Saturday, May 29, 2010

Swainson's Thrush

I took a quick dart to Kent's Pond yesterday afternoon to have a walk and see what I might find there. I was expecting warblers, not a thrush.  I saw, at a distance, a couple of small birds that I could not identify. The usual place at the start of the trail was totally empty.

I didn't hold out much hope for seeing any new bird.  After walking the South side of the trail and backtracking, I started to work the North side. I heard  a Robin and paused for a minute to try to determine its location. Often different birds can be found together.

It was then that I saw some movement in the brush on the ground. I found this very dark brown bird moving among the twigs and fallen branches. It seemed impossible to get a picture of it because of all of the branches between it and me. Focus is totally thrown off by anything in the frame between the camera and the target. I managed to get off three shots before it disappeared in the woods. I didn't think I captured the bird in any of them, but it was gone and that was it.

I hoped against hope that at least I got a clear record shot because I had not seen this bird before and needed the picture to identify it. When I downloaded my images at home, I was delighted to find that I did get one clear shot. It was then that I got out all of my field guides in search of a dark brown bird with a pointed beak. I looked and I looked and there was no bird that looked like this one. Time to ask for help!  I sent the shot to Dave Brown, local birder, and he identified it right away as a Swainson's Thrush. The shot that I have does not reveal the markings on the breast and that proved to be difficult for me. Dave is always so good about identifying the bird and then, explaining the features that led him to the conclusion. Great instruction!

I searched the Discussion Group to try to learn more about when and where this bird appears. It seems that this is a common bird for Newfoundland but not so common for St. John's. The short hours that I spent at Kent's Pond to get some physical exercise led me to at least another hour of mental activity of identifying and learning about this 95th new bird in my 2010 list!

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