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Birds & More Birds – Listening to Bird Sounds

Today I played my new CDs on bird sounds. I had it up loud while I was housecleaning, with my front door partially open. I think all the bird chatter actually attracted birds – at one point, there were about a dozen birds on my tiny lawn scratching in the dirt for food, dozens in the tree across the street, and many on nearby roofs and skittering in the street.

Luckily with my “Birds of Maryland & Delaware Field Guide” book and CD, I was very happy to be able to identify:

  • Cardinals – ID’d by features & colors
  • Blue Jays – ID’d by sound
  • Junco – ID’d by color and behavior: “tan-to-brown chest … white belly … ivory-to-pink bill … is a common winter bird in Maryland and Delaware … Look for its white outer tail feathers flashing when in flight …seen in small flocks on the ground ...”

Discovery Walk – November – Ma & Pa Trail

November 20, 2011

The second of my “Discovery Walks” – I had planned a walk on the Ma & Pa Trail in Bel Air, so I used the opportunity to “Look Up, Down, & Around” and actually notice something on the trail, rather than focus on how fast I could walk the 4 miles.

Setting the scene / trailhead:

Looking Up – Vultures:

The most fascinating discovery was right at the beginning of the walk. Looking “up”, I saw a raptor lazily flying around. I kept focused on it, and noticed it settled in a tree. Then, there were more. And each one flew around and eventually settled in the same tree, or one nearby. It ended up that there were five vultures.

These trees look scary, don’t they? It was a very cloudy day.

More where that one came from. Eventually five vultures settled in. I got three in a pic:

So let’s move to “Looking Down“. We have a colorful red & yellow spider, a gravel-crusted earthworm, some moss, and a feather – surely not natural:



Possibly after effects of all the rain we had in the late summer/early fall, along with a hurricane and a tropical storm – stream erosion and debris caught in the fencing above the stream culvert:


Heavenly Waters stream runs through the park, and eventually flows into Winters Run:

Taking a “Look Around” – There were several large trees down which is not unusual for around here after all our storms & rain; a nice splash of red in the woods; and a plastic bag caught in the trees:


And what happened to these trees?? Deer?

If I was solely walking, and not consciously observing, I never would’ve noticed these:

Rounding out my discoveries, there are about a dozen birdhouses along the trail. I couldn’t tell if they are being used, how they got there, or if anyone is maintaining them. Here is one:

And there is a new art installation in the park. The first time I saw it was from the adjacent highway. From that perspective, it looks like a discarded backyard basketball hoop. Fortunately, it ended up not being trash, but a sculpture:

“Up With The Birds”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One particularly special part of the day is the sound of birds awakening at sunrise. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I love camping – so I can easily wake to all the bird song, calls, and chatter.

I have a book titled “Let’s Go Outside” by Jennifer Ward that describes an activity to get outdoors before the sunrise, snuggle in, and listen to the sounds.

So today I tried it. Here’s a general log of how it unfolded:

  • 5:45 – sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee. It’s still dark. I hear a lot of things, but no birds yet: the hum of heat pumps (one is particularly whiny and annoying); traffic on I-95; surprisingly no trains going by [yet]. The sky is cloudy, so there are no stars to be seen
  • 5:58 – I can see a touch of color in the sky
  • 6:03 – can definitely tell it’s changing from night to day
  • 6:06 – 1st bird sound. A chit-chit-chit
  • 6:14 –  a chirp
  • 6:17 – more chirps. It’s becoming just light enough that I think I can see black specks flying the sky
  • 6:17 – okay, that one really whiny appliance has become super-annoying; but it gets drowned out when everyone’s heat pump kicks on
  • 6:23 – I can see well enough to write
  • 6:27 – Birds !! I hear a “weer-weer-weer”; and a “chp-chp-chp”, and “op-op-op” [like coughing]; and a “dng-dng-dng” [like ringing bells]. A few minutes later, a “ch-weet”; then a very staccato “dir-dir-dir”; then a “ewhp”. Then many more different sounds that I’ve written in my notes.
  • 6:40 – flock of birds flew overhead
  • 6:42 – lots of bird sound, but not very near my house. Like next court over.
  • 6:47 – several small groups (of ~ 6 birds) flew over
  • “Official” sunrise occurs ~6:55

That was a delightful way to while away an hour on Sunday morning. Sunrise:

2 green / 1 brown

November 14, 2011

I liked the juxtaposition of these trees:

Moon in the Morning Sky

November 13, 2011

Bringing Birds to My Backyard

Expanding more on my nature quest, I decided to buy a bird feeder. There were a few too many choices and decisions for me, so I selected a “beginners” feeder, chosen because it’s in my budget.

I’ve had it for a week. Total birds to date: 0.  (At least as far as I can tell by the food not eaten; since I’m not typically home during the day.)

Although, it did attract this squirrel’s attention:

which highlighted an error in installation. Though the feeder is designed to “close” when a squirrel gets on it, I have it hanging so low that the squirrel doesn’t even have to get on it, he can just hang out on the deck railing and chomp away.

Field Trip to the Stream at ORNC

Our last field trip of the Naturalist program was to the stream at Oregon Ridge Park to catch some fish and identify them. To be honest, I never thought there’d be fish in that stream, so it was a delight to capture several. (After we ID’d them, they were all returned to their home.)

We got a little crayfish and several varieties of minnows:

It was again a beautiful November day – clear bright skies and temps in the high 50s. I thought the stream looked pretty:


A beautiful sycamore tree near the stream:

Discovery Walk – November – At the Office

During our Master Naturalist training, we had to work on a project. I’ve morphed two of the projects into a plan for my own adventuring and journaling. One team’s project asked you to “Look Up – Look Down – Look Around” and note what you found. Another team’s project sent you in search of different animals, plants, etc. and called it a “Discovery Walk”.

Since the “campus” where I work is practically a park, I thought I’d do my own “Discovery Walk” and capture what I found when I looked “Up, Down, & Around”. It’s a great structure because I walk around our property almost every day. Though I may “see” these every day, I didn’t really notice and observe them.

As background, here’s a section of our walking path:

Let’s start with “Looking Down”:

Earthworm sunning itself on a warm day:

Some cool looking rocks. I love rocks. Just started learning about them. I will go back and properly ID these. But if I waited to write a blog post until I had ID’d everything, I’d never post.

Pink leaves:

and deer tracks:

Looking Up:

Beautiful November day:

A Bird: the yellow-green dot in the center of the photo below.

Post edited for ID: The photo doesn’t indicate much, but from what I remember when I saw the bird, it could be either an American Goldfinch (female) or a Common Yellowthroat. I’m using a “Birds of Maryland & Delaware Field Guide”. The distinctions I’m using are: olive-brown coloring; habitat is open fields, scrubby areas, and woodlands (see next photo); and they are found in this area year-round.

This area of trees had a lot of birds, but I couldn’t get them on camera:

Looking All Around

Mid-November and the trees are mostly bare:

There’s a lot of landscaping on our property. Here’s a pretty red shrub (that I haven’t ID’d yet)

A tree in November:

Our pond:

Ending the Discovery Walk with a furry friend:

He noticed me and scampered to his home, along the sidewalk:

Peeking out at me from his home:

8-pt Buck at Miles Campground

The first weekend of November started with a forecast of unseasonably warm days and zero percent chance of rain. So I went camping; to one of the few places still open for the season – Elk Neck State Park.

All the elements aligned to make this the best camping outing ever:

  • glorious blue sky, not a cloud
  • daytime temps in the 60s; night temps in the high 30s – mid 40s
  • full moon
  • my campsite faced the sun rise
  • on 2 nights, there was no one else in the campground.


So …. it did rain Monday morning. Because the theme of 2011 is “I camp – it rains”.

After the morning rain, the day (and the next several) were gorgeous. Some samples for leaf ID:

A bee sunned itself on one of my camping bins:

Exploring the park – the beach. No one there in November:

Evening at the boat launch area:

Every evening, I made a campfire and watched the moon rise:

Moon shine on the water:

Continuing with theme of 2011,  0% chance of rain: Rain started about 4:00am. Misty, rainy, foggy morning for last day of this trip:

A worm at home in my tent mesh:

Ducks on the river:

Spent a few minutes with the park staff watching an 8-point buck near the bathhouse, trying to get a good photo. The buck didn’t seem to be too bothered by us humans. If we got too close, he’d rush off, but he came back in a few minutes to another side of the bathhouse. Just as I pulled out of campground, I got this shot. [He’s on the left third of the photo, about center; standing in front of two trees. The antlers look whitish.]

Blue Heron Along Joppatowne Stream

November 6, 2011

After I left Mariner Point Park (watching the sunrise and the birds), I stopped at a little park along Joppa Farm Road. All along I thought it was only a ball field. But on the other side of the road, there was also a sign for the park, in honor of Robert Copenhaver. So I climbed over the road bumper and headed down a delightful trail alongside a stream. Within 100 feet, I was startled by a Great Blue Heron rising up from the stream.

Of course, I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough. But did get this pic of the pretty trail. The stream is on the left, view of it is hidden by the foliage.

The heron stayed about 50 yards in front of me the entire stroll down this trail. Everytime I approached too close for his comfort, he lifted up and glided further down the stream.

This really is a very pretty trail. It’s in a small valley; homes are on either side, on the top of the “hill”. It meanders from Trimble Road down to Joppa Farm Road.