Backyard Visitor

Sometimes doing a good deed leads to danger. I feed the birds behind my place in colder weather. I put out seed this morning and did not hear them. I wondered what was going on. After I looked out the window a few times I saw this hawk. It appeared small to me. I am guessing it is a Copper’s hawk as they are known to hang out by bird feeders and a neighbour has a feeder out as well.

He may have looked in my direction here, but he totally ignored me.
Eying a squirrel jumping from branch to branch, but he did not go for it.

I don’t think he scored any of the local wildlife. About a half hour later he was gone and the birds were back to eating the seed. With the pandemic, my travels involve places to see wildlife within a few hours. Hopefully, things will slow down soon with the vaccines coming out. Stay safe and stay healthy!

Behaviour Around Snowy Owls

One way to avoid spooking an owl is to not approach it rapidly. If you see someone watching it safely from one side, go slowly to the same side person is viewing it from.

I was planted in a spot. The owl was looking pretty content. These are cropped a lot.
The owl turns her head when two people approach quickly from the opposite side from where I was planted.
It spooked the owl and it turned back towards me and flew off.

So the moral of the story is do not approach the owl quickly, or surround it.

A second way not to spook a snowy owl is do not talk loudly or yell around wildlife, not just snowy owls. I saw someone do just that and the snowy owl flew off. I had the opportunity to follow a barred owl family spring through summer last year. If you are quiet, they will allow you to observe from a safe distance. Whenever other people were talking in the woods or were walking a dog you had less luck seeing them.

This was after a man was yelling. It spooked the owl and off it flew. I would rather have pictures of it sitting on a dune.

In addition, if it is known there are snowy owls on the beach do not walk your go there. Two beaches I found snowy owls on had signs saying no dogs. However, that was not being followed. Not sure if it only applied in the warmer months. I saw an owl spooked a third time because someone walked a dog not far from it. The owl took a few short flights to avoid the situation.

Also, keep a distance where you are not stressing the owl. If the owl is stressed back away. Jones Beach had signs saying keep at least a 100 feet away. Those signs were down last time I was there. I would say that is a good distance to be safe.

Snowy owls are beautiful birds to watch. Respect the animals and other people, and you will enjoy the experience.

Owl Catch

Cats take pride in being a predator. They are known to sneak a mouse or two inside as a trophy to impress the human caretaker of their house. Do owls try to impress humans with their hunting prowess?

It sure felt that this owl was trying to impress me when I was watching. The owl kept circling overhead holding onto its prey. I even think he was trying to insure I got a good shot of his kill.

The weather has been mostly cloudy and dark. We had 50-60 mile an hour winds last night. Hard to get good shots when you need to have your ISO up to very high numbers. Wishing for some sunny days in the week ahead. Merry Christmas everyone or Happy New Year! Stay safe!

Short-Eared Owls

Many animals migrate to warmer locales in the winter. Many leave behind northern states for southern ones. Do any animals winter in New York? Yes! One such animal is the short-eared owl. For these birds who come down from northern Canada or Alaska, New York is a warmer change of scenery.

I found 4-5 of these owls in a grassy fields surrounded by farmland. Short-eared owls prefer grasslands, fields, tundra, and marshes.

Short-eared owls nest on the ground. That makes them susceptible to predators such as coyotes, foxes, cats, and dogs. I heard someone talking at this location an they said a dead owl was found. They mentioned possibly a coyote got it.

I found them active in the afternoon. They may hunt in the daylight to coincide with vole activity. They prefer voles, but also eat mice, rats, small birds, and insects.

Short-eared owls arrive in New York around December and leave to return around March. Some areas of northern NY near the Canadian border have them residing there year round.

Flying low
They were talking to each other and flying about each other. Could they be a pair?

I just have a good amateur camera and lens and these birds were quite a distance away. Most images are cropped a lot. The big lens that people near me used made me envious. Hopefully, on another trip I may witness them closer with brighter skies. Regardless, they were fun to watch.

The Last Days of Autumn

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. Author Unknown

The pictures below were all taken recently in the Hudson Valley of New York. Some animals stay here the entire year. Others come from regions further north to winter here. Hopefully, I will catch some of these winter visitors soon.

Found this guy on top of a power pole alongside a rural road.
Squirrel stuffing himself silly on a branch in the woods.

Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge

The next photos are from a short trip I took a wildlife refuge. I hope to return there this weekend weather permitting.

Two bluebirds in the field. They followed me around on my walk.
Possibly their nest was in the the hole of this tree.
This hawk flies fairly low over the field then dives to get its prey.
Hawk flying with the Gunks in the background

Fall unofficially ended today with a major snowstorm. We could get over a foot by the time it passes through. Did the animals know a storm would be arriving soon? Do animals sense these things? Can they forecast weather?

Hay Bail Cow

Hay Bale Cow at McEnroe’s Organic Farm and Market in Millerton. NY.

I found another hay bale art piece. This one was also in New York. Some farmers wrap the hay bale in what looks like plastic. This farmer painted the covers for the hay bales. They made a cow. I guess this way the animals can still eat the hay because there is no paint on the bales. We have had a lot of dreary weather. Quite typical for November and December. Stay safe!

Pandemic Humor

From some memes:

“Sorry folks, the world is closed!”

“I’m not buying a 2021 planner until I see the trailer.”

“Not to brag, but I used soap before it was trending.”

Been busy over the last few weeks with work. I hope to get some pictures in the next few days. Stay safe.

Hay Bale Halloween

What do farmer’s do this time of year when they are bored? Some make hay bale art. What is hay bale art? When someone gets a bales of hay, arranges them to make an object, and paints them. The hay bales used can be cylindrical, cube, or rectangular prism-shaped. This art is more popular in farming states like Montana, but it is also popular in parts of Australia. Here are some examples I found in the Hudson Valley of New York. Happy Halloween!

This one appears to be made of rectangular prism shaped hay bales.
The rest of these are formed using rolled up or cylinder-shaped hay bales.

Paddling Fish Creek Ponds to Other Ponds

The Adirondack Mountains in New York has a lot of places to paddle where you do not have to get out of the water to go from one pond of lake to another. Others lakes or ponds may have cary paths between them. Fish Creek Ponds is another body of water you can access multiple bodies of water through without getting out of your canoe or kayak.

I actually launched from Follensby Clear Pond. The launch is near the Spider Creek Passage into Fish Creek Ponds. I launched from there to get two chances to see the loon baby and its mom. Going through Fish Creek Ponds after you go under the Route 30 bridge you see Fish Creek Ponds Campgrounds along the pond. These are paid sites. I could see a playground, beach, and fishing area.

Square Pond
On Fish Creek Ponds heading towards Square Pond
Square Pond Entrance

From there you can access Square Pond . I went in this body of water a short distance then turned and went towards Fish Creek.

Fish Creek

Fish Creek is a fairly wide creek in most areas. It is like a highway for canoeists and kayakers. Along the way you pass a dock to the canoe carry heading towards Follensby Clear Pond. The dock was too short for my 10 foot kayak to park at and the water next to the dock was too deep for me to step into. It was really more for canoes. This would be another way to get to Follensby Clear Pond avoiding a long paddle through Fish Creek Ponds, Spider Creek Passage and into Follensby Clear Pond.

Under this camp ground road leads into Fish Creek.
Once you went up Fish Creek a short ways, only boats with electric motors under 5 horsepower were allowed. This is great for kayakers and canoeists. It is also good for the wildlife.
Instead of paddling all the way back to Follensby Clear Pond from there a canoeist could pull up here and carry through a path to the pond. I tried to get out there ,but even on a sit on top kayak it was a no go. The dock was too short and the water right up to the land was too deep. I think it was actually about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep or more next to the docks. It was all a very short area. I could not get close going head first or backwards to the dock in my over 10 foot kayak.
Copperas Pond
They actually had a sign up where you turn for this pond.

Next up was Copperas Pond. There are two primitive campsites on this body of water. They are across then pond from each other. Each has an open outhouse or privy. Behind the campsite I tied up at you also got a view of a another pond that had no outlet connecting it to other bodies of water.

Looking towards the opposite end of the pond. I saw an eagle flying towards another pond from here. The eagles in the Adirondacks travel from pond to pond or lake to lake.
This was looking towards the exit of Copperas Pond into Fish Creek.
Passage from Fish Creek into Floodwood Pond

Next I started paddling towards a Fish Creek passage that connects to Floodwood Pond and eventually Rollins Pond. Little Square Pond is beyond the entrance to this passage. It is unnamed on maps, but it may still be considered Fish Creek. At the entrance there was another primitive campsite. Floodwood Pond has several primitive campsites along it.

The water here was shallow.

I turned back before Floodwood as I had already paddled quite a ways from Follensby Clear Pond. I will save Floodwood and Rollins for another trip.

Wildlife
This was a long Fish Creek heading back. This is a beaver lodge. Beavers abound in the Adirondacks, but it appears this one, if still active does not dam the bodies of water.

I did see loons along the way. These ponds and creeks had more boat traffic due to the campgrounds on Fish Creek Ponds and Rollins Pond. Most of Fish Creek was not for power boats. Way back on Fish Creek beyond Copperas Pond I saw a loon who was quite busy fishing. I also saw a loon near the campgrounds at Fish Creek Ponds and a mother loon and her baby on the other side of Fish Creek Ponds near the private houses closer to Follensby Clear Pond.

In the summer there is more traffic on these bodies of water than others. It is due to two large campgrounds on Rollins Pond and Fish Creek Ponds. Both of those campgrounds allow caravans/campers. Despite that fact, it is still a nice place to paddle. I want to return to kayak from Rollins Pond to Floodwood Pond.

Eagles in New York

One of the most recognized symbols of America is the bald eagle. They are in every state except Hawaii according to the DEC-NY. A few decades ago they were on the brink of extiction in New York state. Today they are making a resurgence.

Eagle Population

Eagles were previously on the endangered species list. The population of eagles suffered a major decline starting in the 1960s. Eagles were affected by DDT and other pesticides and pollutants. These chemicals were passed along the food chain. As a result, the eggshells of the eagles were weakened, so the babies did not survive.

In 1976 there was only one pair of nesting eagles in New York state. Efforts were put in place to curb pollution and protect eagle habitats. After DDT was banned, eagles were producing young in greater numbers. By 2010 there were 173 breeding pairs of eagles in New York and now eagles have been moved to the threatened species list.

Eagle fortifying the nest along the Hudson River the day after a storm.
When to See Eagles

The best time I found to see eagles, at least in the Hudson Valley, is between February and April. Earlier during that time period you may see them mate. During that time period they also sit on eggs so you may see the father bring a fish up to the mother. After the egg or eggs hatch, you will see them bring more fish up to the nest to feed the young eagles. It is harder to view them once the leaves grow on the trees, as your view of them will be obscured.

A pair of eagles during mating time.
Where to See Eagles

Since eagles mainly eat fish their nests are usually close to bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. There are nests along the Hudson and Delaware Rivers as well as other bodies of water in the state.

See these websites to find some eagle viewing locations:

https://www.wideopenspaces.com/best-places-see-bald-eagles-new-york/

Special Content One

These only list a few good locations to view them as others may be on private property or in places where locals may not want hoards of people showing up to view them.

Hanging with dad in the nest.

These majestic birds are enjoyable to view from a distance. Curbing pollution reaps rewards for humans and for those in the animal kingdom.