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Bird watching
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bknoll
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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a pic of the sandhill cranes in my backyard I mentioned before in this thread.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:24 pm    Post subject: Interesting Site Reply with quote

Ran across another list of birds. A lot of these I have never noticed on BBI although the DNR say they are here.

It appears that the Ruffed Grouse were introduced to the island back in the 50's. Question
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Conis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is something I have NEVER-EVER seen at my feeders until the last week or so. A Pileated woodpecker. Not in 30 years of feeding birds in the winter.

Comes every morning, chases off the other woodpeckers and munches down half a suet cake. It is actually becoming tame. I can stand at the window, 10 feet away and watch.

Normally, these giant woodppeckers are very aloof and infrequently seen. The don't like humans. I recall when seeing one was a novelty although I now have at least two pairs on 40ac behind my place. Seeing one anywhere isn't as unusual as it was. Populations much be increasing.

This one as a female. Small and must be from 2007 hatch.



Learn more:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Pileated_Woodpecker_dtl.html
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Conis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It appears that the Ruffed Grouse were introduced to the island back in the 50's.


I noticed a lot of pats (grouse) on the island, last summer, especially chicks later in the summer. Good survival rate and their cycle is supposed to be on the upswing.

I never knew that pats were introduced to BBI, In the 70's I used to go to Drummond to hunt them...

Beaver Island and all of the uninhabited islands close to Beaver (High, Garden) also have grouse populations. Much "further out" than BBI. Wondering if they were introduced there, as well?
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject: Its the birds Reply with quote

A very good picture. I have had them come close, but they usually fly away quick if they think somethings up.

Have you got any redpolls? I have a bunch. I can't tell if they are the common kind or the hoary variety.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Have you got any redpolls? I have a bunch. I can't tell if they are the common kind or the hoary variety.


Every once in a while. More of an "up north" bird. I am kind of on the southern edge of redpoll territory. Look them up at the Cornell site. Best on the web-good photos/lost of info.

Nuthatches seem to be down this year, brown chested especially.

I am about to re engage my squirrel live trapping/relocation mission. With sunflower seed at $15/40lbs, I can do without those feeder hogs. Take them on a sentimental journey for a couple miles so they can eat acorns like all their buddies. A fox squirrel eats a much in a day as 40 birds. Last year I trapped and relocated 25 squirrels. I have photos of as many as 15 on my deck at one time. That aint happening this year.

Now you have me curious and digging for info on grouse introduction on Michigans islands. Zippo.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:01 am    Post subject: Brown Thrasher Reply with quote

Every once in a while I see a not so common bird for our area. This may be one. It is at the northern edge of it's range according to my bird book.
It is about the size of a blue jay or a little bigger.

Brown Thrasher

http://www.bois-blanc.com/phpBB2/album_page.php?pic_id=2097
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have Thrashers around here, mid state, See them most frequently in the spring. They aren't that abundant and I don't ever recall seeing one north or around the straits area.

Very long brown tail and easy to ID. Beautiful song, distinctive and easy to remember if you ever hear one. Thrashers are also sort of evasive and kind of flit around on low brush, hard to get a good look at. Seeing one in the open is really rare.

15-20 years ago, we had an abundance of Meadowlarks and Whipporwills. I can't remember the last time I have seen either. Both are ground nesters.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:09 am    Post subject: Shrikes Reply with quote

I want to report a bird I have never seen before. It was not listed in the state biodiversity survey for BBI. It is the northern shrike.

It was out in the trees near my bird feeder. It didn't come to the feeder, but seemed to be watching the feeder. I found out later, after looking it up, that shrikes eat little birds. I guess they are common in Alaska and Cananda. Sorry, I didn't get a picture.
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bknoll
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was curious, so I googled this bird. Very cool looking bird. Interesting that they will catch birds, mice, snakes, voles, etc. by swooping down on them and then impaling them on thorns or wires to kill them. They'll also hang their kill on branches and come back later and eat them. Looks like they come down this way in the winter time.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:36 pm    Post subject: White-winged Crossbill Reply with quote

Saw a White-winged Crossbill today, a male.

I'm using The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds to identify birds. This crossbill is about the size of a large sparrow. The male is raspberry-pink. The winga are actually mostly black with two white wing bars. What clued me in was a dark patch behing the eyes. They are mostly a Canadian bird, but we are at the southern end of their breeding range. They eat cone seeds. The crossed bill is designed to extract the seeds from the cones.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

You seeing the evening grosbeaks this winter? Takes a hard winter and a lot of cold to bring them south. We used to get them here but it has been 20 years or so. Occurs to me that travel in a flock and if they find food, will stick around.

I have a female Pilleated woodpecker visiting my suet feeder daily, second year. Funny to watch. She can do some real damage to a suet cake with all the downeys and hairys staitioned below intercepting the flying hunks. Have a pair of red-bellied and 2-3 flickers this winter.

Cardinals? I remember years past seeing 2-4 at dark was a world class event. I have more of those than any other species. Cold evening, I lose count after about 30 or so. No exaggeration. Guessing 50 at one time? Population has been on the upswing last 6-7 years, I think because of the proliferation of autumn olive bushes that are taking over down here. Produce a red berry that the cardinals like. I see them flitting around the AO bushes all the time. Plenty to eat.

Ha. I took my spin cast corn/deer feeder and put it in the back yard, filled it with corn for the squirrels, jays, cardinals... keep them off the seed feeders. Corn is way cheaper then sunflower seed. The turkeys have discovered it as of yesterday. This morning I had 3 turkeys and about 10 fox squirrels at battle over turf, all in an 8' radius, competing. Turkeys were outnumbered. I just learned a squirrel can kick a turkey's *ss. They gang up, surround the turkey and attack from the rear, like wolves. Hilarious to watch. Turkeys jumping strait up in the air with the squirrels nipping them in the legs and feet. Now the squirrels get first dibs on prime turf directly under the feeder. Turkeys hovering around the edges, looking for a window... run in, get a couple kernels, get mauled.. run for their lives.

We have had a record year for snow, here. It will be rough on the deer. I have had more song birds at my feeders than I can ever remember. They must be hungry... I go to fill the feeders and they don't leave.

Squirrels are oblivious... just stand there and watch. I am afraid they will attack me. (not kidding, either) They have made the connection between me and food. Years ago, I tamed a squirrel with peanuts which was all fun and games until it saw me come out the back door, ran at me, climbed my leg and then bit me when I tried to grab it to get it off. Painful would be an understatement. Long story short is we had to kill it and take it in, else I would have had to get the rabies shot treatment. "The attack squirrel from hell".

If I am lax and don't feed them in the morning, they are looking in the windows, hanging on the screens. Not good. Last March, I had over 30 fox, grey/black squirrels running my feed bills to planet pluto. I live trapped 22 of them, took them 5 miles away and released. Left about a dozen or so. I think they all came back? Squirrels are WAY smarter than many think... If they want to get at food, they will figure out some way to do it... I had one climbing a rope I use to pull up a seed feeder, on a pully under my eve. Had to jump 3' straight up to get to it. Mastered that trick.

Another thing I learned this winter: I have a huge sharp-shinned hawk, cruising my feeders. He has to eat, too, I guess. How the birds know when he is incoming is a mystery to me. They just evaporate in about 2 seconds, headed for overhead cover , I suppose. The woodpeckers won't fly. They freeze, totally motionless for as long as 20 minutes. Don't even move their heads. I suppose the markings in their back act as a natural camoflage blending with tree bark? When the woodpeckers start to move, all the other birds are right back, almost instantly= ALL CLEAR. Leads me to believe that hawks see motion more than forms. I believe this is a common trait among most predatory creatures.

Over the years, I have found a number of dead hawks, kestrels especially, around my feeders. Miscalculated, crashed and burned on an attack. I once saw this happen when a hawk dove on a meadowlark and crashed... not enough space and too much speed to pull out.

So much for this winters bird feeding report. I am burning through 50lbs of corn and 80lbs of seeds a week. Not cheap but worth it for the constant entertainment. I am getting swarms of birds this year.

WOW, this got realy long? Thought some of you might enjoy it?

c
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Last edited by Conis on Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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theeislandgirl
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:00 pm    Post subject: B Reply with quote

i DID Smile
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Rosemary
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did too. Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:24 am    Post subject: Wow Reply with quote

Wow, I got on a subject that is near and dear to you. An escape from the world's worries.
Haven't seen a grosbeak yet of any kind. No pileated woodpeckers either. One lone female cardinal. A few hairy woodpeckers. No hawks. No turkeys. There are mostly goldfinches, some other little brown bird and the biggest deal is the bluejays. There were hardly any last year, but now they are back. A lot of people kill them, but I let them eat.

I don't feed the squirrels. I found a way to keep them off my main feeder. I put a cedar post in the ground, about 5 feet high, away from everything about 5 feet. Then I slipped a PVC drain pipe down over the post so the post is completely covered. Then I put a square sheet of flashing on top of the post, maybe 16 x 16, and cut from the corners in toward the center so that you end up with flaps extending out. They are bent down a little. The feeder is set on top of the post and flashing.

The end result is that 99% of the squirrels can't climb the PVC, and the 1% that do get up to the flashing can't get past it. The squirrels set in the bushes nearby and watch the birds eat. They look so pathetic.

I try not to use too much feed. If I run out, I have to snowmobile to Cheboygan to get it and then carry it back on the snowmobile.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

I am a bird feeding maniac. One of my simple pleasires in life. I have great diverse habitate behind my place and swarms of birds in the winter. In the summer as well, probably because I go broke feeding all the hungry little mouthes... Always something new. Learn by watching, up close.

I think I inhereted this appreciation from my mom, who was an ardent bird watcher, kept notes the whole thing. I used to go with her at my aunts camp near Mancelona, which was a song bird paradise. By the time I was 12 or so, knew all the common songbirds by sight and song. I have never lost this interest. In fact one of my favorite passtimes on the island, especially during spring migration. I am still learning. I suck at warblers. I have seen birds on BBI, seen no where else in Michigan.

The squirrels: I use to be really tough on them. One squirrel can hog down as much as 40 birds. Just sit there and pig out. I have all the squirrel species here. Blacks and greys started migrating into this area about 15 years ago. The larger fox squirrels are the wimps but really hog down the food. The little red squirrels? I take em out. Destructive.

They need to eat too. So I try and keep them on corn which I am paying $3.50/40lbs Sunflower seed have come down to $18/50 but still expensive for the squirrels to hog on. Doves, Jays, will eat it. I discovered that the cardinals like it too. Also discoverd the juncos really like cracked corn. I take whole corn and put it in the blender for a couple minutes. Put that out and they are all over it instantly... ground feeders along with most of the winter sparrows

I tried the steel post trick, the flashing trick, the grease trick to keep the squirrels off my seed feeders. None of it worked. They only need to succeed once. And the others sit there watching... thinking, scheming. One makes it and then 3-4 trying their luck. Those suckers are smart. Will to eat and survive. Unless a feeder is all metal, they will chew through anything to get into a feeder if there is half a dozen seeds inside, red squirrels especially.

I made several seed feeders out of 6"x3' galvanized duct pipe. Work great and hold enough for 3-4 days, probably 15 lbs of seeds.

I took one of them and hung it from the eve directly in front of my dining room window. Have a pulley under the eve and a rope to raise/lower it for filling. In the window sill , a screw in hook to hook the rope loop on. This hook is about 4' off the ground.

Last week, I see a squirrel hanging on the feeder. Got on how? Cant jump to it. I have a metal roof and facia, Cant get to it that way?

I had maybe 6-8" extra rope hanging down from the loop. Hear this noise outside. and here is a fox squirrel looking at the rope end hanging down and jumping 3+ feet vertically trying to get just one claw into that end. About 20 tries and he succeeded. Climb the rope, across the window screen and onto the feeder. Tenacity to the enth degree.

I snipped off the excess rope but since he made it a couple times, still out there trying... and failing. Give it up pal.

I think Pileated woodpeckers are on the upswing. I remember not long ago, that seeing one was an event. Even getting a glimpse. See them around all the time now. The female started coming to my suet last winter as a juvenile. I have learned that it isn't all that uncommon if winters are harsh, and they have good cover nearby. She came late into the spring, then vanished until about January 1. Fully grown now, gorgeous bird. I can watch her from 5' away. The top red plume is irridescent. awesome.

I have lots of photos and video. Need to dig them out and post them.

People don't believe me when I tell them how many cardinals I have. I do believe is is becasue of the autumn olive berries which they thrive on. See them all over the place, along the roads... everywhere... Flocks of them.

I remember back in the 70's 80's seeing one or having a couple at the feeder was an event. WOW! COME LOOK! and one time had 4 at once on the evening and I was calling people up telling them about it. Now the feeder is maxed out with the trees full of them, coming and going and taking turns. Seems like more and more every year. Seeing that many at once is pretty spectcular.

No brown creepers this year. They seem to be on the decline. Lots of tufted titmice... More each year. Those used to be strictly a southern Mi bird but extended there range during all the mild winters we had.

Of course the usual flocks or gold, purple and house finches. lots of those.

I'll see if I can't get some pictures posted over the weekend.

Thats all from bird central. Pardon my typos
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:20 am    Post subject: birds Reply with quote

I bet the island folks have enjoyed alot birds this winter with all the snow and cold ..
so share with us how much you have enjoyed the birds and how you had to wade thought the snow to keep those feeders full and the many bags of seed you have put out for them ...
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well... it is officially spring here mid state, The straits are always two weeks behind us.

This morning noticed the first trout lillies popping up. Trees are past budding and showing tiny leaves, seeing turtles crawling around the yard, looking for a place to lay eggs. Signs every where. We finally got the warm weather with thundersorm SURGE...

In the last two days; A pair of Kingfishers, Orioles, A Scarlet Tananger, Kildeer, Heard wrens... Phoebes... And this is just around the yard without looking. These birds don't come until THEY know is is spring, Not like the dumb Robins pecking away in the snow. Also been seeing the male cardinals feeding the females sunflower seeds, which means they are on nests.

The surefire sign: Rosebreasted Groesbeaks. Normally the females show up on April 30 or May 1, 1-2 days ahead of males. Just like clockwork, almost. This morning I noticed one lonesome male on the feeder. Must have been hungry since he wouldn't move until I got a couple feet from him, to refill the feeder. This afternoon, there were six! A couple days early this year. These birds winter in Central and South America. How do they know it is time to head north and arrive on just about the same day each year?

The next wave will be the Warblers, which are not my strong suit as far as identification. BBI is blessed to be one of the top spots in Michigan to watch the warblers on their migration to Northern Canada.

In my yard, I have a huge Bitternut Hickory tree. Squirrels and Deer thrive on the nuts. About this time of the year, before it leafs out completely, I can go out in the yard at night with a flashlight, point it up into the top of the tree and see a dozen pairs of eyes: Flying squirrels.

Last couple of nights, I have left the deck lights on. Watch them come in for a landing (sunflower seed scrounging). I'll get three or four at ounce out there. POOF they are there and POOF they are gone... Then I see them run up a tree off the deck to prepare for another launch.

I don't think BBI has these. For those of you unfamiliar with them; strictly nocturnal. They don't fly (like a bird) but glide from tree to tree on skin flap "wings" between their front and rear legs. They must have amazing eyesight to keep from crashing. Also pretty docile. I have walked to within an arms length of several. They could care less. I suppose they know they can't be caught? Anyway, cheap entertainment.

When I was a kid,(10-11 yrs old) one landed on the back of my buddies neck in broad daylight. Of course he had no idea what it was nor was I sure either. I thought it was either a red squirrel or chipmunk? Screaming bloody murder of course... "get it off! GET IT OFF!!! A real Kodak moment!!! So I grabbed it and tossed it on the ground. ran up a tree about 15', sailed to another tree and gone... Like I knew what I was talking about, I calmly told him he had been attacked by a flying squirrel. Well... It was a squirrel of some sort and I did see it fly? 1+1=2. So that was our mutual introduction to the species, first hand (literally).

This is supposed to be about birds but somehow I have broadened this into animals that fly?

Discussing this all with my neighbor this morning... He is talking about the Canada Geese walking around in his yard ( which are the pair nesting in my pond). He says " You know... Humingbirds will hitch a ride north on the back of a goose". I think..."Things that make you say Hmmmm...." Never heard that one before... But then again??? He's a pretty old smart dude and maybe on to something? Going to have to research this one... so stay tuned for a report.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject: birds Reply with quote

Wow, Conis. you are the birdman of Boisblanctraz. Very interesting stuff. I like the woodpecker warning mechanism.

The pileated on your feeder is just fantastic.

I was treated to a BBI bird story, Thurs april 23. This winter, Larry, of Hawks, had a wild grouse or partridge actually walk up to him, climb on his hand, up his arm and stand and coo on his shoulders and back. He captured it on video. He said the bird chortles, I guess, as it moves around his neck and head. It is really cooo.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JEE,

I don't doubt Larry's story an iota.

Pats (Grouse/ruffed grouse) are the oddest birds. This is an area of personal expertise. Normally, in the wild, you NEVER sneak up on one. New meaning to the term wary. Bird dogs that have been exclusively trained to "handle" pats... meaning get them pinned to hold before a point are the "doctors of grousology". It takes years to develop a pointing dog that can outsmart a pat. This I know. Grouse are the most difficult and wary game bird in North America... most of the time.

Perhaps 25 years ago, I had one that for some reason, was attracted to my lawn mower. Maybe because it thought the mower was another pat drumming? I would start the mower and within 5 minutes, here he would come, on wing out of the woods, and follow the mower around for a couple of hours. At times, I was afraid I would run over him. I would get off the mower, walk around. Big deal. Stick with his mower pal. I could have probably tamed that bird... to his own demise. If I would have approached that same bird in the wild, I doubt he would have let me closer than 200'. I have heard/read similar stories of Pats attracted to tractors, John Deeres especially. Must be the noise replicating drumming?

Infrequently, in the winter, I will have pats come into my feeder for corn, very early in the morning or right at dark. Once they start, they come daily. For the most part, they can fend for themselves through the winter. The more snow, the safer they are... and the more survive to reproduce in the follwing spring.

Fortunately, for the species, there havn't' been successful attempts to pen raise them as game birds like pheasants or turkeys. Incredibly labor intensive with high mortality in penned environment. I suppose that's what has save them. Pure wild strains than man hasn't sucessfully screwed up by farming them.

By the way... This evening I saw a flock of Orange Crested Sidewinders wing through. Guessing maybe a hundred or so. Here and gone.
c
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do hummingbirds ride on the backs of geese?

Nope. Hmmmmmmm.

http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/hummingbird-migration.html
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
, seeing turtles crawling around the yard, looking for a place to lay eggs


I was working in the yard this weekend and found 2 baby turtles, one in the driveway about to commit suicide crossing the road, and another in my wood chip pile. I took both to the swamp behind my house....away from the road. Hopefully they will be happy. I always found the turtle holes in the ground but never saw the baby turtles...found one last year and now two this year.

During the summer for the past few years I have had 2 hummingbirds at my house. They have amazed me since I was a little kid. I remember "walking sticks" too. I saw a praying mantis for the first time in forever, on my screen door a couple years ago. My son thought it was cool, he had never seen one.

I get blue jays and cardinals and morning doves that fly in with my rooster and turkey and eat their cracked corn!!
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John Elmer Engel
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:59 am    Post subject: Turtles Reply with quote

I was riding my bike on the railtrails here in Bay City a couple weeks ago and lo and behold I spotted a small snapper turtle (6 inches round) next to the trail that had apparently just crawled out of the mud as it was glistening with wet mud on its shell.
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Conis
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah... Turtle seige and I am seeing a lot of flat ones in the roads. Those poor suckers are struggling to find a nesting spot... Unless they are doomed by crossing the road, leave them where they are. Not doing them any favors by putting them back in the water. Just leave again.

I find it highly irritating that A.H.'s will intentionally run over them. Big sport?

I had a huge flock of Rufus Crowned Titwits come through this morning.
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GonnaGetaway
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I find it highly irritating that A.H.'s will intentionally run over them. Big sport?



The great white hunter prevails #Mad


Why am I finding all the little baby turtles???? they are only about an inch in diameter!
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