First of many, many meadow close-up photos

My most recent For the Birds column explains a local adventure I undertook last summer photographing in macro mode the many meadows of the Darien Land Trust. From now until the end of August I will post daily one of the photographs from that close-up adventure.

Here’s the column with further explanation: A (very) close-up view of our meadows

And here’s the first of many photos:

Plant hopper in Mather Meadows in Darien, CT. Photo by Chris Bosak

Plant hopper in Mather Meadows in Darien, CT. Photo by Chris Bosak

What do Purple Martins eat?

Photo by Chris Bosak Purple Martins (female on left) perch near their gourd colony with dragonflies at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., in summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Purple Martins (female on left) perch near their gourd colony with dragonflies at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., in summer 2014.

People love Purple Martins because the birds eat mosquitoes. Clearly that’s not all they eat — in fact, they eat far fewer mosquitoes than people think . Usually their prey is much larger.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Purple Martin swallows a dragonfly at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., in summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Purple Martin swallows a dragonfly at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., in summer 2014.

Last week, while attending a banding event at Sherwood Island State Park, I watched as the busy adult Purple Martins flew around and perched at the gourd colony. Without question, the main meal on the menu for these martins was dragonflies. Dragonflies are known as superb fliers and hunters of mosquitoes themselves, but they were no match for these determined Purple Martin parents. Some of the martins even brought back small butterflies to eat.

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Purple Martins banded at Sherwood Island

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Sometimes fun news assignments come across our offices at The Hour newspaper. If it has to do with birds it usually ends up being forwarded to my email address by everyone else who receives it. Not that I mind, of course.

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Such was the case this week when the Friends of Sherwood Island (a state park in Westport, Conn.) sent a release announcing a Purple Martin banding project. I attended the event, of course, and marveled as staff and volunteers from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Friends of Sherwood Island took young martins from their nest, fitted them with bands, weighed and measured them, recorded data and returned them to the nests.  As all this was going on, the adult martins fearlessly and undaunted continued to hunt for insects to bring back to the colony.

I even got to return five baby Purple Martins to their gourd. It was the first time I’ve ever held a Purple Martin. Very cool.

For the complete story and photos from The Hour photographer Erik Trautmann, click here.

Photo for next For the Birds column

Photo by Chris Bosak A Least Tern flies over its nesting grounds at Milford Point in Milford, CT, in June 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Least Tern flies over its nesting grounds at Milford Point in Milford, CT, in June 2014.

Here’s a sneak peek at the photo that will accompany my next For the Birds column that will appear in The Hour (Norwalk, CT) tomorrow (Thursday, July 10) and The Keene Sentinel on Monday, July 14. Check those newspapers’ respective websites to see the column soon.

If you live in New England and your local newspaper does not carry “For the Birds,” give the editor a call and suggest that they pick it up. They can contact me via this website. Thanks!

Good news on the duck front; populations and habitat improve

 

Photo by Chris Bosak American Wigeon in Norwalk.

Photo by Chris Bosak
American Wigeon in Norwalk.

As much as I love all birds, ducks are my favorite types of birds to watch. I’ve said that plenty of times. So when good news from that front crosses my desk, I’m eager to share it.

Here it is, shamelessly stolen from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release sent to my at my office:

“Duck populations have increased in overall abundance over last year, and their habitat conditions have improved, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Trends in Duck Breeding Populations 2014 report released today. These conclusions are based on the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Surve Continue reading

Red-tailed Hawk pays a visit

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-tailed Hawk perches on the top of a tree in Stamford, Conn., July 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-tailed Hawk perches on the top of a tree in Stamford, Conn., July 2014.

This Red-tailed Hawk perched in the backyard during a recent steamy day in southern New England. I like the way it is showing its feathers while perched on the top of a recently cut-down tree.