Vulture Hangout

black vulture on fencepost trio of vulturesThis is THE place to hang out if you’re a black vulture. Linking to Friday’s Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer.

Sunning Tail Feathers

For a bird, a fence makes a great place for sunning your tail feathers after the snow.junco in snowsparrow on fence
Linking to Friday’s Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer.

One Loud Wren

wren We only have one wren that visits our backyard, but he makes his presence known very loudly!

See other “One” photos at: Weekly Photo Challenge.

Our Owl-less Outing Near the Ocean

sand and snow fence

Snow on the beach, but no owls

snowy owl bag

This trash sure looked like a snowy owl from a distance!

seawall fence

Lots of gulls, but no owls

heron on the path

A great blue heron on the path near the cove

sanderlings

A group of sanderlings

After reading all the news articles and blog posts about this year’s snowy owl irruption in coastal northeastern areas of the U.S., we decided it was our turn to see a snowy owl in the wild. So, earlier this week, on a very cold and windy day, we drove to Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area in Highlands, New Jersey, to have a firsthand look. We chose to go to Sandy Hook because snowy owl sightings had been reported there. My eagerness was fanned even more after viewing some of the gorgeous snowy owl photos posted on Flickr by fortunate owl spotters.

Sandy Hook has several different beaches along the Atlantic Ocean for swimming, fishing and nude sunbathing(!), as well as a historic military area, nature/hiking/biking trails and a bay side. Since it was quite frigid, there were very few people at the park. At first, we explored some of the beach areas, then we headed toward Ft. Hancock. After that, we walked along a cove on the bay side. The scenery was beautiful. Unfortunately, we did not see any snowy owls, not even a quick glimpse of one. As a consolation for our owl-less outing, however, there were plenty of entertaining gulls, several great blue herons and a small group of sanderlings running back and forth with the waves.

Linking to “Friday’s Fences” at Life According to Jan and Jer.

Foggy Fence

A foggy day near the Raritan River. Linking to “Friday’s Fences” at Life According to Jan and Jer.fence in the fog foggy bridge

Let There Be Light

This week’s Photo Challenge is “Let There Be Light.”light sky

Especially when it’s cold out, that last bit of color in the sky is an extra welcome sight.

lighthouse

When the natural light is gone, a beam from a lighthouse directs the path.

light sunset

The reflection of sunlight on the water is so peaceful.

See other photo interpretations of “Let There Be Light” at: Weekly Photo Challenge.

Waiting Motionlessly

heron by fenceAt the corner of the reservoir, in a secluded spot, the hunter (a.k.a. great blue heron) waits motionlessly for a morning meal. Linking to “Friday’s Fences” at Life According to Jan and Jer.

Autumn Color

fence

While taking a walk in the park, I found a little section by a fence that seemed to be bursting with autumn color — from the golden, end-of-day sunlight on the trees, to the carpet of fallen leaves. There was even a bench nearby for someone to sit and contemplate the scene. Linking to “Friday’s Fences” at Life According to Jan and Jer.

Blue Jays Back


bluejay pic
As I sit at the laptop and type, I am listening to a cacophony of blue jay calls in the backyard. Lately, I’ve been noticing groups of blue jays banding together in sound and purpose just about everywhere. Blue jays have always been one of the staple backyard birds of my New Jersey upbringing. I have a vague remembrance of my father being dive-bombed by a blue jay as he mowed the lawn – perhaps he ventured too close to a nest. During the last year, blue jays seemed noticeably absent. I would glimpse an occasional lone jay but, for the most part, the usual crowd at our feeders included sparrows and finches, eating their seeds without verbal interference from blue jays.

After experiencing firsthand some of the effects of Hurricane Sandy last year, I wasn’t surprised when I read recently about the impact the storm had on birds, mostly because of storm damage to either the bird’s habitat or food sources. An article from the National Wildlife Federation specifically mentions blue jays as one of the species that flew south in search of food after the storm. Based on my own casual observations, I think they’ve now returned back to the north!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

horizonIt was so nice last weekend to spend an afternoon exploring the “real” Jersey Shore at Sandy Hook (Gateway National Recreation Area). I especially like going to the beach in autumn when the crowds have thinned out. It was beautiful to look across the sand and the water toward the horizon where the New York City skyline spreads out. (Below is the same photo, zoomed in to show more detail.)nyc

See other “Horizon” photos at: Weekly Photo Challenge.

Autumn Hues

The autumn hues of red, yellow, green and brown are favorites of mine. See other photo interpretations of “The Hue of You” at the Weekly Photo Challenge.red leavesleaves in the waterleaves

A Circle in the Sky

A circle formation of flying birds

A circle formation of flying birds

A raptor (bottom right) was close by

A raptor (bottom right) was close by

A few fuzzy close ups of the raptor that I couldn't identify

A few fuzzy close ups of the raptor that I couldn’t identify

While near the Raritan River the other day, I noticed a circle in the sky that was moving rapidly. The circle was actually a large group of birds. The shape kept getting formed and reformed, over and over, while the birds moved westward.

I’ve seen flocks of european starlings before, flying in patterns in the air then landing en masse before taking off again, but this was different. The birds were very high up in the sky and they did not land. The pattern the birds made remained circular until they went out of sight.

What I didn’t see right away was the raptor in their proximity. The more I watched, it seemed that the formation of the circle was a way for the flock to protect and defend themselves from the threat. Although it looked like the raptor was after the group of birds, I suppose the birds could have been harassing the raptor too (like an angry mob). I’m guessing that the birds were starlings, although it could have been some other type of bird that flies together during migration. I couldn’t identify the raptor either because it was too far away.

Linking to Skywatch Friday.