Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just Jays

I'm still working on clearing some of my photo files.  These aren't great, but I love blue jays so I'm posting them anyway.  This old Cleveland Pear tree has dozens of tiny twigs which partially obscure the view, but it's a favorite of my back yard birds.  Most of these photos were taken in December 2016 & January 2017.

As always, thank you for your interest in my blog and comments.  Have an awesome Thursday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Squirrel Tales

Sharing some squirrel photos that were in my files:

February 2017: A hungry squirrel plundered for a snack in a mound of dead leaves and pine straw...

while another chattered and vigorously whipped his tail up and down.  He seemed to be looking dead at me- it's probably for the best that he doesn't speak English, lol.  

September 2016:  This precious little mama needed to steal away a few minutes to feed herself...

and this one had a parasite (larval stage of a warble botfly)- yes, it's pretty gross but it's a common parasite on squirrels (and other small mammals) and I posted it for those who are unfamiliar with botfly larva.  Read more about it here.

Poor baby- botfly infestation causes intense itching in the area and the result is hair loss from scratching.  He was fortunate to have only one and probably healed just fine once the warble dropped out.  If you really want to be grossed out, just watch some of the you tube videos of botflies- they're guaranteed to make your skin crawl.  *shiver*

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Rez & LeFleur's Bluff

The weekend looked promising after a week of chilly temperatures so on Saturday the hubby and I decided to get out and drive to the Ross Barnett Reservoir and LeFleur's Bluff State Park, both located near Jackson, Mississippi. These two areas are reportedly good birding spots and with spring migration near, I was hoping to see some interesting species.  It was an easy 2 hour drive for us.   

We drove along Spillway Road which borders the southwestern portion of Ross Barnett Reservoir. As we crossed the bridge over the spillway, we saw dozens of people fishing from the rocky banks where the reservoir empties into Pearl River. Charlie said that he's going to start bringing fishing gear on these little trips so he can fish while I'm birding. Sounds like a good idea to me!

We turned left onto the North Shore Parkway and drove into the Lakeshore Park where we spent a few moments walking along the shoreline and watching the nearby ducks and geese. The park is a beautiful, serene area with several parking spaces, plenty of picnic tables and restroom facilities.   

It was unexpectedly cloudy and windy that time of the day and I was having problems with the flash on my camera but I took a few pictures as we went along.  A pair of Mallard ducks were napping at the waters edge.  They became aware of my presence and watched me closely from their resting position but didn't seem too bothered.  A large group of Canadian Geese were busy walking around and pecking in the grass.  Canadian Geese were spotted at several locations around the reservoir.  

On opposite banks of the Lakeshore Park, we saw a large campground and boat docks.  The Timberlake campground is super nice with all the facilities anyone would need.  It also includes a tennis court, swimming pool and rec room.  I'd love to spend a few days here but it's probably wise to reserve a spot way in advance.  

After leaving Lakeshore Park, we traveled along the Natchez Trace Parkway then exited onto Pipeline Road which runs perpendicular to the Pearl River State WMA on the north side of the reservoir.  Pipeline Road is graveled but not nearly as bumpy as other gravel roads I've been on.  The road is considered a birding "hot spot" and I've seen scores of bird photos taken by photographers in the area.

The first two photos below were taken at the entrance of a shooting range.  A couple of miles down that lane, we realized we had made a wrong turn- the sounds of gunfire were deafening. I thought the field of tiny yellow and white wildflowers were pretty and I love old country fences, so I stopped long enough to get a couple of shots. 

Unfortunately, there wasn't much going on, bird wise, on Pipeline Road.  It could've been because of our timing- we arrived around 2:00 p.m.  A large flock of Blue-winged Teal could be seen in the marsh, but even with my long lens I couldn't zoom in close enough for good photos.  There were also a few Green-winged Teal mixed in among them.  Further down the road, I saw a few Pied-billed Grebes but it was difficult to get a clear view of them because of the tall grasses.  I sure could have used a pair of wading boots that day.

LeFleur's Bluff State Park isn't far from the rez and is easily reached from the interstate. There are restroom facilities available and several picnic areas.  There's also a playground area and a small campground in the park.

I heard several familiar bird calls- pileated woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, american robins, blackbirds and others.  These are birds that are common to my backyard so I chose to wait for an unfamiliar bird call  or sighting.  I wanted to see something different.  But, I didn't. Unbeknownst to me then was there was much more to the area than I thought.  The main road, Lakeland Terrace, goes around the campground then on to circle half of Mayes Lake.  So, I missed out on seeing a lot of the park and lake.  

I did take a couple photos of yellow-rumped warblers (the eastern birds are known as myrtle warblers) that were spotted near one of the pavilions.  They will be migrating soon to breeding areas in the northern U.S. and Canada.

I'll be making another trip to the rez and Lefleur's Bluff in the future and the next time I'll know more about the area and will be better prepared.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Watching the Robins

American Robins are so patient while seeking out food.  Have you ever observed them on your lawn? They stand tall and nearly motionless until they spot movement then hastily run a few steps and suddenly stop to peck into the grass or dirt.  This running and stopping behavior is a distinctive characteristic of the American Robin.  They often scatter into small groups on the lawn, usually during mid-morning and late afternoon.  

This year is the first that I've seen a couple of them take food from the feeders.  I've read that their diet usually consists of 60 percent fruits and berries and 40 percent insects, so perhaps it's the nut and berry seed mix in the feeders that attracted them.

They appreciate clean water in the bird baths, especially during dry spells.

During hunting breaks, they sometimes sit high upon the branches of the old oak tree and relax, or tidy up their feathers...

With spring migration rapidly approaching, these robins will soon leave and return to their breeding areas north from here.  I'm sometimes lucky enough to see young robins when I visit my daughter in Tupelo during early summer because a pair usually nests in an outdoor light box next to her back door.

Robins are among a group of my winter friends.  It's refreshing to watch them during a time when my yard is drained of colorful blooms and fresh green grass.  Blended songs and calls from the robins, chipping sparrows, goldfinches and my resident cardinals and chickadees fill the bland air with cheerful music.  Every living thing has its season and I'm fortunate to witness many of them.