Wednesday, January 30, 2013

White Out.

And January 30th or not, I don't mean snow. The mainland was clear and I thought the barrier island was losing its light, gauzy wrap of morning fog...

Apparently not, as evidenced a couple of hours later. You can't even see the osprey platform near the edge of the marsh across the water. (As I have to navigate myself back off the island, I suppose I should be grateful I can still see marsh [what there is of it to see]. At least I'm not going by boat.)

Stupid weather.

(Photo is much better when you click on it. You can see the shadow that is the osprey platform if you know where to look.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Was this really necessary?

Just because I was commenting--not precisely complaining--about the so-far mild winter (when I was expecting a rougher one than last year) just the other week, was it really necessary that Mother Nature go to this extreme:

Outdoor max/min temps from Wednesday afternoon, January 23rd.

And to not even give us anything like a decent snow with it--! [She fusses, ducking her head as she watches the approach of another winter storm on the radar. ::desperately hoping neighbor with bulldozer is at home::]

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Pages at Chatter!

Well, actually they are old pages from back in the days when I wrote my own webpage from scratch. (Must admit, that was a whole lot of fun--a bit of mental exercise with a nice payoff.)

WREN PAGES, over there on the left side of the right column of this blog, are permanent pages of stuff I hope you find of interest.

I've just put up Cape May Birding, a little reference guide to get you started if you are curious enough to make a bird-watching trip to Cape May to see what all of the fuss is about. (Alas, no photos.)

The second is a photo essay about one of the ongoing Delaware Bay Shorebirds research projects. It's bare-bones now, but I hope to get in the field again this year to obtain the most recent news. Ought to be a good year to do so, as the only real damage Cape May County suffered from Superstorm Sandy was to the Delaware Bayshore beaches--they took a severe pounding as the hurricane passed us by. Availability of suitable nesting habitat (i.e., beaches) is a limiting factor in horseshoe crab reproduction and a problem due to the "lack-thereof" because of development; with estimates of a 50% loss of NJ bayshore beaches due to the storm, this spring will be a very interesting one for the crabs and the birds and the scientists who study them...

I'll be updating both pages as necessary.

Thank you for looking!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well, That Answers That.

I have on rare occasion wondered if woodpeckers ever perch like "normal" birds; it's not something you see them do often, if at all. I do not find my lack of personal experience of woodpeckers sitting with perfect posture surprising, as their feet are actually structured slightly differently than those of passerines, the so-called "perching birds". Songbirds have three toes that face forward and a fourth that faces backward; woodpeckers have two toes that face forward and two toes that face backwards (which makes them "zygodactyl"). This two-and-two layout is an excellent set-up for scrambling up and down trees, but does it interfere with the ability to perch upright?

"Nobody here but us sparrows…"

Apparently not. This Downy Woodpecker had been feeding at a highly-exposed suet feeder. I'm guessing that a hawk appeared somewhere out of my sight, because while I was watching he dove into the closest cover (such as it was) and froze in this position. You can see the two-toed front-and-back grip he has on the branch.

Yup, they can perch upright, albeit awkwardly. Not that it's an effective evasive technique when your plumage is a bold black and white with a big red target on the back of your head; he may have been better off clinging vertically to the far side of a tree trunk (a woodpecker's most effective and oft employed evasion tactic).

[To the best of my knowledge, he did not become lunch. Nor did he remain sitting upright for any longer than necessary...]

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lighten up.

Working our way out of the dark; the days are getting longer. And the goldfinches have been brightening since before the turn of the year...

David Sibley has a wonderful pictorial essay on the Molt of a Male American Goldfinch.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cat Fix

Just because... Besides, it's winter, and cold outside. But the light is pretty good for photography, and I have such photogenic children who all live inside... This is Cassandra, admittedly one of the more photogenic of my handsome horde.