We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I saw a pair of them in my tall oak tree this morning, and I suspect that they are weaving one of their remarkable hanging nests in it again this year, as they did last year.
These exotically-colored Eastern songbirds are never common, but are regularly seen - but only if you look up into the tree-tops. One odd fact about these orioles is that they like to eat oranges. Some people put orange halves out to attract them.
Image: This male is a bit on the yellow side, more like a female. Most of the males we see in New England are more flame-orange. The Orchard Oriole seems unusual in New England and is smaller, darker, and tends to nest near water in the South and Midwest.
May is bird migration season up here in New England. That Sound ID called Merlin has changed my life. It is 90+ percent accurate, and even labels a Mockingbird's song imitations as Mockingbird.
Sure, I can ID most local warblers and vireos if I get a good look, but usually you don't feel like straining your neck for hours. One trick an older guy I know used to use is to lie on the ground under a big old oak tree with mini-binoculars (the kind we use for opera).
It's early Springtime in New England. The male Robins are singing their territorial announcements in the morning, and the Song Sparrows are too. The world outdoors is waking up and feeling the hormones.
Interesting to me has been seeing Chickadees munching on the emerging rosebuds. Never seen that before.
New England is enjoying a gentle and lovely Nor'easter today. Breezy and snowy, but not violent at all and it does not really qualify as a "storm." It's weather, not "bad weather."
Why, one might ask, are cyclones travelling to the northeast named after winds coming from the northeast? Well, it's because the winds in the cyclone blowing up from the southeest are usually offshore as the storm, as these typically do, travels up the coast. Image below from this site.
Offshore, therefore, the winds are more likely to be from the southwest - wet winds. However, a Sou'wester is any southwest wind. The big cyclonic storm are still called Nor'easters, as in Perfect Storm. Here's a real Sou'wester (the hat):
The migrating male Redwings arrived today. I was looking for a Rusty Blackbird, but didn't see one.
I did not attend this late-January birding trip, but it seems to have been good fun. Never hurts to have experts along. They went to three or 4 spots, including Cape May. Separate lists for each location.
I don't really keep lists anymore, unless I have a specific reason to.
The song of the Wood Thrush came through my window Friday morning. A migrant, I think. It is a fine, musical spring sound which connects me with every spring I have lived through.
The Wood Thrush inhabits the dark Eastern forests of mature hardwoods and hemlocks, and is far more often heard than seen. His song is often described as a flute-like yodel, and indeed it is one of the haunting sounds from the woodlands. He forages near the ground for bugs, worms, and berries.
They do breed in the woodlands of the Farm but right now most of them are headed north. The great songbird (and warbler) migration to breeding grounds.
This member of the large family of Thrushes, which includes the American Robin, is heavily parasitized by Cowbirds, the Welfare Queens of the bird world.
Hear his remarkable song, and read more about him, here. If you do not really know birds, make sure you listen to the song on the site - if you spend any time outside, you will recognize that tune.
Our readers know that the Honeybee is a non-native bee in North America. It was imported from Europe for agricultural purposes, mainly honey production. However, because they live in large hives, they have become industrial-scale assets for agriculture.
None of our native bees produce honey. There are 4000 native bee species in North America.
The Aug-Oct migration of the eastern Monarch butterflies from the US and Canada to one small area in central Mexico is, to my mind, more remarkable than the march of those cute penguins in Antarctica. (Those west of the Rockies fly to southern California.) As they pass through New England, I see them fattening up on my buddleias (photo yesterday), but they have been around the milkweed in the meadows all summer. And that's why birds never eat them - they ingest a nasty flavor from the milkweed and birds won't touch 'em.
Most of their life cycle is spent under water. It's fun to put a net into the shore of a pond to discover how many critters live in the mud and rotting leaves. Tadpoles, pollywogs, baby fish, and all sorts of larvae. Maybe even a 2" baby Snapping Turtle.
Like most other bugs, their "adult" reproductive phases are usually brief - a week or two. However, their time as eggs, larvae (in this case, caterpillars), and pupae varies depending on species and climate.
Some even migrate (eg Monarchs) and some, like Mourning Cloaks, (photo) hibernate, which is why you sometimes see them fully-fledged on the first warm days of Spring. Tough buggers, live on tree sap.
Heard my first cicadas of the summer this weekend - just a few, and just for about an hour or two, but these are probably early risers - first emergers from the soil, practicing playing their instruments. Maybe this will be a good year for them.
Some people call them locusts.
It means that in a few days we will be hearing the remarkably loud raspy buzzing from the tree-tops on every hot sunny day - the characteristic sound of high summer in New England, until replaced by the more refined Katydid's evening song as late summer comes.
We have both 13-year and 17-year cicadas - that's how long the two species live as larvae underground, sucking on tree roots, before they emerge to mate, breed, and die.
Their life is a metaphor.
Cicadas are edible, but I don't know anyone who eats them regularly except birds who have great sport chasing them when they fly from tree to tree. We often find their empty exoskelatons attached to tree trunks - as they grow, they crawl out of their old coat.
The old inner harbor, Wellfleet, now silted up but once filled with tall ships, coastal schooners, and fishing vessels. The railroad dike - and the railroad itself -ended all that in the later 1800s. Congo Church steeple in distance.
I usually find turtle eggshells around these marshes. Diamondback Terrapin eggshells dug up by skunks and raccoons. This is the northernmost limit of their range. Rarely seen, wary, but they are around. Wonderful critters of the salt- and brackish marshes. They enjoy the edges of the spartina. Plenty of food for them. Problem is that they lay their eggs on the beaches. Despite predators of their eggs (fox, skunks) and of their babies (egrets), their species seems to survive.