Having just returned from an unplanned and exhausting trip to Arkansas, I was longing to get out in the open air. Getting a later start than usual, I headed to Cape Spear. What a difference a week makes. There were very few birds along the way. I did have one dull yellow warbler with no wing bars fly in front of me on Cape Spear Road. I quickly turned around and set out to find it. Try as I might, I could not coax it out.
However, I was pleased to see this lone warbler sitting atop a tree. Closer looks told me it wasn't one I see everyday. I got a few shots and continued to look around. With little else in the area (chickadees and kinglets), I gave up the hunt.
I was pretty sure this was a Blackburnian, but with all of the rare warblers turning up, I checked with Alvan Buckley who confirmed it was, indeed, a Blackburnian. The only other activity I found was at the end of the Bus Shelter trail. There, I found two Baltimore Orioles and a Red-eyed Vireo, one Swamp Sparrow, a Sharp-shinned Hawk that has been in that area for over two weeks and the usual complement of chickadees and kinglets. It certainly looks like fall birding is winding down quickly.
Here I sit, sipping a celebratory glass of wine and enjoying the morning photos of my first-ever Chestnut-sided Warbler. It all happened like this: Soaking wet from traipsing through the alders and not having seen anything but sparrows, I wandered away from the group (Ed Hayden, Alvan Buckley and Ethel Dempsey). It was after 8 a.m. but looking much earlier with the overcast sky and steady drizzle.
I began to meander back toward the car when I spotted a Common Yellowthroat. That was uplifting...just maybe something else was around, too. Well, there was. I soon saw a Palm Warbler, then a Baltimore Oriole, a Blackpoll and more. There ended up being three Palm Warblers in the area.
Then, I got a glimpse of something different, something I had never seen before. I was certain it wasn't a Blackpoll as the breast was just too light. With my ISO cranked up and my shutter speed very low to try to offset the darkness, I got a first shot of a piece of the bird. I knew it was something good but had no idea what it was. With a rush of excitement, I began to wonder how I was going to get the others to see the bird.
I had no idea how far away they might be. The only thing I could do was keep an eye on the bird until they returned to the car. At last, I spotted them up on the road and called out for them to come....QUICK!
Within moments, they were on the bird, and Alvan knew immediately what it was...a Chestnut-sided Warbler! I could hardly believe what I was hearing...a Chestnut-sided Warbler. Awesome!
When I got home and checked my guide, I was surprised how different the fall version of this species is from the breeding bird. We all enjoyed quite a flurry of activity before we pulled ourselves away to the next stop, which by the way was also amazing. (The bird is pulling on a small branch it broke just above him.)
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!
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.