Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yearly Visit to Sterling Nature Center

I discovered this bird sanctuary a couple of years ago thanks to my neighbor who saw it written up in the local paper and went for a visit.  It is on Lake Ontario east of Rochester and has several ponds and a number of well-marked walking trails by the ponds and through the woods.  The first pond you come to is out in the sun and I have seen several different kinds of ducks in the past.  This year, there was a mama Canada Goose with her brood of 8 or 9 goslings on the far side of the pond.

While I was watching the geese, this critter swam by.  It looked like a beaver to me but wasn't sure until I got home and looked closely at the picture and could see the long tail.  First time I have seen a beaver in the wild.  Not sure what he was building as this pond is already fairly deep with no running water that I could see.  I talked to some people later who showed me another of the ponds that the beavers had constructed a dam on this past winter!  Will be interesting how the landscape changes next year.

There was also this platform filled with sunning turtles although I don't know what variety there is up here.  

I also spotted this dragonfly who managed to stay still long enough for me to snap his picture.  It is an immature Blue Corporal -- one that I hadn't seen before.  As adults, they are totally blue on the back end.  He was a chunky fellow.

Next I wondered along the path to head to the Great Blue Heron rookery which is an area filled with dead trees.  I suspect the aforementioned beavers might have been blamed for this pond years ago!  If you look closely, you can see the babies down in the nest.  I went earlier this year than I had previously (because the weather was perfect) and the young herons were far from fledged and not as active as other years.  There are 25 nests this year.  This is the only time of  year you will see Blue Herons anywhere near each other as they are a very solitary bird.

You can see several nests here with young in them.

I headed to the next pond, part of which had been dammed up by the beavers.  There was a pair of Blue-winged Teals dabbling in the shallow part of the pond.  This is the male and really the closest I have ever gotten to this species.  You can just barely see the blue on his wing that gives him his name.

Just another shot of the male Teal.  They were dabbling almost constantly and most of my shots have their heads buried in the water!

This is the female Blue-winged Teal.

A couple I met at the pond told me they had seen Eastern Phoebes over the beaver pond snatching the flies but reported later that they had moved on (I caught up with them on the path).  I looked over the pond and did spot one sitting on the branch.  This must be my year for Phoebes!

A chipmunk decided to trek across one of the branches crossing the water.

There were as usual lots of Tree Swallows catching flies as well!  This one sat for a moment to have his picture taken!

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