery”

Our second day at the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, started at 7 rather than 5:30 AM like the first one and was closer to our hotel at Rea Farm – a former lima bean farm (thus “The Beanery” name) owned by the Rea Family with birding rights leased to New Jersey Audubon. We had a large enough group that the guides split us into two and we made different circuits through the property. The land has some cultivated areas, but most has returned to heavily vegetated thickets and wet forest. Some of the farm buildings and abandoned machinery are being taken over by vegetation.

There has been some effort to remove invasive plants and give natives a chance to grow. We heard a lot of birds and I saw many with my binoculars. It was a very cloudy day – not great for catching fast moving birds. The only reasonably good picture I got of a bird was of a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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There were a few spittle bugs – not that you can see the nymph of the froghopper (Cercopoidea) through the foam.

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I reverted to plants as subjects for my camera on the hike. There was a lot of variety. The zoom on the camera makes these photographs quick and I didn’t step off the mowed grass path. I had tucked my jean leggings into by socks and sprayed my boots and leggings with insect repellent…but the area is known for its ticks….not a place to go off trail.

Overall – the walk through the variety of habitats at The Beanery was a great way to start our second day at the festival.

South Cape May Meadows – Part 2

Continuing about South Cape May Meadows

There were snowy egrets in many places we went

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As well as osprey

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And shorebirds.

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The cliff swallows were very active as dusk neared. They look very similar to tree swallows in silhouette but are easily distinguished if their color can be seen.

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A red winged blackbird was making its mating calls in some reeds near us….the breeze swaying his perch.

As we neared the end of hike there was oystercatcher on a nest. This one had even less protection than the one at Two Mile Beach. I was zooming in as much as the light would permit so we weren’t close enough to alarm the bird…but it was watching us very carefully.

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The moon was visible about the wetlands as the light shifted to dusk.

The lighthouse at South Point was visible from the trail too.

And then I couldn’t resist some sunset pictures…stopping for a few seconds several times as we continued hiking back to the cars.

It was a great way to end a day that had started with wake up at 3:30 AM and in the field by 5:30. So many habitats (forest, beach, wetlands) and birds…all in one day!

South Cape May Meadows – Part 1

After dinner on the first full day of the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, we headed over to South Cape May Meadows, 200 acres near Cape May Point that is owned by The Nature Conservancy. There are two Purple Martin houses near the entrance; I photographed the birds and the ‘green roof’ of the nearby shed while we waited for our group to accumulate.

There were active Black Skimmers on the wetlands. It will take some practice (and more magnification) to truly capture the action. The Canada goose provides a good comparison for size in this sequence.

I caught a portrait of a skimmer that was momentarily still a little later

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And a shimmer showing off its wings as the light was fading.

Tomorrow’s post will continue the sights from our late-in-the-day visit to South Cape May Meadows.