Within The Heronry

Within the eastside trail system is an active heronry. This post shows a few of our Great Blue Herons up close.

At times the large birds appear rather regal in their springtime breeding plumage.

Great Blue Herons are monogomous during breeding season, but will choose a new partner the next year. 

Highly developed eyesight allows them to hunt for food (mainly fish) day or night. This activity occupies close to 90% of their time.

Nests are made of sticks and used year after year (though usually not by the same Herons). A typical nest is two feet across, although it can reach four feet across with nesting material added year after year.

Great blue Herons have an average lifespan of fifteen years. Walking the east side trail sytem one is able to share a small fraction of that time with them. North America’s largest Heron would surely be an enjoyable watch for a nature enthusiast. Bring your binoculars or cameras and be entertained by the Great Blue Heron.

Kindred Kingdoms At The Great Swamp Conservancy

On Saturday, March 18th the GSC hosted Jean and Len Soprano of Kindred Kingdoms. Kindred Kingdoms is an organization dedicated to the care and release of injured birds of prey and black bear in Central and Northern New York.

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As with many of the better organizations such as theirs, they have developed programs to educate and enlighten the public to it’s mission. Saturday’s program featured owls. Jean shared her knowledge of owls and experiences with them for over an hour. Audience members eagerly asked questions that she kindly answered. The highlight for me was seeing the birds  they brought up close; magnificent animals.

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It was a very warm event on a not so warm day. I would like the thank The Great Swamp Conservancy for another enjoyable and educational event. And thanks to Jean and Len Soprano of Kindred Kingdoms.

Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl 3089Please visit them at Kindred Kingdoms to learn more about and to support the wonderful work they do.

Courtesy Of A Strong Song And Technology

Emanating from the woods this summer, at two different locations (that I know of) was the unique song of the Wood Thrush. So powerfully sung as to enable the song to be heard throughout the dense woods it inhabits (and beyond).Thus if you are near a Wood Thrush in song chances are of hearing a faint return call from another in the woods more distant.          

 listen here (turn up the volume, in the wild it is a strong song)

  Inside the woods I stepped before 7am at the start of a beautiful summer day. The sky was clear, the East Side Trail System awash in soft light at this time (optimal for photography). The woods however are a different story. The Sun being so low on the horizon offers but faint help lighting the grounds within the environment at this hour. I found myself entering the woods, not for photographic opportunity but rather to resolve my curiosity. What bird boldly and persistently sings these intricate songs?

The bird, 75 yards into the woods was easy to spot, I just had to follow the sound. To see him, that is a different story. Because of the lack of light in the woods I remember seeing mostly silhouette. I do not recall seeing the rich brown color, the prominent spots on its breast or the dark spot on the tip of the lower bill. Current day digital cameras are known for being good in low light conditions. I wasn’t hopeful but decided to give it a try.

After adjusting the camera settings for low light conditions the first photo was taken. Next it was viewed on the cameras display screen. I was amazed! Color and detail the lack of light withheld from me was in the cameras image. The camera was seeing the scene better than I was.

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 Photographers know that taking photos in low light conditions has a downside, the images are very grainy. Such images are processed with software which smooths out the graininess. However in doing that, much fine detail will be lost. 

So what we have here is an image of lesser quality. That said it is much better than my eyes and brain viewed in real-time. 

And also what we have here is a representation of a moment in time. One in which the stillness of the early morning woods was broken by the communication of a pair of  Wood Thrush  (one close, one distant) and my curiosity driven, stick snapping approach. Surprisingly, upon my approach the Wood Thrush did not take flight.Rather it kept about the bussiness of communicating with another Wood Thrush much farther away.Strongly singing one of the many songs in its repertoire and then waiting for the return song. Time and time and time again.

There was a sense of intimacy for being allowed to witness this display. Not only did I feel at one with nature, I felt blessed as well.

  Technical limitations of the image considered, I am more than pleased with the result.

Happy Thanksgiving

  This past weekend I encountered three Wild Turkeys on the trails. They flew off so quickly I didn’t manage to get a photo.They were surprisingly quiet upon take off. Geese and ducks are the larger birds I usually encounter and they make quite the commotion upon being scared into flight. 

   Today being our national holiday of Thanksgiving, I thought a turkey photo would be appropriate.This past March (mating season) with a few more miles to go before reaching the conservancy, these Wild Turkey were spotted in a farm field.

   Below we have a tom and two jakes displaying their tails to impress the hen(s). They were part of a much larger flock.

   In closing may we all take the time to appreciate the lives we are capable of living on this Thanksgiving. For those traveling may you do so safely. For everyone may the holiday be filled with warmth and good cheer. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wild Turkey

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Black-capped Chickadee

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The Black-capped Chickadee’s strength of character belies it’s small physical size. 

Harsh upstate New York winters of strong winds blowing falling snow in subfreezing temperatures will not contain him. In your backyard or in the woods at times like these you are apt to hear the nearby call of, “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee.”

Thousands of migratory songbirds invading his homeland in the spring and summer do not intimidate the Chickadee; going about his business as usual with what appears to be a single mindedness of purpose.

It has an almost fearless and inquisitive nature which comes across as friendliness.

Not the most colorful songbird but it is one of the cutest you will see.  

One of nature’s finest, the Black-capped Chickadee.

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2017 Calendar

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For the second year I have put together a Birds Of The Great Swamp Conservancy calendar. They will be available at The GSC nature center located at the corners of Pine Ridge Road and North Main Street, Canastota, New York for the price of 10 dollars (all profits going to the GSC). 

American Robin  (March)robin-7644

Your purchase gets you a quality product produced by the Oneida Print Shop

Great Blue Heron  (May)great-blue-heron-1108

And too you’re promoting environmental education and conservation. That’s a win-win.

Tree Swallow  (January)tree-swallow-7964

So why not stop at the GSC, (store hours are Tuesday thru Saturday 10 until 3) and get yours? Better yet, pick one or more up as you attend one of their special events (check out their website).

Wood Duck  (November)finished-wood-duck-5980

In closing I want to comment on The Fall Migration Festival. There was so much going on, from many games for children to a nature walk in the woods, horse rides to Chicken BBQ, birds of prey exhibitors to fun basket raffles, live music wafting in the air to the great photos and insight from the GSC’s own Swamp Snappers photo club. There were crafters ( I bought some goat cheese, it was delicious) and their wares to very informative nature talks with representatives of the Beaver Lake Nature Center, and so much more.

It was a great event. The best part for me was seeing the smiles on everyones faces. It was nice to see children and parents alike, having fun together. If you are looking for something to do with your family think of attending one of the GSC’s many events. They are both informative and fun; events a family can enjoy together.

This was all made possible by many hardworking volunteers. I want to say to all the volunteers, your hard work paid off, it was evident in the smiles of the attendees.