Friday, December 5, 2008

Notes from Field, Fen and Patio

The name of the blog comes from a little feature I write elsewhere on the internet, on very local nature observations, surprising to people not familiar with New Jersey and figuring it's all about oil-cracking plants and highways and so on. Not so.

It's spang in the middle of the Eastern flyway, and birding is terrific around here. Case in point: the bald eagle is being restored here, and recently as I sat in the car at a red light waiting to get on to Route One, six lane highway, by Lake Carnegie, a bald eagle flew right over the traffic and sat in a nearby tree. Unmistakable, the sheer size and the bright white head and snooty facial expression. While I was getting over this, dangit if another one didn't fly over and join it!

Later a local birder told me it was a nesting pair, causing great excitement in regional birding circles, their nest a carefully guarded secret to avoid disturbance. She was a nice shade of green, since she had not yet managed to see them.

I told Handsome Partner about this one afternoon when we were sitting on the patio, as far as he can get these days, and another eagle flew over the rooftop, very obligingly, and he enjoyed this quite a bit! we have a small wilderness preserve nearby, and my guess, since the fishing is very good there, was that the eagle was heading for his lunch.

Wilderness preserve with no birds in evidence, in picture here! and there are many other wildlife characters there, including beavers continually blocking the hiking trails with felled trees, many kinds of snakes and fish and carefully secret rare wildflowers on the other side of the lake, not easy to get to and accidentally stand on them.

Ospreys over there, too, and we get the annual migration of the snow goose, a hugely exciting thing if you can catch it. Many many of them so far up in the air that unless it's a very clear Fall day, you can miss them. White with black wingtips. They land, some years in a field at a local farm, where the entire field is covered in these wonderful animals, all facing the same way, taking a rest. They stay just a few hours before leaving for the rest of their trek. I've seen them twice.

When the weather is mild enough I drive us to a local park with a river running through it, and it's not unusual to watch great blue herons, cormorants and a kingfisher working the water busily. Right in the middle of a little town, about half a mile from the Turnpike. It continues to amaze me that wildlife simply adapts and gets on with it in the middle of one of the most densely populated states. Picture shows Handsome Partner (wearing the ski sweater I showed earlier, I now realize) by the river. Only a few steps from the car and he can manage that still.

I don't feed birds in winter any more, since the squirrels got onto it and have found out how to dig holes in people's roofs and take up residence in the bedroom ceilings. A neighbor found this out the hard way. And there is no such thing as a squirrel proof feeder! it's a cruel hoax.

We still see a lot of small birds over the winter, though: goldfinches, cardinals, tufted titmice, chickadees, Carolina wrens yelling endlessly away -- they used my outdoor knitted hanging you saw earlier in this blog as a playgym in the summer! not unusual for cardinals to fledge twice, so you see babies learning to fly as late as October.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. Being beside a small river, we have lots of wildlife, thank goodness. We have a by-law in place against catching frogs and it seems to be working -- At one time it was not unknown for me to buy a bucketful from these lousy scroungers and simply tip the frogs back into the river and hope they would make it back to their quarters. Noisy in spring however. I've replied about Zen on my blog FYO.


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