This past weekend was quite a fortunate one for me. I had a great time. I was able to get out in nature and enjoy myself quite a bit. I was able to experience nature first hand both at home and at local nature sites. It was a great time as a nature lover, birder, and photographer. I went hiking two days during the weekend. The first day I went hiking I was able to see a pair of yellow bellied sapsucker at their nest cavity. I was actually able to see the male emerge from the hole and land on a nearby tree. This was a first for me as I had never before seen a woodpecker at an active nest cavity. I could not tell if there were young inside. I did not hear anything to indicate there was and the adults were not bringing food to the cavity. I was able to watch them flit around amongst the nearby trees. It was quite an experience for me. This also resulted in me being able to get the best photographs to date of yellow bellied sapsuckers that I have ever been able to take. I look forward to visiting that spot again. That same day at home I noticed a pair of Baltimore orioles flying around our yard. After watching them for a while I determined that they kept returning to the same place over and over. I walked over to where they were going and discovered that they are building a nest high up in one of our aspen trees. This is the first active nest of Baltimore orioles I have ever seen. It will be nice to have a nest close by to observe over time. I was also able to get some nice shots of the orioles.
The second day I went hiking I did not see the woodpeckers, but I was treated to some other surprises. The hike was mostly uneventful but enjoyable. Towards the end of the hike I spotted some deer moving off in the woods and I stopped to photograph them and I was able to see that they were young bucks just beginning to grow antlers. I had never before seen bucks with antlers at any stage in person. so I snapped a few shots as they moved off mostly for documentary purposes. At the very beginning of my hike I had also sighted a deer out in a field which I took a few photos of. Upon reviewing the photos later I discovered that it too was a young buck just beginning to grow antlers. Upon reaching the meadow at the end of my hike it was evident that the song birds were active. There were several Baltimore orioles flying about in pairs and males chasing other males. I was able to approach them slowly and get close to the area they were flying around in. Eventually a female Baltimore oriole landed on a branch of a bush right in front of me. I was able to create some very nice images from that occurrence. It was the first time I had been able to photograph a female Baltimore oriole.
After my hike I decided I wanted to check out a local park to see if there were any ducklings there. There were no ducklings. I was pleasantly surprised to see a red fox however. I rarely see them. I even snapped a few photos of it. Then as I walked further into the park I was able to see a European starling feeding its young and watch and photograph the process. As I was leaving the park I saw another small bird flitting about. It looked like a bird I had never seen before, so I patiently waited for it to come close enough to photograph it. When it finally came to a good spot I began firing away. Taking shot after shot. Following its movements as it flew around. Once I was able to see it closer I was able to identify it as an American redstart. Another first.
Later that same day out in my yard, just doing some random yard work I was also fortunate to spot some birds. Ever since hanging up a peanut feeder several weeks ago we have had a red breasted woodpecker that frequently visits. I had not to this point been able to get close enough to get any really high quality photos. I heard the woodpeckers call in the distance. Then I spotted it in a nearby tree. I quietly sat down in my chair and got ready with my camera, as I had learned the bird would approach even if I was present as long as I was still. The woodpecker flew right over to the tree where the feeder was located and eventually landed in the perfect spot for me to photograph it from where I was sitting. I was able to get the best photographs to date of a red breasted woodpecker. As I was photographing the woodpecker I saw a quick flash of red. I assumed it was a cardinal but I checked anyway. When I looked I saw that it was a scarlet tanager. This is the first time I had ever saw one. It stayed just long enough for me to get some good images of it.