Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - August 12, 2011

 It is hard to believe that it has been over six weeks since I took these shots but it is so. It was on August 12th when I drove to Blaketown to see the Little Blue Heron. It was a dark, damp and foggy morning and the heron was perched atop a tree across the water. I knew that there was no chance of getting a good picture of it. Since I had seen a number of these birds before, I decided to move on....along the shoreline on the way home.
 There was nothing stirring at the beaches near Blaketown so I headed toward Spaniard's Bay. It was just past Heart's Content when I spotted a road named Beach Road. I thought that would be another opportunity to check for shorebirds. Much to my delight I spotted my first little bird of the day. This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was moving from tree to tree in the distance. I slowly got out of the car with my binoculars and camera in hand. I watched it in the distance for quite awhile. It was not going to come to me without help. I began to pish very lowly.

Whohooo! It worked. It came near me and continued to be active at first moving from tree to tree and then it settled in for a studio photo shoot.  It was a stunning little bird and is a perfect example of what a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher looks like.

The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is the most common flycatcher found in Newfoundland and is among our breeders. Since we do get some other visiting flycatchers it is good to be able to identify the Yellow-bellied so that it can be quickly eliminated when another flycatcher does turn up.  The Yellow-bellied is the only eastern flycatcher that has a yellow throat. That is the first and deciding factor of weather it is a Yellow-bellied.
 It has quite a broad eye ring that is pale yellow. Its upper back is olive green and the bird from the back view can look totally green. It has two whitish wing bars with it underparts being pale yellow.
Its lower mandible is pale orange and it shows well in this shot. Often times it is hard to distinguish this feature when in the field. Its short tail may in some ways accentuate this little birds big head. I was quite taken by surprise last year when I saw my first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Even from afar I thought it was a great little bird. After the 15 minutes that I had with this one, I thought it was a "stunner."

 According to resources this bird is supposed to be secretive, staying low in the thicket making it very difficult to see. This one was not like that at all. It seemed to enjoy having company as it was all alone in the woods on this day. It was so close that I can almost see my reflection in its eye.
It pleases me to be able to post a series of good pictures for a change. All of the pictures that I have uploaded lately have been very poor. It begs the question, "Will I ever turn out quality bird shots?" Shooting nature is very difficult as there are so many variables that come into play. Nonetheless, I do have a number of better than average pictures waiting in the cue to be posted. The common factor among the photographs that turned out well  is that the bird stayed around long enough for me to adjust settings and keep trying. When this happens, I learn a little bit more about shooting in ever-changing weather and lighting conditions. Who said progress must be speedy?  I think in retirement that it is okay to take it slow and easy and above all, enjoy the experience.

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