Spent a day birding around Trepassey with Catherine B. on Sunday. Thanks to Catherine, I was able to see this great little Cape May Warbler. It was with a Blackpoll, Wilson's, several Yellow-rumped Warblers and chickadees.
This turned out to be the best bird of the day. Birds in general were scarce. We had to go deep to see most all small birds with the exception of sparrows. They were abundant.
When checking around Cape Spear this morning, I caught a fleeting look at a pale yellow bird. I couldn't see any detail, but knew it was not a bird I see every day.
Doggedly pursuing this bird for about 1000 yards, I finally got a few photos. It was staying low and under cover making it very difficult to get shots.
When I finally got a few shots, I checked the camera and thought it was a Philadelphia Vireo. When I got it on my computer, I lost confidence in the ID. A similar bird to the Philadelphia is the Tennessee Warbler.
Given the whitish color under the tail, the darker wing and very slight wing bar, this bird seems to be a Tennessee. This is probably an immature bird as it seems more yellow than any I have ever seen before. It was hanging with a very bright male Wilson's Warbler, Chickadees and Kinglets.
A special thanks to Anne Hughes for an alert Saturday morning about her newest find - a beautiful Hooded Warbler at Cape Spear. I was only five minutes away.
I zoomed to the Cape, alerting another birder along the way. The Hooded was still about playing hard to get. It was particularly active but stayed well hidden most of the time.
For a second at a time, it showed itself. It became a bit of a game to try to anticipate where it would next appear in the hopes of getting a picture. This, after all, is the first male Hooded I have seen.
It must be something in the air, high wind air, that brought three Hooded Warblers to our shores this year. Many years pass with no reports at all.
These two images show the bold white outer feathers in the tail.
As the rain rolled in, I took one last look and hurried to my car. Last reports are that the Hooded has stayed around for at least 24 hours providing many hours of excitement for local birders.
Some mornings I just get a feeling it is ideal to find a good bird or two. This morning was one of those times. I was a little concerned about the high winds, but when I got into the zone the wind wasn`t too high at all.
Despite the feeling, there were hardly any birds along the road going to Cape Spear. When that happens, I resort to the hotspots. It was around 8 a.m. with very little traffic on the road.
I stopped at the top of the hill and was able to see only one warbler, but it was a nice one - the Palm Warbler seen below. I kept an eye glued to the sides of the road for any movement. There was none.
I headed to the edge of the woods before it opens up to the last stretch to Cape Spear. There were many sparrows about, robins, jays and flickers were trying to ward off attacks from the raptors sweeping through. They were successful.
Then, I spotted a Yellow-rumped Warbler and got hopeful. It was followed by a Black and White Warbler. Tensions rise. Then, in a flash and out of nowhere flew in this beautiful Chestnut-sided Warbler. It is only the second one I have ever seen. It stayed a while and flew off. Scanning the area for it, I found two Baltimore Orioles. Wow! Non stop! There were actually more small birds flitting around next to the road until a motorcycle whizzed by. Gone. Everything left and left me with my head spinning.
The other nice bird seen today was this Red-eyed Vireo found in the Shea Heights area. Sweet!
Common warblers are becoming more and more uncommon. I hiked the trail beyond Cape Spear and found this little Wilson`s hanging with a sparrow before the boardwalk. The wooded trail was very quiet with only a few sparrows and chickadees.
At this time of year, it is so important to be on your toes because you just don`t know what is peering out at you.
My eyes continue to be turned toward the alders hoping to see a great bird. So far, I have not been disappointed. Within the last two days I have seen my first seasonal Red-eyed Vireo and Prairie Warbler. I continue to see an abundance of Magnolia Warblers, charming me every time. Today, I got a look at two more Wilson's Warbler. They seem to be a lot more secretive at this time of the year.
The best bird of the day turns out to be a raptor. I bumped into Terry Janes at Cape Spear, and he told me he had just seen a Stilt Sandpiper fly over. Well, I mulled that over while I was seeing nothing of note. Honestly, I was feeling a little empty. Thinking I would find my own nice bird, I scanned the sea and the blue skies. Then, I spotted a different bird flying just over the edge of the water. Definitely was not the usual fare. I perked up and tried to follow it with my camera. I was afraid to take the camera down to adjust the setting for fear of losing sight of the bird, I just had to keep firing and hope for the best.
The raptor flew toward land, my good luck. Once it landed, I took my camera off the bird to reset, but as expected, I could not relocate it. Now, this is an interesting bird. It has many of the hallmarks of a Northern Goshawk which it probably is. It is a stocky bird with rounded wings. The tail is long and has rounded tail feathers. So, why am I not calling it a goshawk? Good question. The overall look of this bird just seems different. The color is neither adult nor immature. The face markings are not well-defined, and the tail seen in the perched photo seems different. As of now, I have not confirmed an ID the bird. That's okay. A part of the fun of birding is the anticipation that this and other birds just might be very rare. So, until I know differently, I will continue to dream.
Bubble burst: It is confirmed this is a Northern Goshawk.
It was last week I decided to take a drive down the southern shore. It was mainly warblers I had in my mind, but who could avoid checking the beaches along the way. Not me.
The tide in Renews wasn't quite right while I was there, but I did get an opportunity to get a good look at this Ruddy Turnstone. He was so busy flipping over seaweed and stones he hardly noticed me.
With a little extra time on my hands, I detoured to Witless Bay Beach. I rarely stop at this location. With warm weather, low winds, low tide and about 25 birds to study, it was a pleasant stop.
There were ten Sanderlings, the most I have seen at one location so far this year.
In no time, they became comfortable with my presence and went on about their business as usual.
There was some variation in the plumage of these birds. In my opinion, most were juvenile birds.
Of course, the Sanderlings weren't alone. There were three Semipalmated Sandpipers and two White-rumped Sandpipers. Look closely at this shot, and it is possible to see the webbing between the "toes" of this sandpiper. The most abundant species on the beach was the Semipalmated Plover.
A nice addition to the flock was the presence of two Least Sandpipers. All beach birds would dodge the beachcombers by flying offshore, circling and returning to the beach. I observed this several times.
However, they were less tolerant of this Merlin. Out of nowhere it appeared on the beach looking for supper. The shorebirds quickly lifted off, flew up and far away. They did not return to the beach while I was there.
Note: There were also a few shorebirds on the Witless Bay beach by Highway 10.
Fall "warblering" is all about anticipation, vigilance and patience. Any bird flying across the road warrants pulling off the road to scour the area. Most of the time it turns out to be nothing. However, it is the appearance of that special bird that inspires further diligent searching.
This morning is was a kinglet that flew in front of me. I stopped and whistled a couple of times and in flew a three common warblers. Then.... out of nowhere... I caught sight of an especially yellow and particularly gray upper body. It took it about 2 minutes before it came out in the open enough to photograph it. As soon as I saw the necklace, I knew what it was. This is only my fourth sighting of a Canada Warbler. Pretty special!
No sooner did I get a couple of shots than the Canada took off. It stayed low and hidden behind thick foliage before I lost sight of it. Now, I was inspired. I had to go back to Blackhead and double check that area and then hit a few out of the way places.
My further search paid off with some nice viewing of other warblers hidden away. This is the fourth Common Yellowthoat Warbler I have seen in the general area of Cape Spear and Blackhead over the last two days.
The hard-to-photograph Golden Crowned Kinglet can often be found with warblers. It is always good to check them out. Today, there were about six kinglets with a sizeable mixed flock of warblers near Shea Heights.
When this Wilson's Warbler popped out, I paused. Since a Hooded Warbler had been found recently, I had to make sure this was not it. How similar the Wilson's is to the Hooded. Once sure this was a Wilson's, I continued my search.
Always hiding away were two American Redstarts. There were also Black and White, Yellow-rump and Blackpoll Warblers in the area. Pretty exciting!
Struggling to focus my camera on birds behind the leaves and branches was frustrating. I came up with these two blurred images. Hard to identify them, but I will guess. Although, this bird doesn't seem as bright as the Wilson's, I think its color has been dulled by the blur. Wilson's is my best guess.
This little bird is quite hidden behind the leaf. It doesn't seem nearly as bright as the Common Yellowthroat. I struggle with these kinds of shots a lot. Sometimes, I don't get any shots of other birds and am left with just a partially-blocked, hidden, blurry bird. Through the process of elimination, I have arrived at Common Yellowthroat Warbler.