Earlier this week, I stepped out on my deck to enjoy the unusual mid-morning warmth on a December morning. For a fleeting moment, I imagined...Winter departed and Spring arrived. I wish!
I began to think of warblers and long walks in the woods. While the typical flurry of wood warblers is long gone, there have been a few warblers found around the St. John's area. These include a Pine Warbler, an Orange-crowned Warbler and this beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler.
At Kelly's Brook, I was lucky to get great views of this colorful little bird. It was working its way through a range of about 50 feet and back again.
Busily eating, it seemed really, really tame. It came within close range several times while I watched. In fact, it came so close it was impossible to focus my long lens on it.
While the foliage around Kelly's Brook has dulled, the bright throat of this little warbler lit the place up.
As has happened in the past, several rare birds may likely just appear at the Brook. It is an unusual habitat for this city area that seems to continue to produce insects well beyond other areas.
As the weather gets colder, the chance of seeing something great continues to increase. Last year, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher frequented the area. A couple of years back, a Kentucky Warbler delighted birders for several weeks. Not to diminish the value of the Yellow-throated Warbler, but there may be some rare bird already scouting out the place.
Finding a couple of hours yesterday morning, I headed out to try to see the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pine Warbler and the Eastern Towhee. Well, one out of three is not bad.
I went to Bowring Park and rushed straight toward the railway bed to look for the Pine Warbler. I was ascending the steps to the trail as I caught sight of movement in a tree. Stopping mid-way up the stairs, I spotted a Brown Creeper. That's not a bird I see often, so I stopped to watch it creep around the tree.
Then, out of nowhere, in flew a female Downy Woodpecker. Another bird I don't see often, I was already satisfied with my outing.
As the Downy flew off, in flew the Pine Warbler and landed in a tree just feet from me. The sun shone brightly on it, and the Pine Warbler seemed to enjoy the bit of warmth the sun offered up on a very cold morning.
Sometimes, I work so hard to see a bird and never lay eyes on it, but yesterday morning, I stopped in just the right place to enjoy three great birds.
Joe Hiscock of Burgeo, Newfoundland recently sent me this video of a white sparrow in his yard. I have looked at the clip several times and can not tell what kind of sparrow it is. With his permission, I post it here in the hopes someone can provide some info about this bird.
Yesterday, I had a visit from a washed-out (leucistic) American Goldfinch.
Where there is supposed to be black, it is white. It's overall body is much paler than usual, as well. Underneath, the bird appeared very white.
In recent months, there have been several reports of birds without normal color pigment. I tried to locate all of the posts on the Discussion Group, but couldn't narrow in on the posts.
From memory, I know Shawn Fitzpatrick reported a leucistic Black-capped Chickadee and Alison Mews had a leucistic junco at her feeder. I seem to remember a seabird also reported at Cape Race and another possible one in Glovertown. Add to this the above sparrow and this goldfinch, there seems to be more of these birds showing up. That begs the question: "Why?"
Today's post marks a major milestone of being the one thousandth post on this blog since April 2010. Putting that in perspective, that is an average of 22.2 posts per each of the 45 months since this blog originated.
These posts host about 10,000 photos, many words and represent hours and hours of birding, photography, processing photos and more. Perhaps I have said all that can be said by a novice birder learning about birds the Avalon Peninsula over an extended period of time.
For today, I chose to showcase the gulls of Newfoundland, given our gull season is well underway. Of course, not all gulls shown here were seen during the winter, but many were. (For more info about when some of our rarities were reported, run a query in the "search box" above.)
We have already had several sightings of Yellow-legged Gulls this year. Will this be the year a Slaty-backed Gull returns to Quidi Vidi Lake? I recently saw where one was reported just west of us.
In the order of appearance, the gulls included in this post are:
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
I have shots of what was pointed out to me as a Glaucous Gull and will add the shot later. It is the Thayer's Gull, not the Glaucous Gull that is the bird debated. Some say they have never been here and there are those who disagree.
With so many species of gulls frequenting St. John's, it is no wonder winter-birding tourists also flock to the area of Quidi Vidi to enjoy the show.
While the nesting sites of Elliston, Cape St. Mary's, and Witless Bay garner a lot of splash on the province's tourism promos, there are still many aspects of birding in this province that remain low profile. Gull birding is one of those.
However, keen birders educate themselves about what is happening here through the many avenues of informal communications put on by the birders of this province.
There is an extremely high interest in birds in Newfoundland beyond Canadian borders. Thousands of birders from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, China, U.K., Turkey and India have visited my blog since its inception.
To me, that is remarkable, and I am very happy to have been able to share my NL birding experiences with such a wide audience.