Monday, 14 May 2018

A morning with Sandye

14 May 2018

     Our good friend Sandye Moores had indicated that she had not seen a Bobolink (Dolichonxy oryzivorus) in a while so we offered to take her to our friend's Century Farm where we knew she would be able to connect with this bird.
     It was a beautiful, warm sunny morning with great light and the birds were rejoicing in the conditions as much as we were. Female Bobolinks have not yet returned from South America but the males are busy claiming territory and getting ready for their potential mates to arrive. It is a magical scene to see these ardent suitors fluttering over the grassland uttering their melodic bubbling song. 



     Sandye was enchanted. We all were enchanted. Nothing can possibly surpass the joy of being surrounded by the beauty and timeless rhythm of the natural world. We were at one with it.


     I was at once thrilled with the opportunity that we have at this farm to observe grassland birds in undisturbed meadows, while simultaneously realizing that this is an endangered habitat, with ever more of it being paved over to satisfy the rapacious need of humans for more land for our houses, cities, shopping malls and parking lots. Surely at some point we have to come to our senses and realize that other organisms have a right to their place on earth too, and that we are ultimately sewing the seeds of our own demise. 
     A pair of Northern Ravens (Corvus corax) have nested for several years on an old silo on an adjacent farm and we saw a raven pursuing an American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) which was carrying food. They swooped and twisted, keeping pace with each other, with the crow always managing to stay ahead of the raven, food intact in its bill. Suddenly a second crow arrived on the scene, followed in short order by a third, and now the tables were turned. The three crows set off in pursuit of the raven. We wished that Franc had been with us, for with his skill and photographic equipment, he would have captured this drama. The pictures etched in our mind will have to suffice - and perhaps they are the best pictures of all.
     Another enchanting denizen of the grassland is the Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) and there were many of them. 


     I don't know whether it is fanciful on my part but it seems as though these little birds are far more confiding at the farm than they are elsewhere. They seem quite unconcerned when we approach them at close distance. Perhaps they know that at this enlightened spot humans are their friends.



     I feel bound to say that Sandye, there to see Bobolinks, was gobsmacked by everything she saw and displayed her joy in the most visible fashion. It was indeed a pleasure to be out with her.

Sandye, David
     Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) swooped and glided across the grassland gleaning insects, twisting and turning with breathtaking speed, yet stopping for a photograph too.





     Some are busy with plans for the next generation.


     Miriam noticed these Tent Caterpillars (Lasiocampidae) when we visited the farm last Tuesday, but there has been considerable expansion since then.

     Black-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) are one of the few bird species to feed on these caterpillars so we have to keep an eye open for birds taking advantage of the feast.
   Our friends have put out their hummingbird and oriole feeders up near the house and this female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris) was taking advantage of a free meal.




     Sandye and I had a front row seat.


     And the Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) were anxious to get to the feeders too.




     And what would an old barn on a Century Farm be without a colony of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica)?


     There are several active nests but on this occasion at least we decided not to peer in on them. Let them go about their business in peace.
     As always our thanks go out to our wise and caring friends who permit the birds to prosper and allow birders like us to enjoy them. Beatification is their due!

58 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Having not even heard the name Bobolink until you mentioned a couple posts back, I now had my curiosity piqued... I love YouTube! The slowed down portion midway reminded me strongly of the Aussie Magpie. Weird but true... YAM xx

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    1. I think you can find just about anything on You Tube.

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  2. I like those images, the birds are beautiful, especially I enjoy the bobolink that I have not seen and you have them in great images. I seen spring is well advanced with green vegetation and some flowers; here we still see some green after the heavy rains and because it is hotter than normal, still many deciduous plants have not lost their leaves.
    Un abrazo

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  3. What great pictures and I can see your friend, Sandye, was thrilled with it all. We used to have bobolinks in PA where I grew up but I don't think I have ever seen one here.

    I would have loved to see the drama between the crows and the raven that you witnessed.

    Hope you have a great week, David.

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  4. Bonjour cher ami,

    Quelle belle escapade ! Je découvre avec délice ces espèces emplumées !
    Merci pour ces magnifiques photos.

    Gros bisous

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  5. 'Surely at some point we have to come to our senses and realize that other organisms have a right to their place on earth too, and that we are ultimately sewing the seeds of our own demise.'
    I hope so, I really, really hope so.
    And thank you so much for sharing the feathered enchantment you saw.

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  6. More nice farmland birds and scenes.........

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  7. Jag visste förstås inte vad bobolinks är men googlade att det är en sjungande sparvfågel, jag förstår att den goda vännen var glad över att få uppleva denna skönsjungande fågel i en så vacker miljö.

    Ja, mänskligheten tycks avskärma sig allt längre från naturen trots att det är den vi lever av. Okunskapen om naturens egna villkor är skrämmande. Just nu saknar jag "mina starar" Sturnus vulgaris som har representerat vårens ankomst här i Norden. Vi har satt upp många holkar i omgivningen men för varje år har de minskat. I år tycks det inte bli en enda häckning - så oerhört sorgligt.

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    1. Birds are in decline everywhere, Gunilla. In some populations the reduction in numbers is catastrophic. I can only hope that your birds return.

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  8. Isn't it great when you are able to open somebody's eyes to something they've never seen before? None of those birds occur here. Yesterday though the skylarks were high in the sky pouring out their endless song over the wheat fields. Our swallows are back but not in any great numbers at present, a situation which I hope will soon be rectified.

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    1. The Barn Swallow is cosmopolitan, John, and returns each spring to Britain from Africa.

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  9. Beautiful images and birds, David! My favorite today is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Very pretty!

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  10. Hi David.

    You can see beautiful birds.
    Nice to see species that I do not know.

    Groettie from Patricia.

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  11. So pleased Sandye saw the Bobolink - it is a beautiful bird. A wonderful set of images - good to know you have such a great farm to see birds. Destruction of habitat is an ever-present threat in so many places and it angers me greatly too.

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    1. It is a cause for great dismay to be sure, but as long as human populations continue to expand I am afraid that this trend will continue. We need a good pandemic to wipe out about half of us!

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    2. exactly...I don't see our species making it another 500 yrs....

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  12. Nice trip with birds, if you do not mind I'll sign up for your trip and I'll stay in your blog.

    Regards, Irma.-

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    1. Thank you, Irma. Come along any time you wish!

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  13. Hello, I have only seen the Bobolink once. I need to go and look for another one. Love the all the birds, especially the gorgeous Oriole. Have a happy day!

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    1. It’s only a day’s drive from where you are to where I am so come on up and I will show you many!

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    2. LOL, we just got back from an 11 day road trip. There may be a spot closer to me where I can see them. Thanks for the offer, enjoy your day!

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    3. Gee, and I was going to give you pancakes and good Ontario maple syrup for breakfast!

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  14. Great photos David and how lovely to be able show your friend such a fantastic place.

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  15. In the Southern US where my home is we used to see Bobolink frequently, now it's more rare just for the reasons you described but also because Yellow Pine has become the crop of choice for large tracks of land and there is not even a verge of "field" left. Lovely birds to enjoy.

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    1. These areas planted with one species become, effectively, green deserts.

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  16. Hola! Muy buenas fotos, tanto las tuyas como las de tu esposa. Un blog interesante.
    Saludos

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  17. Muchas gracias, Fernando. Tu blog también me gusta mucho.

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  18. Hello David!
    Wonderful pictures and great captures!
    Such lovely birds! Like the Spring background of the photos!
    Bobolink is such a preety bird ! Great shot of the Hummingbird!
    Have a nice week!
    Dimi...

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  19. Hi David,
    Thank's for pictures of Miriam. I know that you were very happy !!!
    Have a good week David

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  20. I can understand Sandye's enthusiasm. The Century Farm seems to be such a privileged place hosting so many beautiful birds and offering the possibility to observe them in optimal conditions. Thank you David for sharing these wonderful pictures and for making us discover such rare beauties.

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  21. The hummingbird caught my eye as it is rare to see one without its wings in a helicopter flutter. All wonderful shots of birds particularly since they never stay still for any photo.

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  22. Miriam's delightful Bobolink photos have just reinforced my wish to see one, David. How lovely to see a hummer perched!

    I can remember, as a youngster, fun being made of people walking round with placards delaring "the end is nigh". I'm starting to think that this is now the case. The human race is becoming a victim of its own 'success'. The planet cannot sustain our increasing demands for food and water, and particularly for our 'must have' attitude to material goods. One can't help but wonder if our demise is 'just around the corner'.

    On that happy note! - My love to you both - - - Richard

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  23. Sandye had to be over the moon. I am, just looking at the fabulous photos!

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  24. it sounds like a very thrilling day david. you are lucky to have a farm at your disposal to view such beautiful birds...i usually have to trespass!! the images are really stellar!!!

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  25. Hola David.

    ¡Qué hermosas aves podéis disfrutar en tu país! Y todas las fotos están geniales.

    Con respecto a la última foto pienso que sí, se trata de H. rustica, la que aquí en Europa la conocemos como golondrina común.

    Un abrazo desde Galicia, España.

    Rafa.

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    1. Hola Rafa: I know that in England this species used to be called simply Swallow but now the term Barn Swallow has become widespread, which is the name we use in North America. You will have to come and visit and we will show you many new and beautiful birds.

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  26. Hi Both,
    What a trip out with Sandye and the delightful Bobolink, a really striking bird.
    Super images of everything by Miriam.
    All the best, John

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  27. Lovely post David. I was surprised that the Bobolink and Hummingbird also come to Canada. Of course it's just my not knowing, I always thought that these were (south-)American birds. But never to old to learn ;-). The place you discribed sounds really great and hopefully it will remain like this. The issues about people against nature are a big problem here.
    I was on holiday on the beautiful island of Lesvos, Greece where's still a lot of unspoiled nature and I loved it as always. That was also the reason I wasn't active on blogspot. Hope you have a nice weekend,

    Marianne

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    1. Welcome back, Marianne. It is good to hear from you.

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  28. Be still my heart...what a treat to visit your blog and fill my eyes and mind with the wonders of the avian world. Thank YOU for taking the time to share your obvious pleasure.
    I will be back.

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  29. Hi David,
    What a beautiful ride you took with your friend Sandye. Century Farm should be a very special place.
    I've never seen a Bobolink, it's a very beautiful bird.
    I loved the colors of the Baltimore Orioles.
    Best regards
    Maria from
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco


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  30. Hi David - wonderful shots by Miriam ... and those tent cobwebs remind me of the outbreak we had in Europe and Britain of the Bird Cherry Ermine moth webs ... extraordinary huge creations ... lovely to see your findings - cheers Hilary

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  31. Hello my friend David,
    what a beautiful bird shows you again. I only know the swallow in this post but the other birds are more than beautiful. Even the little hummingbird is in your post. So cool. The Dolichonxy oryzivorus is a beautiful vogle. I'm often jealous of the beautiful birds that you have there.
    And ehhh .... we finally see you in the picture :-)))))))))
    Great post David.
    Dear greetings, xxx

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  32. Very nice of you to show your friend the Bobolink. I never saw one, what a beautiful bird. I enjoy seeing them all especially the Baltimore Oriole.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  33. Maravilhosos... um belo passeio e lindas descobertas, David!

    Gosto de todas e sei que são muito difíceis de fotografar, é necessário muita paciência.
    Parabéns!

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  34. Oh, David,
    wonderful birds and photos, I was pleased to watch them scrolling twice. My favorite bird is Sparrow, it's different of ours.
    Happy weekend!

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    1. We also have your familiar House Sparrow here too, Nadezda.

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  35. What a beautiful and colorful birds you had for the camera David.
    Very nice to see.
    Good weekend, greetings Tinie

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  36. Yes, a very successful and beautiful morning.

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  37. The Bobolinks are amazing and Tree Swallows, beautiful David.

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  38. Hi David,
    You certainly know the places where to go to in order to see interesting birds.It has given you the possibilities to make great pictures of all these different kinds. Swallows have returned to the Netherlands after their winter stay in South Africa. Always a sign that spring really has started.
    Greetings, Kees

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  39. Hi David. I'm catching up at last.

    As to your question. No, I don’t see any signs of us coming to our senses. In fact it just gets worse in Europe and is spreading to Eastern Europe as those countries become the latest recruits to the EU and “progress”.
    I’m sure you are right about certain populations/species of birds becoming more confiding where they are left alone. I have seen that myself.
    Yes, I’d love to see a Bobolink again. Just one in the Isles of Scilly is on my British List but sad to say I can’t actually remember if I saw them in Canada, but I suspect not.
    Enjoy what is left of your spring. I know I will.

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    1. I think we sort of skipped spring this year and went right from winter (which seemed to drag on forever) into summer.

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  40. Magical!
    Such lovely pictures, I feel privileged to have seen them.
    Thank you so much for sharing them here.

    All the best Jan

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  41. It's wonderful that century farm owner keeps things bird friendly and welcomes dedicated bird lovers! So interesting to think about the male bobolinks getting home first and working to get things for the year. (Sounds to me like they have it figured out perfectly!). We once got tent caterpillars in our magnolia trees in Oregon (in our former life, before we sold out to travel); our gardening neighbors were terribly alarmed and urged us to do everything we could to get rid of them. I guess we did, because I only remember it happening that once. We probably did something terrible for the environment, but we didn't know any better.

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  42. What a wonderful post! The Bobolink is amazing - what exotic birds visit your patch. I love those Hummingbirds, too. We are also in the caterpillar tent season, and there have been warnings, path closures, tent removals and responses of all kinds.

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