Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mid-Summer Birds, Beasts, and Bugs

 Adult and juvenile Barn Swallows sunning themselves on the metal roof of a barn.

One was too lazy to pick up this dragon fly near the barn.

July is a real challenge for birding. The birds are quiet, usually staying well hidden in the foliage, feeding their young or fattening themselves up before fall migration.

Some observations are serendipitous such as a flock of Cedar Waxwings  performing aerial acrobatics over the West River in pursuit of insects, fluttering, zigzagging, turning and twisting and intermittently perching on to a tree to rest. The biting deer flies, usually helicoptering around one's head this time of year looking for a suitable landing spot,  are mercifully absent because of the heavy rains we've had.

The one species I would encounter almost without fail when walking past a moist  thicket are the Common Yellowthroats. They are very territorial and just passing by will trigger their Tchak, tchak alarm calls. With a little bit of pishing they'll usually pop right out.

When not distracted they are busy feeding their offspring

House Wrens are almost done feeding their young in their nest. They are almost ready to fledge.

And a couple of days later:  

Late afternoon I saw a brown shape foraging in the grass ahead. Only on coming closer did I realize it was a doe.

Taking a walk with my dog on the gravelly path up the hill brown and gray winged grasshoppers were popping up with every step, whirring through the air and dropping down a few feet further up.

 They are almost invisible unless you look very closely.

In the meadow on top of the hill a flock of 6 to 8 Bobolinks, juveniles and females, no males, were fattening up for the fall migration later this month.

Getting ready for take-off

A solitary male Indigo Bunting on a look-out from the top of a tall pine

Goldfinches showing up to feast on the seeds of the two tall thistles in our yard. 

Several times a day this Downy Woodpecker is taking a drink from my hummingbird feeder.

It's August. The end of summer is in sight. Shorebird migration is already well under way and warblers and nighthawks are soon to follow. 


  1. Yep, the shorebirds are on the move. I'm seeing many different species as they pass through my area. My yard, too, is getting quieter and quieter, as my regular co-habitants leave, one species at a time. Being a birder sure makes the passage of time more obvious.

  2. I hadn't realised that your migrations started so early so it's an interesting post to learn that, as it would make the time you have some of your birds relatively short.

  3. You certainly have seen some beautiful birds of late, Hilke! A pleasure to view all of your wonderful photographs! I especially love the image of the Common Yellowthroat with quite a mouthful. All are terrific, though. My, how summer passes quickly.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous pics; you must have spent hours taking these pictures.

  5. Hilke, it all looks so lovely and isn't it amazing how quickly we can feel summer fading and the cool fingers of autumn reaching out to touch us!

  6. Wonderful post and collection of birds, Hilke! I love the swallows, they are one of my favorite summer birds. Happy Birding!