Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ruddy Ducks in the Rain

Migrating ruddy ducks started appearing on the local lakes last week, and a group of three showed up on Lake Kittamaqundi last weekend. Two more ruddies have joined them since then. There are four adult males and one adult female or immature, the latter being the latest to arrive and the one on the left end in the above photo taken today at the south end of the lake. Before today, they were spending most of their time near the lakefront and the central section. They are diving ducks, so when they are feeding you will see them popping in and out of sight on the water. As the photo shows, they seem to like resting all at the same time close together, their tail feathers typically sticking up.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Lake Scenes; More Warblers and a Brown Thrasher -- new species at Lake Kittamaqundi

The fall warbler parade continued at the lake this week with a couple of species new for me: a black-throated green warbler and a Cape May warbler. This was the first documentation of Cape May warbler on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird for the Lake Kittamaqundi hotspot. Another new species for the hotspot -- on the same date and in the same area by the lake -- was brown thrasher. I've seen thrashers before, but this was my first sighting at this location. It's a larger member of the mockingbird and catbird family, and it's always a fantastic bird to see. All three birds in this post were found along the shore by the Sheraton Hotel and the neighboring office building. Photos follow.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Grassy Splendour; Sparrows, Warblers, Kinglets, Bluebirds

Here are some of the small songbirds which showed up around Lake Kittamaqundi over the past week. The warblers and kinglets are passing through on fall migration. Song sparrows are summer residents, but after an absence of the species for a few weeks, I'm guessing that the ones seen recently are part of a wave passing through from further north. White-throated sparrows arrived at the lake, signalling the coming of winter. (The photo above shows some of the pink muhly grass now blooming in plantings along the lake's east shore.)

Song Sparrow

Blackpoll Warbler

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet: The ruby crown isn't always visible, but I think the tip of it can be seen on this bird. Both kinglet species were in the trees and bushes along the shore by the Sheraton Hotel and the neighboring office building.

Eastern Bluebird

White-throated Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Palm Warbler

Magnolia Warbler, earlier this month in a wooded area near the lake

Friday, October 7, 2016

Centennial Scene

Centennial Lake with a kayaker last Monday

Monarch butterflies were stopping here during migration. I also spotted a torn and faded tiger swallowtail, a certain sign that summer has given way to fall. Among birds, I caught sight of a yellow-billed cuckoo, also pictured here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Looking at Wilde Lake

A few recent scenes around the other lake in the neighborhood. Not photographed, but as I approached the lake on foot last Friday, I caught sight of a pair of pileated woodpeckers flying into the trees over the dam and heard one of them give that famous wild cry.

An osprey which I had been observing at Lake Kittamaqundi had not been seen for a while, and I thought the bird had departed on its southward migration. This week, however, an osprey was found fishing at Wilde Lake. It could be the same bird.

Local photographers and birdwatchers have been noticing the young heron fishing in the pool below the dam. It's visible on the edge of the pool in the view above, then my camera caught it making a successful catch....

Monday, September 26, 2016

Northern Waterthrush; Other Warblers at Lake Kittamaqundi

In spite of its name, the northern waterthrush is a warbler species. I found this one (photo above), my first one, foraging in the Little Patuxent River next to the lake on Saturday. Its habit of bobbing its tail made it hard to get a sharply focused photo. Perhaps, the related Louisiana waterthrush is passing through the area also. I saw and heard my first Louisiana at Marriottsville in the county last spring.

Local birdwatchers are looking for "fall warblers" now -- warblers passing through the area on their way south for the winter. Lake Kittamaqundi isn't rich in warbler species, but I've seen some of the more common ones. We get the yellow-rumped warbler and the palm warbler, and the common yellowthroat spends the summer here. Last fall, I came across a black-throated blue warbler foraging in trees along the shore around the north end of the lake. I note that in eBird, somebody reported a northern parula here one morning this summer. If I want to see more warblers, I must go to places like the Howard County Conservancy, where I recently saw my first prairie warbler and black-and-white warbler. But I still keep my eye on the area around Lake Kittamaqundi. You never know what could turn up, like that northern waterthrush.

/// What are they foraging or hunting for? Warblers are usually after insects or other small invertebrates. I'm not aware that they feed on berries or seeds, but I understand that you're not going to see them at feeders generally because of their diet. ///