Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eastern koala

I treed a woodchuck the other day along the Musconetcong River. I must have surprised him, or blocked access to his hole. Otherwise, I don't know why he would have gone up there. I could have just waited at the bottom of the trunk for him to get tired (if I really wanted a woodchuck)! After about 5 minutes of taking pictures of him, he made the bold move of descending the tree with me standing about 15 feet away. Right then, I could have run up an grabbed him (and gotten some nasty scratches, I think), but I squelched my animal instincts and let him disappear into the brush. By the way, I'm not the first to have this urge! In one of the stranger parts of Walden, Thoreau expresses the desire to grab and eat a woodchuck, raw.

A bold exit.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


A Carolina Chickadee, where it belongs - Ocean County, NJ. I heard a Carolina-type song in Warren County today - usually solid "Black-capped" country.

The birds are coming to me lately.

I haven't had a chance to do much birding around my property this summer, but now I keep seeing "good" species while poking around in the yard, going about my business. Post-breeding wanderers, I assume.

A blue-gray gnatcatcher feeding fledglings in the rose-of-sharon and on my garden fence (they move easily through 1-inch chicken wire holes, incidentally). A family of great-crested flycatchers making sallies out over the yard. A blue-winged warbler gleaning for caterpillars between an indifferent resident pair of bluebirds. 

But today was the best one. A Carolina chickadee singing from the old apple tree. That is, at least a chickadee was singing a Carolina-type song. Here in Warren County, NJ (Mansfield Twp), we are a good 30 miles or so from the boundary between northern Black-capped and southern Carolina chickadees. Complicating things is the fact that they hybridize, and that they can learn the "wrong" song near the hybridization zone. But, I grew up in Hunterdon County, 30 minutes to the south, and I've never heard a Carolina song there. So this was an interesting treat either way...even if it could be an evil omen of a changing climate?