Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Interesting Day

 When I realized the wind was low and temps were tolerable, I decided to make a drive to Cappahayden. I saw many different species of birds and these great moose.
 When I reached the edge of La Manche Provential Park, I spotted a moose in the field. I stopped to have a better look and was surprised to find FOUR.
 There were two males and two females. Both females were hidden behind brush. I waited.
 Then, out of nowhere a big rig came barreling down the highway. It didn't take long for all of the moose to scatter and disappear.
 I counted six points on one male and eight on the other.
 When I arrived in Cappahayden, I went in search of my target bird, Western Kingbird, found by Bruce and Company on Saturday. There it was on a wire... a rose between.....
 None of my pictures of the day were fit to keep except for the subject matter. The day was gray, and it was very hard to strike a balance between camera settings to try to accommodate that.
 Nevertheless, I tried, and these shots are the sad result. This is such a beautiful bird, but I did not capture its real beauty.

 I came up with these photo of a sparrow in the brush below the kingbird. The more I look at them, the more this bird resembles a Lincoln's Sparrow. It is, indeed, a Lincoln's.

 On the way back home, I stopped at Bear Cove Beach where I found some extremely vocal White-rumped Sandpipers. I include this one because it is so dark, not a typical looking White-rumped.  In the same area there were Surf Scoters and two White-winged Scoters, one Red-throated Loon and two American Pipits. The area was really busy.
 Renews beach was empty. I did find a Greater Yellowlegs on the inner beach, but that's all.
 Bear Cove Pit Road was fairly quiet with juncos, kinglets and gray jay. While watching them, I heard something different, not drumming.
 I listened and looked around having no idea what I was hearing. Then, bang! In flies this great Black-backed Woodpecker.
 I have never seen one on that road before so it was extra nice. Again, I am disappointed with the pictures. As the day wore on, the sky got even darker.

Oops, I almost forgot to mention the Orange-Crowned Warbler seen in Cappahayden. Despite migration and because of migration, I saw a good variety of birds including Cedar Waxwings, two Red Crossbills and five Mourning Dove along the way at different locations. It was a day of anticipation, never knowing what might appear next. That's my favorite kind of day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Odd Selection

 I couldn't wait for the sun to rise this morning. With the recent weather and a mix of obligations, I haven't been out for a good birding/walk trip in a while.
 I started with Virginia River. While it was very cold, it was not near as windy as of late. I came up empty. I checked a few other places and only found the expected Juncos, Chickadees, Goldfinch and Song Sparrows.
Honestly, I really didn't mind. It was just so nice to be out.
 My next destination was Cape Spear. I stopped at a few places along the way, but found nothing until I reached the cabin area where I turned up this great little Red-eyed Vireo. It is getting a bit late for them now.
 I didn't walk down to the point because there was construction going on, so I headed toward Cape Spear Path. The wooded area of the path was void of birds, none, nada!
 Yet, like most trips to the path, I don't come up empty. This time I was greeted by this lone White- rumped Sandpiper piddling in a puddle.
 When I first saw a flash of movement, I considered a junco or a sparrow. I certainly didn't expect to see a sandpiper on the trail.
 Designating a bird uncommon or rare is all about time and place. This was a very uncommon appearance.
Somehow, I just knew I would see something on my walk back down the hill. As usual, I stopped by every small bush or shrub along the way to see if I can draw anything out. When I stopped by one just below the lighthouse, I was very surprised to see a big bird staring back at me.  A Ruffed Grouse is another uncommon bird for this particularly area. One of the nice things about watching this bird was seeing it in flight. I have never seen a Ruffed Grouse fly, but this guy finally bolted out of the tree and flew with speed down over the field and out of sight. I was left standing there thinking, "wow."

A better day lies ahead, and I can take the morning again to soak it up and maybe see a bird or two along the way.

Dainty Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

 Bruce M. was not back on dry land very long before he snagged a good bird. This very active little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher made friends with a number of birders yesterday.
 It seemed more inquisitive about the onlookers than skittish. It would work its way up through the branches and have a close looks.
 Who was watching who?
 Constant motion made this bird easy to spot among the leaves and limbs as it flitted among the numerous willow trees at Quidi Vidi Lake.
 It was such a cold and blustery day for this tiny little bird. Perhaps the movement kept it warm.
 It is interesting in three of my shot, I caught this little bird blinking. That is unusual and just may be a sign of a tired bird. Hope it found a warm spot for the night. Today will see a warm-up and hopefully, it will fill its belly.
Fine find, Bruce.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Interesting Winter Ahead

 Last winter it was difficult to see any kind of finch, probably because the woods were void of cones and berries. Now, this year may offer up a much different story. The hillsides are red with dogberries. Everywhere you look branches are hanging heavy with the prize winter berry for birds. Cone crops are also looking good.
 Late last week I came upon two large flocks (40 to 50 individuals each) of White-winged Crossbills in Flatrock and Pouch Cove.  A good sign? Maybe. Evening Grosbeaks were also very hard to come by in the winter of 2017. While I have not seen any yet this season, we just may find them returning for the winter of 2018.
 There is good news and bad news in the story. Yes, there will be plenty of food, but predictions are it is going to be a harsh winter. Let's hope the birds stay around for winter and are hardy enough to survive it.
I have my hopes up to see more than Red-breasted Nuthatch this year.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sparrow Blitz

 It is impossible to go to Cape Spear during breeding season and not see lots and lots of Savannah Sparrows. However, it is not that common to come upon a baby Savannah that has yet to take flight. It is this great little one that sparked this post.
 Early in the season Savannah Sparrows dot the landscape, staking out their territory and attracting a mate.
 They sing and sing, often oblivious to the many visitors passing them by.
In just a few short weeks the Savannah is seen gathering food for the likes of the little guy in the first picture.
 Once again they go about their business as if no one were there, even when the wind nearly blows them off their perch.
 During the period of raising a family, one adult will often serve as a distraction from the nest. They guard and protect their young in a very aggressive manner. There have been thousands of tourists at the Cape this year. It didn't seem to affect the breeding going on in the area. Yet, they did move to another location to avoid the foot traffic.
 Cape Spear is not the only place to get a glimpse of this sparrow. Savannah Sparrows are frequently seen at Bidgood Park, though not in the same numbers as Cape Spear.
 For many years, I only noticed Savannah Sparrows at the Cape. In recent years, however, I have been seeing the Swamp Sparrow that is more typically seen at Bidgood Park breeding at Cape Spear.
 During breeding season it is remarkable to see just how red (photos not retouched) the Swamp Sparrows are.Throughout the season the red fades. Spring is the best time to observe the Swamp Sparrow.
 Bidgood Park also serves as a breeding ground for the White-throated Sparrow as well as the whole length of Power's Road.
 I think this is a juvenile because it does not bear the bright, distinctive markings of an adult White-throated. They, too, are quite vibrant in Spring. This is an example of the tan version of the species.
 Why bother to look at all of the common sparrows? Well, because sometimes a rare or unusual bird may appear. This juvenile Junco (sparrow cousin) is an example. I have seen many dark young juncos, but this one was probably the darkest. It may take a little extra time to scan sparrows to verify a species, but the potential to unearth a rare one, especially at this time of the year, is always there.