Archive for the 'Beyond Bounds' Category

May 03 2015

Graceful Tern

Caspian tern diving, Scranton Flats on the Cuyahoga River

A Caspian tern dives gracefully into the Cuyahoga River at Scranton Flats (photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)



(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

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Apr 11 2015

Buzz Off!

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Eastern meandowlark, 8 April 2015 (photo by Shawn Collins)

Just back from migration, this eastern meadowlark looks like he’s annoyed at the world.

Shawn Collins captured his expressive moment at Pymatuning State Park on April 8.


(photo by Shawn Collins)

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Mar 22 2015

Birds As Musical Notes

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Birds on wire (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Bird photography can be disappointing.  It’s difficult to get depth without good lighting, but every once in a while two dimensions are stunning and an eye for cropping is all you need.

This photo of brown-headed and/or bronzed cowbirds in Silao, Mexico looks like musical notes.  Can you play this tune?


Click here to see the original uncropped photo, and here to see this exceptional one in larger format on Wikimedia Commons.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the links to see the originals)

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Mar 16 2015

This Many!

Snow Geese take off from Middle Creek (photo by Kim Steininger)

How many snow geese are in this picture?  Imagine if it was your job to count them!

Snow goose migration got off to a slow start this spring because the lakes remained frozen in Pennsylvania.  In warm winters they start to arrive at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on the Lebanon-Lancaster County border in late February.  But that was out of the question this year.  The narrow north end of Chesapeake Bay was frozen in mid-February and there were 10-12 inches of ice on Middle Creek lake.  The geese stayed south.

The situation changed rapidly, though.  A week ago there were 100 snow geese at Middle Creek.  On Thursday March 12 there were suddenly 20,000.  On Friday there were 75,000 with more arriving throughout the day.  The count this morning is anyone’s guess.

Actually, the number of snow geese at Middle Creek is Jim Binder’s very educated estimate.  Jim has been the manager of Middle Creek WMA since 1997 and has decades of experience counting these birds.

The trick to counting is that snow geese always rest on the lake’s open water at night.  Jim comes out before dawn and counts them at first light before they leave for the day.  He knows the lake well and the numbers it can hold.  He’s so good at counting that he can tell the number by their sound.  The record is 180,000!

But Jim has to work fast. The flock wakes up and stretches its wings. Small groups leave in a leisurely fashion to feed in nearby fields but if something scares them — an airplane, a helicopter, or a bald eagle — the entire flock goes airborne at once with a roar.

When I want to see this spectacle I read Jim Binder’s snow goose count and arrive at Willow Point before dawn.  Kim Steininger took this photo on a day when there were 80,000 to 100,000 snow geese at Middle Creek.

How many snow geese do I hope for?  This many!


Note: Because the ice melted so late this year, snow goose migration is likely to be intense and over quickly.  The geese are running out of time to get home.

(photo by Kim Steininger)

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Mar 15 2015

Just Thirsty

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Swallow drinking from a swimming pool, Wikimedia Picture of the Year 3rd Place 2013 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Angry?  Dangerous?

No, just thirsty.

Swallows drink by dipping their beaks in the water as they skim above it.

With perfect timing and a lot of patience, the photographer (sanchezn) captured this bird approaching head on.  His photo won Third Place as Picture of the Year on Wikimedia Commons.

Click on the image to see the original.  It is awesome in larger format!


(photo of a barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, by sanchezn from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Feb 13 2015


Published by under Beyond Bounds


Great cormorants at Zürichorn, Seefeld (Zürich), Switzerland.


Though this resembles a watercolor it is actually a photo by “Roland zh” on Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original.

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Jan 26 2015

First Bird On The Agenda

Banaquits arguing in Brazil (photo from Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

Banaquits arguing in Brazil (photo from Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

The first bird on my St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands agenda is the bananaquit. For me, it’s a Life Bird so I’m excited to see one.  I fear it will soon become “ho hum,” though, because it’s so common on the island.

The bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) is a small, non-migratory bird — only the size of a black and white warbler — but it moves much faster than the warbler.  Can you say “hyper-active?”

Its beak is curved because it eats nectar for a living just like other tropical nectar-eaters: hummingbirds, sunbirds and honeycreepers.

Ornithologists have tentatively placed the bananaquit in the Tanager family but its family relations are often disputed.   Scientists argue about where to place this bird; these two argue about where to place themselves.

They were photographed at Campo Limpo Paulista, Brazil by Leon Bojarczuk.


(photo by Leon Bojarczuk via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.  Click on the image to see the original)

4 responses so far

Jan 10 2015

Take A Look Outdoors

Published by under Beyond Bounds,Trees

Cone of a Japanese larch (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Feeling cooped up by winter weather?  Tired of staring at four walls?

Put on your hat and coat and take a walk outside.  Even though it’s cold, nature has beauty on display.

Take a look outdoors. … Then you can reward yourself with hot chocolate.


(photo of a Japanese larch cone at John J. Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania. Click on the image to see this Featured Picture on Wikimedia Commons.)

6 responses so far

Jan 05 2015

Best of the Birds: 2014

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Each year Steve Gosser compiles his favorite bird photos in a chronological video.  Here are his favorites from 2014.

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll recognize some of these birds as my favorites, too.  (Peregrine fans, check time-codes 1:57 and 2:22.  Bald eagle fans you’ll find even more to love.)

Thanks to Steve for sharing his gorgeous photos.  They’ll make you want to go out birding right now!


(photos and video by Steve Gosser. Click here to visit his photo site.)

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Dec 26 2014

The Nutcracker

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Clark's nutcracker (photo by Steven Pavlov via Wikimedia Commons, Cretive Commons license)

At this time of year “The Nutcracker” brings to mind Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, a Christmastime tradition in the U.S.

But in my bird-oriented brain I thought of this bird when I saw “Nutcracker” on a marquee.

Clark’s nutcracker is a member of the Corvid (crow) family that lives in the Rockies and mountainous West. He’s famous for caching nuts for the winter and remembering where all of them are stashed. He was named for William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

I have never seen a Clark’s nutcracker.

Maybe I will in 2015…


(photo by Stephen Pavlov from Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.  Click on the image to see the original)

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