Friday, July 31, 2015

Cope's Gray Tree Frog, Slugs Love Beer, Plus the Day Lilies and the Hummingbird

Never fear we aren't finished with the Harris Hawk, nor hawks in general but the Harris piece is taking a very long time to put together.  Therefore today's  an intermission...

I was out picking Japanese Beetles off just about everything that is capable of photosynthesis in my domain when I pulled back a Rhubarb leaf for inspection...TA DA!

                            Cope's Gray Tree Frog

 Yes, I know, he isn't gray.  As it turns out a Cope's Gray Tree Frog can be gray to green to brown.  Seems like one would just call him a Cope's Tree Frog right?   But no, too easy.

I've enlarged the photo for better detail but he is actually about one and half to two inches long. 

If you'd like to hear what he sounds like click the link below.

Not the sharpest shot in the world but it does give documentation.  See the yellow on his abdomen and inner leg?  One of the field marks of Cope's.

Actually it rather looks ot me as if he is wearing socks.  Highly unlikely of course.

If you look carefully you will see another field mark, rather oversize very sticky toes. 

I had been having trouble with slugs wrecking all of my strawberries of late.  I remembered as a child reading that slugs LOVE beer and and that this love could be capitalized on when they were wrecking your garden.

The trick is as slugs love beer you put beer in saucers around your garden.  They can't wait to get some so they crawl into the saucer have some beer, wallow in it, oops, and then it's curtains.
See there is only a little beer in this edge of the saucer.  They could have scooted to the verge, drunk their fill and then scooted away.  But no, they drank to excess and see what happened.  A cautionary tale for us all.  Do not swim in beer.

I had been seeing for some near evenings of late a hummingbird making a practice of visiting the feeder but also taking nips from the Tiger Lilies.

 What must it feel like to be able to put your full weight on a flower and not crush it?
 And here's the little fellow coming in for a landing on a mulberry twig.

Happy Hawking....
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


 This eyass was seen perched on railing above garage at Met Museum behind the 3 Bears on Saturday , 7/18/15 .  I'm told by a Met visitor that this baby has been perched there for 2 hours trying to hunt . She eventually caught a small bird , a sparrow it seems .

Then off he or she went to Cedar Hill for a stroll to digest her meal.
 This eyass decided to relax on tree on Cedar Hill . It's siblings can be heard calling out to each other on top of the hill at dusk .

Many thanks to Stella for her eyass updates!   The final installment of  the Harris Hawk Saga is coming up next!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


When I got to the beginning of the very long line of Sandhill Cranes traversing the landscape.  The lead crane had stopped.  You may note in the previous procession of cranes that the Canada Geese tended to stop what they were doing and watch the cranes with focus.

Ethologically speaking I'm not sure what the behavior means. What is the relationship between these two species?
A rear crane takes to his wings.
Then two...
Then another.
Three cranes in flight.  Note that another pair of geese has come into position on the far side of the cranes.

The flying cranes are going to land in the water.  It is some sort of positioning switch.

The lead crane is now on the far side of the water.  The other three who flew forward are now taking the lead across the water.

Remember at the very beginning of the day a male Sandhill had flown over the fence and waited for the female to do the same.  Then she took the lead across the grassy area and he followed.  That is normally how the forage in pairs.  The female leads and the male brings up the rear, I posit,  to guard her while she is intent on foraging.

I'll now posit that when something that might be dangerous or even strange occurs in the landscape that a male takes the lead. 
See the male on the far right has stopped and is staring intently right. 
See?  The two cranes that follow are smaller.  Females?  Yearlings?
If this flock consists of family groups, do the males all switch so that they are heading their family groups?
The group on the land appears to be waiting for something before they enter the water.  The geese have formed a line in the water watching  the cranes.
Everyone waits a few seconds.
And a few seconds more.
Still waiting.

Some progress on the right and the first left crane enters the water.
Is the fluffed up crane center a juvenile?
Conceivably.  Most of the other cranes appear to be hyper vigilant during this water crossing.  While everyone else is alert, center crane has lost focus.
   Note the absence of the red head patch and the nape of the neck is brown.  It is a juvenile.

Sandhill Cranes become sexually mature at two years.  Most do not mate until they are five years old but 75 percent of successfully raised young are raised by birds that are 8 years old or older. 

 One of the reasons hunting extirpated the Sandhill Crane nearly to extinction during the plumed hat era.  Too many of the older experienced cranes were killed so besides the death rate many of the younger cranes though sexually mature were not experienced enough to be successful parents.

Here are the lead cranes.  A possible family unit?

 As the last crane steps into the water, the goose on the right honks to the three geese on the left.  Note the last crane off that tussock appears to be a mature male as is the point crane at the front of the nine Sandhills. 
And another version of the upside-down-head move so popular with young Red-tailed Hawks. 

Amazing.  Sandhill Cranes do it too.
 The lead crane is still vigilant and a mid positioned crane checks behind.
 The last crane stands mid water  and watches those before him.  The geese are still lined up watching the cranes.
 The lead crane starts forward.
 They all begin to disappear into the long grass.
And when I move forward the cranes have disappeared.  I keep moving forward along the road....private land.
And I keep going.
What is that?  I'm using a long lens and far far across the bog is...a bird I don't recognize other than it appears to be some kind of hawk.
Long tail, white rump patch.  That's a field mark in Peterson's for...what?  A Harrier Hawk!
She's so far away and moving at a speed that I have to use autofocus but there is tall grass that keeps grabbing the focus.  DRAT!
Wings in dihedral and hunting looking straight down close the ground.  Either a female or a juvenile?
                                      Buoyant flight.

              Still at long distance but at least coming this way...
                                       And there she is!

                      TO BE CONTINUED!