Oops… the ISO setting!

I bumped up the ISO to take a few shots inside without flash… Then forgot to put it back down again… So these shots are a little grainy, but, still, I was excited to think my lens could “reach” them!

Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

American Bullfrog

Painted Turtle and Mosquitoes
Painted Turtle

Do you notice the black specks on the turtle photo?  Those are mosquitoes.  On Tuesday, we suddenly had a big hatch of some species of mosquito that is voraciously hungry for blood.  I have not been bothered by mosquitoes all summer… until this week!  It was comical to watch this turtle trying to swat the pesky buggers away!  (And yes, despite practically bathing in insect repellent, I came away with more than a few bites myself!)

First Few Shots with the New Lens

Despite a hectic day at work, I managed to snap nearly 150 shots with my new Canon 100-400mm lens.  I need a lot more practice, but I can tell already:  I’m really going to like this lens!!!

Green Frog
Green Frog

Common Whitetail Dragonfly
Common Whitetail



Mallard Mama
Mallard Female

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

Parents and Babies

At this time of year at the banding stations, it is not uncommon to catch newly fledged birds.  Often we catch adults and babes in the net at the same time, like the sparrows I posted yesterday, and these Yellow Warblers:

Yellow Warblers - Juvenile and Adult

Yellow Warbler - Juvenile

Another fun capture was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak baby.  We were loaded up with birds and I didn’t get a picture.  Here’s a picture of siblings from last year at SWAT:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Female and Male Juveniles

Last Saturday at CLDC we caught just the one female baby, and she squawked like crazy the whole time we had her.  Mom came very close to the banding station with her bill full of food.  When we released Baby, Mom flew after her, ready to stuff that food down her throat, no doubt.  I hope we didn’t traumatize Baby or Mom too much.

Here is another set of parents and babies I happened to catch on “film” the same day:

The Proud Parents, Aunts, and Uncles (except me)

The Cousins

Are these babies as cute as the Yellow Warbler?

A Sparrowful Day

I went bird banding with Tom on Saturday.  We had lots of neat birds, but the bird species we saw the most of was… Song Sparrow.  We banded several adults and juveniles, and had several re-captures, too.

Song SparrowLittle Brown Birds are the bane of all new birders.  It can be really tough to figure out what you are looking at.  I wish I could say with confidence that I’m getting better at it… but it is still very hard for me to distinguish the differences.  Tom seems always to know, and Kyle (a Canisius College student who also helps band) is getting better and better – already way better than me!  (You go, Kyle!)

I felt a little better when I read about Song Sparrows at the Cornell website.  Turns out this very widespread bird can look different from region to region:

Scientists recognize 24 subspecies of Song Sparrows and have described some 52 forms: they are one of the most regionally variable birds in North America. In general, coastal and northern birds are darker and streakier, with southern and desert birds wearing paler plumages. (Cornell)

No wonder it’s so hard.  I have less trouble identifying the Song Sparrow in the field when I can’t see it, but can hear it.  Go to the Cornell site and you can listen to Song Sparrow songs:  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Song_Sparrow/sounds

The baby was very cute… not quite grown into its bill.

Song Sparrow Baby

We had to let one sparrow go, unbanded, because even Tom was unsure of the species.  I guess the experts have a hard time sometimes, too.  (We were pretty busy at that point and didn’t have time for pictures.  Darn.  You can’t band a bird if you aren’t 100% sure of the ID.)

Volunteer Trail Guide Thank You Field Trip

At the end of the busy school fieldtrip season, we like to take our volunteers to someplace different.  This year, we chose the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center:  8 miles of trails through a variety of habitats including some very, very old trees, and a newly designed green nature center building.  Everyone brought a dish to pass and we had a fabulous lunch!

Green Frog on Rock
A Green Frog let me get fairly close for a picture… then jumped…

Green Frog in Water
…and let me take another picture.

Sweet Viburnum or Nannyberry
I’ve been seeing this around, but never looked it up.  The nice thing about going hiking with a whole group of naturalists is that someone in the group is bound to know the answer to your question!  We all learned from each other.  This is Nannyberry or Sweet Viburnum.

Cement Walk by the Cattail Marsh
We like to visit other nature centers to see if we can steal any ideas.  We kind of liked this cement walk through a cattail marsh… We wondered what it would be like after a rain!  Could be fun.

FrogWatch Sign
Ginger was our guide.  Her FrogWatch signs were much cuter than Jeff’s.

Garter Snake
Rex caught and calmed an Eastern Garter Snake so we could all get a nice picture.

Two Toads
Holly and Karen caught these fine American Toads… or should I say chameleons???

Interpreted Trail Idea
I like this idea for an interpretted trail!  No paper booklets to get lost or littered… inexpensive… easy to replace, or even change by season.   May try to get our Junior Naturalist group to create some for our trails!

Rex with Northern Water Snake
Rex caught and calmed a Northern Water Snake for another reptilian photo opp.

Karen Hugs a 255-year-old Beech
There were some might old trees on the property.  This American Beech is reportedly 255 years old.  Karen practices her tree-hugging skills.

Pink Water Lilies 4
Reinstein is quite famous for the pink water lilies, which choke the ponds of any native lilies…  Very pretty, though!

It is always fun to reverse rolls – be the guests and let someone else lead the walk.  Many thanks to Ginger for the outdoor tour, and Meghan for the indoor tour (which I missed because I had to go back out and get some photos of the Scarlet Pimpernel).