Monday, January 22, 2018

Gateway to Art

On Saturday, I revisited an old haunt, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. My ultimate destination was the Walters' current exhibit of Faberge and other pre-revolutionary Russian decorative arts, and I did a little exploring and re-familiarizing in the museum's amazing maze of art. The photo above shows a sample of French wrought iron work, an altar gate salvaged when the cathedral in Troyes, France, was remodeled in the 19th century. Today, it serves as a stunning passage between sections of the museum.

Other snapshots of Baltimore's Mount Vernon Historic District, where the Walters is located...Baltimore has architecture!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Scenes from an Eastern Shore Birding Trip

On the Howard County Bird Club's annual winter trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and other points on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Saturday, January 13, 2018: First two photos here show the famous waterfowl flock at the end of Oakley Street on the Choptank River in Cambridge.

Snow geese at Blackwater NWR

Scene with bald eagle, Hooper's Island

The glorious start and glorious finish of the sunset viewed from Shorter's Wharf

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Centennial Duck in Happier Times (Update); Other Creatures in Winter Cold

As noted in my post yesterday, the white Pekin duck which was a familiar sight at Centennial Lake for many years was found dead this month, a victim of the recent severe cold weather. I learned from other birders that around 12:30pm on January 9 it was seen standing on the ice near the boat ramp with its head tucked in. It appeared to be sleeping, but around 4:00pm that day, other birders found it lying dead on the ice.  (Sleeping, but freezing to death.) My photo above shows the duck seeming to be thriving on December 30 (2017) -- and pointing me to the rare goose just to the left, a greater white-fronted goose. Why would that one duck succumb to the cold while all the other birds around it survive? Perhaps, it was a combination of age and the cold (as the duck had been at this lake for many years). Perhaps, being a domestic breed had something to do with its vulnerability.

Waterfowl and wading birds limited to looking for food in the water during winter can suffer, although geese can fly to nearby fields to forage. Smaller songbirds might have a better chance with access to bird feeders when the ground is frozen or under snow. When colder weather is setting in and snow is falling, you'll see more birds visiting the feeders, because they endure the cold by filling up on high-energy seed and suet and burning the calories. In my photo below, a ruby-crowned kinglet visits one of my suet feeders again yesterday. I had one (the same bird?) coming to that feeder for around a week at the beginning of the month, then I didn't see any further visits until now. It's the first time I've seen this species at my feeders, though the bird is common enough in the local woods. Other people are reporting kinglets at suet, too. (Will the other kinglet in our region, the golden-crowned, also come to suet?)

And below, also yesterday, another creature safe from the cold weather...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Warning: Grim Photo -- A Casualty of the Cold at Centennial

More and more awful headlines -- both about the Fake President and local incidents in different regions. We spend time birdwatching or communing with nature for some relief and down time. Yesterday at Centennial Lake, I came across the body of the Pekin duck, which had been a fixture at the lake for many years. Apparently, it was a casualty of the severe cold weather, while its wild cousins on the same lake are thriving. Other birders had documented its passing a few days ago. So you can't escape....Nature sometimes reflects awful times....

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Lakefront in Ice Mist

The influx of warm air is hitting local lakes and ponds still covered with ice today and creating dramatic effects.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Walk Around Lake Kittamaqundi Today

Here's a look at the lake this afternoon as subfreezing gives way to temperate weather.

Mallards find open water in the spillway stream while the lake is still under ice.

Above: A red-shouldered hawk preens in the sun.
Below: One of several fussing Carolina wrens.

On patrol....

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Look at Wilde Lake in the Freeze // A Flicker Visits

Photos of Wilde Lake were taken yesterday afternoon. The only birds on the "water" were the usual ring-billed gulls (with evidence of geese).

Yesterday morning, the suet block attracted another irregular visitor to my feeders. This is a northern flicker, a woodpecker common in our woods which forages on the ground for insects. The bird's tongue is visible in my photo as he enjoys the suet. (The black malar or cheek stripe indicates a male.)