Sunday, November 22, 2015

Look Again

 Yesterday, it would have been easy to just drive by when I saw a bird fly along the water's edge at Forest Pond. It would have been so easy to write off the flying bird as a sparrow and forget about it, but I didn't. Always curious, I stopped to have a better look. Much to my surprise my look yielded a Blue-headed Vireo. Nice!
While I was snapping photos from my car, I thought a caught a glimpse of another yellowish bird breeze by, but I wasn't sure. I got out to have a look, but the two birds had joined some chickadees and moved away from the road. I gave up and went other places.
Unable to get the second bird out of my mind, I returned to the spot about an hour later and found the flock of chickadees and juncos close to the road. I stayed in my car again and watched. Then, I saw three birds that looked interesting. Twisting around in my seat, I was able to get a shot of both the vireo and this Orange-crowned Warbler. I could never see the other bird again, so this time I left for good. Nevertheless, I keep wondering if I missed one. It is always worth assuming that every bird is a good bird until proven differently. It paid off again.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What's Around? Not Much!

The big winds of this fall robbed us of the full enjoyment of fall birding. The smart migrants caught the wind and headed to their wintering grounds leaving us with scant birds. What we do see, we work for! The Common Moorhen shown here was compliments of Bruce Mactavish who had been keeping an eye on a flock of wigeons. Then, one morning, he found a rare Common Moorhen among them. The sad part is: It landed in a pond on a golf course with a liner in it. This bird has now moved and has not been relocated.

 The Pied-billed Grebe continues at QV Lake where I found it almost on shore on the north side of the lake early yesterday morning.
 Surprisingly, six White-rumped Sandpipers flew in at Cape Spear while I was trying to count the Purple Sandpipers on the rocks below. This one made its way to the parking lot where it picked up worms off the pavement.
 Last Wednesday, Catherine B., Ethel D. and I headed down the shore to see what we could drum up. Not much out of the ordinary, but we did see some fine birds. One notable moment was at the end of Bear Cove Point Road where this huge flock of Pine Siskin darkened the sky.
Also in the same location were two small flocks of White-winged Crossbill. We had already seen one small group in Renews proper earlier. This, too, is notable as this species has been extremely scare in recent years. The large cone crop this year may treat us to numerous finch this year.
The most uncommon bird of the day was found by Catherine near Renews north beach. It was very difficult to get and ID on this Orange-crowned Warbler as it would not come out in the open and stayed in the darkened areas of the woods. Eventually, we left and returned a couple of hours later to try to see this bird again. Our persistence paid off as we were able to get good enough views to identify it.

The only other warbler seen on our day of birding (days are very short now) was this American Redstart. It, too, did not want to pose for a picture, but this single shot clearly identifies it for what it is.

So with these common birds, was our day humdrum? Absolutely not! We had a grand time spending most of it on the ground, enjoying the weather and anticipating the next great bird with every step.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What the Heck is Pied?

 While they are not here all the time, Pied-bill Grebe show up somewhere around St. John's every year and typically stay for a while. So where do they get their name? Grebe means "feet at the buttocks." (Allaboutbirds) Pied means "of two or more colors" and refers to its bill because in the summer its bill turns silver with a black ring around it. Hence....Pied-billed Grebe.
 They can sit high or low in the water. The buoyancy is achieved by the grebe trapping water in their feathers.
 This is an interesting little bird and can be closely observed at Quidi Vidi Lake these days. Unfortunately, the light is often against you when viewing it in the morning.
I watched as this bird battled with a small fish, and the fish seen above won. It was a really feisty fish and despite being munched on and tossed in the air, it managed to get away. This grebe is not a very good fisher. For some reason, this bird seems unusually tame allowing viewers to get within 10 to 15 feet of it. Given there haven't been many good birds around for about a week, this one is a great distraction. However, now that a Common Moorhen has been reported, the grebe may get lonely.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Berry Birds

 Dogberry Trees are laden this year, and the birds are loving it. Among the first takers are the Hermit Thrush. However, there aren't enough of these birds to eat them all.There is a seasonal pattern to  the takers of the berries. Over the last two blustery days, I have had large flocks of starlings and goldfinch partake of the berries in my back yard. Lingering robins also drop by for a berry or two and move on.

Unfortunately, the berries will all probably be consumed  before the waxwings come along.  I keep hoping to one day look out and find my yard filled with something a little more exotic than a European Starling.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fall Magnolia Warbler

 I spent a little time this morning updating the Rare Bird Page and the Banded Birds Page.It is really easy to fall behind on the routine pages requiring updates. Also pending is a major update on the Butterfly and Dragonfly Pages.
 I am also in the "delete" mode where I dump hundreds and hundreds of shots. In the process, I came across several interesting birds.
 Today, I share two Magnolia Warblers photographed within one week of each other during late Fall. The darker images were of a bird taken along the trail at Stick Pond.
A much brighter bird with much less streaking was found by Ethel Dempsey at Cape Spear. Because of its brightness, we spent a lot of time pursuing this bird for a sure ID. These two different birds just go to illustrate how different fall birds can be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Injured Birds Show Pluck

 Considering the thousands of birds we see annually around St. John's, we see very few injured birds. The four shown here, I think, constitute the highest number of wounded birds we have seen in the area at one time.
This little Semipalmated Plover has been hunkering down for more than three weeks at Third Pond in Goulds. It hops around on one leg and makes no effort to fly.
The newest arrival is this White-rumped Sandpiper that showed up in Blackhead on the weekend. It seemed to be a fresh-arrival  blown in on the recent high winds.
 This bird looked tired and calm, staying in one area and making no attempt to fly.
A closer look at this sandpiper shows some damage to its right wing.
 Looking so cute and helpless, it is hard not to gently lift this little bird and take it home to nurse it back to health. However, it goes against all the rules to do so.
A Greater Yellowlegs routinely frequenting Virginia Lake has been around for at least three weeks. Its left leg is in bad shape.
This Herring Gull tagged 2A was seen last year at Quidi Vidi Lake. It recently returned after a summer away. Despite the serious injury to its right leg, this gull is thriving.

It is hard to watch these birds suffer, but they either learn to adapt to the affliction or they perish. Those that maintain the ability to fly seem to have the best chance for survival.