Monday, September 20, 2010

Baltimore Oriole

Yesterday morning, I woke up quite early nursing a cold. When I opened the patio door, I realized what a beautiful day it was - sunny, no wind and temperature climbing.  It was Sunday, bird-walk Sunday. Every second Sunday throughout the summer and fall, volunteer birders serve as guides for novice birders like me for a walking tour through the Botanical Gardens. I couldn't help but think that a nice stroll in the woods would be good for my cold and kick start my day. (Image: Oxen Pond in the Botanical Gardens.)

The walk started out similarly to the one that I did early in the summer. We saw several common birds including Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue Jays, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Black Ducks, Common Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Flicker, Swamp Sparrow, Boreal Chickadee, Robins, and a White-throated Sparrow. Our guide answered questions and talked about the different birds. We reached the look-out and were enjoying the view and the many Robins in the area when in flew this Baltimore Oriole. It perched in a tree about 15 to 20 feet from us.
What terrific views. It even had a look at us. All nine of us had our eyes locked on this brightly colored and seemingly tame bird roosting for at least five minutes.

I had seen my first Baltimore Oriole on Bear Cove Road on the Southern Shore only two short weeks ago. The bird was far and the light was behind it. My pictures of the first sighting left a lot to be desired. Now, with the bird cooperating so well and the sun over my shoulder, the pressure was on to get a good shot. I am satisfied with the images that came out of my camera.
Birding is filled with surprises. None of us really expected to see any particularly special birds on this walk, but this little bird fooled us. This bird is not pictured in the Birds of Newfoundland Guide; perhaps because it is not a very common. However, I have heard of several sightings.

Although this is not a full-on face picture of this bird, I included it because it shows the best views of the back, tail and wings. The Baltimore Oriole is a little less than nine inches tall and weighs only 1.2 oz. Yet, when it is sitting atop a tree it seems so full of "bigness." It was where it should be and we were visitors in its neighborhood. It demonstrated its hospitality by welcoming us with its flashes of yellow, brown and black.

This image, though similar to the first one above, is useful as it shows the full yellow splashes on the bottom side of the tail. When the Baltimore Oriole flies, its tail looks similar, albeit smaller, to the tail of a Northern Flicker.

Just as our walk was ending, we happened upon four Ruffed Grouse. There were two on the ground and two in a tree. These birds are very difficult to photograph in the woods because of the shaded areas and the extensive cover provided by the branches and leaves. I was lucky to get a clear shot of this one that lingered on its perch in a tree. (I will also post this image with the other Ruffed Grouse in my photo collection.)

The next Botanical Gardens bird walk is scheduled for October 3 at 8 a.m.

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