Over the last month I frequently walked the often untrodden trails of Goulds. Many days the weather was miserable so I didn't stay as long as I would have liked.
According to my Fitbit, during the Goulds' walks, I logged in 83 kilometers. Birding is exercise in disguise. Considering there were many days that were too cold or too rainy keeping me warm and dry at home, 83 kilometers is not bad.
I watched and listened to the breeding birds returning to their favorite spots to set up home. There is often the arrival of the males first, followed by the females a few days later.
The singing gets underway and the woods are alive for about a month. It is not the same species singing all this time, but a staggered concert of the different species arriving at different times.
It is always nice to see the return of color and sound to the drab woods of winter/spring.
There seem to be more American Redstarts this year. I am seeing them in areas where I have never seen them before.
Common Grackles are pairing off and nesting in several locations.
Note: My photos are not in my chosen order because of a finicky feature on BlogSpot. Among the American Redstarts, there are many first-summer males among them. I have seen eight!
I went back through many years of photos of Redstarts, and I do not have one shot of a first-summer male, until now. For me, this is unusual.
The above young bird will transition into this stunning black and orange phenom.
I experienced some interesting bird behaviour along my walks. On one morning, this extremely vociferous Osprey circled overhead me as I walked a trail for nearly 20 minutes. I don't know what was up with this guy, but it did make for an interesting stroll.
Red Crossbills are plentiful while the White-winged numbers are dwindling.
I watched as the sparrow species returned in good numbers.
I listened as the Northern Waterthrush filled the woods with song everywhere I went.
Cedar Waxwings first showed up at Third Pond and are now actively flycatching at Bidgood Park. Also interesting, I saw several sparrows join in the flycatching.
The spring plumage is so rich. On the dull, foggy days, the warblers of yellow color are so easy to spot on branches.
Of course, the males look a lot more spiffy than the females.
Pic: Out of order. I spent a lot of time scouting areas where swallows may be present. Bidgood Park hasn't yielded the stunning swallow show of previous years. Very few swallows showed up there, and now there are only three Tree Swallows seen regularly.
Goulds has also hosted some special visitors. Among them is this Gray Catbird. I have heard this bird before, but never seen one.
I saw it a couple of times, but because I am a morning birder, the sun was always at this back of this bird, making it impossible for me to get any decent shots. I did enjoy the views though.
This bird is a chatterbox. It is so easy to locate because it has been singing steadily over the last week.
A surprise visitor to Power;s Road was this American Kestrel. When I first saw it, it was near the road. My car spooked it when I stopped. It flew to this distant tree. I decided to get a shot before shutting off my motor to get a more steady image. The second I turned off the engine, this bird was gone. I stayed awhile, but it didn't return. How did this bird come to be there?
Now, back to the swallows... It was what I call "birding torture" every time I went to Third Pond to check the swallows. The wind was fierce, the morning temperature was hovering around zero, and the birds were far.
I tried hard not to let this deter me. I nestled in as close to the brush/trees to block the wind and steady my binoculars as possible and began the challenge of making sense of what I was seeing.
Over several visits, I was able to see Tree, Barn, and Bank Swallows. I also saw two female and one male Purple Martins on different trips.
It was tough viewing, but often when I see something that peeks my interest or curiosity, I lose awareness of the elements. I even have to be careful not to fall off a rock, step in water or moose poop!
On my last visit, I only saw a single Tree and Barn Swallow. They flew out from the south river flow. Terns remain in this site, along with a pesky Merlin.
The appearance of a Tennessee Warbler was also a "plus." It was a one-day wonder.
Of course, I had several birds get away without an ID. This is only one of them.
Finding suitable clothing to wear when birding is not easy. It has to have pockets, not make noise when you move, be of a colour that will not spook the birds, be comfortable and functional in every way. I recently found just the right hoodie and Tee.
When my daughter first saw me wearing it, she liked it right away. Form and function are important.. When I told her about all of the features of the shirt, she replied: "That's not just a shirt. That's a piece of equipment." She is right.
I have added some pics here to illustrate some of the details of the WUNDERBIRD birding attire: There are two front pockets designed to support the binoculars in a high or low position to ease neck strain while birding. A front, double-layered, hand-warming pocket is functional and deep enough to carry items. The hood is designed just for birders. It is snug and constructed so as not to drop in your face when using "opticals." It stays put, no matter how high the wind. That is particularly important here in Newfoundland . The shoulders boast padding for birders who carry scopes or a large tripod-mounted camera.
The material is UV protected, comfortable, breathable, quick-drying, wrinkle-free and for me, the best feature is that it repels insects. Yesterday, as I birded Third Pond the black flies were swarming. Nothing moved around my body, but zeroed in on my face and head. I decided to put the garment to the test and pulled up the hood. Within seconds, the black flies moved away. That is a major added bonus! I cannot overstate how much I like this product. Note: The sizing is exact.
Here is the link to the WUNDERBIRD web site: https://wunderbirdworld.com/
The items listed at that site are quoted in U.S. Dollars, shipped from the U.K. and arrived at my door step on the third day after the order. In Canada, applicable duties and taxes will apply.
During the last week, I have attended three events showcasing what my granddaughters have learned this year. It was exciting and amazing to see them grow in every way. Of the three programs, it is only the dance show that gets my camera firing on all cylinders! It is my favorite production of the year.
As usual, the night starts with pre-show pictures. The girls are coiffed, powdered and frocked. All of this happens in a very short time following a day of school and pre-arrival at the Arts and Culture Centre.
Flash, bam, alakazam! The moment is captured for all time. This is the fourth annual show for the youngest.
I have prepared a photo album for them to chronicle their history of performance. There is nothing like prints to flip through and remember the many fun experiences over the years.
For the eldest, this is her eighth year, and it has been a busy one.
Following a couple of years of ballet, she is now taking lessons in Modern, Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Hip-Hop along with maintaining a spot in the performing group.
Her love of movement (and she moves all the time!) includes dance and gymnastics. There is no doubt the skills developed in both of these activities have spilled over to enhance each one.
There is a grueling rehearsal schedule leading up to this event, and for the first time, I could see some tiredness before the event. Nevertheless, like a trooper, she danced with vim and dedication.
What adds to the excitement is the togetherness. They enjoy it together. On a home visit during the year, they pulled out all of the costumes from the years-past and put on an impromptu show.
With all the finishing touches, they were off to the show.
This is a ballet performance to the tune of "Up."
Tap Dance.... There are a lot of quick costume changes going on backstage.
Hip Hop Dance with a little attitude.
And so... with a little wave to the family, the show comes to a close for another year. Congratulations girls for all of your hard work to make for a very entertaining evening!