Friday, November 10, 2017

Fall and Migrating Waterfowl

Recently on Lake Kittamaqundi...


Male bufflehead

Cloudless sulphur in a late warm spell

Sleeping female gadwalls with male mallard

American coot (mallards in background)

Waterfowl bathing in the rain: male mallards; coots; female gadwall

Friday, November 3, 2017

Font Hill Wetland Park

Here are some scenes yesterday and recently at this regional park -- situated between Centennial Lane and Font Hill Drive in Ellicott City. Above is the main pond.

young male belted kingfisher

bluebird and chipping sparrow share a branch

a very young buck not budging from something good

red-shouldered hawk perching by the path

black vulture

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gadwall and Wood Duck

Among recent visitors to Lake Kittamaqundi are a female gadwall and a male wood duck. More wood ducks might be present on the lake or nearby. In the photo, the gadwall is on the left edge, and the wood duck rather stands out on the right. The other two ducks are female mallards.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Butterflies and Shovelers at the Lakefront

The new fall planting of yellow pansy at Lake Kittamaqundi's Lakefront was attracting lots of hungry butterflies today. Many are migrating through (such as monarchs and painted ladies), and they are looking for butterfly road food here as wildflowers around the lake are fading. A few species on the pansies today...


Common Buckeye

Painted Lady -- one of at least seven

Fiery Skipper (uncommon)

And now there are two northern shovelers on the lake -- a male and female.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Shoveler Update; Fox at the Lake...

The visiting northern shoveler continues at Lake Kittamaqundi. Lately, he is associating with the three ruddy ducks (all males) and the pied-billed grebe (regular migratory visitors at the lake). Above, from left to right: two ruddy ducks, the shoveler, pied-billed grebe, and a third ruddy. Below: ruddy duck on the left; shoveler on the right.

Other photos taken in this week's clear weather follow, beginning with a fox snooping around on one of the peninsulas.

Above: View from the long footbridge at the north tip of the lake. Below: Young great blue heron.

The last photo here shows another migrating bird in brush along the shore near the Lakefront: hermit thrush.

Monday, October 16, 2017


A duck called northern shoveler showed up among the mallards on Lake Kittamaqundi over the weekend. (Bonus in the photo: snapping turtle in upper right corner.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Black-and-white Warbler

Yesterday -- this was the third black-and-white warbler that I've seen at Lake Kittamaqundi during this fall's migration.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Disaster Relief and Vetting the Charities // "Nature red in tooth and claw"

Photos in this post show Nature on a good day at the Howard County Conservancy, Mount Pleasant, last weekend even as the Caribbean, Florida, Texas and Mexico suffered Nature having a bad day. I'm including below this paragraph a link to a Consumer Reports article on vetting disaster relief organizations before donating, and it lists other ways to help. CR published the article soon after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I found it linked on the Facebook page for Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Updates, which found it still quite relevant.

Consumer Reports on vetting disaster relief charities


Last Saturday: Nature on a better day at the Howard County Conservancy. Birdwatchers witnessed the migration of hundreds of broad-winged hawks. These birds are heading to northern South America for the winter and will funnel through Texas on the way.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bird Review

These are recent photos (taken within the last couple of weeks) of birds around Lake Kittamaqundi. I'm including notes on their frequency and migration. First, to the left, a blurred but evocative view of a sharp-shinned hawk. I'm going by its smaller size and stout, rounded shape of wings to distinguish it from the closely related Cooper's hawk. Sharp-shinned visits the area during migration. Cooper's is a year-round resident.

A timely reminder, please: Let's avoid leaving litter and fishing tackle on the ground or lost on branches. Besides being ugly, this debris is very dangerous for these birds and other wildlife.

Above: Double-crested cormorants. They are summer residents, but their numbers increase when more northern residents are migrating. I understand that they are so numerous in some parts of the United States, such as the Great Lakes area, that they are considered pests. If we say cormorant in this part of Maryland, double-crested cormorant is understood. (Both sexes have crests on their heads during breeding season.) I'm waiting to find a vagrant great cormorant or neotropic cormorant at Lake K., though chances of seeing those species are better on the state's coast.

Below: An iconic bird on our lakes and rivers -- the great blue heron. They are a common sight here but still amazing when you see one like this. Year-round residents, though some migrate. They breed in the area, and the new herons show up at the lake throughout the summer. This one shows almost or completely mature plumage.

Above: Red-shouldered hawk, adult or nearly adult. Year-round. At least one breeding pair lives in the woods around the lake.

Below: Ring-billed gull is an occasional summer visitor which is found here in greater numbers during winter.

Above: A pterodactyl. Or a great blue heron.

Below: A female common yellowthroat is soaked by dew while foraging, or perhaps she is taking advantage of the dampness to bathe. This is a warbler species resident and breeding here during the summer. (I am being taunted by other migrating warblers which are passing through now, and I have a few distant or blurry views in my photo files.)

Above: Female belted kingfisher with a fresh catch. Year-round (unless a winter is too harsh and they can't fish anywhere?). At least one breeding pair lives at the lake, and I was there a few weeks ago when two or three new kingfishers were chasing each other around.

Below: Pileated woodpecker. Year-round and breeding here also.

Above: Pied-billed grebe. Migratory and usually a sign of fall and spring -- but in recent years, we've been finding them in Maryland in the middle of summer.

Below: Green heron, common but elusive. About the size of a chicken. It breeds here during the summer and should be migrating south soon. I wonder if the current heat spell here and effects of hurricanes further south might delay migration.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Rare Butterfly at Lake Kittamaqundi

Long-tailed skipper. I chanced upon it puddling on wet ground beside the path on Monday afternoon (Sept. 18). About two inches long, it's related to the silver-spotted skipper common around here during the summer. Usual range for the species is further south in the United States and into the tropics, but it can stray northward. This generated some excitement in the Howard County butterfly survey, and the Maryland Biodiversity Project requested a photo for its database. (MBP is under Nature and Wildlife Links in the blog margin. Information about the butterfly survey is on the Howard County Bird Club site also in that section.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Saturday at the Lake; the Bird Club's Fall Count

I had an early start at Lake Kittamaqundi yesterday for the Howard County Bird Club's Fall Count 2017. I covered the lake and vicinity as other club members counted at locations across the county, then we gathered for the Tally Rally and potluck at a member's house in the evening. (Most of us entered our lists on eBird, adding to that database for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.) Here are a few scenes and birds that I took while counting around the lake. A few flocks of joggers were active in the morning, plus some swarms of insects at the edge of the water, which made for an interesting scene in the photo below.

Male Downy Woodpecker

Young Great Blue Heron in the Little Patuxent River next to the Lake

Double-crested Cormorants Raise Their Wings to be Counted

Fish Crow at the Lakefront -- identified by voice

Half of a Pair of Hairy Woodpeckers -- larger relatives of the downy

Dramatic Afternoon Sky

A Pair of House Finches

Our Path Cruiser -- I'm glad to see the regular patrols by police now.

Jewelweed Attracts Hummingbirds -- but not during the count!