In Search of The Beautiful But Elusive Prothonotary Warbler

No birding adventure is any better than if it can be combined with time in a canoe. Recently we decided to to explore the shoreline of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir and the Twin Lakes area with the hope of seeing warblers. In past years the Twin Lakes Area (O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve)  has been very good so we were hopeful.


The Route


While there are few things as enjoyable as viewing birds from a canoe, photographing them from such is a different matter.  The smaller the bird the more difficult, as movements are usually quicker and more erratic. In even the calmest conditions it’s a challenge to position the boat properly then quickly grab the camera and hope the bird hasn’t flown. The boat has an uncanny ability to swing around as you’re attempting to get a shot resulting in one doing an owl impersonation in order to keep shooting. Add wind, wave action, or river current  and  .   .   .   , I think you get the picture.


The day started out with a very light breeze but by late morning boat control became more of an issue with my wife doing more of the shooting while I managed things. We didn’t succeed in our quest to see a Prothonothary Warbler, but as is often the case, other birds as well as wildflowers and other wildlife took up the slack.


Double-crested Cormorants watched as we explored the shoreline.


Adult and juvenile Double-crested Cormorants




The adult decides he’s had enough.


A Red Shouldered Hawk was also sizing things up,


Red-shouldered Hawk


as Tree Swallows looked on.

Tree Swallow 1 good 1 050415  twin lakes cp1647

Tree Swallow, (Donna)

Tree IMG_8306use

Enjoying the front porch.


Once past the swallows we heading into an area where we typically see Prothonotary Warblers.


Looking for Prothonotary Warblers, Twin Lakes


As already mentioned, the Prothonotary Warblers eluded us, but we were greeted by a Solitary Sandpipers attracted to mudflats exposed by the receding water level.


Solitary Sandpiper


Looking at it’s reflection.


We then decided to explore a nearby stream.


Eversole Run flowing into the Twin Lakes area.


Up the stream we were entertained by a Blue-gray Gnatcather gathering nesting material.

Blue-gray a IMG_8384

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher gathering lichen.

Blue-gray b IMG_8387

Not giving up

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3 wing out head cocked 1 050415 tiwn   lakes cp1

Totally getting into it! (Donna)


Eversole Run


Working our way back to the main part of the lake we noticed turtles enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Turtle Painted IMG_8327use

Painted Turtle.

Turtles on a log closer 3 050415 twin lakes cp1

A real gathering, (Donna)


Wildflowers were spotted along the bank and my wife decided to investigate.

Bluets cluster 1 050415 twin lakes cp1

Bluets, (Donna)

Pussy Toes 1 close-up 1 050415 twin lakes cp1

Pussy Toes, (Donna)


Many Yellow-rumped warblers were seen but the only warbler that cooperated for a picture was this female Yellow.

Yellow Warbler 3 LR better 1 050415 twin lakes cp1

Female Yellow Warbler, (Donna)


We hugged the west shore to stay out of the wind as we worked our way back to the launch. As we did so, a bird not often seen was encountered which got us pretty excited.

Blue-winged IMG_8432use

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal 1 take off 050415 twin lakes cp1

Taking flight, (Donna)


All in all it was a very good day.


Twin Lakes Area


“So why do we take pictures, sometimes of the same bird or scene that was photographed just a few days ago?

We take them to tell a story, in celebration of the beauty of life, and to share our joy”.


Thanks for stopping by.

Spring at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

We weren’t sure what we’d find but thought a walk around O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve  might reveal some wildflowers and maybe a few migrating warblers. No warblers were observed but there were plenty of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers to keep us entertained.  While the warblers were a bit disappointing the wildflowers were not. The area has always been good for them and this year is no exception.

Located on the west side of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, we’ve always enjoyed intimate nature of the preserve. This quality is at least partly due to the small streams that flow through it on their way to the reservoir.

click on images for a better view


O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, early spring.

We hadn’t walked far when we started seeing Tree Swallows. They’re beautiful birds but are responsible for fewer Bluebirds being seen as they appear to have set up housekeeping in the Bluebird boxes.


Tree Swallow

In a cove a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret were looking for lunch.


Great Blue Heron


Great Egret

While walking along one of the creeks we noticed a hole where a large wasp had just emerged. It least that’s our best guess.

Large wasp nest entrance in wet soil IMG_6461

Wasp Nest?

A little further on a mysterious black fungus was seen on an Beech tree.

Black Knot Fungus IMG_6467

Black fungus on Ash tree.

We figured it out from a post on the The Beautiful Wildlife Garden site. It turns out that, “the Beech Wooly Aphid (Grylloprociphilis imbricator) feeds by sucking the fluids from Beech leaves and twigs. They leave behind a sugary honeydew which collects on the leaves and other parts of the tree, and can invite a fungus to form, called Black Sooty Mold”.

We had some fun trying different angles with the Trout Lilies in an effort to reveal different aspects of the flower.


Yellow Trout Lilly


Yellow Trout Lilly, study 2

But it was hard to ignore the other flowers.




Twinleaf, study 2



Rue Anemone 042114 Twin Lakes walk cp1

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

Spring Beauty 042114 Twin Lakes walk cp1

Spring Beauties, (Donna)

Beech leaves from last fall don’t want to let go.


Beech Leaves


Beech Leaf

Tree trunk landscape.


Tree trunk with moss, Spring Beauties, May Apples, . . .

Just starting to be green.


O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, early spring, study 2


Thanks for stopping by.

The Coves of Alum Creek Reservoir

In the spring one of our favorite things to do is to spend the morning exploring the coves of Alum Creek Reservoir. We often launch from the Cheshire Road Bridge area and head for one of the lake’s no wake zones to avoid the motorboat noise. Other than an occasional airplane overhead, or a train not far off, it’s pretty quiet. It’s a pleasant experience any time of the year but the spring with all the birds singing it’s magical. Below are some images from our recent paddles.

Pond Panorama - Alum Creek

Pond Panorama – Alum Creek

Great Blue Heron - Alum Creek

Great Blue Heron – Alum Creek

Baltimore Oriole - Alum Creek

Baltimore Oriole – Alum Creek

King Bird - Alum Creek

Kingbird – Alum Creek

Prothonotary Warbler - Alum Creek

Prothonotary Warbler – Alum Creek

Downey - Alum Creek

Downy – Alum Creek

Small Cove - Alum Creek

Small Cove – Alum Creek

Tree Swallow - Alum Creek

Tree Swallow – Alum Creek

Yellow Warbler - Alum Creek

Yellow Warbler – Alum Creek

American toads - Alum Creek

American toads – Alum Creek


Thanks for stopping by.


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