Monday, August 31, 2009

Laughing Gull at Monument Beach

I was excited to see a laughing gull for the first time on Cape Cod. When my friend Kristin got married on the Jersey Shore last year I saw plenty of them, but for some reason never in Massachusetts.

I was waiting for my mom to meet me at the beach when I heard it- it really sounds like it's laughing. It was definitely not a regular herring gull, which made me take notice. I caught her before she left the house and asked her to bring my camera. For most birders, a laughing gull is not too exciting, but for me it was.
He was a little itchy:
Looking for food- of course:

Juvenile American Robin

Here are some pictures I took of juvenile robins on my back lawn after it rained.

I really like how different they look, with the spotting on their breasts.

Wood Duck Boxes at Carver Pond

Today is the last day of August and even if it kills me I'm going to catch up on my August birding! I started commuting into the city using the Commuter Rail 4 weeks ago and I haven't yet figured out how blogging is going to fit into all of this. But I'll at least catch up on my pictures from August. That's a start!

The first weekend in August we went to Carver Pond, right here in Bridgewater. Steve had driven by it a bunch and wanted to check it out, and it's a really nice spot. Most of the other people we saw that day were fishing, including a father and his young sons- they had to be around 4 or 5 and were so cute.

I didn't see many birds, but wanted to share these pictures of Wood Duck boxes. I'm always interested in seeing where they're mounted and of course I'm curious to learn of their success rate. Incidentally, we were hiking in New Hampshire yesterday (Mountain Lake trail in Intervale, NH) and saw one that had been knocked down in a storm I'm presuming, and was in a big pile of trees and debris.

While we're in off-peak birding season, I like to hone my other nature identification skills. I'm very interested in learning the names of wildflowers so let's get started.

I'm referencing an old book from 1961 that I picked up at a flea market. It's called Wildflowers of North America in Full Color, by Robert S. Lemmon and Charles C. Johnson, published by Hanover House.

Wouldn't you know, the first picture is actually an easy ID- I started at the back of the book (that's how I read magazines and similar publications- for some reason I always start at the back) and the first flower I need to ID is right there- the Cardinal Flower:

According to my book the Cardinal Flower blooms late in the season (August into September) and likes shaded streams and moist thickets.

Here are some pictures of different stages of Groundnut Flowers:

This one is a mystery to me, although I feel like I saw it in the Audubon Field Guide (*UPDATE: this is Buttonbush- thanks Pete for the tip):

Pearl Crescent?:
Mute Swan:

Painted Turtles: