Sunday, March 19, 2017

What a Day!

 The bright sunshine this morning hauled me outdoors, despite the early-morning chill in the air. As the sun rose, the day warmed. It turned out to be a beautiful day for walking.

 I started the walk at Cape Spear. There were very few birds to be seen, but the conditions made up for that. A few small flocks of Common Eider flew by as well as one Murre. I couldn't tell which kind it was. Guillemot dotted the water and one large flock of Long-tailed Ducks appeared and disappeared under the water. There was a feisty drone circling the area.
 Maddox Cove had at least six Red-breasted Mergansers and a smattering of Guillemot and gulls.
 Third Pond was interesting. The parking lot had not been cleared and a front-end loader blocked the entrance. I parked there and took a walk-about. The brooks are open on both sides of the pond. Snow is not deep and easy to walk, and the growth is very low. Viewing the area was almost too easy. The only problem was there were no special birds in the area. Plenty of crows dotted the sky, starlings seem to have moved into the horse barns, and the typical ducks skirted around the marsh.
Bidgood Park was perfect for walking. Again, there were few birds. A small flock of junco and several Black Ducks ruled the park.
Fourth Pond is still quite frozen, easily supporting the walkers going from cabins to homes across the pond. The usual domestic geese were present. Cochrane Pond Road produced no birds whatsoever. Blocking the entrance to the gravel road is a h-u-g-e wall of snow. I figure it won't melt until sometime in July!
A quick jaunt into Mundy Pond showed the inner lagoon open. From a distance, I didn't see any birds in the area. Then, it was on to Quidi Vidi Lake.
It was there I saw the prize-of-the-day - the visiting Slaty-backed Gull. It has been several years since I have seen one; and thanks to Frank King and his scope, I saw it very well. Too bad the bird was so far away, and photos don't do it justice. What a great way to end my longest birding outing for quite some time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Fair Day

 Having rejigged my weather benchmarks for birding this winter, I haven't gotten out much. Nevertheless, when the weather offers up a fair day, I jump at the chance to get out. Yesterday was one of those days. With temps hovering around freezing and winds at about 15 clicks, I hit the road for Cape Spear. It has been more than two months since I exited my car at this location, and I was looking forward to a stroll around the grounds.
 Very few birds were flying by. Guillemot were plentiful, a few Long-tailed Ducks flew in, the usual cormorants were flying back and forth, but there was no sign of the Purple Sandpiper. Several times along my walk, I thought I heard the sounds of small birds. I scanned and scanned the area to try to locate the sound. Just about to give up, I headed toward the parking lot. It was then, I caught sight of a flash of movement. Excitement! It was really nice and unexpected to see these two Common Redpoll feasting on the seeds in the low growth.
 Satisfied, I headed to Quidi Vidi Lake to see if I could get some extended looks at the lingering Redwing Blackbird. It was very cooperative, after the four fishermen finished casting near its zone.
The bird went on about its routine as if I weren't there. Finding food at the ice edge has kept this bird alive for months. It cycled through picking at the water, preening and even singing.

At one point, while preening, it flashed its bright orange patch on the wing. As this bird ages, it will become more back, and the patch will turn a deeper red.
This blackbird was so cooperative, I lingered for a long time watching its cycle. This is an example of one of the nice moments birdwatching has to offer: A good look at a bird that is not always around.

Before leaving, I started to check over the many seagulls sitting on the ice. Just as a spotted one bird with a different gray mantle, this happened! Oh, well....

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Day Surprise

 On a glorious day at Cape Spear with the temp hovering around the freezing mark and no wind, things were hopping. Even a little squirrel was feeding on the hillside. There were large flocks of waxwings and Purple Sandpipers. Smaller flocks of Long-tailed Ducks and Eider were scattered about. Among the Common Eider were three King Eider and several Black Scoter, all of which were an unexpected treat.
 While walking down to the point, I came across nature-taking-its course as this gull was toying with a downed Dovekie. Keeping a watchful eye for other Dovekies I didn't see any flying by. I walked along the forbidden construction area and back with no luck.
 I was totally shocked when this happened. Just as I returned to the lower lookout, in flew this little Dovekie and landed about 12 feet from me.
 I blinked twice to make sure this wasn't a figment of my imagination. It was amazing to see this species out of the water, very close and so comfortable. It did not even seem to notice I was there.
 It set about preening and working on an area of its breast that appeared to have a healing gash in it.
 There was no indication in this bird's behaviour that it was hurting or impeded by this injury.
 From all angles, the gash appeared to be healing. The Dovekie stayed for about 10 to 15 minutes. I kept watching the trail to see if any other birders might arrive in time to see this close-up show. Fortunately, two others arrived and got a few minutes of great viewing.
As quick as it arrived, the Dovekie lifted off and flew on its way. Cape Spear always amazes, especially on a nice day!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Virginia Lake Osprey

 With all the rare bird sightings of late, it is a shame I have none of them to showcase here. Sometimes, you end up in the right place at just the right moment. Sometimes, it is luck and sometimes it is a result of smart birding.
 This encounter with an Osprey at Virginia Lake was luck! It is common to see this species feeding in the area, but it is not so common to have one come so close.
 This Osprey was on a mission to catch a fish to take back to its nest. While it kept its eye on me during its fishing expedition, it never waivered from its purpose for being there. Just because I was standing close to the fish didn't matter.
 It searched and searched, sometimes seeing something of interest but opted to keep searching.
 It flew back and forth in front of me.
 At times it would move closer to the water, then rise again. I wondered if the fish could see its shadow and if the Osprey knew that.
 Aside: I looked this bird over closely to see if it was hosting one of the tracking devises attached to several local Osprey this summer. This one was not.
 It was easy to tell when it was setting up for a dive. Its feet dropped as it swooped toward the water.
 When with an enormous amount of speed and force, it plunged into the water grabbing the fish in the instant of impact. It is such an amazing spectacle.
 In no time, it lifts up out of the water with a small trout clutched in its grip.
Successful, the Osprey then heads directly for its next. It is possible this is one of the birds nesting at Snow's Lane. There were two young Osprey reared there again this year.