Saturday, March 31, 2012

Go Cards!

Showing a little favoritism here.  All I can say is Go Cards!

Northern Cardinal

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bald Eagles, Nests and Nest Cams

I have wanted to do a blog post about Eagles for some time now, and I really want to share with everyone about the Decorah, Iowa Eagle nest cam. I have been watching it for a few weeks. They have 3 eggs and I just realized this morning that the first one is hatching! When the mother Eagle stood up you could see the little guy almost out of his shell! It was so cool! The site also has a lot of information about Eagles, as well as a link to a nice tutorial about how to tell the difference between the male and female. That way you can know which one is sitting on the eggs! It is very helpful! Here is a link to the tutorial, and here is a link to the webcam! I’m assuming the other two eggs will hatch pretty soon, so go check it out ASAP!

In regards to the Shippingport Island Bald Eagle nest, I read on the BirdKY listserve yesterday, that they were observed defending the nest against a third adult Bald Eagle. It has been reported by several sources that a third Eagle has been frequenting the area. I’m so proud of our Papa Eagle; it appears that he has finally matured. He stays nearby, relieves Mama Eagle from nest sitting, and defends the nest! I have not heard anything about babies being seen yet; we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle flying over Shippingport Island

I also read on the BirdKY listserve yesterday, that the female Osprey has arrived, and they had even been observed mating. I went down there this morning and got to see both Ospreys. While I was there, they defended their nest twice against a Bald Eagle! I’m not sure if it is one of the nesting Bald Eagles or that third Bald Eagle, but every time it got close to the Ospreys nest, they would fly around yelling at it and even dove at it a few times! Pretty exciting stuff!

Osprey vs Bald Eagle
Osprey vs Eagle

Bald Eagle & Osprey
Bald Eagle and Osprey

Osprey at Shippingport Island

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nature Journals and Field Notes

Recently, I started reading a book called Field Notes on Science and Nature. It consists of a series of essays from several scientists and prominent naturalists describing how they record what they see in the natural world. This book has been a re-inspiration for taking field notes.

I have written in a journal since I was about 10 years old, yet the demands of life have often left this endeavor pretty low on my priority list. My earliest attempts at journaling were inspired by the journals of Lewis and Clark and the diaries kept by movie characters from Dances with Wolves and various Indiana Jones movies. The character's journals were always filled with beautiful illustrations and sketches, and my first journals were an attempt to chronicle my own adventures in a similar way.

As time has passed, journaling has become more of a learning tool. There aren't too many verbose descriptions left in my field notes, and I've completely given up being any kind of sketch artist, but I've found quick notes and sketches to be indispensable for helping to notice things that might otherwise be ignored. I may not ever want to know when the spring beauties started to bloom in 2012, but writing it down encourages me to think about the first blooms of previous years and relate the event to this year's weather.

Keeping notes on visits afield can also help you decide when to go back to that nature preserve to catch flowers in bloom or to see how many years that nest is used by the pair of red-tailed hawks.

Spring is a great time to chronicle the awakening of the land. Here are links to a couple more great nature journaling books and a naturalist training program that teaches you how to use journaling as a powerful learning tool:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cedar Grove Commercial Park

I went on a Beckham Bird Club field trip this week to Cedar Grove Commercial Park in Shepherdsville, KY. It was led by our own Ryan Ankeny!

It was a good trip, and we saw several different species of birds. Although, Ryan said that when he usually leads this field trip during the month of march, it is much cooler and they usually see more of the wintering birds. I suppose a lot of them may have left a little early to head back north.

I got to see my very first Savannah Sparrows!

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

There were lots of Killdeer running around. I just happened to catch this one in flight.


A lot of trees are in bloom! I don't know what type this one is, but I thought it was so pretty!

Purple flowered tree

This Brown Thrasher is the first one I have seen this season. He just popped in long enough for me to capture a sketchy picture, but I had to include it! I love their eyes!

Brown Thrasher trying to hide
Brown Thrasher

Song Sparrows aplenty, they are always fun to see and hear!

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

This next photo of a Field Sparrow is my favorite! I think they are so cute with their little pink beaks!

Field Sparrow
Field Sparrow

These were the only birds I got decent pictures of, but we also saw, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebirds and White-Crowned Sparrows, just to name a few. All in all a good birding trip!

I also wanted to mention that our (Louisville's) male Osprey arrived to the nest on Shippingport Island around last Saturday. It seemed like he took a few days to recuperate from his long trip from South America, but I stopped by this morning and saw him carrying a few sticks to the nest. The female Osprey should be arriving any time. Last year she arrived approximately two weeks after the male.


I would also like to give you an update on the Lake Barkley Osprey Cam sponsered by KEEP. Since my blog entry last week, the male Osprey arrived and they have been busy tidying up the nest, and were even observed mating. Once they lay an egg, the cam will be real time video, with sound! I'm really looking forward to watching them throughout the season. It will give me a glimpse of what may be happpening in our Osprey nest!

Last but not least, I want to update everyone on the Bald Eagle nest on Shippingport Island. Several times that I have been there to check on them, I have observed the mate nearby, and watched them exchange places at the nest. This is very good news, since the last two years, their attempts at nesting were unsuccessful, mainly because Papa Eagle wasn't around enough, and Mama Eagle had to leave the nest to search for food! I have heard that sometimes it takes years for Eagles to "get the hang" of nesting. Everyone keep your fingers crossed, but we just might get to have a family this year! I'll keep you updated!

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patricks Day!!

May the luck of the Irish be with you!!

4 leaf clover

4 leaf clover

There are 2 4-leaf clovers in this patch... can you find them?
Clover patch... where are the 4 leaf clovers?

(to see where they are, come over to my Facebook page)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Osprey Nest Cam

I wanted to let everyone in on a wonderful webcam for Ospreys located right here in Kentucky at Lake Barkley. It was installed and is operated by KEEP (Kentucky Environmental Education Projects). I have been in contact with the Founder/Director of KEEP, Ed Ray, and have included a letter from him to teachers across the nation. Watching a nest cam can be a rich educational experience for a classroom!

The nest cam is up and operating at this time, and a female Osprey was observed at the nest a few days ago. I am including a picture of her below. Be sure and read through Mr. Rays letter, even if you are not a teacher, as it has a lot of great information about Ospreys & the nest cam. If you are a teacher or know a teacher, please let them know about the site! Here is a link to the Nest cam!

Female Osprey (Image courtsey of KEEP)

Letter from Ed Ray, KEEP Founder/Director:

Kentucky Environmental Education Projects (KEEP), Inc., a Kentucky non-profit organization, is happy to announce that our Lake Barkley Osprey Cam Project is underway for the 2012 nesting season. Please visit to see current live nest images.

An "osprey's view" of near-by Lake Barkley from the osprey nest is available at the KEEP web site home page.The five ft. nest is located near Kuttawa, KY forty feet above the ground on private property on KEEP's tallest osprey nesting platform. KEEP volunteers are presently building four new all steel platforms for the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). KEEP has donated approximately forty osprey nesting platforms to KDFWR and the USCG to help with osprey population recovery in KY while enhancing navigation light operations on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Live nest images are available during daylight by selecting "nest cam" under "quick links" on the left side of the home page (under "donate"). Please refresh your screen every 12-15 seconds for new nest images. Typically the first osprey to arrive at the nest is the male around March 10. Males have a white chest while the female wears a "necklace" of dark spots at her upper chest. When seen together, females are always noticeably larger, true with most birds of prey species. This year our female arrived before the male on Sunday March 11 at about 9 am. She stayed for about forty-five minutes and returned again in the afternoon. She seems to be settling into her nest. Please e-mail if you think you are the first person to see a male osprey on the nest and with any questions you may have about the nest and ospreys.

Tim Gardner, The International Osprey Foundation president, stated that KEEP provides the best Internet osprey live cam viewing site "in the world". KEEP volunteers are making efforts to make public and classroom viewing even better this season! Teachers are reporting to KEEP from around the world that they are using our site to help their students learn about wildlife, migration, biological cycles and more. Please share our web site and this message with everyone who may be interested.

KEEP hopes you enjoy viewing and learning about ospreys. We are anxious to see if our pair, displaced by a pair of great-horned owls last nesting season, return to our camera nest and successfully raise new young this season. Students and the public are excited to watch for the first egg, how many eggs are produced, hatching, how fast the chicks grow and finally learn how to fly. We plan to add live streaming video as soon as we hopefully see the first egg. For the first time live sound will be available with the streamed images. Still and saved video images are available any time at the KEEP web site in our web site gallery section.

Ospreys are great environmental quality indicators feeding almost entirely on fish caught at the end of a steep feet first dive into the water. We wish the ospreys success and hope your classes may join us to learn about an outstanding wildlife species and wildlife needs.

Ed Ray, KEEP Founder/Director

The KEEP website has a wealth of information about their organization & Ospreys, as well as links to other sites to assist you in learning more about Ospreys. On the site you can also view, photos and videos from previous successful nesting seasons! I definitely suggest a visit to the KEEP webpage!

We, here in Lousiville, Ky, are fortunate to have an Osprey nest! I have been observing it for two summers! Two years ago, they fledged three and last summer, I believe they fledged two! The nest is on top of a tower on Shippingport Island, just down from Falls of the Ohio State Park! The Falls of the Ohio, provides a great fishing opportunities for the Ospreys! You can best observe the nest from The Clark Cabin site on the Indiana side of the Ohio river. Click here for a map.

Another great viewing site is on Shippingport Island (Kentucky side). They have a parking area for fishermen, and this provides a wonderful viewing opportunity. This is also where the McAlpine Locks & Dam are located.

Most Ospreys will be arriving from their wintering grounds during the month of March. I have not seen our Osprey yet this season, and I believe last year he arrived around the middle of March, so I expect him any day now!

Louisville also has an active Bald Eagle nest on Shippingport Island (I will talk more about that in another blog post), so it should be an interesting summer, if both nests are successful!

As a side note, I want to mention that there is no way that we could get close to either of these nests. The area on Shippingport Island where they are located, is fenced off by the Corps of Engineers and the other side is the Ohio River. That is why I can mention more specifically about the areas where the nests are located.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

American Robin

The snow went as fast as it came on Monday.  It was nice to have a bit of winter while it lasted.  This American Robin was preening as the snow was melting off the thistle. 

American Robin

First a stretch...

American Robin

...then a scratch...

American Robin

...fluffing the feathers back into shape...

American Robin

...and finally good as new.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tornado and Hail Storm

Our thoughts go out to those whose homes and communities were destroyed by the tornadoes yesterday.

After the storms passed through my area, I went outside to asses the damage the hail did to my home... I couldn't help but turn my camera from my damaged house to what the storm left in it's wake. I feel so blessed and grateful that my house was still standing and my heart really goes out to those who lost so much yesterday.

Rainbow after storm

Nature is truly amazing at times... Donut shaped hail?

Donut shaped hail

The hail had melted before I got to photograph it, but it was as large, if not larger, than the golf ball before it melted.

And I noticed all the Purple Nettle in the yard and had to capture the beautiful purples of this "herb".... did you know it is good for you to eat it?

purple and white flower macro

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