Monday, February 26, 2007

American Bittern in my backyard

Short video clip of an American Bittern chowing down in my Maine backyard.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Patches, a young Piebald Whitetail buck.

Winter of 2003, a young piebald with spike antlers showed up in our field. It kept returning and seemed to like one particular area of our field, where it would stay and browse through the evening hours. He reminded me of a Shetland pony the way he was built, stocky and short. He was mostly brown with patches of white on both sides of this hind quarters as well as smaller patches at the top of his shoulders and here and there. Hence, his name of Patches.

The other young yearling bucks, just like human kids, would bully Patches and chase him off. I guess they realized he was the new kid in the block and different. Patches was a quiet little fellow and kept to his own small special spot and finally the others seemed to leave him be, but if he tried to venture to where others were browsing he would get pushed away, time and time again. Then one day, as I was watching, a yearling bully gave Patches a head butt and pursued him. Patches took off running down the field and suddenly he put on the brakes, stopped short, turned and faced his bully, as if to say “Hold on here, I have had enough of this, I am not running any more.” It must have surprised the bully yearling because it stopped, turned and ran the other way! This showed me bullies will be bullies as long as allowed to act that way, but when confronted they will run the other way! At least this was true in this case.

Patches stayed around throughout that winter. The following winter, 2004, Patches appeared again, his antlers had not developed much more than the previous year and were spikes again. His body however had really filled out and looked even more like a Shetland pony. The photo above was taken in 2004 with my scouting camera in the woods. He had become friends with the other locals now and all was well between them. Patches still had his special little corner of the field he would spend hours in browsing.

October 28, 2005, Patches showed up sporting a little 7pt rack. This was the last time I was to see him, he did not return again after the Maine hunting season. Whether he was hit by a vehicle, taken by a predator, animal or human, I will never know but it sure was a privilege to have observed this young piebald for this short time. Perhaps some day in the future I will have the honor of seeing another Piebald. They are not as rare as one would think. I hear others talking and showing photos of a special Piebald in their backyards, year after year.

Take care and enjoy your day :) Coppertop

Friday, February 23, 2007

American Bittern in my Maine backyard last summer

Can't help thinking of warmer weather so I pulled out this photo of an American Bittern that visited my Maine backyard last July. They are suppose to be an elusive bird! To my delight this one became fond of our yard. It came at least twice every day for a month. Early morning and early evening. On the rainy days (which were often) it would show up off and on all day long. It certainly got a belly full of worms and other insects in that time. In looking up on the web I was quite surprised to find out they have a unique sound and was hoping I would get to hear it, but that didn't come about.

It seems each year we have a different wildlife visitor, 2006 was this American Bittern and I am so honored to have been able to watch it for that month. Wonder who will pop in this year to surprise us? Well, actually we already had one different visitor - Jan 2007 - a Barred Owl perched on our deck post one evening, that was exciting to see such a magnificent owl so close.

You can find out more about the American Bittern and hear it's different song here:

Have a good night and be safe :) Coppertop

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Free falling Blue Jays!

I have been just playing around with my camera past couple days trying to get some action shots of the birds. I didn't realize that Blue Jays free fall until I saw these pictures. True that is only about a 5 foot drop to the ground but it is still down! I actually got quite a few pictures of them dropping without their wings extended, unfortunately most were not crisp shots!
Take care and enjoy :) Coppertop

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New design from White tail bucks photo

I have been wanting to do something with this photo of two White-tailed bucks in my backyard for awhile now but just wasn't satisfied with what I came up with until this morning when this idea came about. The two bucks were browsing in our field and would take turns lifting their heads to check for danger I presumed. I was lucky enough to be able to capture this photo when they both lifted their heads at the same time, at first it looked like they were kissing! I have witnessed the bucks standing almost back to back and checking for danger many times, especially when the weather is bad.

With the help of Photoshop Elements 5, I was able to cut out the two bucks from the photo and place into another background (from Elements program), then added words to create this design. I thought Friends was a fitting caption as that is what Friends do - watch out for each other. I just love this program, there are so many options available, each time I use the program I seem to learn something different.

You are welcome to check out my store here :
You will find many more gift ideas with this design like mugs, keepsake ornaments, magnets, coasters etc., as well as many other designs. Most all my creations are made from original wildlife photos taken in my backyard. Thank you for looking and have a wonderful evening :) Coppertop

Monday, February 19, 2007

Maine wild turkeys - back again!

As predicted the turkeys returned today - here they are headed back to the woods!
This one decided she wanted to check out the feeder at top of the pole! Up we go!

Ah! Made it - better pickings up here and better view!

Take care and be safe :) Coppertop

Results - Great Backyard Bird Count 2007

How many species did your state report during the Great Backyard Bird Count?

Maine came in at 95 species reported and a total of 27,636 birds.

You can check your state's results here:

While your there, take a few minutes and check out all the wonderful bird photos submitted to the photo gallery.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Maine skating wild turkeys

Wild turkeys! Here in Maine the wild turkey has made quite a come back. They can be seen most anywhere in the state any time of the year. They have quickly learned they can get a free hand out at their local bird feeder and will appear daily for their ration, much to the dismay of many humans. Where you have turkeys, you also have turkey droppings and that is one gooey mess!
We have seen some comical actions from the wild turkeys that frequent our backyard. A red-winged blackbird, one day did not appreciate the turkeys eating the bird seed and dive bombed them repeatedly. The turkeys quickly ducked their heads and sometimes would even jump into the air as if surprised or as if someone had given them a boot in the butt end! Have you ever seen a group of turkeys running across a field? They wobble and look so funny (cute). The Jakes (young males) like to gather in a circle and play what I call ring around the Rosie. As they are circling, suddenly one will jump straight into the air, then the next. I have seen them do this from one end of our field to the other, some 300 yards!
The Jakes at times will chase off the Tom, but he can be quite clever. We watched a Tom out maneuver the Jakes one day as he got enough ahead of them to fake his going across the street (hiding behind a building) and double back to the bird feeder while the unknowing Jakes hurried across the street in pursuit. It was a good half hour before we saw the Jakes again!
My photo today is of a couple Tom turkeys as they carefully made their way along the crusty and icy snow in our field yesterday. They appeared to be ice skating! Sometimes they would loose their balance, slipping on the crust and other times one foot would disappear into the snow. They made their way to the bird seed and feasted until my husband opened a door and they flew off to the woods.
Today we saw seven hen turkeys as they wandered around down in the wooded area of our lot. They stayed down there all day and as night approached they disappeared into the woods to find a tree to their liking to roost. We can be sure we will be seeing them in the morning light again.
Good night, enjoy and be safe :) Coppertop

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This Downy Woodpecker was here today. I usually have two of them, back and forth all day, every day, but guess they thought best to stay in their tree cavities during the snow and wind. Still windy today, but just beautiful out with the sun shinning and up to 36 degrees.

Two Tom turkeys were here this morning, looking for a hand out. They did not have an easy time walking across the field, it is crusted over and icy. They would take a couple steps and either sink down in the snow with one leg or go sliding with both. Not easy for the wildlife to get around now with the snow depth and crust. BUT Spring is only 31 days away! Then we can look forward to mud and more mud, but also the Robins, Hummingbirds, Flowers and much more!

Finally, the driveway is cleared of snow and a path to the bird feeders. I can just imagine what New York must of been going through with all their snow, we only had a little over a foot and it took us three days to get cleaned out! Mostly because our tractor with bucket was down as well as our back up snow blower! Tractor had three new hydraulic hoses put in yesterday and is back up and running, the snow blower well that will have to have more work done, it wants to spit, sputter and talk back loudly!

Enjoy your weekend, stay warm and safe :) Coppertop

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Second day of Maine Snow Storm

We woke this morning to a extremely windy day and drifting snow. All it all, it looks like we got at least one foot of snow from the storm that started yesterday morning. I started to clean off the deck but decided with the wind it was a hopeless case until the wind diminished. One good thing about the wind, it has cleaned our roof off of the snow and we won't have to do the dreaded, climb the ladder and shovel it off. We did get some freezing rain towards the end of the storm and it has left a crust which small critters can scurry across but will make it difficult for the other wildlife to get about. Ruger, our GSP, has had one of the days, it's out to do his business and right back into the house, no lingering today!

Today's photo is a group of Mourning Doves huddled on a limb trying to keep from being blown off. They were out off and on today as well as the Gold Finches and Blue Jays. The two Downy Woodpeckers, who are usually right here every day must of decided it was a good day to stay 'home' and out of the weather.

Looks like the winds are suppose to keep gusting through the night and tomorrow only around 10-15mph. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day to clean off the deck and finish cleaning out the driveway.

Reminder - tomorrow is the 16th - starting day of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Stay warm and safe :) Coppertop

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Maine snow storm - backyard birds

Looks like Maine is finally getting a snow storm! It started about 6:30am and has not let up, accumulation of 5-6" so far. Certainly nothing like what New York recently got hammered with but a snow storm never the less. The winter storm warning is in effect until 7AM EST, tomorrow.

The photo above is of a flock of Gold Finches in my backyard, I took just an half hour ago.

Don't overdo - stay warm and take care :) Coppertop

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bird Nest - wonder who's

We had a nice sunny morning in Maine, in the 20's. Ruger, my German Shorthaired Pointer and I went out for a walk through the woods. We saw many tracks from the wild turkeys and whitetail deer. With no place special in mind to go, we just followed some trails through the snow, sometimes sinking to my knees in the drifts, but for the most part only about five inches of snow. Ruger's nose was working overtime as he sniffed each and every track. Occasionally his head would disappear in a mound of snow and re-appear as he pushed the snow about with his long nose. I gather he was sniffing out voles, just yesterday he drove his nose down into the snow and came out with a vole squealing. He gave it a gentle toss in the air and the vole quickly disappeared under the snow again as I motioned for Ruger to follow me and we continued on our walk. We would be walking along and suddenly Ruger's attention would go above to the branches of a tree or below amongst some fallen logs. Some times I would catch a glimpse of a squirrel or a partridge as it flew but more than not would be clueless as to what Ruger was sniffing out. Too bad there was not a way, a dog could tell us just exactly they were sniffing on at that particular moment!

My find today was this bird's nest only about 2 feet off the ground and tightly woven to the branches of this shrub. I can't help but wonder what type of bird had so cleverly put this nest together? How many eggs were laid and how many successfully hatched?

Have a good evening :) Coppertop

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bad Hair Day!

Yesterday was a very windy day in Maine and this Blue Jay had a hard time staying on the post let alone keeping it's feathers in tact! I certainly have looked like this a few times!

I can not believe here it is almost the middle of February already! I am not seeing much for birds these days and wonder if there will be any around on the days of the Great Bird Count, the 14-19th. I have two faithful Downy Woodpeckers here every day for their helping of the suet. Oh! I found the neatest suet feeder at Wal-Mart the other day - it is a bright yellow-orange and resembles a sunflower with wire cage for the center to hold a cake of suet. So much prettier for taking pictures when the birds are on the suet! Then there are the group of Blue Jays, group of Mourning Doves and three Crows! The Gold Finches put in an appearance off and on, this morning there was a small flock of fifteen. We are in an open field and don't have many trees around the house so the chickadees don't come, might see one every now and then. When I take a walk down into the woods, they can be heard and seen most anywhere though. The wild turkeys have passed by every day since last Spring, a group of eleven, but since the snow fall they only appear every now and then. Today I only saw two young Toms just before they headed down to the woods to roost.

Snow Buntings - where are they? I do miss seeing them this time of year. It has been a couple years now since I last had them land in our field. They are quite active, the way they land, fly and land again. I was amazed the first time they came. I would just see a couple one day and then within the week there would be a flock of over fifty. Such a pretty little bird. They would land way out in the field and then wobble up to the feeder area to get what had fallen to the ground, could also see them picking at the grains of dried grass or flowers that stuck up above the snow. On days it was real windy you could look out and see all these little 'holes' in the snow and pretty soon out would pop a Snow Bunting! Birds sure are entertaining!

Enjoy and stay warm - Coppertop :)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Great Backyard Bird Count 2007

Great Backyard Bird Count - February 16th-19th 2007

Are you ready? It’s almost that time again. Time to get out those binoculars, a piece of paper, a pencil and place them near that easy chair that faces your backyard bird feeders. Perhaps you are one of those people that like to tally the birds all year long, and then you are prepared and raring to go. For the rest of you, take a few minutes out of your busy day, sit down with a hot cup of chocolate, tea or coffee, and just enjoy the birds in your backyard as you count and record them.

This is the 10th annual bird count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Birdwatchers from across the United States and Canada may participate. There is information at their website here on how to identify bird species, how to take your count and submit to the site. They even have a photo contest; where you may submit a bird photograph you took between the days of Feb. 14th and 21st 2007. Winners will receive a certificate award and their photos will be displayed on the Great Backyard Bird Count web site. The winner of the best overall photo will receive a pair of 8x42 Vortex Sidewinder binoculars, donated by GBBC sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Results from the tally help scientists track changes in bird populations and ecological changes that they might otherwise not notice. People who study the birds cannot possibly cover all the territory you find birds and cannot get the overall picture without the help of each and every one of us, bird watchers in our own backyards.

Be a part of this years Great Backyard Bird Count, help the scientists, it will put a smile on your face and a song in your heart as you watch these beautiful birds go about their daily life.
As a Maine backyard bird watcher I have seen many changes over just the past few years. Birds we use to see, no longer are here and the ones we use to see an abundance of, now are few. It is sad to see a decline in our wildlife.

Happy bird watching and counting! :) Coppertop

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ruger, My German Shorthaired Pointer

Ruger is our 6 year old German Shorthaired Pointer. We got him from a local breeder as a puppy. He is a sweet loving companion who can be exasperating at times!

Ruger is an energetic, curious and loving companion. He has not been trained to be a bird dog due to the fact that he is terrified of loud nosies, gun shots, thunder storms or even a dump truck dumping it's load. Just this past week, I was cooking a pizza in the oven and the cheese dripped down to the bottom and you know what happened next - smoke poured out of the oven when I opened it and off went the smoke alarms. That is a good thing that the smoke alarms work but poor Ruger, he just went right out his hide. In the past when he has become upset we have tired to comfort him but that just doesn't work, so we found the best thing to do is put him in his crate and cover it up. He will then in a short time bring his breathing back to normal and settle down after he first paws up the bedding to get more comfortable or more than likely out of frustration.
On the whole though, Ruger is a super dog and wonderful companion. He has so many expressions that come over his face and will look you right in the eye. I just know he can tell what I am thinking most the time. If I get up to go to a different part of the house, Ruger is right there leading the way!
Ruger loves being outdoors, especially when someone is tossing a ball for him to fetch. When the Mourning Doves land near the bird feeders, Ruger will stalk them, point them and then when he feels he is close enough he will break out in a full run. Of course, the Doves fly off in plenty of time. Odd how only certain birds seem to get his attention with the Mourning Dove at the top of the list. We have wild turkeys that come on pretty much a daily basis. Ruger will just sit and watch them from the windows; but if it is a squirrel out there he will start to squeal and run from window to window! Ruger appears to know what it means when I am photographing a critter through the window also, he will sit by my side and just watch, first me then the critter. Ruger is not a dog to bark at anything moving, but does alarm us when someone comes in the driveway.

I have taken some photos of Ruger and created designs on mugs, coasters, t-shirts or other merchandise at my cafepress store. You can check out Ruger's section of my store here