Monday, February 29, 2016

One Fine Look

 After a nice long hike out the East Coast Trail beyond Cape Spear, I darted into Blackhead on my way home. A quick look driving in yielded nothing, but as I drove out I spied a black and white ball tucked into the cove.
 Time to hike again. I headed into the trail to see the lone Common Eider bobbing on the water. Without a doubt, this was the best look I have ever had of this species.
This was the first time I had ever seen an eider in this area. Wonder how he got separated. He certainly seemed well enough. The moment he spotted me, his instinct to get away kicked in very quickly.
Keeping one eye locked on me, it wasted no time swimming out into the open water.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ducks in a Bucket

Took a stroll around Bowring Park this week, and this was the "sight of the day." A bucket of feed was set down briefly before being delivered to the ducks around the pond.

This pair couldn't wait. They dove in and between  squabbles managed to have a pretty good feed.

I did see one Downy Woodpecker and numerous juncos and chickadees. Nothing else of note.

Monday, February 15, 2016

White Gyrfalcon!!

After sitting in parking lot at Cape Spear for about 20 minutes scanning the water, I was heading down the hill when I caught sight of a large falcon-like bird flying alongside of me.

 |My first impression was Gyrfalcon and I texted Bruce. The more I looked at pics on my camera I thought it must be a white Northern Goshawk.
 It was only when I uploaded the shots I felt confident about what I had seen.
 The bird is very white and very fast. I was lucky to get these shots. Unfortunately, they are very thin as I was shooting into the morning light. Nevertheless, the shots are enough to confirm the ID. Thanks Bruce.
It was seen flying down the hill and it flew into the edge of the trees at a very low profile. I scanned the edge of the trees for quite a while, but didn't see it again.
It certainly didn't look like it was leaving the area. Good luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hoary Redpoll

 Catherine B. and I made the long trip to Lumsden looking for the Fieldfare. No luck with that, but we didn't come home empty handed. Shortly after we arrived, we saw this Hoary Redpoll along Forest Road. Unfortunately, I only got two shots, but enough to convince me we had just seen our first Hoary. Picture #1 shows the very pale bird with very slight streaking along the side of the breast, no streaking on the undertail, a well-defined facial mask, apparent white rump  and very pale pinkish color on the breast all add up.
Picture #2 is a Common Redpoll in almost the exact position. Note the bold streaking on the sides, darker red on the breast and undertail streaking. Picture # 3 is also a Common Redpoll, typical of many of this species we saw along the way.
 Picture #4 is the Hoary again showing a little more of the face. I wish I had been able to get a shot of the beak which would have made the ID much easier.
 Our two-day excursion netted many, many birds. We must have seen 300 Pine Grosbeaks. Some were quite pink, others had an orange tinge and others were very red.
 The Purple Finches we saw were also among the reddish I have ever seen. Many of the females had a very yellow tinge. Redpolls were in abundance moving in large flocks. Lumsden has many Hairy Woodpeckers and one Downy presenting and very comfortable around on-lookers. We saw five without really even looking.
Gambo had more birds in one stretch of road than I have seen in four years of birding. Very active, flocks were moving around everywhere, pitching on the berries and then moving to another patch. It was an amazing spectacle.  There was a flock of at least 300 Bohemian Waxwings with a few Cedar Waxwings interspersed among them. Seeing all of this finch activity, alone, would have made the trip worthwhile.

As it turned out, it was quite an exciting and fun-filled trip.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hudsonian Whiteface Dragonfly

 When I was photographing these dragonflies this summer in Flatrock, I did not realize I was seeing a new-to-me species. They looked similar in size and color to the Crimson-ringed Whiteface, and I just assumed they were.
 It is only now I see clearly they are Hudsonian Whiteface Dragonfly. The color is a little off, more orange than red. I don't know if this is due to wear and tear or the age of the fly.

This last image looks so much like a Frosted Whiteface (female) as pictured in Paulson's book. Despite the close match, I deem this one a Hunsonian for one reason only. The Frosted Whiteface does not show up in our region accoring to Paulson.

Shadow Darner

 The Shadow Darner is yet another dark darner with narrow, straight thoracic stripes, compounding the confusion. These stripes are fairly light green and may have flags on the posterior side of the stripe.
 It would be so much easier to catch the dragonflies to be able to look them over from every angle, above and below.
 Paulson says it is really impossible to separate Shadow Darners from Variable Darners without seeing the spots underneath. I guess that means I have broken all the rules.
This has been a real struggle to identify all of these darners. To complicate maters, I have a couple more darners in my photo folder that do not match any of those I have yet posted. Ugh! Also awaiting my attention is a bulk batch of Emerald images and a batch of damselflies. Why bother? I think it is important there exists a fair reference site for children and others who would like to know more about the flying things that swirl around us in the summer. For that reason, I trudge on through the depth of my own ignorance.

Black-tipped Darner - Not

 This slender darner is darker than many of the darners seen in NL. There is more brown than blue.
 The frontal stripes are lender, straight and greenish.
Similar darners are the Shadow Darner and Sedge Darner. I found it very hard to differentiate them. Pouring over images and readings, I concluded this dragonfly seen in late August in Goulds to be a Black-tipped Darner. With the help of a reader (see comment below) I learned this is a Shadow Darner. Thank you.

Lake Darner

 The Lake Darner is the largest darner in our range. It has a deeply notched lateral thoracic anterior and posterior stripes. The anterior stripe has a large extended hook on the top side.
 Like the Canada Darner, the Lake also has a small, pale streak between the larger stripes.
 The male is predominately brown and blue while the female has more brown and green.
 Some females show a mix of green and blue markings between the brown.

 This species is quite common in our province and like most species, can be found in wooded areas with standing water.

 This hungry Lake Darner provided a great opportunity to photograph its underside as it munched on an insect meal.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Variable Darner

 The Variable Darner is a large darner with narrow stripes. While some of these dragonflies have full, narrow stripes, some have the stripe divided or broken.
 It is easy to see why it is so important to get the side view when photographing dragonflies. Without a look at the lateral thorax, it is virtually impossible to identify the different species.
There is a lot of variation between species and within species. For instance, a female Variable Darner can have blue eyes and a lot of blue on the body or it can have brown eyes with yellow body detail as shown here.

I found these near Windsor Lake where a ditch runs the length of the trail.

Sedge Darner

 The Sedge Darner is common in Newfoundland, although it was only this past summer that I actually was able to get identifiable images of them. Photos of both the male and female are included in this array.
 The male presents with some blue while the female has more browns, greens and yellows.
 The lateral thoracic stripes on this species are straight and wide. There is also a long, narrow streak between the larger stripes. There is often a small streak before the anterior, wider stripe.
These photos clearly show all of the above and make this one of the easier darners to identify.
This species is considered to be one of the larger darners. As shown by all of these images, this species tends to land and hang on a variety of trees.