Freezing Boston harbor and Red Breasted Merganser

This week I saw a beautiful male Red Breasted Merganser near the New England Aquarium. I was looking at the gulls searching for crabs and admiring the frozen water when I looked up and this beautiful Merganser swam by. It was a windy day and you can see the way his crest is blown by the bitterly cold wind.

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Loons in Winter

My first Winter in Boston – although it is cold – birding in Boston Harbor is excellent! This evening I watched two loons in winter plumage feeding next to Central Wharf by the New England Aquarium. I stood on the packed snow and ice watching the loons as the light faded.  They came close to me – intent on diving for food.  They both found crabs and other invertebrates. Loons are beautiful birds even in winter plumage. I think these two were Common Loons.  It was a delight to see these elegant birds so close to the aquarium.

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A Walk by the Bosphorus in Istanbul

Remembering the Bosphorus

NaturalistNotebook

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Istanbul recently. I fell in love with this vibrant city bridging Europe and Asia. I spent most of the precious time I had looking at as many of the cultural sights as I could, however I could not help seeing some of the wildlife too. In Ireland I see the Hooded or Grey-backed Crow in the fields and woods, but in Istanbul they are town birds and everywhere. Istanbul is also well known for large numbers of gulls and I saw many including a beautiful Lesser Black Backed Gull with a red eye ring.

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Grey-backed Crow

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Ornamental Gulls on roof!

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Cormorants fly over the city rooftops. The Bosphorus that leads from the mediterranean to the Black Sea cuts through the heart of Istanbul dividing Europe from Asia. This wonderful waterway is lined with castles, palaces and beautiful…

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Fall in the Hudson Valley

Last month I went to a conference above the Hudson river. The leaves were turning and  late garden flowers  blooming.  Although it was wet and windy outside everything seemed to glow with rich fall warmth.  I spent an hour one morning taking some photographs with my phone, and here are some of the results..

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Roman Marine Life

This afternoon I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the new Goya Exhibition. It is wonderful and well worth a visit.  I had a few minutes to spare so I wondered over to the Greek and Roman Galleries.  Here are a few marine animals – both real and imagined –

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The Octopus on a Roman coin is a favorite.  There were other marine themed coins too:

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I love this crab – but I am not so sure about the sea serpent!

 

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I am not sure why the there is a small dolphin below the handsome hare on this coin.

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Another sea serpent and  dolphin

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There is some interesting domestic roman sculpture in in the museum and I could not resist including this lobster.

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The beautiful roman third  century AD mosaic ( Turkey) has it all – Apart from the dolphins and their riders there are several different species of fish portrayed.

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A Walk in the Grounds of an old Venetian Castle, Pylos, Greece

Remembering this wonderful day in Pylos, June 2011

NaturalistNotebook

On a hot, dusty day in early June I visited a beautiful, old castle that looked out onto the Meditereanian from Pylos on the Greek coast. Wildflowers were everywhere and I took manyphotographs as I walked through the ruins.

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Clusters of deep pink Convolvulus

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Wild Caper

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The capers grow in clumps on the castle walls

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Yellow Thistles

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Many Mullen plants scattered in the open spaces

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A blue butterfly

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And large numbers of the strange and delicate Thread-wing Antlions on Lacecaps

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Not sure what kind of butterfly this is below

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Wild Sage – smelt wonderful

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Chicory

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Looking out over the ocean from the castle ruins

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Morning Walk in the Baja Desert behind Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo is known for it’s wonderful marine preserve  – a very special place teeming with ocean life. What is not so well known is that the desert behind the village is also amazing. I was lucky enough to go for a walk up into the hills early one morning last March.  The dawn light was golden and the flowers and insects glowed.  Lizards moved onto branches and rocks to warm in the new sun. There were new paw prints in the sand and fresh scat – signs that a Bobcat had recently passed by – The stillness and quiet of the dawn in this magical desert was broken by the scattered chorus of  birds – and then it was time to turn back before the heat of the day became too strong.

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Some Spring Birds at Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, San Diego

 

 

 

 

 

Every Spring I try to visit Silverwood wildlife Sanctuary run by San Diego Audubon.  This is a very species reserve of over 750 acres near Lakeside.  There is an observation area close to the entrance where it is easy to see many coastal chaparral  and riparian woodland species. On this visit in May I caught some of the  birds on camera including Black-headed Grosbeaks, California and Spotted Towhees, Scrub Jays and Hooded-orioles.

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August Birds in Boston Public Garden

Sometimes I walk to work through the wonderful Boston Public Garden admiring the trees, the flowers, and the lake.  I also keep an eye out for the birds – the bright red flash of a cardinal or the iridescent flash of a grackle. The Garden is full of birds and some of them unfamiliar to me (coming from the West Coast) like the Common Grackle.  In the early evening other birds fly over the park feeding or on the way to roost – there are many swallows and swifts and even cormorants passing by.

Here are a few photos that I took one morning last week as I wandered through the Garden on my way to work.  Boston is full of green areas and there are a lot of resident birds to be seen  in August.

 

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Starling

 

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Red winged Blackbird

 

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Common Grackles

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Canada Goose

 

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House Sparrows

 

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Rock Dove or “City Pigeon”

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Mallard

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The tame Mute Swans kept in the Garden

 

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Robin

 

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And I could not resist including a couple of pictures of the resident Grey Squirrels – one of them ran off with a dropped muffin!

 

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Wildlife at the Airport

I made a quick trip to Missoula this week – no time for hiking and wildlife watching in this beautiful area but  I spotted a Grizzly Bear at the airport when I arrived  – plus a Moose! There is one beautiful animal that is very easy to see here –  and that is the Eastern Fox Squirrel.  Of course this must be one of the most photographed mammals in the country but I could not resist spending some time watching them and taking pictures with my iPhone . I think their coloration and markings are much more interesting than the grey squirrels.

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