Thursday, April 3, 2014

Salt Marsh Walk: Ten Bird Species in About An Hour

One short walk in a salt marsh and by the ocean can provide an opportunity to see a variety of beautiful birds, even if many keep their distance. Here are some seen today in less than sixty minutes.

1. Ospreys (nesting)

Ospreys gather sticks for their nest.

2. Mallards (nesting)

A Pair of Mallards


3. Lesser Yellowlegs

It is not always easy to differentiate Lesser Yellowlegs from Greater Yellowlegs.  A Lesser has a shorter bill and is smaller.

Yellowlegs can be challenging to spot.  It helps to know where to look for them.

4. Red-winged Blackbirds

5. Greater Yellowlegs

The Distinctive Head Bobbing and Longer Bill

6. Robin

A Sign of Spring

7. Great Blue Heron

This picture has a heron in a the foreground, a snowy owl (as just a tuft of white) in the far left, and ospreys in the middle.
Roughly four feet tall, it will soon be eyeing the Osprey chicks.

8. Snowy Owl

9. Red-Tailed Hawk

Immature.  The bands on the tail will mature into the familiar red tail.

10. Killdeer

And of course the list could go on...


Tom Conroy said...

I rented a house on the Neck River years ago. Thought I was trespassing when I would walk occasionally through the wetlands wearing green 'hunter' boots.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. I showed this to my boys and they thought it was great. "These are some really cool birds!"

Max said...

Beautiful post! Thank you very much.

The Lake we live on in Eastern Washington State has almost the same exact mix of bird species that you encountered on your walk. We don't have the Yellowlegs and the Snowy Owl here. Instead we have Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls nesting and living here all year around, and occasionally majestic flocks of white Cranes and Pelicans stop by the lake on their migrations. Canadian Grey Geese are the most common migratory birds here, and some of them even nest here.
I can actually see the wetlands they all live in and land in from the desk I am writing you from.

I used to be a very active bird watcher when I was younger and this passion has somewhat evolved for me, into the Native American study of Animal Totems and their spiritual significance and meaning.

This topic might be too ''new-agey'' for some members of the TDP community, but this is a very good website, that explains in depth, the spiritual meaning of animal totems, both of wild animals, as well as of domesticated animals, even of specific dog breeds:

John G said...

Well spotted. So glad to see the snowy owl has decided to stay a bit longer.

Bitsy said...

What a fantastic post and wonderful photos! This definitely inspires me to get out out with my binoculars this weekend.

Lane said...

Nice. Maine Audubon of York County sponsors a bird walk every Wednesday morning with some real expert birdwatchers.

Joyce North said...

This was a lovely post!

Laurie Ann said...

Thank you for another timely post. This morning, in Upstate NY, I spotted my Heron for the first time this season. He was standing in a small corner of the pond which is the only spot clear of ice.

My mother-in-law lives thirty miles south of us and her trees were full of red winged black birds while her pond was occupied by mallards and mergansers.

Next to watching the bulbs emerge, looking for the birds is one of my favorite spring past times.

WRJ said...

What a treat. Many familiar faces, and some new characters. I never get tired of seeing Great Blue Herons in the wild. My family lived on a salt marsh for a while when I was a kid, and dealing with low tide smell and flying insects was worth it for the birds, including some beautiful pheasant in the fall and the omnipresent, but always a favorite, egrets.

mary anne said...

Lovely, lovely post. Spotted my first robin this past week, and the ducks are in full force.

There is a very enjoyable Birds of Prey sanctuary on the Snake River. They offer fun projects and instruction for local school children an adults alike. A nice destination.

B B said...

Such a timely post. I was just noticing from my window that a couple of Vultures are now flying along the lakeshore behind my house. That always means that I won't see another Bald Eagle in my trees until next winter. The opposite will also happen when the cold weather rolls in next fall. Year after year, it never fails to amaze me. Those 2 birds can't seem to abide each other.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful creatures! I love watching them through binoculars. We've been seeing signs of spring here in Northeast PA, as well. Love seeing the young goslings accompany their parents on outings early in the season. They're so cute and fuzzy. We have a pair of mallards that come to our yard to hang for a week or two every spring. I have no idea why, we don't have a pool and our yard isn't that terribly interesting. I think they just come to tantalize our cats. :) --Holly in PA

Patsy said...

Gorgeous scenery and birds. We saw a bald eagle swooping around over Lake Chocorua a month or so ago - so fantastic.

binker said...

I saw my first robin the other day (in the city). I was so excited. However, that pales in comparison to the ten treasures you saw in one just hour. Wow! Simply stunning ...especially the red wing black bird.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing great blue herons. We saw one last weekend amongst the sagebrush. On a visit to Corpus Christie we saw 34 great blue herons at once.

Anonymous said...

I come from a family of birdwatchers. My country mother and her parents swooned at the sight of an indigo bunting, a scarlet tanager or the elusive brown thrasher.

My father loved the sea, having grown up just outside of Boston with a summer cottage facing Choate Island and Essex Bay, an area of salt marsh, shifting sand and eelgrass. I can picture him now, walking among dunes, as frantic terns, diving in mock attack, warned him away from their nesting area. He was in his element.

One afternoon in late summer, we sat together on a low dune watching herring gulls fish off Crane Beach. Just as we were about to leave, a red fox appeared from behind and sat down beside us just a few yards away. Occasionally he would turn his head to look in our direction, then turn back, satisfied we were not a threat.

He remained for ten minutes or more, his eyes riveted on gulls diving into the surf. Twice he lifted his nose and sniffed the air, perhaps to catch our scent. But we were upwind. Finally he raised up and moved slowly away, never once looking back at us.

My father was speechless, we both were, never having witnessed such an event in the wild. It was almost as if we had dreamed the entire scene. I would like to believe that my father and I had somehow communicated a benign presence through some telepathic energy, but I may be over-thinking the experience.


Flo said...

Great post! Yesterday as I came home from the grocery store I couldn't help noticing all the different birds hanging out on the neighbors bushes celebrating spring--blue jays, starlings, a female cardinal and many others. One of the best things about spring.

I would love to see a snowy owl in the wild, the only ones I've seen are in captivity, rescues that have been rehabbed for educational purposes. They are just gorgeous. I miss seeing the bald eagles that were in the swamp near where we used to live.

WendyBee said...

What a great post! Now I want to go out with my camera to see what I can capture through my lens. I am on the ocean, and there is a lovely walk for bird watching along between the shore and the golf course on Biddeford Pool. We have been seeing robins in huge marauding herds. They are stampeding the newly-uncovered lawns, I'm certain, to awaken the worms from their winter slumber, to harvest them as they yawn and stretch toward the sun. We've also seen lots of snowy owls; I did get a picture of one, their being a bit of a novelty, as you know. Thanks for sharing these pictures.

JDN said...

Another wonderful birding post. Thank you for sharing it with us!

The arrival of migrating birds is one of the lovelier aspects of spring. We're on a tidal stretch of river near the Nova Scotia coast, and we've been seeing all sorts of flying visitors, especially since the ice started going out a few weeks ago. Some are on their way through, others are arriving for the summer, and still others have been around all winter.

Among my personal favourites are one of our resident pairs of loons, still in their winter plumage, the year-round bald eagles, and a raft of goldeneyes that often congregates nearby. There's a pair of binoculars in our living room so that we can watch our visitors through the windows whenever the mood strikes or there's a new arrival to be identified.

Mark Loveland said...

Beautiful Post .... Very much thank you (!)

Joyce North said...

MGC, I do enjoy your stories!

Anonymous said...

Any sightings of the American Oystercatcher?