While moseying around White Hills and enjoying a little Orange-crowned Warbler, The bird alert "tweet" on my phone went off.
Eager to see what had been found, I checked the screen and got a great surprise: Alvan Buckley found a Meadowlark in a field in St. John's east, and he was only 5 minutes away.
Rushing like crazy, I headed to Kenny's Pond. Alvan was patiently standing in the field waiting for others to arrive before moving toward the bird.
Within minutes the bird flew from one end of the field to another. Wow! It flew by so quickly, it was hard to see the details of this great bird.
Alvan suggested I try to get some good pictures as this just might be a Western Meadowlark. I took my job seriously and kept adjusting my camera to try to get the best color and stop-action of a bird in flight. While I didn't get any amazingly clear, crisp shots, I did get some record shots.
It took a while, but I finally got enough detailed record shots to allow for identification. Curious about the difference between the Eastern and the Western Meadowlark, I went to my car to check the guide. In the "Birds of North America" that I carry in my car, I found the outer tail feathers were different on Eastern and Western. That was my starting point. I flipped through a few pictures I had and there, plain as day, was the extended brown markings all the way down the P.3. I headed back to the field to try to get more shots.
I managed a few more and headed home to check other guides. The Western shows with a yellow malar while the Eastern has a white one. I couldn't see any white malar on this bird. I was becoming more and more excited that this might be a Western Meadowlark. What an amazing find by Alvan!!
This shot probably shows the tail marking better than any other. I am still waiting on the final word on whether or not this is a Western or Eastern, but my money goes on the rarest of all, first-time record-for-Newfoundland....Western Meadowlark.