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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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Awesome Common Eider

 Who can resist a semi-warm, sunny, windless day to go to Cape Spear? I certainly can't. When I arrived, I spotted a massive raft of eider in the distance... probably 3000. I stood and admired the scenery and wished them closer. Well, they came.
 At least 1000 headed straight toward me and flew into the shoreline below the lookout. It was amazing to see them splash down. Once they landed, they sat on the water for a few minutes as if to check if it were safe to stay.
Then, the diving began. They were down, up, down again and feeding like there was no tomorrow.

 I have never seen that before. What a flurry of activity!
 Then, as suddenly as they flew in and began the feeding frenzy, they all grouped together. I have never seen them get in such a tight formation.  I had ample time to look them over when they were so close, and I was surprised to find not one single male King Eider among them. There had been plenty only a couple of weeks ago.

 I was so into watching the eider that I almost missed the only two Northern Gannets that flew by during my stay. Time and time again, I feel absolutely uplifted when I witness something new and as exciting as the feeding raft of Common Eider.
On my way home I checked Cuckolds Cove and QV Village hoping to happen upon something else special. I wondered why there were no small birds at the feeders in Quidi Vidi until I spotted this well-fed looking feline resting high in the tree. It didn't look at all concerned about how to get down.