International visitors to my site have been regular and increasing. It is such a pleasure to have people from so many countries drop in from time to time. Among the countries of origin, many visitors from the Philippines land here. In appreciation, I have used a Tagalog phrase as today's heading: katuwaan lang means "just for fun!"
That is what today's post is all about - the pleasure of seeing so many little birds filling up the woods again. This Ruby-crowned Kinglet was one of four who greeted me on my walk Monday. She came close, looked around for a bit and quickly disappeared.
The presence of Blackpoll warblers seemed to have peeked last week. This week they are scarce.
Black and White Warblers seen this week have increased over the last week or so. I saw about 10 on three short walks.
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is back. I came upon two large groups of these tiny little birds on Sunday off Blackhead Rd.
This handsome Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is one of my favorite birds of the summer. He has stayed all alone in a trail off Second Pond trail for more than a month now.
He is extremely curious and easy to approach. Since this area is seldom visited, I think he enjoys the company.
There is a good food supply in the area, but I have to wonder what is keeping this solitary bird in one place for so long.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is now showing up everywhere and in big numbers. The question is: What other species may be tagging along with them?
The Common Yellowthroat is now commonplace even in my backyard. I have seen 7 females over the last week, but no males have appeared yet.
Yellow Warblers are scarce now. There were several places where they were ever-present.
However, they have moved away from their breeding grounds and are few and far between.
At this time of the year with migration in progress, I stop and check out every warbler, especially the yellow ones. Who knows what surprises may appear out of nowhere?
Common Grackles have been easily viewed all summer at Virginia Lake, and they continue to rule in this area.
On the weekend, I heard two making quite a racket. I stayed in the area until they both showed themselves. These are quite beautiful birds.
Shorebirds are few, but most of the summer I have been entertained by Spotted Sandpipers. Three continue to hang out along the river running between Second Pond and Third Pond. There were three at Virginia Lake earlier this week - Spotted Sandpipers without the spots, must have been juveniles.
The most interesting find over the last couple of days was this great little immature Magnolia Warbler. I heard it singing as I drove along Blackhead Road. Hitting the breaks, I quickly stopped and began scouring the area. It finally popped out for just a second, and then, as quick as it came, it zipped off into the deep woods. There was not another bird in the area.
I've been quite busy this summer, but things are about to settle back into a less-demanding routine - just in time for some great Fall birding!
I have been trying to figure out how to create a running slide show of the rare birds I have photographed in Newfoundland. So far, no success! In the meantime, I am working on updating the Flickr site to host the photo, name of bird, date found and location. That, too, is a work in progress.
For the time being, I have created a link to the rare bird set on Flickr.
On most every birding trip while hoping to see some unexpected bird, I encounter something out of the ordinary. Such was the case with the photos posted here today. I have never seen an American Robin like this one.
While not extraordinary, it is fairly uncommon to see a Black-headed Gull at this time of the year. This one was at Spaniard's Bay a few weeks back.
With all of the mixing among ducks, I often encounter some that are extremely handsome or just plain different ... like this one.
While in a trail off Blackhead Road last week, I came across this Yellow-rumped Warbler with a very odd tail.
These kinds of finds keep me looking closely, even at the every-day birds that just appear out of nowhere.
On a quick trip to Renews on Saturday, small yellow birds were crisscrossing the highway in front of me the whole way. Being in a rush, I couldn't stop every time. However, the temptation was too great to pass by La Manche Road without checking to see what could be there.
I drove to the end of the road without seeing any birds. Ugh, waste of time. On my way back, I saw one bird and decided to stop. It paid off. One bird turned into a flurry of activity. Yellow birds were everywhere. Yellow Warblers, female Blackpoll Warblers, and American Goldfinch as well as the usual Black and White and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Skulking down low some distance from the road was this one. It stayed around a while, but getting a picture was torture. Just as I would get it out to show itself a bit, a flipping, zipping car would come whizzing down the road, typical of weekends on this road. It retreated into the cover of the woods. I struggled time and time again until I finally got some shots to study for an ID. Once I had a chance to look closely, I could see the broken eye ring, the hint of a gray band across the breast, no wing bars, and more. It turned out to be an immature Mourning Warbler!
While focusing on the Mourning, this little yellow bird popped up on a nearby branch, stayed for a few moments and took off.
Only my camera saw this bird as I didn't have time to raise my binos. I shot three pictures before it disappeared. When I looked at them more closely, I could see the cap on the head, but it went all the way to the beak. Could this be a special bird?
The back looked quite blue in the shaded light. Well, it turned out to be special, as they are all special. This immature Wilson's Warbler had all the distinguishing marks of a Wilson's, but it sure looked different from the bright, "lemony" yellow matures with a dark black cap. This is the time of the year to really reach deep into the distinct field marks of each little warbler to come up with an ID. I like the challenge and hope the opportunity arises over and over.
Driving to Renews, I thought what are my chances that I am going to be able to pick out this rare little shorebird among all of the Semipalmated Plovers. I reflected on how difficult it was going to be to find "Waldo" amidst all of the crawling movement on the beach.
Oh well, it was worth a try! I always take too many pictures when I go shore birding. Often by enlarging the picture I can better see the bird than with the binoculars. That happened when I went to see the Red Knot. This time, I kept the pictures to a minimum taking less than 20 shots and most of them of the Common Ringed Plover. It really is like finding a needle in a haystack. The saving circumstances is that the haystack was relatively small this time.
I ran into Dave S. and Clyde T. when I arrived at Renews beach on Saturday. They gave me two bits of information that helped in the search: The bird was immature and the back was paler than the Semipalmated Plovers.
The truth is there weren't that many plovers on the beach, probably less than a dozen. By eliminating all of the birds with color on their beak (adults), I was able to pay more attention to birds with dark beaks. (Turns out the bird is an adult female.) Anyway, the tip led me in the right direction.
There were other plovers there with a wide band, so I focused on finding one with a wide band AND a pale back. Once I enlarged a couple of pictures, I saw the long white supercilium. The other plovers didn't have that. I felt pretty confident this was the bird, so I followed it around the beach. That wasn't easy. It moved a lot! Every time I would switch between my binoculars and camera, I would lose it.
Reading an article by Dave Brown after I returned home, I also learned the back of the Common Ringed Plover is more scaled than the Semi. That is also a helpful field mark to zero in on this bird.
I followed the Common Ringed Plover around the beach and the look-out area as the tide came in. Finally, I was able to get a look at the feet! That was the deciding factor: No webbing meant I had, indeed, found the bird!
This shot of a Semipalmated Plover shows the absence of the supercilium, and a colorful beak. However, from a distance, in torturous lighting and the constant movement of the birds, it is very hard to find THE ONE. I was pretty pleased with adding one more bird to my Life List.
Here are some samples of the new images of butterflies I just added to the Butterflies in Newfoundland page.
I have actually been studying (a little) to be able to differentiate a Gray Comma from a Green Comma and a Clouded Sulfur from a Pink-edged Sulfur. Interesting, but I don't think I would ever be able to tell the difference when they are "on the fly."
I have reviewed and compared closely the Pink-edged Sulfur and the Clouded Sulfur. They are very, very similar, but I think I have them correct now. I removed three pictures from the Pink-edged Sulfur page and have added some new ones to replace them.
I found the information at Environment Canada's site. By viewing images side-by-side, it is much easier to see the differences.
Every now and then, I come upon a cluster of multi-species pockets of small birds. Every time, I think - "This is it!"
Getting all excited, I go to check out some of the hot spots, and I find nothing. The mini-bursts of chickadees, sparrows and small numbers of warblers are truly motivating, but there don't seem to be any unusual migrants among them.
I keep looking and looking, and by doing so, I am getting more opportunity to see the common birds around us.
The Swamp Sparrows are showing up in all sorts of shades and plumage. It is really amazing how different they can look from the mature bird with the bright red head.
There are some areas that are teeming with sparrows. A drive up Power's Road can flush as many as 30 birds. Cape Spear has large numbers of Savannah Sparrows. And so the story goes, sparrows are everywhere.
It was just yesterday when I was trying to scan each sparrow at Cape Spear to see if there might be anything different among them. I saw what I thought could have been a Lapland Longspur. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to relocate it but without success.
Yellow Warblers are scarce among grouping warblers. It seems they are still staying close to their breeding grounds.
It is almost a sure thing to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler no matter where I look. However, they are not plentiful either.
Now, it seems to me that with all of the wind we have had this spring and summer, we should have one bird of every species on earth land on this island. Where are they? Well, maybe every time we got a strong Nor'easter driving birds up from the east coast, we quickly got a powerful Sou'wester to drive the birds right back where they came from:(
And so went the same wind pattern for four months now. I have visions of so many rare birds just catching sight of "The Rock," when all of a sudden the wind yanks them around and sends them in another direction.
In the meantime, I have seen lots of butterflies - four commas yesterday. I am studying the pictures and will share later.