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Young Birds - Camilla Fox

Jun. 13th, 2004

02:51 am - Young Birds

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We'd meant to get off to an early start, but didn't really manage it, so Monty and I did a late afternoon Minuteman trip. We made good speed and then hung around next to Tophet swamp, and did our bird watching there.

We saw several cedar waxwings. Soon after Monty pointed out that one of them had an oddly short tail, we saw the parent come over and stuff food into its mouth. Then we spotted a very similar situation with the tree swallows - fully fledged young who looked a little short in the tail and primaries and were sitting around waiting for handouts. A kingbird was also hunting nearby and he would harass the swallows from time to time.

I got distracted looking at the blue toadflax Linaria Canadensis, by the side of the path. It's very common, but I've just never gotten a good picture or tried to identify it (the picture doesn't show scale well, but the flowers are quite small and the whole thing not more than a foot high).

Monty stalked a small grey bird, maybe a vireo, with a distinctive song and pale underside; I didn't get a good look, and he hasn't looked though the bird books yet. We then noticed a Baltimore oriole fly past, and saw it land next to a clearly visible nest, right above the path. It made at least four trips that we saw, with almost no attempt at subtlety, and we heard a lot of feeping from the nest each time.

A mallard with eight fluffy chicks was the last of our list of young birds. There was also a killdeer on the far side of the swamp, and a few views of a non-mallard duck flying overhead, along with the endless grackles and starlings, and a flash that must have been a warbler.

I'm sort of fascinated with spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana), and stopped to photograph some of it on our way back. I've tried several times before, and had trouble getting the color to come out. This time, dim lighting didn't really help, but I guess they'll be plenty to see for a while yet.