Saturday, August 27, 2016

Such Variety

 After not taking a full day for birding in a long time, the trip Catherine B. and I took this week was very satisfying. At every turn, we had birds. In Cape Broyle we got distracted by a large mixed flock of warblers. How exciting it is to search with the hopes of finding a migrant among them. There were none, but it was a grand early-morning moment. When we moved to the beach, we had to really puzzle out the Pectoral Sandpiper in the distance. I hadn't seen one in two years, so I certainly didn't recognize it at first sight.
 Several places where we stopped in the morning, we could hear or see a fly-over of Common Loons. It certainly added to the atmosphere.
 Warblers, interestingly enough, were not in the typical hotspots, but rather were located in mixed groups in odd spots along the road.
It was not uncommon to see several species in non-traditional plumage. This American Robin presented a plumage I have never seen before.
 With Catherine's keen spotting, we were able to see this American Bittern in a wetland in Renews.
 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers showed up in several locations. It seems to be more of them than usual this year.
 The Common Yellowthroat we saw ranged from the drab colors seen on this bird to extremely bright. One thing was consistent ... there presence. We saw many of this species throughout the day.
 St. Shott's didn't offer much of interest. Hence, this shot of a group of starlings. As the recent appearance of a Brown-headed Cowbird demonstrated, it is always worth checking over these large flocks. For me, one of the best ways to do a proper "look-over" is to catch them in flight. I also find that approach helpful when trying to identify shorebirds.
 St. Shott's beach offered up a few shorebirds, but nothing like it can. Over the next few days, the beach will likely fill up with peeps and maybe even something special. However, not on our day of birding.
 This young Tree Swallow appeared in the sky as we were walking to the car. Any swallow-like bird warrants a double-take at this time of the year.
 When we returned to Renews, we found many more shorebirds than seen earlier in the day. Three Redknot were seen one minute and then just disappeared. There were Short-billed Dowitchers and many more Black-bellied Plover seen in the afternoon. What was notable, really, was the high number of Lesser Yellowlegs seen both in Cape Broyle and in Renews.
One of the best moments of the day came in Portugal Cove South when we happened upon this immature Peregrine Falcon sitting on a wire by the road. It stayed with us for less than one minute before it flew off not to be seen again.

What variety of birds the day yielded. It certainly felt like the on-set of Fall birding. Exciting.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sora Op!

 Seeing a Sora as well as this is very unusual. I headed to Virginia Lake this morning to check out Lancy Chang's reported sighting of a sora-like bird.
 Arriving at daybreak was my strategy to try to hear and record the mystery bird. Obviously, I got up way before this bird.
 Over the next two hours I watched the Osprey fishing, checked out the 100 or so dabbling ducks, noted how the Mute Swan totally disappeared into the reeds. That made me think I didn't have a chance of seeing a small bird among the reeds.
 I watched and waited. Two Common Grackles flew by, a chattering Kingfisher flew up the river, a Sharp-shinned Hawk chased two Osprey,  two Tree Swallows made a brief appearance, 5 Yellowlegs showed up ( at least one of them was a Lesser Yellowlegs), six Pine Siskins flew over and a few warblers darted over. No Sora.
 Around 8 a.m. Ethel D. showed up, and we both stared into the reeds. Then, without notice a flash of a small bird flew from a reed island into the cover of the reeds alongside the river. Whoa! What was it? Not a chance of getting any detail.
 Within five minutes, a healthy-looking Sora began to show itself better and better. It would come out of the reeds and go back in.
It flew short distances to nearby reeds.  It was so interesting to watch this bird for a long time. One of its amazing behaviour is how it just springs into the air.
 This bird springs into the air so fast and flies so fast that it was impossible to even hit the shutter button before it has landed.
As hard as I tried, this was the only (very blurry) image of the Sora lifting off. This viewing experience is much, much better than only hearing a Sora at Lundrigan's Marsh. That, of course, makes you wonder if this is the Lundrigan bird.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Second Pond Trail

 It was pretty quiet on my walk in the trail. I felt lucky to see this Black and White and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
The walk out was more fruitful. I always enjoy seeing the little Common Yellowthroat. Figured I had hit the jackpot.
 Then, this little Downy Woodpecker flew out in front of me on the trail.
 It wasn't at all shy and stayed around quite a while.
 Shortly thereafter, I found this Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. There seem to be a lot of them this year.
 Then, in the distance I saw this one. It certainly looks yellow in its surroundings, but I've seen that happen before. This bird was very far, and there must have been something between us that kept throwing my focus off. This was the best shot I could get. What struck me about this bird was that it was very small. If it was something other than a Yellow-bellied, I can't say. It did provide an exciting few moments though.
 Then.... I had Magnolias.....three. Each one looks a little different from the other.
 I really struggled with near, far, sun, shade and plenty of obstructions trying to get shots. These birds were not cooperative, saying low and hidden most of the time.

 Then, I couldn't believe it, there were four Hermit Thrush. Where did all of these birds come from?
Add to the mix a few Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped, Wilson's Warblers and a couple of Blackpolls, and all of a sudden the walk became very productive. Add one Osprey flying over the pond. Of note: There were no shorebirds around the pond.

Fourth Pond Story

 I made my routine turn to Fourth Pond in Goulds this morning. I was immediately greeted by the sound of loons. I pulled off to have a look. There were five adult loons calling and flapping around the water. What a show! Even the geese wouldn't venture into the water. No sign of any ducks in the area.
 I went on about my day and decided to return to check on the loons as I left Goulds. No loons in sight, the geese were again in command of the pond, and ducks dotted the shorelines. I saw two little Green-winged Teal preening. Nice. I started my drive out when I spotted another small duck. Couldn't confirm it was a Green-winged Teal, so I turned around to go back and have a closer look.
 What a nice surprise. It was a great little Blue-winged Teal. It flew when I got the car too close, but landed on a rock where I could see it better. While watching another car came in and this skittish bird flew. I lost sight of it, so I don't know if it landed in the far end of the pond or flew off.
It is so nice to see this bird up close.

Brown-headed Cowbird

 The morning started off slow with very little activity, but that quickly changed. More on the other birds on next post. The best bird of the day turned out to be this Brown-headed Cowbird.
 Coming from the gravel road and driving slowly up Cochrane Pond Road in front of the farm, I spotted a bird much smaller than the nearby starlings, but not small enough to be a junco or a warbler. Curious, I stopped.
With only about 60 seconds to work with, I was able to snap enough to make a positive ID. Had the road not been so busy with traffic, I might have relocated it. The birds kept flushing making it very difficult. The final flush came when a hawk swept through the area. Show over! In the same area there were Yellow Warblers, Black and White Warblers, Blackpoll and plenty of juncos.

 Left unidentified is this sparrow. It is really gray and brown and shows a hint of a wing bar. I thought it might be an immature bird or maybe one in the midst of changing into its fall frock, but I don't know what it is.

Brown-headed Cowbird