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Wednesday, October 29, 2014


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 While it is no doubt the aim at this time of the year to seek out rare birds just passing through, it is still a joy to see the other common or uncommon birds in our midst.
 These great birds showed up along the way yesterday as I birded Blackhead Road and area.

 It is strange and interesting at the same time. On several occasions I have found one Common Grackle in this area. Wonder why it is alone... When observing this bird, he was without doubt the king of the feeder. Even the Blue Jays kept a respectful distance until it left.
 This look at a Ruffed Grouse was the best one I have had this year. It is said they don't like getting their feathers wet. As a result, they will often show up on the roads when the trees and brush are dripping.

 I haven't seen as many Red-eyed Vireos this year as in previous years, so it is always worth taking the time to look them over well when one appears.

All in all, add these birds to the TWO Black-throated Blue Warblers of yesterday, and that was a good day of birding.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Black-throated Blue Warbler

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 While looking for the flock of Snow Buntings I saw fly in at Cape Spear, I found myself up by the old lighthouse. Being that far already, I decided to walk the East Coast Trail.
 I never saw a single bird on the way in, not even a jay. I stayed the course and walked to the end of the tree-lined trail.
 Just as I reached the open area, I saw two Golden-crowned Kinglets fly in the distance. Just happy to see a bird, I stopped and began to use my squeaker to draw them closer to me.
 They came along with about six juncos and a couple of chickadees. At first, I thought this bird was a junco as it was hidden in the trees. Then, I caught sight of the white on the wing and began to pay more attention to it.
 Finally, it came in closer, and it was evident what it was...a Black-throated Blue Warbler. I hadn't seen one in a couple of years, but its markings are so distinct I knew right away what it was! It stayed in the area for about five minutes and gave me an opportunity to see it very well.
Perfectly happy with my morning of birding, I headed home. Of course, I can't help myself...every time I see a junco, I have to stop. This time I was coming down the hill toward the village of Blackhead. I pulled over easily just after the guardrail and caught quite a bit of activity. The truth is...I saw a bird I couldn't identify. I tried to follow it into the woods as all the birds disappeared. No luck. I rushed around to the bus turnaround in Blackhead, hoping to find the flock there. Nothing. Undaunted, I returned to the original spot.
By now the showers were coming hard. I found a Boreal Chickadee, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Red-eyed Vireo and then, out of nowhere, in flew this male Black-throated Blue. I couldn't believe my eyes...TWO in one day!

I never relocated the sought-after bird, but was somewhat contented to settle for this great little bird.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lingering Shorebirds

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 On a recent trip to Renews, Margie M. and I stayed quite late in the day. As the sun was going down, we made one last check of the beach.
 There, we found Yellowlegs in high numbers, both Lesser and Greater. The Hudsonian Godwit was present as were two Black-bellied Plovers. The Semipalmated Plover seen earlier in the day was gone.
 However, a quick scan down the beach revealed a small sandpiper. I started the walk. Before I could reach the point where I saw the small bird, I came across four sandpipers.
They looked so small. Driven by the report of a Baird's Sandpiper on this beach, I focused on these birds in the hopes I would get lucky.
 These birds looked soooo small. I guess it was because they were flanked by yellowlegs and the godwit.
 Anyway, it was time to make an ID. Through the process of elimination, we settled on White-rumped Sandpipers.
 Their legs were clearly not yellow and there was no webbing on the feet. That really only left the White-rumped as the possible species, especially when the rump was exposed. That clinched it!
 I looked and photographed them all. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not find one that was buffy enough to be a Baird's. Although, the third image posted here shows a bird with a much straighter beak than most White-rumped Sandpipers.
Despite that, the whole thought process to arrive at the White-rumped Sandpiper was interesting and beneficial.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hudsonian Godwit: No Guarantees

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 For several consecutive years, a Hudsonian Godwit or two have shown up in the St. John's area. So far, not this year. With all of the hot weather in July, the water levels were dropping and rocks were becoming exposed. It looked promising for shorebirds in Goulds this year.
 Then, came August. Non-stop rain quickly filled up the ponds, and roosting rocks vanished under the water. This may have impacted the low number of shorebirds that showed up here this fall.
 Fortunately, one Hudsonian Godwit appeared in Renews. Even then there was no guarantee it would be there when I was there.
 Margie M. and I birded Renews earlier this week. First check of the shoreline found the godwit feeding away. We checked other places and returned, and it was gone.
We stayed unusually late in Renews; so before we left, we took one more look around the bay. At that time, many shorebirds had flown in, and there was the godwit again. It seemed to be unusually tame allowing us to get close looks. There were four small sandpipers there as well that sent us back to the books to study. More on that at another time.

UPDATE: Ed Hayden reported 4 Hudsonian Godwits in Goulds last week.