Monday, August 20, 2018

The Cape

 Summertime and mornings, two of my favorite things. Put VOWR on the radio, and it just doesn't get much better. As I topped the hill at Cape Spear, this beautiful sunrise greeted me. Odd though, at 6 a.m. the road was busy with cars racing in both directions. I really expected to have some quiet time to view the Orchard Oriole found by Ethel D. a couple of days before. I was astounded to find the parking lot full, and the lookout crowded with about 50 people. Must have been some kind of sunrise service.
 With those numbers of people around, I was not surprised the Orchard was not readily seen. My first try did not yield the bird. However, knowing the bird had been around for a while and seen earlier in the morning, I was not concerned.
 I put the Orchard on hold and went for my morning walk. It was waiting for me when I returned.
 Its bright lemon color was hard to miss in the morning sun. I was lucky to get great views of the bird and able to snap a few shots.
 I think it has been reported this bird is only the fifth sighting of an Orchard Oriole. Two of these have been in the area of Cape Spear. The last sighting was brief, and the bird was on its way.
 This one stayed around allowing many birders to get a look.
 I think it was likely the small berries growing low to the ground at the Cape that made this bird contented to stay awhile.
 Earlier as I birded the trails, I noted a slight uptake in sightings of woodland birds. For a while the woods were extremely quiet.
 It seems the birds are beginning to move around. I got only one shot of this sparrow and not a great look at it, but I believe it to be a Fox Sparrow. Usually, the chip of a Fox is easily identified, but I didn't hear it at all.
 Along the road, I found some tourists looking at this bird. They indicated it was a Hermit Thrush, so I didn't spend much time looking at it. However, as I look at the couple of pictures I took from a distance, I now wonder if this is not the Gray-cheeked Thrush that has been frequenting the area.
 There were other common warblers that crossed my path, but nothing out of the ordinary.
 The bright colors have faded, and the young are joining the flocks. Nice to see. Better look now, because this is the start of the last hoorah. Before we know it, the birds will begin to leave us.
Notable, were the large numbers of sparrows to be seen. White-throated Sparrows, Savannah's, Swamp and Song Sparrows dotted the area. By mid-morning on the bright August day, the heat and humidity began to parch the air making it hard to linger in my search. Not complaining, mind you. That, too, will be gone too soon.

Now, off to do some of my other favorite things. A game of tennis and some golf at Clovelly are on docket. Hard to fit everything I enjoy into our short summer.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bonavista Bound!

 With the great find by Alison Mews of the Forked-tailed Flycatcher, numerous birders headed to Bonavista to view it. I joined Ethel D. for an exciting trip. It has been seven years since a Forked-tail Flycatcher has been reported on the island of Newfoundland.
 There were no worries finding the bird. It remained in the same area very actively flitting around from place to place in a 50 yard square area.
 It even flew circles around us and landed right in front of us. How nice.
 The bird looks healthy, showing no signs of wear after itslong trip, probably in rough conditions, to get here.
 Having seen the bird well and photographed it resting, the challenge to capture its flight began.
 It is very difficult to get flight shots of this one. It flew fast and low, always among the tall grass causing many blurry attempts at me shots.
 At one point it abandoned the grass and flew into a rock garden. With less interference, I was able to get sharper images. While the tail shows well, these are not the ideal shots.
 The effort continued to get just the right one.
 Images were improving, but never really yielding just what I wanted. The nice thing is there was no "hot" pursuit of this bird as it just continued to circle the area.
 Staying in one spot and rotating with it offered up the best opportunities.
 Still not getting the shot I wanted, I was not disappointed. This one interestingly show how it uses it fancy tail to maneuver through the tall grass. Very interesting.
 Routinely, it returned to the fence to perch. That is where we left it and moved on.
 It was nice to see this little immature American Pipit sitting on the rocks in Eliston.
 When in Bonavista, it is a must to go the little extra distance to Eliston to view the Puffins breeding on a small island just off shore.
 When we arrived, the birds were mostly on the water and actively feeding. The food they were gathering was not the typical capelin, but a smaller fish.
 Moving on, we explored the Dungeon on the way back. What a beautiful area with rugged landscape and free-range cows and horses. All of that was enhanced by the appearance of a flock of 19 Whimbrel flying around. Nice!
 We finished our day near Come-by-Chance with a great view of this Merlin (probably a juvenile) spotted by Ethel.
 Because of its lightness and plain face, we watched it as long as it would allow.
It had to be a Merlin, we thought, as we did a mental check of other field marks. This was a really nice bird.

 It cooperated and stayed around for about five minutes before taking off.
As is said, "All good things must come to an end." With the departure of the Merlin, our day of birding ended, and we headed to St. John's. Yet another nice day in the great outdoors, magnificent scenery and exciting birds.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Seabird Delight

 I have fallen behind in posts as the warm weather lures me outside, just where I want to be. With a combo of play and birding, I have seen some really nice birds.
 Today, I share way too many pictures, but they correspond to the amount of enjoyment I had on Wednesday as I ventured down the shore. Birding along the way, I arrived at Point La Haye around noon. I stayed for a long time with so much to look at.
 Point La Haye is a much longer trip than I typically like to make. The most exciting trips are usually the ones where I have boots on the ground just roaming around. When I got to Point La Haye, I didn't see a bird. "Wow," I thought. "What am I doing here?"
 Determined, I set out for the long walk down the beach. About two-thirds through the sand, a jaeger buzzed me. Relief set in. It wasn't long before I realized I had just seen my first Long-tailed Jaeger. That made the long drive and long walk worthwhile.
 It wasn't until my walk out I saw the same jaeger sitting on the beach. What a nice surprise.
 Soon, it was airborne again along with others.

 Altogether there were six jaegers that eventually showed up.
 Among them were light and dark morph Pomarine Jaeger, both immature and adult.
 For me, as I have only seen very few jaegers, it was not easy to identify them on the spot and even at home when looking closely at the pictures. I believe this to be a Parasitic Jaeger.
 I believe this bird to be an adult Parasitic, however, the tail really doesn't show well in either image.

 Then, there was this one. My brain is breaking down! I think, based on size, pale base below primaries and the heavily barred tail, I am guessing... guessing Long-tailed Jaeger.

 These two, were the easiest. Based on their tail, I believe them to be Pomarine Jaeger.
 This bird was BFFs with the pale Long-tailed Jaeger. The two birds were often sitting together. At times, it seemed this dark bird was being protective of the pale morph. Very interesting to watch.
 I captured several angles of this bird hoping the pictures would confirm it to be yet another Long-tailed Jaeger.
Do not take any of my identifications to heart. They are the result of flipping through three guides, multiple pictures and a declining perception.

Trepassey offered up a quick look at a number of shorebirds. Among them are Black-bellied Plovers, White-rumped Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Sandpipers and one possible Sanderling (pale bird in the lower right of pic.) Note the Redknot.

Mix in an hour gazing at shearwaters and jaegers flying below the light house at Point La Haye and some "warblering" mixed in, it was a birding overload. Having said all of this, I can't fail to mention it was also joyful!

Now, have a look at the bird in the lower right. It does not really look like a Greater Yellowlegs. I have added two lightened versions of the same picture below this one.