Monday, June 29, 2015

Protective Parent

 Instinct is a powerful thing. While this grouse looked a little stunned holding its ground on a side road, it really had an important purpose.
 It might have been safer for this Ruffed Grouse to just run in the woods and hide, but it didn't. When approached, it held fast to its position.
 When its territory became encroached, it launched into a frenzy of behaviour: It crouched low, tucked its tail, began making a crying sound and scurried around the road.
 All of this was away from the area it seemed to be protecting.
 It is just that time of the year. It is my guess that the baby grouse may already be born, but is not yet out of the nest. The behaviour was too radical to just be protecting eggs. This grouse was worried about its young.
Similar scenes of protective behaviour will be playing out all across the province in the weeks to come. It is amazing to see, but also important not to linger too long. This bird was clearly in distress.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Olive-sided Flycatcher - Bidgood Park

 The list of great birds showing up at Bidgood Park is continuing to grow, as is the number of new birders enjoying the show with shiny new binoculars.
 With today being a holiday, it was just too challenging to bird along the gravel roads. Off road machines roared by stirring up clouds of dust and lots of little rocks. Deciding to drop into Bidgood Park to check for butterflies turned out to be a good thing.
As soon as I reached the boardwalk, I noticed a different bird mixed among the feeding swallows and waxwings. This one had quite dark sides, as they say, resembling a vest. Only one bird came to mind... an Olive-sided Flycatcher. I worked my way closer to it, and found it to be just that.
 I sat on a bench and watched as it would move away but come back to a nearby tree. Unfortunately, this bird was sensitive to the movement of the many walkers and moved back quite a way.
I didn't take the time to wait any longer, but I felt pretty sure it would move in closer for those who want to view it. The Olive-sided Flycatcher is an uncommon breeder in the province, but it doesn't frequent the eastern side of the island very often. I felt pretty lucky to get such a good look at this one.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Just Shocking!!

 I have been making a point of exploring at least one new area each day I go out birding. Today was no different....well, a little.
 If I had seen this as I went into the trail, I would not have gone any further. It was only on my way out that I found these bizarre things hanging from a tree!
 I had no idea what they are. I have since learned they are probably a mink or an otter left by someone with a trapping license, maybe to feed the birds or attract other wildlife to the area.
They were hung quite high off the ground. Yuk!!! I won't go down that Jurassic trail ever again!

Loud and Long

 Early risers get the benefit of experiencing the best part of a birding day. At this time of the year, bird song is winding down, but those who do choose to sing are singing loud and long in the early-morning hours.
 I got up and on the go quite early yesterday with the intent to take a long walk in Cochrane Pond Road to see a Mourning Warbler. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard one singing along Blackhead Road. That meant I had more time to explore new places.
 This Mourning was a stunning male singing so loudly by the road I could hear it from my car well before I reached its location. I stayed with it for about 30 minutes, and it sang the whole time.
 Another early-morning delight was this Rusty Blackbird. Honestly, when I first saw it, I thought it was a Gray Catbird. This Rusty was gray all over. What happened to its rusty color? I marveled at the huge breakfast it was having. It could not have squeezed one more fly into its beak.

 It flew off and was only gone a few moments before it returned with an empty beak. Once it began to call, there was no doubt this was a Rusty Blackbird.
Then, there was this male American Redstart that sang on the same perch for over an hour. I first saw it on my walk in a trail where I spent quite a bit of time.  When I returned, it was sitting in the same tree singing the same loud song.

I suppose one of my bigger surprises of the day was finding this Long-tailed Duck in close to shore at Maddox Cove. It looked healthy and was regularly diving for food. What accounts for this? While there is a lot of predictability in birding, every day I encounter something out of the ordinary. That is what ejects me from the comfort of my bed as soon as the early, early morning sun penetrates my room-darkening blinds and curtains.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


 When I should have been pulling weeds, I was out walking around, listening and looking upward. Unfortunately, the only thing that buzzed me really close was this little plane. I couldn't even get a shot of the whole thing because it was so close.
Even without rarities, there is always something to enjoy and ponder  (These shots are not in the order in which I saw them.) Birds in flight just appear, often high and far away This should have been just another typical Bald Eagle sighting, but it seemed different.
 This is the first-ever eagle I saw with blue eyes. I wonder if the eyes change from brown to blue to yellow as it matures. This one seems on the edge of maturity. It left me wondering.
 Then, there was this Northern Harrier, much too far away. It was activity hunting as it skirted over the treetops, then ascending only to spiral into a dive.
 I watched for over ten minutes as it hunted. After this particular dive, it disappeared. I assume it finally got something to eat. Interestingly, there was another Northern Harrier sitting in a tree nearby watching the action. It was an exciting display of nature. Soooo glad I didn't do yard work today.
 Now this one... happened yesterday. Believe it or not, this is a female American Kestrel. As I was walking along the fence behind the old lighthouse at Cape Spear, it just appeared flying along the rock face. I couldn't get my camera up over the fence quick enough to get a shot.Since it didn't seem to go far, I walked beyond the lighthouse and sat for quite a while hoping it would reappear. It didn't.
 This immature Rough-legged Hawk, like the others, just appeared in the distance along Pouch Cove Line a couple of days ago. It was very far way, but I did manage to get a few shots of it. It was a beautiful bird.
 Then, of course, I was buzzed once again by a close encounter with an young male moose.
I first heard it bellowing in the woods, so I worked my way to a location where I could get a good look at it. It is amazing how quickly they can move when they want to with a tremendous amount of power. Will my yard ever get the attention it needs? Hard to say. With good weather days so scarce, I am just drawn to play instead of work.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tennessee Warbler in Full Song

 Even though the Tennessee Warbler is a common breeder in this province, I have seen very few of them on the Avalon. Catching a brief glimpse of one at Bidgood's Park earlier was already exciting.
Then, a report came about this one on the Second Pond trail. On an early morning walk, I could hear this one singing and singing and singing. I just followed the sounds, oh so easy.
When I located it sitting high in a tree about 15 feet from the trail, I was spellbound. Its colors are not particularly stunning like a Magnolia, but its pale colors and its grand song made it look particularly attractive on this day.
 It only stopped long enough to check me out and then relocated to begin its song anew.
 There were, in fact, two Tennessee Warblers reported on the trail. Maybe, just maybe, it will breed in the area.
Not far up the trail, I happened upon this American Redstart also singing its territorial song. Oddly enough, this was a very windy morning, but the trail remained calm. It was ideal conditions for viewing these lovely warblers.

Friday, June 12, 2015


 Ahh..the great outdoors! There is an abundance of sights and sounds nearly everywhere you turn.
 A short trip to Cape Spear on Wednesday morning brought me to the edge of the cliff where a hundred Northern Gannets were madly diving near shore.
 What a show! I really needed a video camera to capture the amazement of this event.
 Given the time of the year, I wondered if the capelin were in. I watched and watched but never saw the birds come up with any fish. It must have been something rather small attracting them.
 The gannets seemed to burst up out of the water with the same vigor as they dove in. The only other birds in the area were three Razorbills some distance away. No sign of any whales. When the capelin do move in, there will be a greater variety of birds and whales in the area.
 Taking a long walk down a country road, landed me square in front of this Great Horned Owl roosting in the open. On the way in the road, it watched me closely as I walked by.
 On the way out of the road, I found it nodding off.
 Then, in the same area, I had my yearly encounter with a yearling. I was wishing the owl would wake up and come to my rescue if necessary.
 We had a stand-off for nearly five minutes. During those five minutes, I made my plan of escape if necessary, never made eye contact with it, and froze in place. We were less than 20 feet from each other. I sized it up closely, noticing a large, healed gash on its side. I was hoping it was not inflicted by a human.
It was with great relief when the moose turned away from me and headed up the road, quickly finding a place it could easily slip into the woods. Whew! Scary as it was, it is moments like all of these that lure so many people back into the great outdoors time and time again.