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Monday, April 21, 2014

Won't be long now...

 As I watch the calendar and scour the empty trees, I know it won't be long until there will be big and little songs beckoning me to find them.
 The spring arrivals will be back in full force my mid to late May. Until then, it is possible to find an early "arrivant" any time, any place.
 The birds pictured here are ordered as I first saw them last year. I think the first was the Wilson's Warbler seen on Power's Road. They are the most prevalent species in early spring in that area.
 Shortly thereafter, in come the others. Goulds is one of the best areas to see the variety of spring migrants. Nevertheless, Kent's Pond, Cuckhold's Cove, Long Pond, Mundy Pond and Kenny's Pond also yield small birds. I have found Kenny's Pond and Mundy Pond the best places to photograph Yellow Warblers. The brightest and best seem to show up in those two locations.
 The Black and White Warbler and Blackpoll seem to be a little shy when they first arrive. It is often that I hear them several days before I see them. Their call can often be heard low in the shrubs and tangles. That is because the B & W builds is small nest among the leaf litter while the Blackpoll builds its nests a little higher, but low in the trees.
 One of the biggest voices of the returning birds belongs to the Northern Waterthrush. This bird stays near the top one-third of the tree and sings its song, loud and long. It is often heard long before it is seen.
 Quieter and more unassuming is the American Redstart. They can be spotted most anywhere warblers gather, but the best location I have found to see this species is on a small side road off Power's Road in Goulds. It often takes a while to see them as they typically do not come out to greet visitors.
 Another loud and melodious song belongs to the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In spring, I often hear these birds singing from the tops of the trees. Their song is surprisingly larger than the little bird. Rarely are they right on the roadway or open path. They tend to stay back from the road by about 20 yards. That makes it tricky to get a good picture of them.
 One of my favorites is the Magnolia Warbler who will likely return by the 3rd week of May and show up on Power's Road. There has been one early male return to the area for at least two years in a row. Their song is a total giveaway of their location. Later in the season last year, I came upon a small group of three or four Magnolia's in a different location on Power's Road. What a treat!
Also among my favorites is the Mourning Warbler. I have had the most luck locating this species on Cochrane Pond Road. A very secretive bird, it is imperative to be very quiet, not intrude on their space and hope they come to you in order to get a good look.

I should also mention I have seen the Black-throated Green Warbler (not pictured) in the general vicinity as the Mourning Warblers.

While it is possible, the birds will return to the same area year-over-year, there really is no guarantee. They can vanish from a typical nesting ground if they feel threatened and move to some unknown location where we may not be able to see them.

I am so looking forward to their return and to the lazy days of strolling through the woods to catch a glimpse of any one of them.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Year-round Mourning Doves

 Since last Spring a growing flock of Mourning Doves has settled into a northern lifestyle in Goulds. By all accounts, they bred here and stayed throughout the winter. Maybe this is a new trend for this species.
 A single pair of Mourning Doves can have as many as six broods during a season. However, they typically breed in warmer climates than Newfoundland. Over the years, I have come across Mourning Dove eggs right out in the open. They don't seem to be too particular about where they lay them.
 In addition to the Goulds flock, I have seen Mourning Dove along the roadside in Flatrock, in Cape Broyle and Renews.
As the Mourning Dove is a game bird in other areas of North America, they will do well to stay here. It is interesting to note the variation in color that doesn't seem to have anything to do with season. The first two images in this series show two doves photographed in March. One has a distinct rosy color while the other is more tan.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lesser Black-backed Gull Over the Months

 Over the months, it has been hard to miss the Lesser Black-backed Gull hanging out at the west end of Quidi Vidi Lake.
 Any day, it is possible to watch this bird, and it is impossible to miss how its streaking has changed since October.
 These first three shots were taken just days ago (April 4). At this time, its head is streak-free, and he is looking very handsome for breeding. This shot shows him making a sound. His neck thickened right up as he uttered a glottal sound.
 Taken in March, there is still evidence of streaking, but it is clearly fading.
 This is another Lesser that has been at the Virginia River outflow. The legs on this one are much brighter, but the degree of streaking in March is about the same.
 In January our west end Lesser seemed to be at the peak of streaking.
 This shot, taken in October, also shows a lot of heavy streaking, and the back seems to be more pale. It is always hard to compare grays, however, as light has a big impact on how it presents itself.
And so, our clean Lesser Black-backed Gull will probably be leaving us soon to hopefully return again in the Fall.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sensational Great Blue Heron

 It wasn't the best weather on Sunday, in fact, it turned downright nasty as the day went on. Yet, I wanted to see the Great Blue Heron, so Margie M. and I headed to the southern shore.
 When we arrived, the heron was no where in sight. We nosed around the area a bit and then returned to the Renews lookout to sit and wait. Patience paid off.
 The first glimpse of the bird is shown in the distance as seen in the first photo. He looked like a twig, but there was no mistaking it.
 As the rain picked up and the fog rolled in, the heron slowly began to move closer to us. Hope was it would come in really close. That didn't happen.
 While close viewing would have been nice, it was still unusually appealing to watch this amazingly large bird strike one pose after the other in the rain and haze.
 It seemed really odd to see this bird so out of its warm-climate elements. It was quite active, never really settling down to eat or rest.
 Eventually, it lifted off and flew into the distant recess at the back right of the river.
Obscured by the rocks and trees, we could barely see it anymore. We made one last sweep around the waterfront in search of a second heron reported by a resident. Coming up empty-handed, we returned to the lookout. By this time our Great Blue Heron had completely disappeared. Mission accomplished! We saw both the heron and the wintering Black-bellied Plover. With our spare time, we checked every accessible waterway on the return trip. Turning up nothing unusual, we dallied. It was enjoyable to have to time to study more closely the common birds in close to shore.