Wednesday, August 30, 2017

An ADK Weekend

     Tim and I made a visit upstate this past weekend to visit family and get away from the city. The area where we visited was absolutely gorgeous. We did some hiking, some canoeing, and made some campfires. It was a really nice time and a huge thank you to Tim's aunt who let us stay at her place.
So, I don't know much about fungus, but there was an amazing array of fungus on the forest floor. It came in every color, shape, and size. Always beautiful!

Auger Falls, a nice trail off Rt 30.

In the time we left for our Auger Falls hike, an Osprey was hanging out on the tree in front of our Aunt's camp. It was still there when we returned, and it stayed for most of the evening with this fish-- that seemed more like jerky.

A very yellow in the face song sparrow.

In the patch of flowers next to our camp, ruby-throated hummingbirds were regular visitors.

And hurray for better lighting...

Cruddy pictures of a male ruby-throated hummingbird! That throat changes intensity with the light. This one is loving the jewelweed.

Day 2, while Tim went for a 10 mile run, I took a walk along the River Walk Nature Trail in Speculator. It was super nice, its very easy to walk with informational signs a lot of pileated woodpecker evidence-- and I heard some drilling, but none sighted.
Every morning clouds and haze burned off to reveal beautiful lakes, mountains, and trees. 

The forest floor had a lot of fungi, but also happy to see a lot of Indian Pipe growing. This plant is parasitic and gains its nutrition from fungi that grow with the roots of trees. So this plant grows well on the dark forest floors. I think they are so beautiful and ghostly.

Across the street from the area where the River walk Nature Trail is-- is a "Public Park" on Lake Pleasant. I found a nice little stand of milkweed and was delighted to see little monarch caterpillars on many of them! I have never seen them so tiny!

Let's talk about how dumb I am. I found this slightly larger cat-- but failed 100% to see a smaller one, on the same leaf, until looking at this picture now. BAD!
Also it appears the smaller one just molted- see that little morsel next to it? And it's also probably eating it. BAD JEN!

The biggest cat I found.

And a hungry common yellow throat before leaving.

Late on Day 2, we hiked 6 miles RT to OK Slip Falls. AND I MADE FRIENDS!

Before birds, herps were (and still are) a huge love of mine. I have kept and continue to keep reptiles, but I also like seeing them and amphibians in the wild. I found 2 red-back salamanders under the same fallen piece of bark.


A red eft, the larval version of an Eastern Newt on the path we were hiking! 
I washed my hands in a stream after helping him to log to hide, because those bright colors warn of a bad taste due to toxins in their skin. On my skin, the toxins won't hurt me, but if it is ingested, it could be icky and potentially uncomfortable.

Sneaking into a little hidey hole.

The view at the end of the hike is pretty great, I learned this is one of the tallest falls in the Adirondack region.

And more interesting fungus along the trail.

This one reminds me of a coral's calcium carbonate skeleton.

This one, honestly just looks delicious.

Day 3, we canoed in the morning from Lake Pleasant to Lake Sacandaga. Tim was a good guy and let me sit up front so I could be ready with the camera and binoculars.

Mallard, black duck, and hybrids were the regulars on the waterways where we stayed.

A young yellow-bellied sapsucker in the marsh between the lakes.

On day 3, we also visited the Adirondack Experience, a really nice museum on Blue Mountain Lake.
After our visit we got in a nice short, but uphill, err... mountain hike to Sawyer Mountain. This is the view from the end of the trail. Not too shabby!

We clambered over a lot of roots, but these were not only impressive, but beautiful as they coat the slope. Tree roots hold in patches of soil, as there is a lot of rock not too fat down, the trees seem to play a vital role in protection from erosion and allow plants to grow along the forest floor.

Oh, hey there. This little Fowler's toad was hopping on the trail. Good thing we saw it, because it looks like the forest floor.

Tim, having a try at toad handling. Again, you don't want to lick fingers after this. Those bumps behind their eyes are glands containing toxins.

Camouflage working well.

That evening we went out on the boat and were treated to not only seeing a loon, but listening to it call. I lightened this one up a lot to see it's face a bit better, but in such low light- meh. This was a thousand times better in person.

Loons yodeling in breeding plumage is pretty great stuff. 
We really enjoyed our visit North and time spent with family. What a great weekend trip to a beautiful place.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

East Pond at JBWR

     This morning I got up and out bright and early before work to get to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and to explore the East Pond.
     Last time I went, the water level was much higher, the grasses thick, and a fence obstacle. I am happy to say that the water level felt lower, and whoever whacked a trail around the fence and through the grasses, serious thank you! It just felt safer and that makes a lone lady out on the marsh feel much better.
     I like going in the morning because light is in your favor, if entering from the south side of the pond. Nothing annoys me more than having to try and ID birds when they are backlit, so an early wake up is best to get good light from the south end of the east pond.
     Boots were very much still necessary, I wore long pants and took a bug spray bath as to avoid not only insects but any poison ivy I would potentially encounter.
     I had a great morning out, working on my shorebird game, and not feeling 100% unsafe! Yay! It's shorebird season, folks-- get out there!
Short-billed dowitcher were plentiful. Some had lovely and stunning rusty browns to their plumage.

The lesser yellowlegs has quickly become a favorite of mine and I am happy to see them here. I also now wonder how many times I have possibly seen a lesser yellowlegs and dismissed it as greater, they are pretty different once you get to know them well.

Abundant, were semipalmated sandpipers.

A lot of this morning was looking at every individual, if I could. In looking at the birds I'd consider comparing them to bird like this, the least sandpiper, and the sanderling-- the few peeps I feel confident identifying. I looked at thing like beak length and droop, length of wings and those primary feathers, proportions of the body, length and color of legs, and of course size. It's a lot to consider, but it's helpful-- and also makes you realize that even within a species there is a ridiculous amount of minute variations.

Whoever did this. THANK YOU!!!

Another semipalmated sandpiper.

A least sandpiper gone contortionist. The tail is bent away from us as it preens its feathers. 

Another least sandpiper in its normal shape.

A few Northern waterthrushes gave me a piece of heir minds at the marsh edge.

Semipalmated plovers were very abundant and seemed oddly large, in comparison to the smaller peeps.

Why I love lesser yellowlegs- their proportions are just comical!

I'm a little awkward... and maybe that's why I like these birds.

Captured a snowy egret flyby. Love these birds, saw a nice group of them flying against an overcast western sky, they were just stunning.

If you saw one short-billed dowitcher, there were always at least 1 to 3 more behind.

And now for something completely different...

Bigger bodied, primaries just peek out past the rest of the wing, a longer very gently drooping bill, a streak of red on the back (or scapulars, technical bird speak), and the front end- compared to the semipalmated up top, is just a bit heavier in the front end of its body.

This is a Western Sandpiper AND a life bird! Woot!

But wait, there's more...

Taller than everything else, but smaller than the dowitcher, longer yellow legs...

The patterns on the head and face look like nothing I've seen before...

Oh yeah, that's different than everything else.

Another life bird, a pectoral sandpiper!
A successful morning on the East Pond and still in to work and smelling like "Off Deep Woods" all day, it was worth it!
If you are looking to learn more about shorebirds, there is a festival this weekend at the refuge that is the Shorebird Festival!