Thursday, August 31, 2017

Common Ringed Plover in Goulds

 A field in Goulds has been particularly fruitful this season. At times ten species of birds could be seen on the field. The American Golden Plovers, annual visitors, are often entertaining enough. Add to that the Buff-breasted Sandpipers that usually accompany them. At times there were as many as ten Snipe dotted around the back of the field, along with the Semi-palmated Sandpipers and Plovers.
 This year it didn't stop there. A Baird Sandpiper showed up. For many in our area that was a "life" bird, but the field wasn't done.
 Catherine Barrett spotted this bright, stand-out, a Common-ringed Plover. Even in the dim morning light, this bird "popped." At last the sun rose in the sky making viewing so much nicer.
 The bird stayed close for quite a while. It fed, pranced and stretched.
 Suddenly, it leapt into the air and flew about 50 feet back. My time was short so I left too.

Just for comparison, I have included a photo of a Common-ringed Plover seen in Renews on August 17, 2013. This bird is much lighter with a more "scalely" look to its feathers. This has been a plentiful year for this species with four or five being reported across the Avalon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Mausey Day

 This day dawned much like the last two days... too cool, too foggy, and too damp. Not very promising for "warblering," but what the heck?

In Blackhead when I saw this vibrant sunflower, I figured it would be the brightest thing I would see during the morning.
 Not so bright, but still flashing a nice yellow, I saw four Yellow Warblers.  Even they didn't look as bright as usual under the gray sky.
 A Blackpoll Warbler was also looking quite yellow, but not quite what I was looking for.
 Ahhh, a Magnolia, two! I have seen seven in the last two days. It is a beautiful bright yellow, always eye-catching.
 While watching the Magnolia, I caught sight of a bright orange-yellow. Now, that is more like it. This great Blackburnian Warbler was not showing itself well, and I was lucky to get a couple of shots to clearly identify it.
It's not everyday I get to see a Blackburnian. In fact, I think I have only seen about four, ever. While it was exciting, it was a little disappointing it disappeared so quickly. It all happened so fast if it weren't for my pictures, I might think I just had a little mind lapse.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Stilt Sandpiper

 When word came Saturday morning of a Stilt Sandpiper in Renews, I did something I haven't done in a while: Spontaneously join a group for a quick trip down the shore. It helped that I was pretty bored and wondering what to do.

When we arrived, the Stilt Sandpiper was with a large group of Yellowlegs. It was not that easy to pick it out and took some time watching closely as the birds were knee-deep in water.
 Finally, we isolated the Stilt and began our learning experience as none of us had ever seen one before.
 The stilt moved around a bit and disappeared for a short while. Taking flight, the bird provided an opportunity to see its tail feathers and wing pattern.
 Then, it flew back into the crowd. This shot shows the long legs of this bird very well.
 We had satisfying looks at the Stilt in Renews, but it was Cape Broyle that provided the best opportunity for viewing. We did not expect to see another Stilt, two in one day, but we came upon a bird different from the rest. After some pondering and consultation, it was decided we had found our own Stilt Sandpiper.
 This bird also moved around the mud flats a lot. It walked around quite a bit moving near and far. It also took several short flights around the area.
 We were so close at times we got really acquainted with Still #2.

 There were times when the bird looked a little awkward on its stilts, and there were times when it struck a rather stately pose. It is a handsome bird.
 Abandoning the mud flats, it flew into the shoreline of the back pond in Cape Broyle. There, the lighting was much more authentic and showed its coloring and markings as well as its true leg color much better than in the glare on the water.
 As it quickly probed for food, it presented a profile often mentioned in guidebooks with its tail raised high.
 For comparison, this photo shows the different tail pattern of the Short-billed Dowitcher. The Stilt has only a narrow band of color at the tip of its tail while the dowitcher's tail has more extensive markings.
 Note the size difference between the Stilt Sandpiper and a Greater Yellowlegs.
 Lesser than Yellowlegs, but greater than this little Semipalmated Sandpiper, the two share dining digs. All in all, the sudden decision to make the trip was extremely fruitful and enjoyable. Who knows when a Stilt Sandpiper will show up in our area again.
Always ready to bird just a little more, I stopped by the field noted by Bruce in Goulds. Late on Saturday afternoon, there were 26 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 White-rumped Sandpipers and 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers. It is likely this flock will grow.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

On the Edge of Migration

 While I watch and wait for the warblers to congregate, it is always a joy to linger at Cape Spear. There is a steady flow of seabirds flying North and South. I often wonder why they travel in both directions at this time of the year.  Yesterday, this young Kittiwake was testing its wings and its power. It spent a lot of time playing aggressively with a Common Tern.
 At the Cape, I am most often preoccupied with the whales, but yesterday there were only a few swimming by. None lingered. That freed my attention to zero in more closely on the shearwaters flying by. Sooty and Greater Shearwaters are most common and have been seen in the area for more than a week now.
 It is the Manx Shearwater that is the most difficult to spot. Not yesterday. There were two flying and landing close to the lookout. They remained for at least an hour. When I left, they were still in the area.
 One stayed close to a Greater Shearwater seen here. It was nice to see them together. I studied them closely and now feel more confident to identify a Manx at a distance.
 Along the road to the Cape, I saw five Red-breasted Nuthatch. These are the first I have seen in quite a while.
 I found numerous warblers in several different locations. When the species begin to congregate, it is a sure sign of the migration  to follow. The season seems so short, but now is the time to begin looking more closely at the flocks for both enjoyment and the possibility of rare birds among them.