About Chris Bosak

Bird columnist and nature photographer based in New England. Co-managing editor of The Hour newspaper. Bird

Wildlife of northern New Hampshire, Part I

  
I’ve been camping with the boys in the upper reaches of New Hampshire for the past several days. I love the area and its rich wildlife. 

I am greatly saddened by the decline in the New England moose population, however. For the first time in a summer visit, I didn’t see a single moose. Granted, with the boys with me, I didn’t get up at five in the morning to go looking for them with my canoe as I would normally do. I will get more into the moose story in a later post. 

We did see plenty of wildlife, however. Deer, fox, grouse, Gray Jays, turkey, to name a few. The boys were even fascinated by a nonanimal sighting. The carnivorous Pitcher Plant grows near the ponds up there and we found some near our remote camping site. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia describing the Pitcher Plant:

“Pitcher plants are several different carnivorous plants that have evolved modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with liquid.”

It was a very neat sighting and, unlike the birds and other animals up there, a cooperative photography subject. 

When I get back to a real computer, I will post more photos and stories of the trip. For now, enjoy the iPhone photo of the Pitcher Plant. 

Thank you for checking out http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

For the Birds column: Milkweed and Monarchs

Photo by Chris Bosak Milkweed flowers bud in a meadow in Stamford, July 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Milkweed flowers bud in a meadow in Stamford, July 2015.

Here’s my latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire.

Why do so many people consider milkweed a useless weed?

Perhaps because it is so prevalent (or at least used to be). Perhaps because it grows in vacant parking lots and in cracks in sidewalks. Perhaps because that’s what we’ve been told and trained to think all these years. Or it could be because is has the word ‘weed’ right in its name.

Whatever the reason it’s time to change the way we think about milkweed. Here are some quick facts about the beautiful and valuable plant:

Click here for the rest of the column.

For the Birds column: Get the lead out for loons

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon swims on a lake in northern New Hampshire with two young loons.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon swims on a lake in northern New Hampshire with two young loons.

Here’s my latest For the Birds column from The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and Keene (NH) Sentinel.

***

Bad news trickled down from up north this week as the Loon Preservation Committee announced that necropsy results confirmed the first-of-the-year Common Loon death due to lead poisoning.

The loon was found on the shores and Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire. Loons face a slew of challenges in their northern breeding grounds. The biggest challenge, of course, is habitat loss. What else is new? But other factors such as collisions with boats (especially young loon), heavy rain washing away nests, and lead sinkers take a toll as well.

Then there are the predators, such as raccoons and foxes, that prey upon the eggs. Now I hear of another potential predator of loons. Of course, the comeback of the Bald Eagle is to be celebrated, but

Click here for the rest of the column.

Latest For the Birds column: Answering some more bird questions

Last week I addressed a question that was submitted to me by a reader. This week I’ll continue to draw inspiration from my readers and quickly address some more questions and comments that came my way.

One question regarded a one-legged hummingbird. A reader delighted in the antics of a group of hummingbirds at her feeder. As many as four hummingbirds were visiting at one time. The reader noticed that one of the birds had only a stump for a leg. So, can a one-legged hummingbird survive in the wild?

Before I answer that, just a quick note to say that things are not always as they appear. Many birds appear to have only one leg, but often either the leg is tucked away into the bird’s body or the angle from which you see the bird makes it look like it is missing a leg. Waders (herons, egrets), shorebirds and waterfowl often stand on one leg.

But in this case, since the reader saw a stump instead of a leg, it’s likely the bird did indeed have only one leg. Obviously it’s not ideal, but birds that spend most of their time either flying or perched in trees, such as songbirds and hummingbirds, can indeed survive in the wild. Their wings

Click here for the rest of the column

Good news about Connecticut Audubon Society’s ‘Osprey Nation’

Photo by Chrisi Bosak An Osprey flies over Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn., April 29, 2015.

Photo by Chrisi Bosak
An Osprey flies over Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn., April 29, 2015.

Press release from Connecticut Audubon Society: 

Osprey Nation, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s citizen science program, has grown significantly in its second year, with more volunteer stewards documenting, mapping and monitoring considerably more nests than last year.

Statewide, 134 Connecticut residents are volunteering this nesting season to collect bi-weekly and monthly data on the state’s rapidly increasing Osprey population – 31 more volunteers than last year.

These Osprey Nation volunteers have found 492 nests in 2015, 78 more than last year’s 414 nests. They are monitoring 296 of those nests, 122 more than last year’s 174.

And although it can be difficult to observe the inside of distant nests on raised platforms, data submitted so far indicate that 94 pairs of Osprey Continue reading

Another wildlife quiz … what is this?

mystery close up

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a birding quiz, so here goes. OK, so it’s obviously not a birding quiz, but it is a quiz nonetheless.

What is going on in this photo? Hint: it’s a zoomed in look at a broader photo. No multiple choice this time. Either comment (under “Leave a Reply”) or email me your guess. Or keep your guess to yourself and wait until the answer post, which will come in a couple days.

Thanks for playing along and checking out http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

When is nesting season over?

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest in early July at Sellecks/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest in early July at Sellecks/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Procrastinators rejoice. I’m going to give you an excuse to put off a few chores for another month or so.

Do you have trees on your property that need to come down? Bushes that need to be pruned? Perhaps a field or meadow that needs to be mowed?

Well, I’m not only giving you permission (not that you need that anyway) to hold off for a while, but urging you to do so.

An interesting email came my way this week from a New Hampshire couple. They had purchased property about 25 years ago that at the time was an abandoned Christmas tree lot. Most of the trees are now dead or dying and need to come down. The couple, to their credit, wants to make sure the nesting season is over before they go forward with any of the work.

So, just when is it safe to take down trees or cut fields that may house nesting birds?

There’s no exact date, of course. In general, though,

Click here for the rest of the article …

Photos from Long Island Sound research cruise

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educators and visitors look at the haul from a net brought in from Long Island Sound during a cruise aboard the Aquarium's new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educators and visitors look at the haul from a net brought in from Long Island Sound during a cruise aboard the Aquarium’s new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to join a research cruise of Long Island Sound aboard the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s new vessel Spirit of the Sound. It was the first day the nearly $3 million vessel took members of the public onto the water. (Yes, I was one of the first guests aboard, in case that ever comes up in a trivia questions.)

Anyway, I photographed the cruise for The Hour newspaper and I’ll add a link to the photo collection below.

Norwalk is lucky to have two nonprofits that offer cruises out among the Norwalk Islands. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and the Norwalk Seaport Association. To know something is to love something and these terrific organizations are dedicated to educating people about Long Island Sound, a vitally important ecosystem.

Here’s the link to more photos.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educator Nicole Rosenfeld shows off a spider crab caught in Long Island Sound aboard the Aquarium's new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educator Nicole Rosenfeld shows off a spider crab caught in Long Island Sound aboard the Aquarium’s new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Beachgoers asked to: ‘Fish, swim and play from 50 yards away’

Photo by Chris Bosak An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Coastal Center at Milford Point this spring.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Coastal Center at Milford Point this spring.

An important press release from American Bird Conservancy

Washington, D.C. — As millions of vacationing Americans head to their nearest beach destination for surf and sun this summer, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is urging beachgoers to be mindful of the many beach-nesting birds that will be tending to their nests and newly hatched young.

 

“Young birds have a tough go of things during their early days, so they really need our help. They face being trampled by unaware beachgoers, run over by motorized vehicles, or killed by predators. Even people simply getting too close can cause nest abandonment,” said Kacy Ray, Gulf Conservation Program Manager for ABC’s Gulf Beach-Nesting Bird Conservation Program.

 

“The best thing for beachgoers to do is to avoid getting close to areas where larger congregations of birds are gathered, and to always respect areas that are roped off or marked with signs designating an area that is used by nesting birds,” said Ray. “The habitat for these birds is diminishing every year Continue reading