Always Watching For Other Wildlife

While birding, of course, I love to cross paths with other wildlife.  What have I seen and photographed lately?

First, I’ll start with a September shot of a frog that somehow jumped ship from another earlier post.  Not this time!  Ribbit!

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Southern Leopard

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And now the recent ones.

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Empty hive, previous tenants long gone

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White-tailed Deer

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White-tailed Deer (right doe is piebald)

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White-tailed Deer in the fog

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White-tailed Buck always guarding his ‘pond’

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Red Fox

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And finally, a critter loved or hated (depends on which side you’re on), and one I cross paths with often, squirrels!

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Eastern Gray Squirrel

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There’s three or four that come around my back yard, always trying to get a chance at the feeders.

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Eastern Gray Squirrel settles for an acorn

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Trying to dissuade them became frustrating, so I’ve learned to accept them.

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Eastern Gray Squirrel

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And I just laugh at their funny antics!

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Who me?

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1-2-3 Cute As Can Be – #25

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Here’s another series of the smaller birds,
that flit and fly so quick,
they’re training me to be just as fast,
so I can get their click!

😊

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White-breasted Nuthatch
Length 5.1-5.5 inches (13-14 cm)
Weight 0.6-1.1 oz (18-30 g)
Wingspan 7.9-10.6 inches (20-27 cm)

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Red-breasted Nuthatch
Length 4.3 inches (11 cm)
Weight 0.3-0.5 oz (8-13 g)
Wingspan 7.1-7.9 inches (18-20 cm)

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Tufted Titmouse
Length 5.5-6.3 inches (14-16 cm)
Weight 0.6-0.9 oz (18-26 g)
Wingspan 7.9-10.2 inches (20-26 cm)

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House Finches (females)
Length 5.1-5.5 inches (13-14 cm)
Weight 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
Wingspan 7.9-9.8 inches (20-25 cm)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle – female or immature)
Length 4.7-5.5 inches (12-14 cm)
Weight 0.4-0.5 oz (12-13 g)
Wingspan 7.5-9.1 inches (19-23 cm)

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Length 3.5-4.3 inches (9-11 cm)
Weight 0.2-0.3 oz (5-10 g)
Wingspan 6.3-7.1 inches (16-18 cm)

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet (male) displaying its “ruby crown”

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Carolina Chickadee
Length 3.9-4.7 inches (10-12 cm)
Weight 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)
Wingspan 5.9-7.9 inches (15-20 cm)

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Christmas Cardinal

Chicken Of The Woods

I caught sight of a large orange growth on a tree alongside the road and turned around to get another look. 

I was able to pull over and walk up to it for some photos of an incredibly large mushroom called Chicken Of The Woods.  

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Chicken Of The Woods

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This mushroom is edible and considered quite the delicacy.  It is said to have a lemony, meaty taste.  Most say it tastes like chicken, although some say more like crab or lobster. 

I say it is fascinating!

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Chicken Of The Woods

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A side note, you should never eat wild mushrooms without them being expertly identified.  Once identified edible, you should still be cautious of stomach problems by eating a little at first to see your reaction before consuming a larger amount. 

I know you knew that!

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Chicken Of The Woods close-up

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1-2-3 Medium Bird Jubilee – #13

Our winter’s medium-sized birds have style and class!  Check out these five species showing off their beauty.

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Blue Jay
Length 9.8-11.8 inches (25-30 cm)
Weight 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g)
Wingspan 13.4-16.9 inches (34-43 cm)

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American Robin
Length 7.9-11.0 inches (20-28 cm)
Weight 2.7-3.0 oz (77-85 g)
Wingspan 12.2-15.8 inches (31-40 cm)

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Common Grackle (male)
Length 11.0-13.4 inches (28-34 cm)
Weight 2.6-5.0 oz (74-142 g)
Wingspan 14.2-18.1 inches (36-46 cm)

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Northern Mockingbird
Length 8.3-10.2 inches (21-26 cm)
Weight 1.6-2.0 oz (45-58 g)
Wingspan 12.2-13.8 inches (31-35 cm)

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Northern Cardinals (females)
Length 8.3-9.1 inches (21-23 cm)
Weight 1.5-1.7 oz (42-48 g)
Wingspan 9.8-12.2 inches (25-31 cm)

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I concentrated on the lower female in the above photo for the next photo composition.

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Northern Cardinal (female)

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Five On The Wing – #32

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Adding to my series of five bird species in flight! 

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Belted Kingfisher (female)

 

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Blue Jay

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Eastern Meadowlark

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Killdeer

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Eastern Bluebird

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If I had wings,
Then I could fly.
I’d spread my wings,
I’d span the sky.

If I had wings,
I’d feel so free.
My friend, would you
Come fly with me?

The wind would surely lift us high,
Far above the clouds.
If I had wings, I’d fly with you,
Far from all the crowds!

– Author Unknown

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Trumpeter and Tundra Swans

One more swan post, at least for a while!

I received a rare sighting notice on a Trumpeter Swan in the mix of eight Tundra Swans in a farm field, just a mile from my route to my dental appointment I had the next morning.  That’d be a lifer for me, so of course, I left a little earlier than necessary the next morning with fingers crossed!

When I arrived to the location, out in the distance there sat the Trumpeter Swan, along with three Tundra Swans.

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Trumpeter Swan (left) with three Tundra Swans (right)

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The Trumpeter is slightly larger than the 20-pound Tundra Swan, with males averaging over 26 pounds, making the Trumpeter Swan North America’s heaviest flying bird. 

At the area where the bill meets the head, the Trumpeter’s is V-shaped while the Tundra’s is U-shaped and has an additional small yellow patch in front of the eye.

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Trumpeter Swan (lifer #293, lifers photographed #272)

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One more series of another recent encounter (different day) of a farm field filled with over 500 Tundra Swans accompanied by eight Bald Eagles that I happened upon during errand running.  Love when this happens!

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Tundra Swans

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They were stretched out so far, I couldn’t get them all in one shot. 

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Tundra Swans

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At first, I spotted five Bald Eagles and a Turkey Vulture picking at what little was left of an unfortunate swan.  By the time I got my lens on them, one eagle had taken off.

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Turkey Vulture and four Bald Eagles

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I started looking for the other eagle and then counted eight total, those others were each sitting alone on the ground, with all basically having the swans surrounded.  Didn’t like seeing that…..

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Just a few more close-ups of the swans.

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Tundra Swans mate for life and live to approximately 20 years old.  They fly about 4,000 miles from the Arctic to be here with us throughout the winter months.

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Tundra Swan (immature with pink beak and ‘dirty’ look)

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As I departed, Tundra Swan families were still arriving.

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Tundra Swan family (two adults, two immatures) dropping in for a landing

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I’m pretty sure I could have sat there all day long and watched them.

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Tundra Swans Taking Flight

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I ended my last post that this next post would be those featured eight Tundra Swans about-facing on me and suddenly deciding to take flight.

It’s amazing to see this large bird literally lift its 13-20 pound body out of the water as it begins running on top to go airborne.  They need as much as 100 feet of water-running!

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Tundra Swans taking flight

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Up a little closer…..

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The surrounding ducks are unaffected by the take-off.  Shouldn’t they be? Those swans need to be airborne before they cross that long raft of ducks!

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The Tundra Swans wingspan reaches 5′ 6″ wide.

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Those strong wing strides puts the swans on tippy-toes!

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And then suddenly into lift-off.  Clearing those ducks, whew!

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These couple photos, I cropped a little tighter on six of the swans.  The first two in the beginning photos were bewildered with the sudden take-off, so they lagged behind for a bit.

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Following the cove, the swans turned slightly more my direction to clear the trees, with the last two joining the line.

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Gaining altitude….

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Up into the blue sky.

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And they kept on going!

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So you know, I was easy on ya with this photos series! 😁 A little side note on this shoot, I actually shot 43 photos total of this take-off. All while standing on the inside ledge of my opened car door, shooting from the top of my car roof, using a camera ‘pillow’ as a tripod. 😂 Can you see me doing this?!! 🤣  It’s my safe way to see over the marsh at this location! 😊

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Winter Waterfowl

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Besides the land birds, there is another fall bird migration currently taking place with the arrival of our winter waterfowl, coming to the Chesapeake Bay area to spend several months to live and feed.

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“Yay!  My winter buddies are back!”
Mallards

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Suddenly, many of the winter ‘regulars’ were here.  And more and more are arriving each day!

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Ruddy Ducks, American Black Ducks, American Wigeons, Gadwalls,
Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, and Northern Pintails
Eastern Neck NWR

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Canada Geese

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Mallards, Northern Pintails, American Black Ducks

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Here’s some close-ups I’ve gotten recently showing what some of these ducks look like.

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Green-winged Teal  along with three larger Northern Pintails

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Northern Pintails (males)

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Gadwalls along with smaller Ruddy Ducks

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Northern Shoveler (male)

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Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, and Ruddy Ducks

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Happy Mallards

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Another big view with a number of species in the photo….

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Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Ruddy Ducks, American Black Ducks, American Wigeons,
Mallards, Gadwalls, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and Northern Pintails
Sunrise @ Calfpasture Cove – Eastern Neck NWR

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I noticed the above Tundra Swans had started to slow down and bunch up as they moved further along the cove. 

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Tundra Swans, Ruddy Ducks, American Black Ducks, American Wigeons,
Gadwalls, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and Northern Pintails
Sunrise @ Calfpasture Cove – Eastern Neck NWR

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Check out my next post to see those Tundra Swans turned around and going airborne! 

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Five On The Wire – #10

It’s been a long while since I’ve shared another of my series post of five bird species perched on some type of wire or wire-like item, either resting or possibly hunting.  So, here we go!

My first two photos are of two different nuthatches perched atop my shepherd’s hook, trying to get a turn at the feeder.  I like these, comparing their differences, including size showing the Red-breasted is smaller than its White-breasted cousin.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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And here’s the three remaining birds, perched atop the popular communication wire.

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American Robin

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Northern Cardinal

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Red-tailed Hawk (immature)

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