Sunday, March 19, 2017

What a Day!

 The bright sunshine this morning hauled me outdoors, despite the early-morning chill in the air. As the sun rose, the day warmed. It turned out to be a beautiful day for walking.

 I started the walk at Cape Spear. There were very few birds to be seen, but the conditions made up for that. A few small flocks of Common Eider flew by as well as one Murre. I couldn't tell which kind it was. Guillemot dotted the water and one large flock of Long-tailed Ducks appeared and disappeared under the water. There was a feisty drone circling the area.
 Maddox Cove had at least six Red-breasted Mergansers and a smattering of Guillemot and gulls.
 Third Pond was interesting. The parking lot had not been cleared and a front-end loader blocked the entrance. I parked there and took a walk-about. The brooks are open on both sides of the pond. Snow is not deep and easy to walk, and the growth is very low. Viewing the area was almost too easy. The only problem was there were no special birds in the area. Plenty of crows dotted the sky, starlings seem to have moved into the horse barns, and the typical ducks skirted around the marsh.
Bidgood Park was perfect for walking. Again, there were few birds. A small flock of junco and several Black Ducks ruled the park.
Fourth Pond is still quite frozen, easily supporting the walkers going from cabins to homes across the pond. The usual domestic geese were present. Cochrane Pond Road produced no birds whatsoever. Blocking the entrance to the gravel road is a h-u-g-e wall of snow. I figure it won't melt until sometime in July!
A quick jaunt into Mundy Pond showed the inner lagoon open. From a distance, I didn't see any birds in the area. Then, it was on to Quidi Vidi Lake.
It was there I saw the prize-of-the-day - the visiting Slaty-backed Gull. It has been several years since I have seen one; and thanks to Frank King and his scope, I saw it very well. Too bad the bird was so far away, and photos don't do it justice. What a great way to end my longest birding outing for quite some time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Fair Day

 Having rejigged my weather benchmarks for birding this winter, I haven't gotten out much. Nevertheless, when the weather offers up a fair day, I jump at the chance to get out. Yesterday was one of those days. With temps hovering around freezing and winds at about 15 clicks, I hit the road for Cape Spear. It has been more than two months since I exited my car at this location, and I was looking forward to a stroll around the grounds.
 Very few birds were flying by. Guillemot were plentiful, a few Long-tailed Ducks flew in, the usual cormorants were flying back and forth, but there was no sign of the Purple Sandpiper. Several times along my walk, I thought I heard the sounds of small birds. I scanned and scanned the area to try to locate the sound. Just about to give up, I headed toward the parking lot. It was then, I caught sight of a flash of movement. Excitement! It was really nice and unexpected to see these two Common Redpoll feasting on the seeds in the low growth.
 Satisfied, I headed to Quidi Vidi Lake to see if I could get some extended looks at the lingering Redwing Blackbird. It was very cooperative, after the four fishermen finished casting near its zone.
The bird went on about its routine as if I weren't there. Finding food at the ice edge has kept this bird alive for months. It cycled through picking at the water, preening and even singing.

At one point, while preening, it flashed its bright orange patch on the wing. As this bird ages, it will become more back, and the patch will turn a deeper red.
This blackbird was so cooperative, I lingered for a long time watching its cycle. This is an example of one of the nice moments birdwatching has to offer: A good look at a bird that is not always around.

Before leaving, I started to check over the many seagulls sitting on the ice. Just as a spotted one bird with a different gray mantle, this happened! Oh, well....