Thursday, September 28, 2023

Between the raindrops

Hurricane Ophelia developed as a sub-tropical storm off the coast of Florida on September 6, strengthened briefly to a Category 1 Hurricane on September 8, weakened to a Tropical Storm the next day, and then meandered up the Atlantic coast, regaining Hurricane force on September 11 and again on the 13th. As it moved slowly along its winds caused a storm surge and severe coastal flooding up into New England. We experienced mostly heavy rain for 4 days, so I have not had many photo opportunities.

Cedar Waxwings have been the most abundant bird species seen from the back yard, but they feed and roost far to other end of the clear-cut, over 50 meters (160 feet) away. I am lucky when some venture close enough for a fairly decent photo:

Before the rains came, I obtained distant shots of an adult Cedar Waxwing eating the ripe berries of Pokeweed down in the clear-cut:

A fluttering juvenile harvested berries on the wing:

Small flocks of American Robins are gathering: 

They seem not to prefer the Pokeweed, but the abundant crab apples will soon be on the robins' menu:

Two Buteo raptors wheeled above against a gray sky. Note that this Red-shouldered Hawk's flight feathers exhibit a symmetrical molt pattern, allowing balanced soaring:

The other was a larger Red-tailed Hawk:

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds had exited gradually over the past two weeks. I sighted them more frequently away from the feeders, seeking insect prey among the shrubs and flowers. They are now much more difficult to photograph: 

Mourning Doves swayed in the wind and feasted on Safflower seeds:

During the rain storms, all my photos were taken through the window of our "front door." Four immature Wild Turkeys have visited several times to eat the abundant acorns on the side lawn:

They often ascended the granite slope along the garden steps just outside the window. They were too close for my fixed telephoto lens, so I captured them with my iPhone:

The bow-hunting season for turkeys began on September 15, but only "bearded" adult males may be taken, so these juveniles are safe. The beard is a tuft of hair-like feathers which protrude from the center of the upper breast and may reach a length of several inches. The beards of older male turkeys (Toms) grow at a rate of about five inches per year.  Some hens may also sprout much shorter beards. These youngsters lack the bright red color of the adult male's "waddle," the flap of bare skin which hangs from their chin. They resemble adult females but have somewhat duller plumage and the brownish tips of their breast feathers are rounded rather than squared off as in adults.

I captured some interesting portraits:

Most mornings, the bad weather kept us from walking along the lake, but I did get a nice view on September 17. Soon the foliage will start turning to fall colors:

On September 21, a colorful sunset heralded the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia:

This week's header: Sunset September 21, 2023

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Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Summer is losing its grip #1080

We have had more than our share of rain and windy weather during the past few weeks. Too often, the sky is leaden gray which makes it difficult for eyes to see clearly and cameras to focus properly on small and elusive fall migrant birds. 

No amount of post-processing could bring up the color of some of the migrating birds I have photographed during the past few days, such as this male Bay-breasted Warbler which appeared briefly through the foliage:

A week before, on September 10, I obtained a better view, but was not satisfied with it either and almost forgot I had it:

His bright spring plumage will help to attract a mate, but autumn feathering is much less conspicuous. I photographed this male Bay-breasted Warbler in Illinois on May 3, 2009:

During my last days in Florida, in October, 2020, just before I had my surgery, i obtained a poor photo of a Scarlet Tanager:

This week's male Scarlet Tanager also does not live up to his name in fall and winter plumage...

...while one I saw in Illinois on May 10, 2017 fully deserved it:

The male American Redstart develops very bright plumage in his second year which then persists all-year-round, as illustrated by this one I photographed in unusually bright sunlight in the back yard on September 10:

A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, also seen on September 10, showed up nicely despite his demure winter garb... opposed to his striking plumage back in May:

The Clematis vine climbing the back yard fence produced its final bloom:

Four days later, buffeted and faded by wind and rain, it retained its grace:

Evening Primrose grows wild but is nonetheless beautiful:

American Burnweed (Erechtites hieraciifolius) covers any bare ground, feeding the American Goldfinches and their chicks with seeds from flower buds which look so promising, but never develop petals...

...and later fill the sky with pesky fluff (pappus): 

We are anticipating the peak of autumn foliage colors in late October, but one brilliant side effect of the stormy weather has been the outlandish beauty of the skies.

On September 13 the first act opened with an afternoon light rain shower over Hartford:

The evening sky turned amber as the sun dipped behind distant clouds:

After the sun disappeared below the horizon, fog filled the valley under a pastel sky :

Two evenings later, the performance took on a bolder theme. The sky  was on fire:

Multiple cloud layers were each inscribed with odd glyphs and scratchy symbols:

As darkness approached, tenacious embers reluctantly gave up their light:

This week's header: Sunset, September 13, 2023

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Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Chainsaw Heron

Fall land bird migration should be peaking about now, but I have had very poor luck in seeing many migrants. Admittedly, it was very hot this past week, followed by several stormy days. My forays into the back yard have been infrequent and unusually brief. MaryLou helped out by sighting this Red-shouldered Hawk as it perched on top of the bluebird house. The photo was taken through a badly stained window. The hawk flew off just as I tried to sneak outside for a better view:

A few Cedar Waxwings were eating the Pokeweed berries. Unfortunately, this location is 33 meters away, looking down from my perch along the back yard fence. The images required heavy cropping which greatly reduces their resolution:

Note the red wax-like accretions on the tips of this adult's secondary wing feathers:

The immature waxwings have dull, streaky plumage and a less prominent crest:

Days after moving here from Florida, on January 14, 2022, I snapped this photo through the screened window in our office/media room. A flock of waxwings had descended on the overgrown holly, just outside our door. I like this image despite its poor quality, as it shows the red waxy "appendages" attached to the bird's feather tips:

The old holly was removed and replaced with three very productive female holly bushes, next to the same window. I hope they attract the waxwings, but think I must remove the window screens if I want decent photos:

This Red-eyed Vireo provided me with the week's best shot of a feathered bird:

However, a neighbor has been working on a wooden bird:

This is her nearly finished product, a Chainsaw Great Blue Heron

The Hibiscus is putting out a new flower every morning:

The sun was ready to settle behind the ridge on the opposite edge of the Connecticut River Valley:

This week's header: Sunset on September 5, 2023

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Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display