Close ups–bird life and more


Great blue heron hunting next to Stillwater Scenic Trail, Smithfield, RI

Summer offers a lot of opportunities to get outdoors and simply sit a while to observe what is nearby. Sometimes that means finding wildlife right in your backyard. Other times, if you’re lucky, you spot birds wading just off a bike path,


Juvenile Redtailed Hawk, next to the Assabet River Railtrail, Maynard, MA

perched over the bike path, or hanging out near the lake.

01 song sparrow

Banded song sparrow

Recently I was invited to observe birds getting banded by a local group,

11wing feather closeup

Identifying markers on a banded bird

and got the chance to see some birds very close up.

08 bluebird in morning light

Bluebird in the early morning light, Uxbridge, MA

What an education. I am a bird-enjoyer and no expert, but am always interested in learning more about the creatures who live right around us, some seasonal visitors, while others stay here year round. Bluebirds have in the migrated south, but more appear to be staying year round.

10 bluebird remains, fox breakfast

Bluebird feathers, what remained from a foxes’ breakfast

And while they seem to be thriving, the circle of life persists.

We heard some chirping noises the other day, and soon realized some mother turkeys and their little ones were traveling through the yard, and not happy about getting close to our cat, sunning himself in the outside ‘catio” (which keeps him from killing most birds, except the ones foolish enough to fly inside his enclosure).


Young buck, with antlers covered in velvet, checks out my blackberry bushes

And then there was the young buck, whose antlers were still covered in velvet. He checked out the blackberries in our backyard,


Headed off. No blackberries were harmed on this visit.

but then wandered slowly off, finding little of interest to him near the house.


Sunning turtles in Silver Lake

We are lucky enough to live right near a lake, and a cool morning was the perfect time to get out on the lake to spy turtles,


Red winged Blackbird perched on a stump in the middle of Silver Lake

and check up on the red-winged blackbirds that settle in for the summer.

I struggle with the heat throughout the summer, but these moments of grace, being allowed to peer into the lives of wild creatures who share the world we live in, make the hot summer days more than manageable. May you find much to enjoy in the long, hot days of summer. As with every season, it will not last.


Swan drifting in the Assabet River, Maynard, MA


beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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