i don't like naturing at the mt.auburn cemetery because the place is too manicured. by its very nature it's not a wild place and there's a team of grounds keepers who's job it is to make sure the cemetery is well-groomed. however, it's one of the closest "nature" places around where i live so sometimes when i have nowhere else better to go to, i head to the cemetery. it's one of the best places to spot migrating birds but birds have never been my thing (i lean more towards the smaller things, like insects or mushrooms) - that is until i got the new camera and the telephoto lens. birds are now the perfect subject matter for my new equipment; what used to be difficult to capture with my old setup is now fairly easily.
this morning i made some installers and delivered them to client P around noontime. with that done i was free for the rest of the day. i went to the cafe to get some lunch (rice noodles), came back home to grab my gear, then went to the mt.auburn cemetery. motorcycles aren't allowed inside so i parked out front (bicycles are forbidden as well - i saw a cyclist get yelled at). i was expecting to see some flowering trees and some of the earlier spring ones have blossomed like cherries, azaleas, and magnolias. there was a faint trace of fragrance throughout the whole place. there were still many trees that have yet to flower though, like the dogwoods and the rhodadendrons.
the highlight of the day was observing a great blue heron stalking its prey and feeding at willow pond. i've seen enough great blue herons that i don't even notice. this one caught my attention because from the corner of my eye i saw it swooping down into the pond with a wingspan of about 6 feet (like a pterodactyl). i never really knew why they called it a "blue" heron (they always seemed sort of grey) but upon closer inspection it does have a bluish tinge and it has blue "eyebrows" and tufts of blue feathers poking out the back of its head. it was walking around the water's edge looking for food. i got close enough so that it was directly in front of me (maybe 10 feet) and sat down by the edge of the pond and watched patiently. it stabbed the water a few times but without success. sometimes it'd just stand there, motionless, scanning the pond with its unblinking eyes. with another splash finally it pulled something out of the water. i grabbed the camera and began shooting; the heron had caught a bright orange carp and was holding it in its beak. suddenly it threw the fish into the air and swallowed it whole, its snake-like neck expanding to fit the meal. it flexed out its feathers (maybe to work the fish down to its stomach) and then returned back to normal.
if it wasn't for the great blue heron, seeing some flickers would've been the other highlight of the day. the most common bird in the cemetery today were definitely the robins. there wasn't a place you could go without seeing one of them. what made it worse is robins have a wide variety of calls, so at times i couldn't tell whether it was just some more noisy robins or some new birds. i bumped into a man and woman who were strapped-down with fatty nikon telephoto gear (i thought they were carrying miniature cannons); they told me about a red-tail hawk nearby (i didn't see it, i just heard it).
when i first came in i did see a mourning cloak. they're pretty butterflies but they're last season's surviving generation so most of them look very tattered. the one i saw had chunks of wings missing. i hope it mates soon so it could retire gracefully. i had an epiphany today: is the consecration dell a vernal pool? so i made my way to this little pool of water hoping to maybe see some newts. no newts but i did see some frog eggs clinging to a submerged twig. the dell definitely has some vernal pool qualities about it but i'm not sure if it's the kind of place salamanders would breed in (there probably isn't even any yellow-spotted salamanders anyway in this man-made cemetery). elsewhere, i saw green frogs (by pilgrim path) and some bull frogs (in willow pond, i heard them before i saw them). also: in a hollow tree trunk i saw a sleeping raccoon. i wanted to pet it but 1) i was afraid it was dead, 2) i didn't want to get rabies (if it's a rabid raccoon), and 3) since raccoons are noctural it might get angry that i woke it up and bite me.
some bird's nests:
i made it back home close to 6pm. the rest of the evening was a confusing mixture of red sox game, toaster oven pizza, rotten grapes, and doctor who.