Nature diary > Bluebirds, swallows, and butterflies


A favorite birding spot of mine is Willard's Woods, a town conservation land parcel in Lexington, Mass. There is a stream running through and a small pond. Near the pond is a bluebird nesting box. An Eastern bluebird pair nested there in April. The bluebirds perched in a tree or a branch, and dove into the grasses for insects. The perch on the right is a woody stem not far off the ground. They dove, and dove again, and then went back to the nesting box. I happily followed them around the meadow, trying to get a picture. Around the same pond I saw Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, and Cedar Waxwings.

There was a tree swallow pair in another bluebird box in a neighboring meadow. Unlike the bluebirds, they catch bugs on the wing. They were very approachable, much more than the bluebirds. I could rarely get closer than 10 yards to the bluebirds. Pretty quickly I got a lovely frame-filling picture of a tree swallow on top of the nesting box pole. Problem was, the box was attached to the pole with ugly electrical wire. I added a stem I found lying on the ground to the top of the nesting box. The stem was the same stuff as the bluebird perch, and I stuck it in between the wire and the metal pole.- I was able to sneak in and do it without disturbing the birds.

The perch was a hit with the swallows, sometimes both male and female perched on it at the same time. The swallow picture in the bird gallery was taken on the added perch. The Willard meadows around this time were filled with an hundred or more Wood satyrs, brown butterflies with yellow eyespots. This mating pair was actually taken at another place.

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