Monday, September 29, 2008

Northern Mockingbird - Bird Photography Weekly #5

This week for bird photography weekly I have selected to show one of my picks of a Northern Mockingbird.

N-Mockingbird Photo by Alan Pulley (2008)

I took this photograph while trying to sneak a peak at its nest earlier this summer. This mockingbird mother was not happy about me poking around her nest to say the least! Mockingbirds are very territorial. They will often dive and attack intruders that come too close to its territory. But what they are best known for is their complex songs that include imitations of many other birds. Each song is repeated three times or so before changing to the next song. Males are most vocal in the Spring, and both sexes sing in the Fall. Mockingbirds can also be heard singing at night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Sunsets - Skywatch Friday - 9/26/08

Now that the days are getting cooler, the air seems so much more crisp and clear. Sunsets this time of year are spectacular. Here are a few sunset photos that I recently took.

Remember that you don't have to travel far to enjoy the beauty of nature. Its all around us if we just take the time to look for it. These were all taken from my backyard.






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Monday, September 22, 2008

Silhouette Bird Guide

Guide Identifying birds from a distance can be very tough, especially birds that are soaring very high above. That's why I was pleased to find this new online guide, published by the Northeast Hawk Watch (NEHW), a chapter of Hawk Migration Association of North America HMANA. Unlike your typical bird guide, this guide shows soaring silhouettes and key field marks for the adults of all of the migratory hawks regularly seen in the northeastern United States. Although it still may be tough to id the exact species of the bird with this guide, it will definitely help you in identifying between the falcons, accipiters and the buteos type hawks.

The two page guide can be downloaded or printed for FREE for personal non-commercial use from the link below:

I would like to thank Rambling Woods ~ The Road Less Traveled blog for making this find.


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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Transferring Slides to Digital - Skywatch Friday - 9/19/08

sunset3 sunset1

Well, I had to go into the archives for this week’s Skywatch post. I took these sunset pictures about 15 years ago in Newport News, Virginia, along the edge of the James River. In case your wondering, I do have a good reason for showing these old pics.

Just recently, I began digitizing my old 35mm slides. I have several hundred slides that have been stored in a shoe box for years. Most of these slides were taken with my old Nikon SLR 35mm film camera (a Cadillac in its time). Just recently I started going through them to organize and scan to my PC hard drive - printing out a few along the way. That's when I came across these slides and thought they would make a nice addition to Skywatch Friday.

I used my Epson Perfection, model 4180 to scan the slides. In addition to the bottom glass, it has a built-in light adapter in its lid for scanning slides or negatives (I believe all the Epson Perfection models have this capability). Keep in mind that you lose a bit of quality in the conversion process; but overall I'm pleased with the results.sunset2

Have a great weekend!

Visit the Skywatch homepage.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birdhouse Maintenance - Ask George

birdhouse I was browsing through some of my old Bird & Blooms magazines recently when I came across an interesting Q&A section in one of the magazines. In this section of the magazine readers send in their birding and gardening questions in hopes of having them answered. George Harrison is the birding expert of this column (no, not the George Harrison of the Beatles). George is an award-winning author. He has written several books and produced several specials about backyard birds for PBS television, as well as written for six different nature magazines.

A reader in this particular issue asked a question that I often hear asked, especially this time of year. The question was when is the best time to clean out and do maintenance on bird houses - in early spring or fall?

George's answer:

If you plan to leave the house up all winter, then its best to wait until spring to clean them. Then you can remove insects and old nesting materials from both birds and mice. Mice tend to use birdhouses in winter and supplement the birds' nesting materials with their own. Birds also welcome the old nesting materials as they may roost in the houses on cold winter nights.

Go here to read more birding answers by George Harrison.

George's website:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skywatch Friday - 9/12/08

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This Skywatch post is in memory of all those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001.

9-11  Photo by Alan Pulley, 2008

Have a good weekend everybody!

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Birdpost - New Site for Birdwatchers

I was reading one of my tech blogs (aka “geek” blogs) and came across something very interesting from the folks over at TechCrunch. They are currently holding their annual conference called TechCrunch50 and are updating their blog at a very fast pace. As I began sifting thru the various posts I came across something that I thought worthy of sharing. I haven’t dug to deep into this yet, but at first glance it looks like a new (still in beta) social networking site for bird watchers - called Birdpost. Forgive me if this is old news for some of you, but it’s the first that I have seen or heard of it.
TechCrunch50 gave it a very favorable review. Here’s just a bit of what they had to say:

“…Like Wikipedia, Birdpost intends to unleash knowledge traditionally locked up in the heads of a small group of experts. While in the case of bird watching the group is highly focused, the founders insist that 45 million Americans would actually be interested in their knowledge.
Birdpost provides knowledge about birds and, in particular, where they’ve been spotted, in three main ways. First, an interactive map based on Google Maps shows pins where birds have been spotted by the site’s members. When you click on a pin, it shows a picture of the bird and other information. Secondly, members can compile lists of the birds they wish to spot, and when someone spots any one of those birds, a notification will get sent out. And finally, members can search for birds by name, characteristics, and regions.”

Read the complete review here.

Birdpost link:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - 9/10/08

You never know what type of birds you will see when birding on, or near farmland...


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Monday, September 8, 2008

Signs of The Times & Bird Photography Weekly

  Ahh, the early signs of fall - who can fail to notice? Maybe I notice a little sooner than most because it’s my favorite time of year. It's when the nights get cooler, the Canada geese begin gathering on our nearby lake...


...and large flocks of blackbirds begin to roost and feed together.


I've been especially noticing the blackbirds as they fly over in the late afternoons. These flocks are sometimes comprised of a single species, but more often consist of several species mix together; consisting mostly of red-winged blackbirds, with a mix of grackles and sometimes European starlings. Like many blackbirds — grackles and cowbirds included — the red-wing has a strong flocking instinct in the non-breeding season. Winter concentrations of red-wings can number in the several thousands.

As more birds begin their passage through our area this time of year, others who called our area home this spring and summer leave. Most notable of these to me are the purple martins. Below was once a common site in my backyard up until a month ago:IMG_1651a

These martins are now well on there way to their winter home in South America.

At least I still have my bluebirds. Eastern bluebirds here in my area (SE Virginia) are present year around. In many northern states where their breeding range extends, they will migrate south for the winter months.

It's hard to believe that this was the scene in one of my nest boxes less than a month ago:


These young bluebirds have since successfully fledged their nest box. I see them occasionally gathered at the nearby birdbath.

This post has been linked to Bird Photography Weekly #2 at the Birdfreak blog.  It's a new idea to help promote the beauty of birds. Check it out and post your favorite bird photos there!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

DIY Wheelbarrow Caddy

The wheelbarrow is one of a gardener’s most useful tools - at least for me it is. Here's a handy tip I ran across that shows you how to add extra storage to your wheelbarrow. This is a neat add-on that can be used for carrying those small hand type garden tools that you always have to make that second trip back to the shed to get. The only items needed are a couple bungee cords and one of those plant trays or flats that you get from the garden center.

Here is the "how-to" video:

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Skywatch Friday - 9/5/08

This was the view from my backyard last weekend after a afternoon thunderstorm came through the area.


As the evening wore on the sky became more dramatic!




Earlier in the evening after the storm passed, this is what I witnessed from my front yard.


I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:13 (New International Version)

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

DIY Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

  Here's a neat idea I found over at Birding / Wild Birds ( blog on how to make your own squirrel proof platform bird feeder using a piece of stovepipe. It looks like a very simple, but effective design. Although, the feeder will need to be placed in an open area of your yard so that the squirrels cant leap from nearby trees or any other structure - I would say at least least 10 feet. Here is a photo of the design (I hope they don't mind me referencing it...) --


If you’re looking for something a little more fancier, you can use this design as a starting point to create something bigger and better to your liking.

Here is a list of material and directions to complete this project: 


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