Last Sunday I made an early-morning run to Cape Spear. Along the way, I heard the Mourning Warbler singing loud and clear in the same spot I saw it a week ago.
Shortly down the road I heard another song I have never heard before. This is only the second Male Common Yellowthroat I have ever seen and the only one singing. I usually see this species later in the season when their song has turned to a chip.
As usual, this Common Yellowthroat was hard to see. For the first half hour, it stayed hidden in the foliage, but it continued to sing. At one point I caught a brief glimpse of it and saw the light underside and bold black, not enough to identify it. That meant I just had to stay with it until I could tell what it was.
Eventually, it showed itself. Mystery solved. I hadn't reached my destination and had already seen two nice warblers.
Moving on to Blackhead Village, the darned resident black cat crossed in front of my car. Ugh...bad luck. I stopped and glared at it, and indeed, it was bad luck for the bird trapped between its jaws. I opened my car door and startled the cat. In that brief lapse, a Swamp Sparrow managed to free itself and flew into a nearby bush. Whew! This little bird must be totally traumatized. I watched it for about five minutes, and it didn't budge....frozen in place. From the way it flew, I think it survived the ordeal.
At Cape Spear, I saw only one Humpback Whale and scarce birds flying by. At one point I saw this really small gull fly by in the distance. Next to a nearby gull, it looked even smaller than a Black-legged Kittiwake. I figure it is a kittiwake, but its wings appear quite long and narrow. Once again distance and light proved to be confounding. At Cape Spear I am always filled with anticipation of something really great drifting into the field of view of my camera. Even if it doesn't, I am always challenged to identify the passing birds.
Instinct is a powerful thing. While this grouse looked a little stunned holding its ground on a side road, it really had an important purpose.
It might have been safer for this Ruffed Grouse to just run in the woods and hide, but it didn't. When approached, it held fast to its position.
When its territory became encroached, it launched into a frenzy of behaviour: It crouched low, tucked its tail, began making a crying sound and scurried around the road.
All of this was away from the area it seemed to be protecting.
It is just that time of the year. It is my guess that the baby grouse may already be born, but is not yet out of the nest. The behaviour was too radical to just be protecting eggs. This grouse was worried about its young.
Similar scenes of protective behaviour will be playing out all across the province in the weeks to come. It is amazing to see, but also important not to linger too long. This bird was clearly in distress.
The list of great birds showing up at Bidgood Park is continuing to grow, as is the number of new birders enjoying the show with shiny new binoculars.
With today being a holiday, it was just too challenging to bird along the gravel roads. Off road machines roared by stirring up clouds of dust and lots of little rocks. Deciding to drop into Bidgood Park to check for butterflies turned out to be a good thing.
As soon as I reached the boardwalk, I noticed a different bird mixed among the feeding swallows and waxwings. This one had quite dark sides, as they say, resembling a vest. Only one bird came to mind... an Olive-sided Flycatcher. I worked my way closer to it, and found it to be just that.
I sat on a bench and watched as it would move away but come back to a nearby tree. Unfortunately, this bird was sensitive to the movement of the many walkers and moved back quite a way.
I didn't take the time to wait any longer, but I felt pretty sure it would move in closer for those who want to view it. The Olive-sided Flycatcher is an uncommon breeder in the province, but it doesn't frequent the eastern side of the island very often. I felt pretty lucky to get such a good look at this one.