Eastern ForktailWhen I went to Girl Scout camp (a billion years ago), there were several staff members who didn’t have their own group of girls to camp with:  the lifeguards, the camp director, the maintenance staff…  So we used to invite them to come to our units for cookouts.  We actually made written, decorated invitations.  We picked flowers to make a centerpiece for the table…  Wow.

I remembered all that because today, I (the camp director) got an invitation…  verbal, not written… but welcome, just the same.  Not for a cookout, but something more fun!  The kids in the Nature Safari group invited me to go dragon-hunting with them.  And it just so happens that today, the weather cooperated and there were all kinds of dragons flying!

Eastern Pondhawk Male
Eastern Pondhawk

Common Green Darner - female
Common Green Darner (female):  Actually, we didn’t see the female when I was out with the kids… I found her later, after the kids were gone.  But during camp, Allie actually caught a male while at the pond!!  Unfortunately, he wiggled free before getting a photo.

Blue Dasher
Blue Dasher


Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Also flying, but unphotographable: Widow Skimmers, Common Whitetails, Spreadwings, Other Damsels… It was a good day for Odes.

An Indigo Bunting Day…

Unfortunately, yesterday was the last opportunity I’ll have to go bird banding with Tom this summer.  Luckily it was a great day.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera.  So… All the pictures on this post were “lifted” from Melodee’s and Diana’s Facebook accounts!  Thanks, ladies.

Often when we head out for a net check, one or more of us “call” a bird.  That is we say something like, “OK, this net check, I want an Indigo Bunting Male in full breeding plumage.”  Here’s Melodee, having gotten her wish:

Melodie's Indigo Bunting

The theme of the day was Indigo Buntings:  We caught 2 males and 2 females…  I know some were re-captures and some needed bands, but I can’t remember the exact details.  Aren’t they gorgeous birds?

I got to meet Melodee’s friend, Diana.  Here she is having just learned the “photographer’s hold” with a Gray Catbird.

Diana and Catbird

Carolyn joined us, too, and earned the honor of banding this bird because she was the only one who could identify it!

Carolyn's Redstart

Did you get it?  American Redstart.  Way to go, Carolyn!!

Melodee took this one out of the net, but I knew what it was, so I got to band it:

Magnolia Warbler and Me
Magnolia Warbler

I didn’t get out as much this summer as last because of a busy work life and because of preparations for my class reunion (next weekend)…  But I think I learned a few things and hope to find some other banding opportunities before winter hits…

Thanks to Tom and his crew for all the fun and learning!



Cornell’s All About Birds website describes the Common Yellowthroat as a bird “far more frequently heard than seen”… which is why I was so delighted to catch a few shots of one in a scrubby area at Camp Timbercrest.  This one turned out the best:

Common Yellowthroat

I was at camp to pick up my daughter for dinner as she had her night out.  While I waited for her, I skulked in the scrubby area beneath the powerline which was full of birds, mostly hidden in the deep foliage.  I made a pishing sound which seemed to make a few brave individuals curious.  The Yellowthroat danced from branch to branch looking in my direction.  “I just want pictures,” I reassured him.

A daring Gray Catbird kept peeking out, but never came fully out onto a branch.

Gray Catbird

I could have stayed much longer “shooting” birds.  But my battery went dead, and my daughter arrived…  Can’t wait to go back for more.  (It’s addictive.)

Moon Walking

I was 12.  I was at Girl Scout Camp.  Camp.  No flush toilets.  No showers.  No phones.  No TV.  (and no other electronic stuff because it wasn’t invented yet…)  Roughing it.  And we loved it…

And then there was a TV in the dining hall.  What???  Why?  We NEVER had a TV in the dining hall before?…  And we all went up to the units to get into our jammies, but instead of going to bed, we came back to the dining hall.

We watched and waited.  Some of us dozed.  Finally they sent us to bed…  In the morning, though, the TV was on again…  We saw in re-runs what we had been trying to see live:  The first human steps on the moon.

This picture stolen shamelessly without permission from the NPR website.

Are you old enough to remember?  Tell your story here!


One of the reasons I wanted the longer lens: Dragonflies! They were always just out of reach with my kit lens. The weather has been weird and we haven’t been seeing as many as in some summers… But here are a few I’ve managed to capture:

Blue Dasher
Blue Dasher

Eastern Pondhawk - Male
Eastern Pondhawk – Male

Common Whitetail Dragonfly
Common Whitetail (OK, I’ve posted this one before…)

I also saw Widow Skimmers and Black Saddlebags yesterday – but they wouldn’t light anywhere close enough for a picture…

We usually see so many more species and individuals. How are the dragonflies this year where you live?

Cute Little Ground Bees

On the hill between the Big Maple and the Herb & Butterfly Garden there are several small colonies of bees.  I happened by one day when kids from our Wild Discoveries Day Camp were gathered around the entrance holes watching them stick their heads out, then pull back.  They convinced me to try my little camera’s video mode:

Here is a bit of information about “Halictid Bees” I found by surfing the net:

Halictid Bees are small bees (1/4″ – 1/2″ long) in the family Halictidae. Most halictid bees are shiny black, metallic green, or metallic blue. Some halictid bees are called “sweat bees” because they land on skin to gather sweat droplets. The bees will sometimes sting while they are doing this, but only if they are swatted or startled. Some bee-like hover flies in the family Syrphidae are also sometimes called “sweat bees,” but they are not bees and do not sting or bite.

Most halictid bees are solitary and create underground nests for their offspring. However, halictid bees are especially interesting to biologists because many species have evolved to live in social colonies recently in evolutionary history. Closely related halictid bee species are known to be social in one habitat and solitary in another. These patterns can help biologists study the origins of social behavior among insects. Some Kentucky halictid bee species show intermediate social behavior: several individual bees create nests near one another but do not work together.  – University of Kentucky

According to several websites, there are over 500 species of Halictidae in North America.  They are important pollinators, especially with the mysterious failure of honey bee hives in recent years.

Chautauqua Mini-Vacation

On Tuesday, I spoke at the Bird, Tree, And Garden Club at Chautauqua Institution.  What a delightful group of people!  I gave my slide show called “Confessions of a Reluctant Birder” which is really about my birding heros – the people who are working their magic to get me hooked on birds:  Elaine Crossley (the Bluebird Lady), Tom LeBlanc (and his assistant J), Chuck Rosenberg, and Scott Stolson (and his team: Emily, Linda, Don, and Mike)… among others.

I got to Chautauqua early and gave my new lens a walk around the grounds.  Still need much more practice!  But here are a couple of shots I liked:

Purple Martins
Purple Martins

American Crow
American Crow

I also took dozens of garden flowers… but none were all that spectacular…


And now for some shameless advertising about an event at the nature center where I work and another area event – both happening the same weekend!

Art In The Woods 2009

Audubon Center and Sanctuary
Visit 43 featured artists including painters, photographers, potters, jewelers, glass, fiber & paper artists at the Art in the Woods art show and sale at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown, New York, on July 18 and 19, 2009. The Art in the Woods program will welcome visitors from 10:00 to 6:00 on Saturday and from 10:00-5:00 on Sunday. The Audubon Center, a 600-acre wetland preserve, has hosted nature art shows since 1992 and has a strong following of art lovers and nature lovers alike.

The Audubon Center and Sanctuary is at 1600 Riverside Road, off Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.  Center hours are 10 am-4:30 pm daily, Sundays 1-4:30 pm. The trails and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk.  For more information about the Center and Art in the Woods, call (716) 569-2345 or visit
 Art in the Woods:
===========  Added bonus !  ===========

Scandinavian Festival

Save your Art in the Woods artist map as it gives you HALF-OFF entrance to the Scandinavian Festival also on this weekend at JCC.
If you start at the Scandinavian Festival then save your entrance ticket as that gets you HALF-OFF at the Art in the Woods festival.
The festival features musical entertainment, Scandinavian foods and products, exhibits, a Midsummer celebration, Swedish folk dancing and more!  See their website for more details: