Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Caspian Tern

Another migratory visitor has been gracing Lake Kittamaqundi. This bird might be seen over Wilde Lake, too.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Osprey ~~ Other Lake Scenes This Week

My bird of the week at Lake Kittamaqundi would be the osprey, which I spotted over the lake after the bird had caught a fish late on Wednesday afternoon. Note how the osprey has turned its catch so that the head is facing forward. This reduces drag while the bird is still flying and looking for a place to stop and eat.

In other migratory bird news at Lake Kittamaqundi: The two pied-billed grebes appear to have moved on some time late in the week. A group of five double-crested cormorants which I regularly see every spring arrived and were on the lake while I was observing the osprey. They usually disperse, with individuals in the group either remaining on this lake or moving elsewhere.

Watch for the brilliant flash of bluebirds in the woods around the local lakes and parks. Males are particularly brilliant for breeding season.

Paving of the path which connects the south end of Lake Kittamaqundi with South Entrance Road is in progress. 

The familiar great blue heron -- a year-round resident -- on Lake Kittamaqundi

Another migratory visitor: American coot at Wilde Lake yesterday

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hawk, Accipiter species

Cooper's or sharp-shinned? Whichever, it put an abrupt halt to flocks of grackles and starlings battling over my feeders yesterday evening.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Silver Lakes

The weather system which rolled through the area yesterday afternoon created some interesting effects on local lakes. Above: Two views of Lake Kittamaqundi taken within minutes of each other.

Below: Two views of Wilde Lake later in the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grebe Update; Lake Scenes on a Sunny Day

The pied-billed grebe population on Lake Kittamaqundi doubled yesterday with the arrival of a second bird. I'm waiting to see if we get the regular group of three. For the last fall migration, they stayed on the lake until the middle of January, only departing (presumably heading further south) shortly before Snowzilla.

I was on another walk around the lake yesterday, taking photos and counting birds for eBird. Luckily, eBird allows flexibility when you can't get an accurate count -- just enter X for all those common grackles flocking in a stand of trees or the sparrows making lots of noise but staying out of view in the brambles. (If I can count them, I do. It doesn't have to be an exact count.) Above, I caught a cardinal at an odd angle. Below: The bluebirds' brilliant blue, orange and white colors can be seen flashing among the trees, but I couldn't focus through the twigs on this bird.

Kingfishers were busy on and around the lake throughout my walk, and I wasn't sure how many I was seeing. Do we have more than one pair resident around the lake now? One was working the stretch of Little Patuxent River pictured above but eluded my camera (though it might be in the frame somewhere). I was intrigued by this view showing the river wedged between Route 29 on the left and the lake path on the right.

Below: Sunlight and shadows on the Lakefront

Monday, March 14, 2016

Currently on Kittamaqundi ~~ eBird

The spring migration is in full swing now, and birders are watching the local lakes for migratory waterfowl passing through on the way to summer breeding areas. Lake Kittamaqundi gets some regular visitors, and, in spite of being sandwiched between Route 29 and Town Center development, it can turn up some surprises. Yesterday, six lesser scaup were on the lake, and they were still here this morning.  Scaup are in the genus Aythya along with the canvasback and ring-necked ducks, which we sometimes see on the lake, too.

More surprising to me was the male wood duck mixing with them yesterday. He couldn't keep up and eventually separated from the group and moved to the south end of the lake.  Wood ducks seem to prefer more secluded ponds and pools surrounded by trees. Hopefully, he will find more of his kind nearby -- we have been seeing them recently!

Lake Kittamaqundi in silver and bronze this morning...The pied-billed grebe pictured below apparently arrived overnight. That's my sign that spring has arrived (and fall, when it first appears during that migration).

The lesser scaup enjoy the lake this morning. They are divers (as is the grebe above), so be quick with your camera if they are feeding -- or get a nice shot of a rump going under.

I recently became a participant on eBird, the bird-watching database managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. Lake Kittamaqundi and the other lakes and various parks in Columbia and Howard County all are official hotspots on eBird. I document my sightings there now with other birders, which helps my personal records and the ornithologists. Most birders around here probably are familiar with the database. See eBird in the Nature and Wildlife Link in the blog's margin, if you want more information.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center; Tundra Swans

This was a trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge earlier this week for a first visit to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Photos here were taken along the trail around Knapp Lake. Above: A large groundhog was one of the first animals seen on the trail. Following photos show tundra swans on the lake. They were sharing it with pintails, ring-necked ducks and mallards. There was much more to see -- a good look at the so-called Everglades of the Chesapeake, if you don't feel like driving to places farther away on the Eastern Shore. (CBEC is in my Nature and Wildlife links in the blog margin.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Male Canvasback

This one has been on Lake Kittamaqundi for the last couple of days. Today, he joined two male ring-necked ducks while in the water.