We've Still Got Bluebirds, May 24, 2021

May 24, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

They chicks are still in the box. They've made several feints towards the door, but have always backed down. 

Bluebird Update May 24, 2021


Bluebirds Still With Us, May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Our chicks we're very active peering out the box's entrance much of the morning. The wind picked up about noon and we've had intermittent heavy showers. That seemed to lessen their interest in the outside world. They've more or less settled in the box since midday. Mom and dad were calling from the yard this morning, but are making more frequent trips in with food this afternoon. 

Bluebird chicks still with us, May 23, 2021

 

It takes videos several minutes to process after I upload them. If the video doesn't play for you, please check back in a few minutes. 


Osprey in Maine, May 2021

May 22, 2021  •  4 Comments

Greater Damariscotta, Maine, has been attracting bird photographers for years. Damariscotta Mills came to the attention of photographers when they restored the fish ladder on the Damariscotta River. The ladder was originally built in 1807 when mills blocked the fish's trip up the river. in 2007 a group took to restoring the ladder which allowed the fish to run again. The fish attracted osprey and eagles. The birds attracted photographers. 

When the alewife start running, all sorts of birds and others come to feed on them. I got a couple days up that way last week. The action seemed to be better just to the east in along the Saint George River in Warren, Maine. There were a number of osprey coming and going, the most spotted at one time was six. There was also a pair of adult bald eagles and two immature bald eagles in the area as well as a large supporting cast of cormorants and gulls. 

The attraction for the wildlife is the alewife run. Alewife are marine fish that swim up rivers to breed in fresh water. They can grow to about 16", but average about 10". They swim upstream in large schools, with many millions of fish heading up the rivers in greater Damariscotta every year. Alewife apparently don't appeal to humans. There are a few shops in the area advertising smoked alewife, but most of the fish caught become bait in lobster traps. 

Alewife running in the Damariscotta River, MaineAlewife running in the Damariscotta River, MaineAlewife running in the Damariscotta River, Maine Alewife running in the Damariscotta River, MaineAlewife running in the Damariscotta River, MaineAlewife running in the Damariscotta River, Maine

There were several flocks of herring and ring-billed gulls ranging in size from about 20 to over 50. They moved around on the river mixing then splitting up, making it hard to count. And, every time an eagle went over, the gulls would all take flight and squawk. They seemed to do their fishing around the lowest point of the tide. When a gull managed to catch or scavenge a fish, it would be mobbed by several others attempting to steal it. 
 

herring gullsherring gulls   20210519-2182-web20210519-2182-web
Double-crested cormorants travel in gulps, following the schools of fish. 

Double-crested cormorantsDouble-crested cormorantsDouble-crested cormorants Double-crested cormorantsDouble-crested cormorantsDouble-crested cormorants

Even a snapping turtle turned up.

Common Snapping TurtleCommon Snapping TurtleCommon Snapping Turtle

A broad-winged hawk came by to check out the scene. The guides say broad-wings will eat fish, but this one just circled overhead briefly before moving on. 

Broad-winged hawkBroad-winged hawkBroad-winged hawk

A pair of adult eagles and two immature eagles were in the area, visiting the pool I was watching several times each day. Eagles will take gulls occasionally, so the gulls all take flight when one appears. If the eagle lands, the gulls will return to the water.

Immature bald eagle in flightImmature bald eagle in flightImmature bald eagle in flight

This immature eagle was my hero, he couldn't go by the gulls without swooping them. 20210519-1549-web20210519-1549-web
20210519-2258-web20210519-2258-web

The main attraction was the osprey. They fish at mid tide. The water has to be deep enough for them to dive into - they can go a couple feet down, but it seems they like the water shallow enough to keep the fish near the surface. Osprey glide in a slow circle over the water until they see an opportunity to grab a fish - or two - then dive. 

Osprey in flightOsprey in flightOsprey in flight

The traffic over the pool I was watching got heavy at times, here's a pair of osprey hunting. 

Osprey in flightOsprey in flightOsprey in flight

Osprey can pull up and 'hover' more or less in one place while they watch the action below. 

Osprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while hunting Osprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while hunting Osprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while hunting Osprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while huntingOsprey hovering while hunting


The best part of watching them is the dive and climbing back out of the water. Unlike eagles which grab fish from very near the surface, osprey dive much deeper, sometime submerging the entire bird. They make a slash when they hit!

Osprey divingOsprey divingOsprey diving
Diving osprey hitting the waterDiving osprey hitting the waterDiving osprey hitting the water

Diving osprey hitting the waterDiving osprey hitting the waterDiving osprey hitting the water

Climbing back out of the water makes for some great pics. 

Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine Osprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, MaineOsprey around the Saint George River, Warren, Maine

Sometimes they come up with a fish or two, sometimes not. 

Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish Osprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fishOsprey flying with fish

After a dive, osprey shake like a wet dog to get rid of the water.

Osprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a dive Osprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a dive Osprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a diveOsprey shaking after a dive

After a successful dive, they'll often circle back over the pool to allow photographers one last chance for a photo. 

20210519-1024-2-web20210519-1024-2-web 20210519-1697-2-web20210519-1697-2-web

The trip to see the fish ladder and osprey is worth it. The alewife start running in early May and go into June. The Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder is open to the public. They harvest fish a couple times a day and are very used to visitors stopping by to watch. You can usually see osprey and eagles from the road by the fish ladder. Last time I was there, a pair of seals came upstream for a snack. 

If the action is slow, head for Warren, just to the east. They have two parks along the river that offer great views of the osprey, et al. 


Bluebird Update, Saturday May 22, 2021

May 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Today was the first day we could have expected the chicks to fledge. They're still with us as of late afternoon. They're curious about what's going on outside and have taken turns peering out the entrance hole. Both are testing their wings in the box. Mom and dad have been busy hauling food in for them. 

Bluebird Update May 22, 2021

It takes several minutes for the video to process after I upload it. If it won't play for you, please try again in a few minutes.


Checking In On Our Bluebirds, May 21, 2021

May 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Our chicks are beginning to show interest in the entrance to the nesting box. They're stretching to take a peek out. Haven't seen either hop up to stick his head out, but won't be long now. Update: they're sitting in the entrance, looking out. 

We're having a hot day today. Mom has been out of the box most of the day. We've got a wren singing from the azaleas by the deck. Mom bluebird has been perching on the deck rail fairly often this morning. She may be letting the wren know that the bluebird's box is in use. We've got another box not too far away, we've had both bluebirds and wrens together a few years ago. 

Here's a clip with the chicks fidgeting in the box, Mom delivering a tasty grasshopper, and one of the chicks trying to see out. 

Bluebird Update May 21, 2021

 Our chickadee poked her head into the box in Piermont this morning, but hasn't been back. The starling checked both boxes this morning.