Friday, August 31

Friday Bird Blogging: The Salisbury Egret Roost

Photo: Glossy Ibis in Flight
In Salisbury, MA, on Route 1 just South of 110 there is an amazing sight going on this month. Each night, a large variety of wading birds has been coming in to roost communally. From about 5-7pm you can start with a small number of birds and watch as they fly in, bringing the numbers up to several hundred. In one night, I was able to find:On another night, I also spotted a variety of small shorebirds, including least sandpipers and spotted sandpipers. This is a really great show. The roost is positioned so you can watch it at sunset, with the sun setting behind you, providing a really nice light for photography as well as general viewing. Some of the birds are close, but most are further out so it's good to bring binoculars or a scope.

If you're into birding at all, it also provides for great opportunity to learn the differences between immature little blue herons and snowy egrets. They're both about half the size of a great egret and predominantly white birds, but there are some key differences that can be put in clear contrast here, as the snowys tend to hang out at the same spots as the little blues.

This won't be here much longer; these birds will all be migrating soon so get down there when you can. This sort of roosting site is commonly visible in some areas, but in New England it's rare to see a roost site with so many different kinds of birds making themselves so very and obviously visible for an extended period. And be sure not to just look at the roost, but to check the skies as they come in because watching them land is a great part of the show. Most birds come in from the left side, but a few will travel from the South as well.
Related: Salisbury Egret Roost photo gallery.

Friday, August 24

Friday Bird Blogging: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Revisited

There's been some great hummingbird activity at the feeders as of late, and I just want to take a few minutes to highlight some of it:

All three pictures will bring you to larger versions when you click on them.

Friday, August 17

Friday Bird Blogging: Cedar Waxwings

I've been taking pictures of Cedar Waxwings for quite some time now, but this is the first time I actually captured the reason they've got their name: those red wingtips which look like they're made from wax are where their names come from. They are fairly plentiful in Vermont and feed almost entirely on fruit (though once, for some inexplicable reason, one showed up at our feeder to eat on sunflower seed).

Here's one of Cornell's cool Cedar Waxwing facts:
Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada beginning in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange.
Of course, now that I know this, I'll have to go looking for an orange-tailed one just to get the variety.

Thursday, August 9

Friday Bird Blogging: Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

I have to admit: I had no idea what this was when I took the picture. From a distance, I knew it didn't look like our usual (Hairy and Downy) woodpeckers but even though it had a shape like the sapsucker, its markings were all off. It turns out this is a juvenile. We had several in our yard that day and I completely missed them. I'm particularly happy to have gotten this shot because I'd only had one sapsucker picture in the past and it wasn't very good.

I've made a lot of changes to the photo site as of late, mostly in terms of layout. Please, if you have a moment, check it out. Not only is it all reorganized (I moved a lot of the text and info below the fold to focus more on the pictures themselves), I've set up a function where end users can rate the pictures so viewers can see how much other viewers like what's up there. I will eventually set it up so that the pictures can be ordered by rating (highest to lowest) when viewing, so everyone gets to see the highest rated pictures first, so having good data as to who likes what is really helpful for this.

Julie Waters e-notes: Thu, August 9, 2007

For those of you who don't know-- I recently had a theft of a lot of camera equipment. Details on that are at:

I'm not writing to talk about that, but that does provide some context for what I am talking about. I've finally replaced everything I had that got stolen that I wanted to replace -- I had a couple items that I didn't think were as useful as I thought they'd be when I purchased them, but most of what I had before I replaced. The hardest thing was a particular brand and model of teleconverter which, it turns out, took me some time to track down but I eventually found one and it only cost half what I originally paid for the one that got stolen, so that works out well.

I made some better choices this time; I had a low-end Pentax lens that I had used for wide-angle work that was never that great a lens, so I replaced it with a higher-end Sigma that's REALLY nice. It's how I got this picture:

It turns out this was all a lot more expensive than I'd thought. The replacements cost me over a grand, and insurance is only covering a portion of that. The replacement window on the car was another $200 over that. So it's been a bit of a mess. And now I'm paranoid about leaving anything in my car, so there's that, too, where I lug my camera equipment around with me wherever I go now. I'll get over that eventually but now I feel sort of stupid doing it even though I know I need to.

So... photography's good again if not a little stressful from time to time. And on to music...

Music's interesting right now. My mind's really spinning with new ideas and I'm getting all sorts of thoughts about how to work them all out. I'm seriously considering a new CD, focused primarily on trio work between baritone, banjo and six-string, working on my usual mixtures of stuff. I'm getting a new pickup for my baritone so I can do more performing with it and I'm trying to find a compatible pickup for the six-string banjo as well.

In the meantime, I don't have a lot of other news. I'm not actively seeking gigs right now, but if I find them, I'll be glad to do them. I'm playing from time to time. My Tuesdays are going to be free again after next week, which is nice, because it means I'll be able to start doing the song circles in Putney and those with Kindred Folk again. I've missed those events and I'm glad to have the time opening up.

In the meantime, we're taking a week off at the end of the month to mellow out, hanging out at a house on Cape Ann, doing bird photography and whale watches, so you'll see a lot more updates on the photography part of my site than on the music. In the meantime, once I get my baritone guitar back, I'll be updating podcasts and other music stuff with solo baritone work as well.

Hope everyone is well.
More info:

Julie's photography:
Upcoming events for Julie Waters
Sunday, August 12th 2nd Sundays Song Circle (tentative) at RAMP Gallery; Bellows Falls, VT

Sunday, September 9th 2nd Sundays Song Circle (tentative) at RAMP Gallery; Bellows Falls, VT

Sunday, October 14th 2nd Sundays Song Circle (tentative) at RAMP Gallery; Bellows Falls, VT

Friday, August 3

Friday Bird Blogging: The Spotted Sandpiper

The appearance of the spotted sandpiper varies dramatically. The picture shown is in non-breeding plumage, but you can see the strong breeding plumage in this shot.

These are extremely common birds, nesting throughout the Northern United States, and can often be noticed from a distance by their repeated bobbing motion. They walk a few steps, bob up and down, look for food, and then do it again. No one seems to know why they do this, but it certainly helps birders in the field know whether they've got a spottie.