This afternoon, I joined two other volunteers (Cliff and Tom) at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area to be trained on how to check and maintain about 15 bluebird boxes located on the 301 acre farm. We were trained by Kim Hosen, Director of the Prince William Conservation Alliance and Wayne, who maintained the boxes last year. The bluebird boxes need to be checked once a week for a number of reasons to include removing old nests (bluebirds can raise three broods in a season), nests of other birds using the bluebird boxes, checking for eggs and hatchlings, monitoring fledglings, and checking to see if any predators like snakes, ants, etc. have attacked the nest and the eggs or young birds.
Four of the boxes we checked had 3 to 5 eggs, and one nest had newly hatched bluebirds that we estimated were about 5-7 days old. What we observed at each nest box was recorded in a book that is maintained during the season (April – August).
Spring has definitely arrived in northern Virginia as evidenced by the new bluebird nests and eggs, flowers, and green growth everywhere. Of course, I shot some photos in between the training; however, I traveled light today (one camera body and all purpose lens (28-300mm VR)–no tripod) since the primary purpose was training. When it is my turn to check the boxes, I will be carrying more gear and be doing some serious photography, so stand by for more photos. The schedule calls for me to check the boxes once in May, June, July, and August.
Some photos from today follow. The first (and one above) are wild azalea flowers and blooms.
Below is a young black rat snake that we saw on the trail. It was not moving and very still while watching us as we looked at it. Then, as I moved to get a side shot, it sped off through grass.
We had to remove several wasps and wasp nests. One of them follows.
We passed an old falling down house on the farm that I had to shoot.
Below, shot with my iPhone, are the five eggs we saw in one of the nests. I had to hold my iPhone in the box above the nest to get this shot, so it is not very good, but you can see the bright blue color of the eggs.
I may be going back to the farm tomorrow (with more gear). Regardless, I am planning to be there a lot this spring, summer, fall and next winter. What a wonderful place to experience and capture some of nature’s beauty.
Nice shot of bluebird eggs….they really are blue…thanks for sharing…..
Soon, I expect to have photos of bluebird hatchlings.
Sounds like very interesting volunteer work, everything except the snake … UGH! Looking forward to more pictures of those very blue eggs and their birdies.
As JulieAnne pointed out, my Easter egg hunt this weekend was more rewarding than looking for colored, hardboiled chicken eggs.
LOL! How true! BTW I just turned the page on your calendar that you gave me to May. Yes, I am ahead of myself. The photograph of NC with the hayrolls and beautiful sky is so wonderful and so very reminiscent of Tuscany. Sigh ….
We are very much looking forward to our trip to Italy and also being with the girls for two weeks. I will be uploading photos to my blog.