Birds at Brookside

The last day of the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit (Sunday before last) started out with some easy bird sightings. I didn’t have my best camera for getting the action…but I did get some identifying shots. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker really does have a red belly! I heard this bird before I saw it; for some reason it was being very noisy up in the trees along the stream near the conservatory parking lot gate.


There was a scruffy looking Robin. I’m not sure if it was a juvenile or a molting adult. It seemed to be the only bird of the morning that was still.


The Downy Woodpecker was very active…moving about in the trees so quickly I couldn’t tell if it was finding things to eat or not.

All three of the birds were seen in the same area and I heard catbirds and cardinals. It was a good day for birds if you looked quickly. Many of these birds stay around for the winter and will be easier to see after the leaves are off the trees. I continued my walk up to the fragrance garden wondering if there were any hummingbirds left in the salvia garden. I saw one within seconds of arriving…and took a picture. Most of the birds have already left…but this one still seemed to be enjoying the salvia.


And after that…I was ready for the last day with the butterflies.

Hummingbird at Brookside


The day after I saw the Question Mark butterfly at Brookside Gardens, I was back for another shift at the Wings of Fancy exhibit. This time the big ‘find’ out in the gardens was a hummingbird that was on the plants in the area just before the entrance to the exhibit’s caterpillar house. The bird would make a round visiting flowers…then sit.

That made it easy to get pictures. It is a female – probably a female ruby throated hummingbird. All the hummingbirds around here are feeding as much as they can…fattening for the migration flight.


For those near Montgomery County, Maryland…this is the last weekend for the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside for this year. If you want to see the butterfly exhibit, this is the last chance.  


It was a little late for the hummingbirds at the north tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge last week. During the summer the feeders near Visitor Contact Station have a lot of ruby-throated hummingbirds; by this time of year, a few females and juveniles are left. They will soon all be migrating southward. At this point they are fattening up for the long flight. Next year my husband and I will go earlier in the season and – hopefully – have a chance to photograph both males and females.

While I was sitting on the bench waiting for the hummingbirds, I photographed some nearby milkweed seeds. The plants were looking the season: leaves curling and scared. I did see a good-sized Monarch caterpillar and a few milkweed tussock moths caterpillars as well. The seeds always draw my attention this time of year – the bright white of the fibers, the tight package of seeds in the pod and then the fluff bursting up and out…floating the seeds away in the fall breeze.

There was a sunflower that I photographed from the bench as well. The lighting was just right to naturally darken the background once I zoomed in to almost fill the frame with the flower.

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Overall – a good early fall morning at Patuxent Research Refuge.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 31, 2018

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.

 4 Psychology Lessons That Can Teach Us About Inspiring Climate Action | CleanTechnica – Good ideas – particularly if anticipating a lot of disagreement or people being too depressed about the prospect of the future for Earth to take action.

Top 25 Wild Raptors – National Geographic – From around the world…no bald eagle in this group of photos.

After 250 Years of Dams, Rhode Island River Restored for Migratory Fish – Cool Green Science – Maryland is also removing dams. Bloede’s Dam (see blog post about it here)

Hummingbirds Make an Incredible Journey North – Cool Green Science – This little birds make a very long journey. Hope our recent cold weather has not made is a problematic year for them.

Saving Terrapins From Drowning in Crab Traps – Cool Green Science – Hopefully this can be a success story for terrapins around Long Island…time will tell.

Elusive Deep-Sea Anglerfish Seen Mating for the First Time | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d only see pictures of dead specimens or drawings. The 2.5 minute video shows a living fish moving slowly through the water with filaments that glow surrounding it. Still very fierce looking but also a slow moving graceful beauty.

Drug-related mortality rates are not randomly distributed across the US -- ScienceDaily – The map says it all. The hotspots for drug-related deaths in the US are not necessarily where historically high drug use happened.

The 20 most beautiful libraries in the U.S. - Curbed – I’ve only been in one of these: the reading room of the Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan; it was part of the campus tour when my daughter visited the university before she added it to her short list that she would apply to for her undergraduate studies. I remember it being very quiet even though people were walking around – cork floors are quiet floors!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Much Larger and Chunkier Than We Thought | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! It was bad even before the more precise measurements came in. There has to be a way to start cleaning it up and keeping more garbage from getting into the ocean.

Landscape Photography Series Tells “Winter’s Tale” of Snowy Forests – Hopefully we’ve had our last bought with snowy weather here in Maryland. I do enjoy the snowy forests…for a little while.

The Inn at Chachalaca Bend

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Our main activity for the last day of the Rio Grande Valley Birding festival was breakfast (sumptuous) as the The Inn at Chachalaca Bend followed my a walk around the grounds looking at birds. We started near the Inn’s deck on the bank of La Resaca de las Antonias. We saw a Belted Kingfisher on the electrical wires crossing the Resaca almost immediately!

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A Great Blue Heron and Great Egret had a little conference in the distance.

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There was a broken tree trunk (or old telephone pole) near the water….a perch for an Altamira Oriole.

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Directly across from the Inn an Anhinga dropped down into the water to capture a fish then walked back up a palm that was slanting over the water.

Nearby on a snag, a Golden Fronted Woodpecker searched for breakfast.

There was a ruckus and then a larger bird flew toward us over the water and sat on the electrical wire nearest us: a Ringed Kingfisher.

There was Great Kiskadee on the wire further away

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And a Black-crowned Night-Heron in the vegetation across from where were standing.

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The kiskadee flew away and we notice a kite (probably white tailed…but hard to tell for sure).

We left the Resaca to hike around some open field areas. We saw an American Kestrel looking at the meadow.

As we headed back almost to the edge of the path through a forested area, we looked up and saw masses of migrating American White Pelicans! There were several groups…maybe as many as 1,000 birds.

The path branched off to the edge of the Resaca again and we saw a Snowy Egret (note the yellow feet which is a distinctive feature for this bird even if the focus is not very good for the picture).

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As we got ready to leave, we gathered back at the Inn and saw a hummingbird at the feeder (probably Ruby-throated).

There were a few plants I took pictures of…but they were secondary to the birds!