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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Black-throated Green Warbler

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 Yesterday while driving to Cape Spear, I was surprised with a Black-throated Green Warbler that flew across the road. I stopped just in time to see it land in an alder right in front of me. (These are not shots of that event as I had to shoot through my front window.)
 There seem to have been more of this species along Blackhead Road this year than in previous years.
They often appeared on the trail by the bus shelter. That is where I took these snaps in mid-August....more than a month ago. Where did the summer go?
The one I saw yesterday may well be the last of the season for me. Where will it go when it leaves us? South. It will travel south through the U.S. during migration to reach its winter home in southern Florida, Southern Texas and Central America. Some will carry on until they reach northern South America. No mounds of snow for them! Smart birds!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Painted Lady Butterfly - East Coast Trail

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 My first Painted Lady Butterfly of the year was seen last week along the East Coast Trail beyond the Cape Spear lighthouse. The lifespan of the Painted Lady Butterfly is only two to four weeks. While I haven't seen many of them here, they are one of the most widespread species of butterfly in the world.
 It made a quick dash in front of me and landed on a rock face where it stayed for a long time.
 I tried to get the underwing shot, but this little one was not cooperating.
 The Painted Lady is also known by the names Cosmopolitan and Thistle Butterfly.
This underwing shot came from my archives. So far, this is the only butterfly I have seen in Newfoundland to have the eyespots. There are four on the hindwing as seen here.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time for Vireos

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 Six species of vireos have been recorded in Newfoundland, and I am happy to say I have now seen all six. Listed in the order of the images here, these include: Blue-headed Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo and the Yellow-throated Vireo. All of these vireos are migratory.
 Vireos are similar to warblers but have a larger bill. They are often pale in color and typically have distinctive eye spectacles.
 Vireos are big singers, especially the males. It is their song that frequently gives away their location. Three of these six vireos are uncommon breeders in this province. These are: Blue-headed, Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireo.
 It is likely a pair of Blue-headed Vireo bred in the La Manche area for the last two years as they were spotted in Spring and reported several weeks later. Occasionally, a Red-eyed Vireo has been reported on the Avalon during spring or summer. For instance, there was a Spring Red-eyed Vireo reported regularly in the Waterford River area, and this last summer one was seen in the Rennie's River/Kelly's Brook area.
 Right now, mid-September, is the best opportunity to see the Red-eyed Vireo. A couple have been spotted already on Blackhead Road. They tend to stay low in the alders and are relatively responsive to phishing.  The last reporting of a Philadelphis Vireo on the Avalon via eBird was on Bear Cove Pt. Road on Sept. 24, 2011. Aside from the recent report of a Warbling Vireo in Blackhead, it has been reported a number of times since 1983 in and around St. John's. All but one sighting occurred in September.
The White-eyed Vireo arrives, when it arrives, later than the other vagrants. Fewer sighting of this bird have been reported, and they took place in mid to late October or nearly November. The only reported sighting of a White-eyed Vireo in the St. John's area was my personal-best find on November 7, 2010 on Pouch Cove Line.

Check eBird to track all of the sightings of the rare vireos. Keep in mind not everyone uses eBird, but it does show a number of locations where one is most likely to find the different species. So far, it is shaping up to be a good vireo year. Will the White-eyed Vireo show up again?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lucky Shoes - Day Two!

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 Lucky Shoes + Dave Brown  =  One Worm-eating Warbler and one Yellow-throated Vireo! Dave and I left town at 4:30 on a wing and a prayer to find the Worm-eating Warbler found the day before by Bruce Mactavish in Cappahayden. We encountered one moose on the side of the road and another when we arrived in Cappahayden. As you can see, it was still quite early when we reached our destination, so we waited a while to give the birds a chance to wake up. At around 6:30 Dave led the way through the track trail.
 Along the way, we picked up a small flock of chickadees and warblers that moved ahead of us. Stopped at the flag Bruce left, Dave became one with the alders and tried to draw the Worm-eating Warbler in. Nothing. He led the way again. About thirty yards up the trail, he announced - he had it! The bird stayed low and in the tangle. I managed to get only one blurry shot of its face, missing the only 2-second opportunity when it was in the open. Dave got much better shots. Unbelievable! This bird is known to be not only rare but almost impossible to re-find. It stayed in the area for about 10 minutes, but never really made it easy for us. Nevertheless, we saw it. Very exciting!
With a glow on, we set out to enjoy the rest of the day. Checking areas in Cappahayden, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Dave walked about 60 yards up the road at the end of Cappahayden. Soon, I heard him calling me. I thought he found the chat, but he seemed really animated. "Hurry, hurry," he said. I ran!
When I reached his side, a bird flew across the road. There it goes... When he told me he had heard the Yellow-throated Vireo and had it in his sights, I was elated. This is one lovely bird I always wanted to see.
 We focused on the tree where it landed, and there it was! At last...!
 It flitted around quite a bit but stayed in the vicinity for about ten minutes.
 These shots were taken from a long, long distance. We were standing on the road shooting up, way up, into the tree, but it was a darned sight easier to see this Yellow-throated Vireo than the Worm-eating Warbler. Unbelievable: Two amazing birds within 30 minutes!
We carried on with our day, happy as a lark. It really didn't matter we didn't see anything else particularly unusual during the day. We just enjoyed seeing several flocks of the usual warblers and sparrows. There were an unusual number of Magnolia Warblers around, one of the nicest warblers of the season...to me.

What an amazing experience and who better to enjoy it with than Dave who has been pursuing good "looks" at a Worm-eating Warbler for a long time.