Sunday, April 29, 2018

Goulds' Observations

 On a glorious Spring morning this week,  I walked numerous trails in Goulds. Wow! Could this possibly be April? I gradually peeled away the layers of clothing,. Truly my kind of day.
 As I walked around Third Pond, I was surprised by this Mink that slithered into the water too near me for comfort. It swam a short distance and then made eye contact with me.
 After a short standoff, it started toward me again. Uh.....
 It was with relief that I watched as it turned and began to swim away. This creature was a jumbo Mink. I have never seen one quite to large. When I looked up the average size of this fur-bearer, it is typically 24" at adulthood. This one was bigger than that.
 At Bidgood Park, I was interested in this Osprey that was soaring like an eagle, round and round over a field. Why? Puzzled by this fish-eating bird, I watched until it flew off.
 About ten minutes later it appeared on the horizon and flew right over me. Where had it gone?
 When it got close enough, I realized it was carrying something in its talons. Not a fish.... Pictures revealed it to be a piece of plastic. Plastic, plastic everywhere.
As it flew over the park, I could only imagine it had been looking for padding for its nest. No time wasted as this species is just returning to its breeding grounds. There must be a nest somewhere south of the park.

Also seen in Goulds were five Green Comma and one Spring Azure Butterflies. Commas have been out in the area since April 22.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Northern Shoveler at Virginia Lake

 Yesterday morning, I scooted around town to try to see a few birds originally found by others. I was doing pretty good until I reached Lundrigan Marsh.
 I was able to see one Lesser Yellowlegs, but only when it was spooked by the dozen eagles. Every time they shifted position the yellowlegs darted from one spot to another. One yellow legs was missing. Hope it wasn't breakfast for one of those very hungry-looking eagles.
 The ducks at the marsh were flying around all over the marsh and slipping out of sight into the reeds on the edge of the water.
 It was possible I saw a set of shoveler's in the area, but I left unsure.
 Moving on, I decided to check Virginia Lake. The moment I entered the trail to the beach, I spotted this pair of Northern Shovelers. Maybe this was the Lundrigan pair relocated to a quieter place.
 They were abiding, staying in the area, preening and settling in for a nap.
From there I walked Kenny's pond where I got an amazing look at a young eagle in hot pursuit of a Northern Pintail. The duck got away and the eagle left quickly. Birds were moving around enjoying the warm weather just as were residents of the city. Gotta love this warm spell!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Best Kind!

 It was a "large" morning or as some would say, "the best kind." The sun was out, the wind was reasonable and the birds....  Well, the birds were plentiful, frisky and vociferous!
 With the spontaneity that only retirement can offer, Ethel D. and I jumped in the car and headed south yesterday morning. Along the way, we saw several birds moving around and perched atop the trees. First stop: Mobile.
 The Northern Mockingbird was very cooperative in the early morning hours. This bird moves around a lot!
 Its flight pattern was very interesting. I attempted numerous times to capture it in flight, but only had success when it slowed its pace to land. This area was quite busy with finch and robins. A small flock of five Cedar Waxwings flew over. We walked the trail for a nice distance but didn't find anything out of the ordinary. By morning's-end, we had put in nearly six kilometers. That is the added bonus to a good day of birding.
 During the five hours we saw numerous crossbills, both White-winged and Red. Of all the birds, they seemed to be the least "chatty."
 It was nice to get really good views of several juvenile Red Crossbills on La Manche Road.
 The juveniles were still hanging close to the female adults. Most of the crossbills we saw were female, only two male White-winged Crossbill present.
 Pine Siskin were plentiful and singing loudly, especially in the trail to the La Manche bridge.
 Goldfinch were less plentiful than usual, but the ones seen were transitioning very nicely into their breeding plumage.
 Pine Grosbeaks and Purple Finch were scattered throughout most all sites we checked. Both species were singing loudly. Again, the sightings were dominated by females.
 That pretty much covers off the common finch species. It was like they had all been waiting for a nice day to sit and sing. Ahh.... a real feel of Spring!
 Fox Sparrows are growing in number. We saw about five in different areas throughout the morning.
 Golden-crowned Kinglets are growing scarce. This was the only one seen. It was on La Manche Road.
 The female juncos are "browning up" and looking very sharp.
 On the return drive, we were lucky to catch the Wood Duck in a small pool of water alongside the road. It was very wild. At the sight of us, it lifted off and flew to the far side of the pond. The closer we got, it lifted off again and flew into the woods where it landed. It was interesting to see this. The Black Duck also took off, but clearly kept on going.
The new species for the year were two White-throated Sparrows first spotted by Ethel. It appeared to be a male and female. This male broke into an abbreviated version of its typical song. The woods are coming alive! Time to get out the sneakers and prepare for long walks.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Battling the Elements

 Yesterday, I joined Catherine Barrett for a day of birding the southern shore. We expected it to be challenging as the winds were super high. Most birds stayed low or out of sight. Few sea birds were close to shore. Despite this, we did see some nice birds, some closer than ever before.

The day started with a persistent effort that paid off. We were able to see the Northern Mockingbird, playing hard to get in Mobile. Thanks Alvan for this find.

 Bear Cove Beach turned up an unusual opportunity to see a male Common Eider up close. This single bird sat low on the beach and remained undisturbed by us. Nice chance to really see the colors.
 Catherine's eagle-eye yielded this Kildeer hunkered down in a low ditch.
 Once again, ever-vigilant-Catherine, spotted this beautiful Long-tailed Duck sitting on the bank of the river running out to St. Shott's beach.
 It was a remarkable opportunity to see the brilliance of the "artsy" look of the feathers of this bird.
 Typical of all sea birds, they don't stick around long once they know they are in the company of humans. It was nice this one didn't fly off right away, but did a turn around the area giving us a terrific chance to study it.
I have to add the wind was so terrifyingly high, we wouldn't even consider getting out of the car by the St. Shott's  point!

 The feeder of Gord H. in PCS offered up a pale Savannah Sparrow. Also seen later in the day was the Clay-colored Sparrow in Trepassey. Pics taken in the shady area did not turn out well.
 In St. Mary's we ventured out of the car even though the wind was "raw!" I took several shots of these two loons. The bill of one looks much smaller in every shot. Yet, I'm pretty sure they are both Common Loons.
What would a day of birding be without coming home with at least one mystery bird. This distant shot was taken from the car in Cappahayden. By the time I realized the bird was too big to be a Guillemot etc., we turned off the motor, and I set up to get a better pic. Well, the bird didn't cooperate. It vanished. Best guess - a loon?

Wind or no wind, it is always fun to explore just what birds might be waiting to be seen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Another Gyrfalcon

 Half expecting to see a Snowy Owl this morning, when I first saw this white blur flying toward me, that's what I thought this bird was... an owl.
 I was wrong. Within moments, I realized it was the elusive White morph Gyrfalcon. Wow! Wow!
 So big and fast was this bird, there was no time to adjust my camera to capture it. I just had to enjoy the moment and go for a few record shots.
 This falcon seemed to fly in off the water. However, there is evidence of a recent kill on the underneath of this bird, so I wonder if it were sitting low on the rocks near the water having breakfast before it took off. Hard to say but there have been on-going evidence of "kills" around the cape.
 I watched as the falcon changed directions and headed over the ground heading straight for a rock. Sadly, it was going further away.
 Nevertheless, it landed and sat looking at me and checking out its surroundings.

 The small beak on this bird seems more grey than yellow, making me wonder if it is an immature. I just don't know enough about the species to know the difference. I stared as it lifted off and flew toward the gulch below the old lighthouse.  Surprising this beauty is still around.
 Not to be outdone, a Snowy Owl did put in an appearance below the lookout. It sat on a rock for a while before lifting off.
It flew off low below the rocks toward the gulch. Hmmm. Did these two stunners meet up out there somewhere?