Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yesterday we had full nests...today they're empty!

In yesterday’s post the nests were huge and filled with mama and papa herons, but in today’s they are small and empty, left over from last year’s breeding season. When Matty got home from school, we ran over to Pine Hills park, a small park with varied habitat and a nice bike/hike/skate trail. Matty brought his skates and hit the trail, while I slipped off to the brushy meadow to look for nests. Meadows are always so sweet this time of year. They are still dormant so are easy to traverse, but in just weeks (or even days) they will start to come alive. It's a perfect time to map out old nests and get ready for the coming season. Some day I’d like to be able to spot a nest and know who nested in it by shape, construction material and location. I’ve got a beginning now!














In addition to nests, I was hoping to find the first Tree Swallows of the year. Last year, they arrived on March 25, but no luck yet this year. Notes from my field journal on that day last year:
Matty and I dropped Rick off after visiting the rookery and went to Pine Hills to see if any birds were around. It was 4:30, so we weren't expecting much. I'm glad we went because we ended up seeing the first Tree Swallows of spring! I heard their calls before I saw them and told Matty to "look up.....swallows!" We found them right away and followed their aerial show over the hill and out of the woods to the open field. There we watched them close up. Two came down from their play and rested on a nest box. The box was old and a weathered red...the swallow's iridescent blue feathers looked amazing against it.

This year, the old red nesting boxes have been replaced 
with new ones. Hopefully the swallows approve! This new 
nesting box standing in the grasses of the dormant field 
caught my eye. Like the meadow, it seems to be 
waiting for spring residents to arrive.

I did, however, see a different spring arrival. Where the scrub starts to weave into trees, I heard a slight scuffle and suddenly the profile of a Brown Thrasher came into view! I love these birds. They are so big and their profile is so recognizable. I also love that rufous color and their funky, big eyes! I pulled out the field journal and did a very fast 2-minute sketch, which although not as colorful or accurate, is fun to do!


15 comments:

Mary said...

I love all those interesting nests. What an abundance! Our thrashers haven't arrived yet....at least I haven't seen any yet.

Kallen305 said...

Great sketch of the thrasher. Another bird I have yet to see. Awesome photos of the whimsical nests!

BTW: My word verification if finch. HA!

Jayne said...

I was smiling as I read this post Kelly because not only did I get by the rookery yesterday, but we also went to the Riverpark nearby and I got some wonderful photos of tree swallows AND... yes, a thrasher!!! :c) Stay tuned!

Laure Ferlita said...

Oh, what I would give to be able to sit in that meadow and sketch (and paint) those nests - they're gorgeous! What my fascination with nests is I don't know, but I definitely have one!

And your sketch if great! We have Thrashers around here almost all the time. I recognized him straight away and I just love all the energy that I see in the background! More! More sketches!

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Nice to see old traces of bird breeding around your area. The sketch on the trasher is fantastic... You are really talented!

Deb said...

Wonderful sketch of the thrasher Kelly! I love your nest photos. Thanks for stopping by my blog & your kind comment :-)

Warren Baker said...

Its a good feeling to see the spring birds coming back, eh Kelly. I like the look of that meadow, over in my part of the world, land owners would have it chopped down to the ground, all neat and tidy! They dont understand nature at all.

Nick S said...

You are a talented sketch artist !
That's definitely an impressive collection of nests :-)

Shellmo said...

I think each of the nests look like a work of art! And I love when you share your sketches with us - wonderful!!

Heather said...

That's quite a dizzying array of nests ya got there! My nest ID skills are nill. Someday I'll get there, though. Love the Thrasher sketch. I think I might have heard one last night, but I'm not entirely sure.

Kelly said...

Mary and Kallen...thanks!

Jayne...I can't wait to see your photos!

Laure...the meadow is great. I'm going to spend a lot of time there. As it comes to life it won't be quite as easy to get around in though! Thanks..the sketch was a bit too fast, but I caught the impression and that was good...

Chris and Deb...thank you!

Warren...thank goodness we have some very sloppy meadows around here. That's what the birds like!

Nick, Shelley and Heather...thank you! I hope my nest ID skills go up through the summer. I have my whole life to work on them, though, so no worries, right?

Roy said...

Hey Kelly, that's a very professional Field Sketch.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Roy! I was thinking it wasn't that great, but it got the point across, but I'm working on letting things go as is, so that makes me feel better about it!!

Roy said...

Kelly, the idea of a making a Field Sketch is that you can go home and make a positive ID of the bird you have seen. It can also be preparatory work for a painting. I think you have easily achieved both.

Kelly said...

...thanks Roy! :-D