Saturday, June 29, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Over time, I have discovered trails that are best for birding when the high winds are ripping from different directions. It seems when there is a strong Southwest wind, Cuckhold's Cove is fairly-well sheltered, making it an ideal spot on blustery days.
This trail not only offers shelter, but there always seem to be a good variety of birds in the area. This week I found my first female Blackpoll. She and a male were busily collecting flies, so it is likely there are babies in a nest there.
As Bruce M. mentioned in his Telegram article last week, Cedar Waxwings can be very quiet and obscure. This is certainly the case with a small flock that has gathered in the area of the trail. There is no indication they are there; and then, they just appear.
Sparrows of all the common species sing loudly along the trail. Look hard enough, and it is possible to find a Fox or a White-throated Sparrow sitting high atop a tree bellowing out its favorite tune. The Swamp Sparrow stays much lower and is not as easy to spot.
Yellow Warbler are the most abundant species in this area for now. With time, this will shift and another type of warbler will take center stage. There has been a Minke Whale swimming in the cove just below the first lookout. In the same area, I have seen Black Guillemot flying to and from the cliff face. Perhaps, they are nesting there. Then, of course, there is the nesting Bald Eagle. Along the trail, there is frog song from a hidden pond. There is always something to see in this area, and my granddaughter and I were richly rewarded during our long climb up!
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
On June 19th, I hiked up Cuckhold's Cove Trail to see for the first time the baby eagle in the nest. It was bright, happy and moving around a lot.
These shots were taken from quite some distance, and the pictures were heavily cropped. However, I was amazed to see even the eye.
Only one parent is standing guard over the nest and doing all of the fishing. Several times, I have seen the adult swimming over the cove to find a suitable meal.
On June 23rd, I returned to the nest for another look. I was surprised how much the eaglet had changed in just a few days. It was now much darker, sitting upright and moving around the nest freely.
In short order, a fish was delivered for breakfast. The hungry bird moved in and began to devour the fish.
Several minutes later, this foreign object appeared in the nest. It appears to be a metal bracket of some sort. It was not in the nest before as the fourth photo from the top shows. How did it get there? I was watching the area the whole time. Was it in the fish? I wonder if the adult will remove the foreign object from the nest.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
It is not uncommon to see loons in bays and inland ponds at this time of the year. What is uncommon is for one to stay close to shore for some picture taking.
Last week I came upon two loons at Fourth Pond. I pulled up close with my car and expected to see them quickly dive and reappear some distance away.
The Renews pair unleashed their haunting call right before my eyes. As dusk settled in, the two began to call for about 30 minutes and then lifted off to fly elsewhere for the night.
There is something about that call that makes me think of wilderness settings like Algonquin Park in Ontario where the sound echoes through the quiet air. I wonder if the loons are beginning to settle in to nest, and that may be keeping them close to shore. Whatever the reason, this seems to be a great time to get a really good look.
Interesting: The Common Loon appears on the Canadian $1.00 coin and has taken on the moniker of "Lucky Loonie." The story goes that in 2002 during the Winter Olympics, a loonie was buried at center ice so as to provide a clear target to drop the puck. Both the Canadian men's and women's team won gold. In 2006, two Lucky Loonies were buried under the ice at each end of the curling sheet, and as we all know, Brad Gushue and rink came home with the gold. This tradition has been replicated several times with the same gold-standard outcome.
So when I see a loon on the water now, I think "lucky!"
Friday, June 21, 2013
The biggest surprise of the day was the Rusty Blackbirds. I share this story because it happens to me a lot. Maybe, I am not the only one.
I was riding up Power's Road on a "high" after just seeing three Magnolia Warblers and two Morning Warblers. While these two species aren't rare here, they are not wide spread.
I looked and looked, but nothing but a few sparrows and a scattered warbler appeared. After ten minutes or so, several American Robins appeared. Now my 100%-sure stance was waning. Now, I was "pretty sure" I had seen a blackbird.
Then, at last, (30 minutes into the search) on a very distant tree, I saw a possible blackbird sitting atop a tree. It didn't seem rotund enough to be a robin, not long enough to be a crow. Could this be it? I began to work my way to the area, managing to keep out of the bird's line-of-sight. Snapping distant shots along the way in order to have a record of this elusive bird. I finally got close enough to see it was a blackbird. Then, in flew another one and landed on the opposite side of the road: One very far away and one sitting in the direct back light. What was I to do? I knew they were going to fly any minute. The female began to call, and the male flew over. Once together, they both lifted off and flew far into the woods on the side where there are several ponds.
It was something of a personal relief that the birds appeared to confirm that I had not seen some phantom bird that was going to linger in my thoughts and continue to generate self-doubt.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Yesterday morning turned out to be fairly warm, with not-so-high winds - a great day for a walk. I walked several ponds and trails and had a somewhat ho-hum experience with the birds I found. However, by the time the day ended, it was by no means, ho-hum.
I had just returned from my walk and was about to have lunch when the phone rang. "There is a Tricolored Heron in Renews!" That is a "drop-everything-kind-of-bird and just go." That's what I did. Stung by driving to Portugal Cove South TWICE and never seeing the Tundra Swan taught me a BIG lesson. I was going and going to stay as long as necessary to see this bird.
I thought I was quick getting to Renews, but there were those who were quicker. When I arrived, there were ten birders spinning around this small town looking up and down, but no Tricolored Heron was to be seen. That was 1:15 p.m.
Time was passing slowly. I sat and waited when a local resident told me where the heron had been seen for the last two evenings. It was 3:30 when I parked my car overseeing the spot and waited and waited.
Dark clouds moved in and out. Rain showers came and went. Strong gusts of wind occasionally created ripples across the water. One lone fisherman stood in the same spot for hours, catching not one fish.
I sat long enough to have the Killdeer fly in right in front of me. Much later in the day the Willet flew in. Two loons moved between the open waters and the inner pool. Spotted Sandpiper dotted the water scape and a Belted Kingfisher added variety to the scene. The Common Terns fluttered, dove and fluttered and dove over and over. A cormorant flew in. As the day waned, more birds were moving about.
It was 7 p.m., prime time, but no Tricolored Heron. I was by now second guessing whether it was a good idea to just sit in one spot and hope. It helped to ease my mind a bit that there were other birders still cruising around the area.
Within minutes, we could see the small outline of a bird sitting in a distant tree. Chris Ryan was parked closer. We stopped and Anne began setting up the scope. The bird flew. Chris waved us on, so we scurried like robin down the road to try to see it again.
The first picture in this series shows what we saw. We all had the opportunity to look at it closely. By this time Gerard Hickey arrived, and we were all focused on the tree.
The heron started to wiggle a bit, and it was clear it was going to lift off. My rapid-fire shutter captured the trip from one tree to another. Awesome!
This southern bird (Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico area) was now sitting atop a tree in the most northeast land mass in North America. What an amazing feat and treat!
Once balanced on the tree top, he looked around and saw six of us standing on the road staring at him (YIKES) and plenty of people fishing around the area and decided he wouldn't stay. This adult bird in full breeding plumage lifted off one last time, circled around the pond and went back to the safety of the river where it had probably roosted for the day.
With more than nine hours invested in this sighting (including the drive), the sighting was all over in under ten minutes. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Note: There is something strange going on with the blog site that has superimposed a picture on top of the first shot:(