Thursday, November 11, 2021

Take a Look at This

 I have not done much birding over the last two years or so.  It was very easy to fill up my time with other things.  Little by little, I spent less time roaming around the city and trekking through the woods. Despite that, I have birded a few out-of-the way places with some luck, but I found nothing like the rarities that have shown up here this year.

Many times, I opted not to go see some birds I have never seen before, but there were some I just couldn't ignore.

Among these were six great birds that I have not seen in Newfoundland or never seen at all.

Reaching back in my memory, I think the first of these was a Redwing that showed up in early 2021 in the backyard of a birder.  It stayed around for several days so I was able to see and enjoy it leisurely. 

Thinking this was my treat for the year, I settled in to making the most of winter by snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  Birding was out of my mind.  Then....boom! Another great bird arrived.

A Fieldfare appeared in the crown jewel of the city's parks, Bowring Park.  I had only heard stories of this species being around.  I even made an attempt to see one in Central Newfoundland several years ago, but dipped.  That made this a must-see bird.  I only stayed long enough for the Fieldfare to put in a brief appearance.  This has been the year of record shots, no real photography going on here.

I was really surprised and pleased to see these two great birds. My winter gift!

I believe it was in April that a White-breasted Nuthatch showed up in a yard in Pouch Cove.  I couldn't believe it.  I made a quick trip (about 20 minutes north) to see this little bird. I didn't stay very long so I was happy to have this record shot of this great little bird, but the best images are in my mind's eye.

This had to be it for the year. Three great birds, very accessible, just dropped out of the sky. But... this was not the end of the parade of good birds.

Fall migration sent us a Green Heron less than 20 minutes away in another direction.  This one was nice to see.  Last one I saw was in Arkansas, and I really never imagined I would see another.  This one was found in an out-of-the way location, not frequented by many birders.

Then, even closer to home came two extremely rare-for-our-area western species.  Close in proximity and in days of arrival were a Long-billed Dowitcher and a Western Tanager.

These rarities are only the ones I have seen. There were other great birds that showed up around the province.  What is causing this influx of lost birds? There is no doubt the cycle of weather played a huge hand in bringing them here.  Is this a result of climate change?  Who knows for sure, but tracking patterns over the years to come will provide enough data to enable more accurate speculation.

Since it has been a long time since my last post, I would like to thank those who have continued to visit this blog and message me.  The blog crossed the half a million mark of visitors from around the world. I never imagined that when I started this many years ago.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Brown Booby Delight!

 Every now and then a bird that is so good shows up that the "all call" via Google Groups, Facebook, phone calls and private sharing goes out to summons birders to the location. The bird this time was a great Brown Booby.
 Recently, there had been a couple of off-shore reports of a Brown Booby landing on vessels. Hope was high  one of these birds would make its way to the island. This one did, hitching a ride with a ship from the Grand Banks. The ship came to shore to avoid the Dorian effect. Lucky us.
 The ship docked in St. John's Harbour at 2 a.m. September 7. When the crew awoke the next morning, they found this guy sitting atop a light. Once I heard the "call," I rushed to the harbourfront somewhat sceptical the bird would still be there.
 To my surprise and delight, there it sat, one of the easiest "twitches" of all time. Numerous birders gathered on the dock to marvel at our latest arrival.
 During the short time I was present, the bird hardly opened its eyes. It must have been trying to recover a bit from its long trip. I was only able to capture three shots with its small eyes open. However, as the morning wore on, I did see some photos with its eyes wide open, gathering steam for its departure, perhaps.
 It is interesting its reactions to its surroundings must have been based on its auditory senses. It seemed awake turning its head frequently, just too tired to open its eyes. I have had mornings like that ;).
 For information about previous records of the Brown Booby in Newfoundland, I encourage you to visit Jared Clarke's site at:

This is the second extremely rare bird that has shown up within the last week. The Rosette Tern was the other. Who knows what else might be driven in by Dorian? Eyes wide open.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Recent Sightings

 To me, this is the best time of the year to walk and explore. With an open mind and open eyes scanning up and down and all around...  all at the same time, any sighting is possible.  Bruce M. reported seeing some Cliff Swallows offshore. When I went out last week, I had that in mind. To my delight, I saw two swallows fly over the trail at Virginia River. Fortunately, one of them gave me three chances to get a photo.
 A close look at the picture showed I had very unexpectedly snagged a Cliff Swallow. I assume the other one was the same, but I have no proof of that.
 I typically begin my migratory search by checking the trails in town to watch for activity. At Quidi Vidi Lake, there were 16 Yellow Warblers and five Song Sparrows, but the special bird seen on this walk was a common Sharp-shinned Hawk.
 While on the boardwalk, I spotted a bird sitting on a rail. I stopped and looked to determine the species. Lighting was not good for a picture. That was no problem. This little hawk hopped to the other side of the railing and had a good look at me.
 Over the next ten minutes, we got very comfortable with each other. That was surprising, but what was even more surprising was the absence of foot traffic around the trail during this time. I was able to get within ten feet of this bird producing nearly full-frame pictures.

 He was keeping an eye on me, the Yellow Warblers behind him and some mystery bird flicking the branches in front of him. It eventually was a walker that spooked the hawk into flight.
 A few days later, I happened upon this little Prairie Warbler in Blackhead. I believe it was around the 26th. Seemed early to me.

 Now today, I had a great encounter with an immature Goshawk. This huge bird must have been sitting on a tree top just 15 feet from me. I was trying to take a picture of a distant bird to get an ID. When finished, I noticed the hawk so close to me.
 The very moment my eyes landed on it, the bird flew. There are the only two pictures I was able to get before it was gone.
 Once the hawk left, a few warblers began to show themselves.
 Best among them was this Canada Warbler. Again, it seems early for this species. Nevertheless, I am now convinced there are numerous migrating birds hiding away in the woods.
While warbler sightings are few in number, there have been some good ones to enjoy.
 What next I wonder!

Friday, June 7, 2019


 This is the time of the year when I attend four to six performance. I enjoy so much seeing how much both these little girls have learned  over the year.
 The dance show is the showcase event for both. What a great time to dress up, do what they love to do and scurry offstage to change costumes for the next dance.
 Our routine for years now has been the pre-show pictures. I am always amazed at how cooperative they are and how much they enjoy these few moments. Needless to say, I enjoy it too!
 This year I was able to capture two costumes for each. Time does not always afford that luxury. Four more outfits remain in clothes bags all lined up for quick changes.

 Forty-five minutes in and they are still smiling.  It is surely the excitement of the long-awaited show.
 We were able to manage many individual shots and many duo pics. There were times when one would remind the other: "My turn."

 Once the show began, I missed the first pirate dance because I was trying to adjust my camera in the dark to the ever-changing light and shooting with no flash. Just lucky we are allowed to take any pictures at all during the show.
 I think I got a little trigger-happy as I took 700+ pictures and filled up my card, all before the curtain call.

 It was fun when Buddy came in wearing a Growler's jersey and joined in the tap (skuff) dance.
 There were ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop and Latin dances. Yes, you guessed it: It was a very long show.
 Despite the length and the energy expended, the children remained 100% engaged.
 This little tap dance was choreographed to "Boogey Woogie  Bugle Boy." Not only fun, but fitting on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The last dance before the curtain call (and my camera full) was this fun Latin dance. All of the children put in endless hours of preparation and many late nights with dress rehearsals and shows. Hats off to all of them who did a great job!