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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Orange-crowned Warbler Offers Up a Bit of Excitement

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 Fall birding styles vary from other seasons. I often walk the same old trails, visit the same old locations where vagrants have been spotted in years gone by, and I often come up with the same old tally...Nil. Nevertheless, I keep going out when time and weather permits. A couple of days ago, I visited Cuckhold's Cove Trail with a familiar feeling: Maybe, I will find something good; maybe, I won't.
Then, at the top of the hill, I caught sight of  a warbler, species unknown. I kept a close eye on it as it moved through the leaves until it started to keep a close watch on me. I couldn't see all of the bird so I was hesitant to make a call on the ID.
 Patiently and not-so-patiently, I watched as it moved around. The bird was looking more like an Orange-crowned Warbler, but I still hadn't had a full-on look at it.
 It is quite amazing when tracking a warbler at this time of the year. My adrenaline goes from 0 to 60 mph in one second. All focus is on the bird and attempting to get a good look at it. Experience tells me it could be gone in a flash without an ID.
 For that reason, I keep shooting photos because on many occasions, I have had to make an ID after the fact based on bits and pieces of the bird as represented in images.
That was not the case this time. Just before its final departure, the great little warbler hopped out in the open to give me an opportunity to see all of it and proclaim it to be an Orange-crowned Warbler....on the spot!

That is why I will continued to walk the familiar trails in search of an unfamiliar bird.

Afterword: With Hurricane Gonzalo just offshore from the SE Avalon, I know there are birders already sitting in strategic locations hoping to catch sight of some rare seabirds in the midst of the downpour and high winds. That sounds a little strange for those who enjoy sitting out a storm in the comfort of their home, but what is really strange is the number of runners and volunteers who are now right in the middle of a Cat 1 hurricane running from Cape Spear to Cabot Tower. Oh, how our passions impact our common sense!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Palm Warbler: Spring to Fall

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 Over the year, I have been fortunate to see several Palm Warblers. They are uncommon around St. John's, so that makes a sighting even more special.
 It was in the woods that run along Stick Pond that offered up this Spring Palm Warbler.
 In breeding plumage its colors were bright and fetching.
 Fast forward to October 6 when I saw this Palm Warbler in the pit at the end of Bus Shelter Trail.
Much of the rufous color is gone and the yellow has dulled tremendously. One constant, though, is the bright yellow under-tail coverts
Against the evergreen and the bare deciduous trees, this bird can look pretty bright. The Palm is a "tail bobber." At this time of the year, it can more readily be seen among the low, seed-producing plants. That is where I found this one.

This bird is running a little behind schedule, as it should soon be well on its way to the SE United States and/or the Caribbean Isles by now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Canvasback Duck!

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 I have become a little obsessive about checking the birder's discussion group throughout the day. Especially if I am going out, the last thing I have to do is look to see if there have been any new postings.
That paid off in a big way yesterday. Heading out to run errands, I opened the "group" page and found a mega-rarity in the headline.

 Bruce Mactavish had found a Canvasback Duck sleeping with other diving ducks at Kenny's Pond, less than 5 minutes away.
 Quickly, I realigned my list and headed straight for Kenny's Pond.
 By the time I arrived, the Canvasback was awake and busy with morning feeding and preening.
 What an amazing profile on this bird! The beak and the sloping head make even its profile stand out as I peered through my binoculars across the pond.
 Strolling around to the south side, I was able to see the bird better where I watched it for about 30 minutes. It covered a lot of space during that time but seemed quite comfortable.
This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this species in Newfoundland. That first and last (until today) documented sighting was in 1973....41 years ago.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow

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 After 45 minutes of watching this bird creep through the undergrowth, this is the best shot I could muster. Nevertheless, to me it is gold as I will review it many times in the future.
This was such an interesting bird to watch. It would weave itself through the grass so gently, the blades didn't even wiggle. One minute it would be spotted in one place, and the next it would be six feet away. At one point it scurried up a small trail so fast it was impossible to photograph.


Also playing hard-to-get this morning was this Yellow-breasted Chat that was within inches of us. It hunkered down in the brush and managed to hide its flashing yellow breast. Only when it flew, did I get a look at it.  Quite a busy morning at Cape Spear this morning. Dave Brown also spotted an Indigo Bunting as it flew into our area. Sitting and waiting around out there can produce all sorts of good things.