Monday, October 19, 2009

Pine Nuts

I was getting my gear out of the car when I heard a commotion in the two red pines near the parking area in Tarrant Park.  There must have been a dozen chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches attacking the pine cones.  What were they after:  bugs or seeds?

 I watched the birds hop from cone cluster to cone cluster.  I figured it out after I caught a glimpse of what was in the beak of this nuthatch.

Seeds.  They were picking at the pine nuts!

It looked like the cones had just burst open, exposing the seeds to these hungry birds.

The weather was just wonderful - 49 degrees and sunny.  So nice that hikers and cyclists actually stopped to share their enthusiasm.  Usually all I get is a polite:  seeing any birds?  Today it was that and more - laments that this great weather won't last long.  Warm but no mosquitoes.

All around us, birds, frogs and even the insects were enjoying what may be the last blast of warm weather we'll be seeing for some time.

Mourning Cloak butterflies floated along the trail.

A green frog (a female with a bright white throat), a dozen Woolly Bear caterpillars and a mystery yellow black and white caterpillar crossed our path.

Box Elder Bugs swarmed on a yellow traffic sign.  

Cedar Waxwings, American Robins and Blue Jays were hanging out at a spring in the marsh.   Purple Finches shared the bushes with Fox Sparrows, House Finches and White-throated Sparrows.   And Eastern Bluebirds shared the grape vines with a lone Least Flycatcher.

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