Category Archives: Mammals

Mammals

Other Photos from Five Rivers

Common Yellowthroat yelling "Witchety, witchety" at me.
Common Yellowthroat yelling “Witchety, witchety” at me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) in breeding plumage
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) in breeding plumage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted Sandpiper in flight, showing wing and tail markings
Spotted Sandpiper in flight, showing wing and tail markings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I still can't resist getting shots of Tree Swallows!
No, I still can’t resist getting shots of Tree Swallows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Painted Turtle in the water
Eastern Painted Turtle in the water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Chipmunk
Eastern Chipmunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well-camouflaged grasshopper on wood mulch
Well-camouflaged grasshopper on wood mulch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A geometrid moth larva, looping.
A geometrid moth larva, looping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Azure butterfly on the invasive plant, Garlic Mustard
Spring Azure butterfly on the invasive plant, Garlic Mustard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Azure butterfly from above while feeding
Spring Azure butterfly from above while feeding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Geranium
Wild Geranium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe this is Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis)
I believe this is Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See also: ‘Here Be Dragons and Damsels‘ (same location & same day)

Spring’s Top 10 Wildlife Spectacles in the USA (The Nature Conservancy)

“Looking for an excuse for a road trip, or maybe just an afternoon at a local park? Here are ten top must-see natural spectacles that you can catch each spring….”

Eddie adds:  The good news is that events in at least three of the ten categories (four, if you are a fly fisherman) happen here each year in the North East USA, so check out the suggestions in the above link, from The Nature Conservancy!

More Photos from our WWNP group trip to Montezuma NWR

To view the intial article and photographs, click here.

All of our ‘Wildlife Watchers and Nature Photographers’ [WWNP] group who went to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge [NWR], near Seneca Falls, New York, are welcome to submit photographs for this gallery  (as in please do so!)

 Bald Eagle (immature), by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Bald Eagle (immature), by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle (adult), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Bald Eagle (adult), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle in flight, by Anrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Bald Eagle in flight, by Anrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey at nest, by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Osprey at nest, by Kathy Fenna. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Osprey by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Harrier (female) in flight, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Northern Harrier (female) in flight, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Sparrow, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Song Sparrow, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Yellowlegs, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Lesser Yellowlegs, by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird (male), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Red-winged Blackbird (male), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.
Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.
Red-winged Blackbird. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, by Andrea Burke, Snow Geese in flight (1). Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
And last but not least, by Andrea Burke, Snow Geese in flight (1). Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Geese in flight (2), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Snow Geese in flight (2), by Andrea Burke. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Geese. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.
Snow Geese. Esther Kowal-Bukata. Copyright, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As requested above, if other members of the group have photographs they would like to include in this post we would be very pleased to add them.  Please re-size them to 600 pixels on the long side and e-mail them to me, as attachments, via:  wwnp[AT]eddiewren[DOT]com — simply replace the [AT] and the [DOT] with the correct symbols.

  • To go back to the original article and photographs, click here

Eddie

A Couple of Gems at Tifft Yesterday

After recently shaking off the tedium of a bad back that I’ve suffered virtually right through the winter, I took advantage of a few free hours yesterday to have a walk around the Tifft urban nature preserve.

Canada Goose in flight
Canada Goose in flight

When I arrived, at 8:00am, the temperature was just 18F (minus 8 Celsius) and there were no other cars in the parking lot.  On the small patches of open water, at Lake Kirsty, adjacent to the preserve offices, were four Herring Gulls, a solitary male Red-breasted Merganser, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a dozen Canada Geese.

Black-capped Chickadee foraging
Black-capped Chickadee foraging

Anyway, wrapped up like the Michelin man, I set off through the woods on my way to the South Viewing Blind (hide) to look at a frozen lake!

Northern Shrike (first year bird). The hooked upper mandible is an unmissable clue to identity.
Northern Shrike (first year bird). The hooked upper mandible is an unmistakable clue to identity.

On the way there, I came across a few resting White-tailed Deer and stalked them carefully so I could get some shots of them lying down.

Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (female)

At the south blind there were only a couple of Canada Geese walking around on the ice and yelling at my intrusion, plus a few Black-capped Chickadees feasting on sunflower seeds that someone had left on the hand-rail (something Tifft staff ask people not to do).

It was while I was watching the chickadees, however, that I saw one of the day’s two gems.  A first-year Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) settled in a tree above me — its youthfulness given away by some mottled coloration on its breast and belly.  The sharply hooked upper beak — very like some hawks and eagles — gives this genus of fairly small birds away in an instant but, as its name says, this is the northern species.  Its cousin, the Loggerhead Shrike (L. ludovicianus), spends its winters in the southern states.  After identifying the bird, through my binoculars, I only had time for one distant ‘identification’ shot with my camera before it flew off, so while there’s a photograph of it in this post, it certainly isn’t a masterpiece! {:-)

For the British people who read this blog, you may have noticed that the scientific name of the Northern Shrike is the same as that for the Great Grey Shrike that is found in Europe — in other words, it’s the same species.  Europe’s other shrike, the Red-backed (L. collurio) isn’t found in North America.

As my walk continued, I saw several other species of birds — all ones that could be expected here in late March.

Coyote crossing frozen lake
Coyote crossing frozen lake

At the other main blind, however — unsurprisingly called the North Blind — I was delighted to see a Coyote (Canis latrans) appear from behind the actual blind and walk away, over the ice on the lake, to the cat-tail bed on the far shore.  Again, I was rather distant but I was certainly able to get a few pleasing photos.  Coyotes certainly aren’t rare, they’re actually widespread, but getting to see one in broad daylight in such a photogenic setting is much less common.  My own question is whether or not this could have been one of the “Coywolf” hybrids that have been spreading out from northern Ontario for the past few decades.  Does anyone know the answer in relation to Western New York?

It annoys me intensely that I used to under-rate Tifft as a place to go.  I now know it to be a very well-worthwhile preserve to visit and I do so as often as I can.  It is rare that it doesn’t turn up something special.

Get further information about Tifft Nature Preserve here.

Anyone wishing to come along on any of the walks (weekly, except in winter) of the ‘Wildlife Watchers and Nature Photographers’ group, please e-mail:           wwnp [AT] eddiewren [DOT] com   (just replace the [AT] and the [DOT] with what they say, and leave no spaces.  This is done to reduce spam to that e-mail address).

27 March 2014  —  Eddie Wren

 

Basking in the Sun during Buffalo’s March 12 Blizzard!

Yes, I admit I was having fun at Buffalo’s expense.  I was very briefly in California with perfect (lucky!) timing to avoid the March snow

Heading south into the Santa Monica Mountains R.A., on the Pacific Coast Highway
Heading south into the Santa Monica Mountains R.A., on the Pacific Coast Highway

storm in WNY, and having finished my work at 2:30pm I hurried back to my hotel, swapped my suit for jeans and a T-shirt and headed south from Ventura down the Pacific Coast Highway, also known simply as “Route 1”.

Looking southwards on the PCH, near Mugu Peak
Looking southwards on the PCH, near Mugu Peak

 

Retrospective of the previous photograph
Retrospective of the previous photograph

I was on my way to the beautiful hill roads in the Santa Monica mountains — an area I have been lucky enough to get to know quite well over the past few years — but it would take a better man than me to simply drive down “the PCH” without stopping to admire the views!

Two California Ground Squirrels. (The eye of the well-camouflaged, second animal is up and to the right from the eye of the front one.)
Two California Ground Squirrels. (The eye of the well-camouflaged and shaded, second animal is up and to the left from the eye of the front one.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At one of my stops, I found and photographed a couple of California Ground Squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi), an interesting but skittish creature that lives in a communal burrow, but each of which allegedly has its own private entrance tunnel.

Name that bird!  It doesn't seem to be a female towhee and it's bill is to slender for it to be other species I can think of.  Does anyone know what it is, please?
Name that bird! It doesn’t seem to be a female towhee and it’s bill is to slender for it to be other species I can think of. Does anyone know what it is, please?

 

Nearby, I saw and photographed a small bird, in scrub, but for the life of me I can’t find anything quite like it in Sibley or my other bird books.  The nearest thing I can think of is a female towhee, but that doesn’t fit, either. Can anyone help me out with the I/D, please?

Around 5:40pm, I reached Decker Canyon Road and headed off up one of my favourite hill roads in that area.  (All of them are enjoyable but they are narrow so great care has to be taken on the many blind curves, in case someone is coming the other way.)  By that time of evening, the temperature was still in the mid-70s….. a little different to ‘back home’ in Buffalo!

The first proper 'hairpin' up Decker Canyon Road from the PCH. Further up the hill, the road follows the line of utility poles that are visible higher on the right-hand side of the photo.
The first proper ‘hairpin’ up Decker Canyon Road from the PCH. Further up the hill, the road follows the line of utility poles that are visible higher on the right-hand side of the photo.

 

America’s Bats in Danger from a Disease that First Occurred here in Upstate New York

It is quite possible that you have already heard about the White-nose Syndrome that is doing terrible damage to cave-dwelling bats in the USA, but what exactly is it!

According to the USGS, “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 22 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.”

White-nose  syndrome was first discovered in North America in upstate New York in February 2006,  in  a cave adjoining a commercial cave visited by 200,000 people per year.  The fungus appears to have been introduced to North America  from Europe. It has  been found on cave bats in 12 countries in Europe, where bats appear to be adapted to,  and unaffected by, the fungus.  Because bats do not travel between the  continents, this strongly suggests the fungus was newly introduced to North  America by people — likely cave visitors who transported it on  their gear or clothing.

An estimated 6.7 million bats have died since 2006 because of an outbreak of white-nose syndrome.  It has  wiped out entire colonies and left caves littered with the bones of dead bats.  The epidemic is considered the worst wildlife disease outbreak in North American  history and shows no signs of slowing down. It threatens to drive some bats  extinct and could do real harm to the pest-killing services that bats provide,  worth billions of dollars each year, in the United States. [Source: Center for Biological Diversity]

View photos here.

The latest news articles on this disease are available from White-noseSyndrome.org, here, and this includes the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding $1.4 million in grants for work on the deadly bat disease, with a further $2 million available in a second round of grants.

What can you do to help?

The key things are:

Avoid possible spread of WNS by humans

    • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are known – or suspected – to hibernate (hibernacula) in all states.

Honor cave closures and gated caves.

 Avoid disturbing bats

  • Stay out of all hibernacula when bats are hibernating (winter).

 Be observant

  • Report unusual bat behavior to your state natural resource agency, including bats flying during the day when they should be hibernating (December through March) and bats roosting in sunlight on the outside of structures. More difficult to discern is unusual behavior when bats are not hibernating (April through September); however, bats roosting in the sunlight or flying in the middle of the day would be unusual. Bats unable to fly or struggling to get off the ground would also be unusual.

Click here for further advice.

(Compiled by Eddie Wren, from relevant websites)

The excellent wildlife photography book, ‘BEAR’, by Paul Nicklen (Tuesday evening’s speaker at Kleinhans, in Buffalo)

One of my recent posts was about Paul Nicklen’s National Geographic presentation on Tuesday, March 4th, at Kleinhans, in Buffalo.

Today (March 2), I’ve spent quite some time looking at his excellent wildlife photography book:  ‘BEAR — The Spirit of the Wild’

The cover of Paul Nicklen's book, 'BEAR'
The cover of Paul Nicklen’s book, ‘BEAR’

The introductory description of the book, inside the dust jacket, reads:  “…a powerful visual journey that reveals the private world of the great denizens of the wild north. National Geographic photographer and biologist Paul Nicklen takes readers on a special journey to some of his favorite corners of the planet’s northern latitudes, providing rare and intimate glimpses of bears and portraying them as noble ambassadors of the wild.  Through his unforgettable images and personal narrative, Nicklen strives to show us a different side of bears…” Initially, when I first opened to the book to flick through the photographs, I was a little cautious because some of the first half-dozen images have been pushed to the very limit in terms of printing very small sections of the original file and/or filling a double-page spread, but despite some visible ‘noise’ on those images as a result of this, it cannot be denied that they are still very powerful.  And the good news is that such issues are confined to those initial images; from that point on the quality gets higher and effectively stays there.  Indeed, many of the subsequent images are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Introductory small images of Mr. Nicklen himself, on pages 20-23, show just how close he is prepared to work  to bears and — quite literally — the validity of his approach is put into words by the start of his introduction, on page 19, where he writes: “If you have picked up this book hoping to read about a near-death experience with a bear, you will be deeply dissappointed.  As you will witness through the images and the stories from these great authors, none of us has a terrifying story to tell.  Instead, we have all been greatly inspired by the last true nomads of North America…”

My own favourite images?  Well, I’m going to list the page numbers but there’s a very high chance that your favourites would be different to mine, as they undeniably should be, because we all have different likes.

  • Polar bears: 34-35, 36-37, 40-41, 48, 54-55, 198
  • Grizzlies: 86-87, 88-89, 104-5,  112-13
  • Black bears: 152-3
  • Spirit bears (i.e. white-coloured black bears but they’re not albinos): 166-67, 168-69, 172-73 (same as cover), 178-79

There are some excellent none-bear photographs, too, including several environmental shots — mostly from planes — as well as:

  • narwhals at a large breathing hole, with polar bears watching
  • an outrageously good shot of a ringed seal surfacing
  •  caribou migrating
  •  salmon migrating

Whether or not you are going to Paul Nicklen’s talk in two days’ time — which is not all about bears — you might want to check this book out.  (Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard has a copy in the ‘Nature’ section, by the bow window.)  It is $35.00 but for any keen wildlife watcher or nature photographer it would be a fine addition to one’s library.

The other book by Paul that I know of is called ‘Polar Obsession’, which clearly will be more closely related to his imminent talk (click for further details).

Eddie Wren