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Baltimore by the Sea

Monday, June 25, 2007

Zip Zam Boom, Sax-Zim Bog

Wednesday, May 9, ’07: calories: 1627.2-ish by 8 pm (a bit much); healthful water: 3 cups (bad); ticks: 2 (v. good!); units amusement/entertainment: 75 (got a Lifer, Excellent!)

Sax-Zim, is not a jazz musician from the 1930s, it is a marvelous a wildlife area best known for its winter birding. When the snow comes so do the winter speciality birds such as Bohemian Waxwings which are also not jazz musicians, as well as Great Grey and Boreal Owls.

The Sax-Zim Bog region gave me a second lifer for the trip, when Don spotted some tiny forms, hanging at all angles onto pine cones at the very tippy-top of some conifers – Red Crossbills. The crossbills did not stay put for very long, but I still managed a few shots, getting mostly shadowy photos of the little birds, except for this photo here below.

Ok, it's not much to look at, but see how the very end of its bill crosses itself, to form 'x' at the end. Cool, eh? It uses that crooked bill to pop open pine cones. There was another surprise at Sax-Zim when we stopped by a creek for a look around -I had a close encounter of the furry kind.

Here you can see the entire length of the weasely
critter; head to the left, tail to the right

Here are its beady eyes peeking at me from
under a fallen log; center, somewhat blurry

Here the beastie pauses to again stare at the strange human
through the brambles; you can see its fur is wet

These photos of a largely brown animal against a largely brown background demonstrates for me one reason why people go ‘birding’, but not ‘mammaling’. The creature was too big to be a weasel or a mink. I decided it had to be either a Pine Martin or a Fisher, both of which mustellids (big-arse weasels). I concluded the elongated beast was a Fisher. I stumbled excitedly along the shoreline, managing several shots of the creature as it slunk along. Hurrah! It isn’t often I get a new animal for my mammal life list.

[Management regrets that Ms Miller will have to wait a bit longer to add a Fisher to her mammal life list. The creature was a Mink. Due to stubbornness and a distinct dislike of admitting Mr. Pendleton was right, Ms. Miller will continue to pretend the creature is in fact a Fisher. But take note - the wet, white-chinned creature IS a Mink.]

Following the mammal encounter we drove along a road by some Sod Farms, I spied two small, fat, short necked stumpy ‘doves’.

See how short-necked the bird looked when I saw it? Rather dove-like, don't you think?

“Doves …’ I said in an uninterested voice, not giving the birds a second look.

‘I don’t think so,’ said Don cheerily, as he knew he had a new lifer #13.

But AHA! When it stretches out that long neck and even longer legs, it's a Bambi-eyed, Pencil-necked Geek Bird, the Upland Sandpiper!

I looked back at my ‘doves’. They had strolled out of the long grass revealing their very long legs. They raised their heads revealing long necks and for a final ‘tah-dah’ they turned their large eyed heads on profile so I could have a nice long look at their enlongated bills.

‘Bambi-eyed, pencil-necked Geek birdss!’ I shouted. That strange description was how I had as a kid, taught myself to ID Upland Sandpiper. My method normal works too, unless the darned birds are crouched like the tallest girl at the junior prom.

A few more stops gave us good views and me some nice photos of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Bobolinks. Sax-Zim was as great as we'd thought it would be. And although we saw no spring owls we did hear 2 different Eastern Screech Owls which gave us their ‘string of Os’ call. We also got the Eastern Kingbird and there wasa life Palm Warbler for Don. I really enjoyed Sax-Zim Bah... make that Sax-Zim Bog.

Don's Lifer Palm Warbler

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