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Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Day Surprise

 On a glorious day at Cape Spear with the temp hovering around the freezing mark and no wind, things were hopping. Even a little squirrel was feeding on the hillside. There were large flocks of waxwings and Purple Sandpipers. Smaller flocks of Long-tailed Ducks and Eider were scattered about. Among the Common Eider were three King Eider and several Black Scoter, all of which were an unexpected treat.
 While walking down to the point, I came across nature-taking-its course as this gull was toying with a downed Dovekie. Keeping a watchful eye for other Dovekies I didn't see any flying by. I walked along the forbidden construction area and back with no luck.
 I was totally shocked when this happened. Just as I returned to the lower lookout, in flew this little Dovekie and landed about 12 feet from me.
 I blinked twice to make sure this wasn't a figment of my imagination. It was amazing to see this species out of the water, very close and so comfortable. It did not even seem to notice I was there.
 It set about preening and working on an area of its breast that appeared to have a healing gash in it.
 There was no indication in this bird's behaviour that it was hurting or impeded by this injury.
 From all angles, the gash appeared to be healing. The Dovekie stayed for about 10 to 15 minutes. I kept watching the trail to see if any other birders might arrive in time to see this close-up show. Fortunately, two others arrived and got a few minutes of great viewing.
As quick as it arrived, the Dovekie lifted off and flew on its way. Cape Spear always amazes, especially on a nice day!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Virginia Lake Osprey

 With all the rare bird sightings of late, it is a shame I have none of them to showcase here. Sometimes, you end up in the right place at just the right moment. Sometimes, it is luck and sometimes it is a result of smart birding.
 This encounter with an Osprey at Virginia Lake was luck! It is common to see this species feeding in the area, but it is not so common to have one come so close.
 This Osprey was on a mission to catch a fish to take back to its nest. While it kept its eye on me during its fishing expedition, it never waivered from its purpose for being there. Just because I was standing close to the fish didn't matter.
 It searched and searched, sometimes seeing something of interest but opted to keep searching.
 It flew back and forth in front of me.
 At times it would move closer to the water, then rise again. I wondered if the fish could see its shadow and if the Osprey knew that.
 Aside: I looked this bird over closely to see if it was hosting one of the tracking devises attached to several local Osprey this summer. This one was not.
 It was easy to tell when it was setting up for a dive. Its feet dropped as it swooped toward the water.
 When with an enormous amount of speed and force, it plunged into the water grabbing the fish in the instant of impact. It is such an amazing spectacle.
 In no time, it lifts up out of the water with a small trout clutched in its grip.
Successful, the Osprey then heads directly for its next. It is possible this is one of the birds nesting at Snow's Lane. There were two young Osprey reared there again this year.

Monday, November 28, 2016

TWO Brant

 Having to go to Holyrood last Sunday, I made a detour to Kelligrews. As I drove in Pond Road, I was surprised to see the two visiting pale-bellied Brant grazing next to the road.
 It was actually a little surprising as this species is known to prefer seaside delicacies over pond side fare.
 It was also surprising to see how tame these two birds are. Since the area is a bustling duck pond, these birds may have become a little lazy as there are regular deliveries of seed and bread offered at this location.
 Word has it that the Brant have not been seen over the last couple of days. Did they fatten up and take off? Did they land on someone's dinner table? Have they found a new home in the surrounding area? There was one spotted in recent years in Chamberlain's Pond. It is possible these two Brant have just moved around the area.
Whatever the outcome, it was a treat to be able to see two Brant together. and just in the nick of time.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nevermind the rain: Just Bird

 It just felt like a birding day. Yes, there was rain in the forecast, but the temp was high and the winds were low. I just had to give it a try. First stop: Ball field. Just as I pulled up there in the early morning, the Great Egret made a quick fly over. It was headed for the ball field, but turned around and went back up Virginia River. Second Stop: The Legion. There, I saw the resident Prairie Warbler, but also caught sight of another bird.  After 30 minutes of following it, nearly walking in the river in the process, out popped this bright Yellow-breasted Chat.  I was surprised, because all I had seen of it was the dark, top body. The yellow was brilliant. I also think I saw another small bird, but I could not get a look at it at all.

Third Stop: Quidi Vidi Lake. Warm and relaxed, I headed around the lake. There were no birds whatsoever until I reached the last bend before the end of the East End. Several sparrows were flying around the low growth. Then, something quite greenish looking bolted. I raised my camera and was able to capture this second YB Chat. I was really surprised. So enthralled was I with this development, I failed to notice the big storm moving in. I hurried to the gazebo to take cover from the pouring rain and lightening.  As the storm got closer, I shut off all of my electronics and waited the storm out. Once the sky cleared I headed back to "the spot." Not one single bird showed itself.

 Dripping wet, I headed to my car.  I took one more look around the Legion greenery.
 While scanning the area, my eye landed on the Great Egret sitting on a rooftop. Please forgive the excessive number of photos, but I am not used to seeing this profile on our skyline.

 When the egret flew off, it headed back toward Virginia River. It was nice to talk with some walkers who were just as excited about seeing this bird as I was. It never gets old.

I checked out a few more places before heading home to dry off. Later in the afternoon, I checked Kelly's Brook and Rennie's River. The last shot in this series is of a small bird I saw at the brook. It was with kinglets and may very well be a kinglet. However, it looks too yellow. This one remains a puzzle.