Welcome, summer!

Oops, I’ve been busy and I have not been updating here. I’ve been working with kids in the woods, at the pond and at the salt marsh. I’ve been drawing and painting, catching frogs and writing.

One of the coolest things I did over the last few weeks was attend a bird banding demonstration at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

The table was all set up with the necessary tools for weighing, measuring and recording.

038The next step was to check the mist nets which had been set up in areas migratory birds fly through but which also had some protection.

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The little bag holds other bags which can gently hold the birds found and carefully removed from the nets.

Look what we found! A great crested flycatcher! These guys are feisty and vocal in the wild and they are when captured as well.

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Feathers are examined to determine condition and age of the bird.059By blowing on the belly of the bird the bander can tell if the bird has a bare brood patch, meaning it is sitting on eggs. In this species both male and female can have brood patches so sex was not determined.

062The bird is then weighed. It looks sort of tough but really, the bird is quieted by the darkness and the fact that it can’t move. It is only in the tube for a matter of seconds.

071 072After all that the band is affixed to the leg and all info is recorded.

061A moment is taken to admire and thank the bird for its cooperation

074and then it is released. When releasing the birds, they are held close to the ground which helps them orient themselves.

077Let’s just say the birds do not hang around after being released. This one actually called and chatted back and forth with what we assumed was a mate almost immediately. All of this takes place in a matter of minutes, by the way. The bird banders are very kind, calm and aware of the bird’s dignity and stress level. I have seen birds banded before but it was a pretty cool way to spend a morning.

 

Searching for spring on the upper Cape

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It was a beautiful day yesterday so I packed up the camera, sketchbook, pen and watercolors and headed out to see what signs of spring I could find. I chose Bourne, mostly because I wanted to look for the king eider that has been seen hanging out with the common eiders in the canal and I wanted to see it if I could.

See if you can spot the king eider in this flock…

002I didn’t spot him either though I looked at each and every bird more than once through binoculars.

We headed over to Four Ponds Conservation Area which is one of my favorite places. We found lots of signs of spring there.

009By the little stream we found skunk cabbage and watercress. We also spotted a mourning cloak butterfly. I got out my sketchbook and we did the rest of the walk in slow motion as I stopped to sketch along the way.

001Although I love to take photos and take a lot of them, the sketching slows me down and allows me to really look at the details.

We saw our first painted turtles of the year, and a lot of them.

018and the first buds of mayflower or trailing arbutus

026I spied some whimsical things like these

002and then, at the end of our day we stopped by Peterson’s Farm to see the new baby lambs just because…

032I’ll be posting more of my favorite first signs of spring over the next days and weeks. What are some of yours?