Opening Day at SWAT

SWAT is the name of Tom LeBlanc‘s MAPS bird banding station in Allegany State Park.  Today was the first day of banding…  And I was glad I awoke early to attend.  We saw some very beautiful birds!

The first bird out of the net was a life bird for me…
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler – male

Isn’t he pretty? We later got a peak at the female as well, but she managed not to get entangled in the nets… She is similarly colored, but not as vibrant.

According to the Cornell website, these pretty warblers breed in mature coniferous or mixed forests. After raising young, they may join mixed flocks of chickadees and kinglests to forage.

Another great bird for me was the Black-billed Cuckoo… I’ve heard them, and seen pictures and taxidermy mounts… and I think we got a through-the-binoculars view of one at Tom’s other banding site one day last summer… But to see him up close like this was spectacular… What a gorgeous bird… These pictures do not do him justice:

Black-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo Closeup
It was just last summer that I learned that Cuckoos eat a good deal of the spiny caterpillars… so they are my heros…

We had a good number and a good variety of birds… Here are a few others:

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

It was a great day with great friends. Thank you, Tom, for knowing how to show a girl a good time.

The Results Are In

A fat package arrived from The Natural Heritage Program.  A letter from the project coordinator.  A certificate of appreciation for my contributions.  And a big fat book containing the results of the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (NYDDS) – a project that began in 2005 and continued through the summer and early fall of 2009.

I’m just loving flipping through the pages one by one…  The maps… The charts…  The photographs (some of them mine 🙂 )… The information…

I’m very proud of these accomplishments:

  1. Spatterdock DarnerChautauqua County tied for 6th in the number surveys submitted.  A lot of those surveys (most) came from Jeremy Martin.  And a lot came from folks at Audubon:  staff, a board member, college interns, and day camp and other program participants.
  2. Of the 72 species we racked up for Chautauqua County, fully half were new county records – species that had never been verified for our county previous to 2005.
  3. Six of the species we verified were considered to be “species of greatest conservation need.” 
  4. We were the only county to verify 100% of the expected species for our county.

And I have a deep feeling of satisfaction over all the people that got hooked on nature via dragonflies over the years:

Justin and Phyllis - Dragon Hunters
Justin and Phyllis

Widow Skimmer

Releasing a Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk Male on Z's Hand

Kim holds female Ebony Jewelwing

John Wilson Hunts Dragons

Jeremy Martin at Work




… and I could go on and on …

Thanks to all who helped out with this survey!  I hope you are as proud of the results as I am.

Goofy Polls

So you know how people who are bored make up silly polls to put on Facebook? And they you’re supposed to copy the questions and answer them for yourself and post them? And then your friends are supposed to copy them and erase your answers and put their own answers on and then re-post them?

Here is the Naturalist Poll that I created while bored. You know what to do:

  1. Have you ever eaten a cuckoo flower (or any other wildflower)?
  2. Have you ever held a spittle bug on the end of your finger and watched it do the spittle bug dance?
  3. When was the first time you saw a Bald Eagle?
  4. Would you rather be pee’d on by a toad or musked by a garter snake?
  5. Have you ever found an owl pellet in the woods?
  6. Have you ever watched a dragonfly nymph eat a minnow?
  7. Have you ever gone out on the first warm rainy night of spring to watch the salamanders do “it”?
  8. When was the first time you went tent camping?
  9. When was the most memorable time you slept under the stars?
  10. Have you ever stayed up all night to watch a lunar eclipse?
  11. Would you rather go hiking in summer or winter?
  12. When was the last time you lost your shoe in the mud?

I’m gonna put it on Facebook, too…

Bird Banding

Twenty-four adults and thirteen children visited the bird banding station today. They were treated to the following birds:

Canada WarblerCanada Warbler: according to the Cornell website, this is one of the last warblers to come through in the spring, and one of the first to head south in the fall to winter in South America. The range map shows that they may breed here – though most breed further north in Canada.

Canada Warbler

Indigo Bunting:  Probably the most incredible blue you will ever see!

Indigo Bunting

Lincoln's SparrowLincoln’s Sparrow:  We seem to get one of these each year.  These fellows are just passing through on their way to wintering grounds further north.

Chestnut-sided Warbler:    This is the handsome fellow who sings from the woods that he is “Pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha!”  We actually caught a pair of these.  The male is pictured here:

Chestnut Sided Warbler

In addition to these, we also had:

  • Song Sparrows
  • Swamp Sparrows
  • Cardinals
  • Common Yellowthroats
  • American Goldfinch
  • Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Gray Catbird

A delight to children of all ages:

Watching Linda remove a Common Yellowthroat from the Net Getting close to a Gray Catbird

Bird Banding 2010

I finally got a chance to spend the whole morning with Scott, Linda, and Emily at the bird banding demonstrations this morning. (Don was at a wedding, so I made the Rhubarb cobbler again… Apple next week, since Don doesn’t like rhubarb.) The weather started warm(ish), but got cooler and windier with each passing hour. We ended up closing the nets a little early when the wind was rather strong.

We had more birds than we expected… (I don’t have pictures of all of them)

  • White-throated Sparrow
    White-throated Sparrow
  • American Robin (no picture)
  • Gray Catbird (4 of those!)
    Gray Catbird
  • Northern Waterthrush
    Northern Waterthrush
  • Black-capped Chickadee – this was a recapture… It was banded on May 2, 2009. We caught it twice this morning in two different nets. (no picture)
  • Northern Cardinal Female – we banded her, then she flew back into the same net later in the morning.
    Northern Cardinal Female

    She was a little upset about being handled and let Emily know about it:
    Northern Cardinal Female bite on Emily's finger

  • Eastern Phoebe (no picture)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • House Wren – recapture – originally banded on 4/26/2008 (no picture)
  • Chipping Sparrow
    Chipping Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow (no picture)

There are still two more weeks to enjoy watching the scientists at work! Come Saturday, May 15 and 22 to the picnic pavilion at Audubon! 7am-11am

Emily shows bird to Grandma and Granddaughters

Nikki Releases Bird with help from Emily
Hey! Who’s that Floridian releasing a bird? Could it be our 2010 college intern?


OK, so sometimes I use LightRoom to tweak the color on my photos.  But on these, I didn’t touch the color settings at all…

I almost didn’t even go out… It was a little breezy.  The overcast skies were threatening rain…  I’m now convinced those are the most excellent conditions under which to shoot spring wildflowers!

False Solomon's Seal


White Trillium




Red Trillium


Swamp Buttercup


Wild Geranium



 And, my absolute favorite:


Happy May Day

There is a frantic-ness about spring for me…

Painted Trillium

rushing to the woods and through the woods to find every flower…

Wood Anemone

afraid i’ll miss one…

Wild Geranium

because they come and go so quickly…