Monday, September 22, 2014

The Beavers Prep for Winter

Our Beaver Colony started making preparations for the upcoming winter over a month ago, but now they are really stepping it up. The underwater food cache has been growing by leaps and bounds. Lots of saplings and even a few larger trees have been felled and dragged down to the pond. The dams are being fortified too, which is a good thing since during the winter, dam maintenance becomes difficult if not impossible.  Just last week the beavers decided to resurrect one of the lower ponds. This particular pond (Sarah's Pond) was at one time the largest pond on the property. A dam breech drained it 2 years ago; in the intervening time it has become what is known as a "beaver meadow", characterized by rich silted-up soil and dominated by wildflowers and grasses.
The beavers' growing food cache holds a diverse mix of tree branches
One of the adults goes off to find trees - note the kit following behind
Two kits engage in a shoving match while another watches from shore
A kit returns with a small contribution to the food cache
A kit munches on Aspen bark
Kit and an adult both partaking of Aspen leaves
The underwater view
Working to patch the long broken dam at Sarah's Pond
For this task they used a lot of mud, turf and goldenrod
Tartarian Honeysuckle boughs were also used since they were close at hand
The water started visibly rising as the beavers worked
At night White-tailed Deer feed on the plants that cover the beaver dam
By day, a Great Blue Heron patrols the dam looking for fish and frogs
A Green Frog sits in the shallows alongside the dam
Hooded Merganser and Mallard swimming at the beaver pond

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recent Happenings at the Nature Preserve

The summer season is not quite finished yet. There are still new flowers coming into bloom and fresh butterflies emerging. At the same time, the procession of fall migrant songbirds continues. Each day brings the promise of an as-yet-unseen species for the year.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on Joe-Pye-Weed
A Giant Swallowtail feeding on a lingering BeeBalm flower
A Gray Comma licks a friendly hand
Red Admiral feeding on Spotted Knapweed 
Red Admiral
Downy Skullcap is a late bloomer
Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries just starting to turn
Ripe Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries
Water Horehound in full bloom
Blue Lobelia 
Giant Blue Hyssop 
Broad-leaved Arrowhead blooms near the shore of the pond
Turtlehead flowers begin to turn pink as they age
Silver-spotted Skipper visits a Hawkweed flower
Great Spangled Fritillary on Knapweed

Hummingbird Moth on Knapweed
The other day there was a migrant Olive-sided Flycatcher vying for the same perch as a Red Squirrel. I took a few blurry shots of their interaction.
A Red Squirrel and an Olive-sided Flycatcher via for the same perch
The flycatcher wins it, but only temporarily
The squirrel is persistent 
The squirrel wins!
A few minutes later a Gray Catbird is on the same perch - What is it about that snag?
A Merlin stops by the nature preserve

Monday, September 8, 2014

Plenty of Fall Warblers and Other Migrants

Magnolia Warbler in all of its fall glory
OK, so plumage-wise, most fall warblers aren't as spectacular as spring warblers, but they are still pretty glorious and well worth the trouble it takes to see them. The best way to find them is to seek out a noisy group of Black-capped Chickadees moving through the forest or along the edge of a woods. Chickadees, titmice and nuthatches often form the core of mixed foraging flocks and during fall migration their numbers are bolstered by migrant warblers and vireos. There are a few known advantages of traveling together, but probably the main one is security. In a flock there are many pairs of eyes which might discern a predator skulking in a bush or flying over the habitat. An alarm call given by one of these birds is recognized by the others regardless of species, and so individuals in a flock stand a better chance of surviving the danger.

Nashville Warbler
Tennessee Warbler 
Female Black-throated Blue Warbler
Magnolia Warbler can be easily identified by its  half-black & half-white tail 
Black-throated Green Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warblers have been among the most common migrants so far
Of Course, the warblers and vireos were not the only south-bound migrants to be found, there are still flycatchers, grosbeaks and even a few hummingbirds around.
One of 6 Brown Thrasher seen near an Elderberry Bush 
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
An immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird - just been feasting on nectar from orange jewelweed 
The hummingbird checks out a mostly spent Joe-Pye-Weed flower
A Least Flycatcher hangs out at the periphery of the mixed foraging flock
An Olive-sided Flycatcher hunts for flying insects over the beaver pond