I really was not expecting to relocate the Northern Parula this morning. Nevertheless, I went to Kent's Pond and was going to be contented to settle for a brisk walk on this cold morning. I thought I heard the bird near the boardwalk, but couldn't find it. I walked the pond and returned to the initial area.
Hearing it again, I stayed put until it finally showed itself. What a great bird! I have only seen two Northern Parulas in my more than five years of birding, and they were both Fall birds. Gotta say: The Spring Parula is very handsome.
The two warm days we had are quickly fading in my memory as the northwest winds continue to usher in the icy arctic air. For that reason, I decided to revisit the photos taken earlier in the week.
Bitten by black flies from head to toe, I remained undaunted because of the cluster of birds I saw along a trail in the woods.
Seeing the flashes of color and hearing the variety in song was a joy. The most interesting bird seen during the hike was the first one pictured. I consulted Bruce M. on this one. He thinks it is most likely a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher without the yellow belly. Compare photo one with photo six to see the difference between this and a typical Yellow-belly Flycatcher..
At this time of the year it is more likely to see and hear a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but this Golden-crowned Kinglet was keeping company with a Ruby. Nice to see them together.
The American Redstarts are especially nice at this time of the year. The female seen above is so different from the male. However, the flashing color in the tail makes them very easy to identify.
This female Yellow Warbler brought about a double take. At first sighting, the splash of blue/grey under the wing made me wonder if it were something different. Closer look just revealed a somewhat different plumage from many female Yellows at this time of the year.
I swatted flies for two hours before I gave in to the discomfort and left. Here is my take for the day: Find the flies and you will find the birds.
This time of year brings many year-end events. Being a loving grandmother, I would not miss one, not even to go birding:) The annual dance program is the biggest. There is hair to fix, make-up to apply and costumes to don.
As a part of this annual occasion, I always take pre-show pictures. It amazes me how wonderfully cooperative they are for this hour-long photoshoot. I really put them through paces. These are only a few of the over 100 "keepers" taken this year. Even the new puppy cooperated.
One of the nicest features of this event is witnessed on stage where so many children come together to showcase their year's work.
They are literally off the ground with excitement.
This is Year Three in ballet for the youngest. The 3-hour program is a little long for the young ones who stay for the curtain call. However, hats off to the school as they staged their best show.
For the eldest, this is Year Seven. It is so nice to see the progression. There is a joy in dance, and it is witnessed in every step taken.
Each year, I am only able to photograph the first costume of their performance. The other two costumes and shoes are bagged for a quick change backstage.
If only my flash could have kept up, I could have had a thousand nice shots. Both girls were just too fast for me.
One of the last shots of the hour always includes one with the photographer.
Getting non-flash pics during the show requires a little finesse. We have to sit dead-centre and down front in the auditorium. Then, hope they will hit centre stage at some point during their dance. They love to see themselves suspended in air, so I always try to get at least one. Blurry as it is, I got the desired shots.
The tap costume was a Queen of Hearts in an Alice in Wonderland themed dance. So cute and reminds me of how young this very grown-up young lady is.
Last but not least is a shot from the jazz routine. The night of glamour has passed once again, and I look to the one remaining concert.
With summer on our doorsteps, I look forward to spending much time with these two as we explore what the outdoors offers.
The Alternative Facts Bench in Ferryland is a great story-telling bench for birders like me. When I see something different in a bird, I always think the possibility of "rarity."
For example: There was this tern floating on the fog in Ferryland yesterday. It was smaller than the other terns, and that is what caught my eye. Shooting into very difficult elements, I was able to come up with two pics.
One of them clearly shows a bird with no black on its head. That sent me scrambling to look at the field guide. Best I could tell, an immature Common Tern had some black and had a dark bill. This bird did not. What were the other choices? There was a two-step process: First, remain hopeful; second, consult Bruce MacTavish. I did both, but to no avail. It seems this is an immature Common Tern. Maybe I should go sit on the bench.
Not once, but twice did possible alternative facts creep into my day. In Bear Cove Pit, I had a two-second look at a distant bird high in a fog-shrouded tree. What I saw was a yellow bird with a neckless and streaks (not diamonds) dripping from it. Then, the bird vanished. My hopefulness kicked in again. I had just seen a Magnolia Warbler, and this bird didn't seem dark enough to be one. I didn't see any white on the bird, and so.... again my mind starts racing through other choices. I asked Bruce if a Canada Warbler were a possibility at this time of the year. "Not likely," he said. It took nearly 30 minutes to relocate the bird and determine it was a female Magnolia Warbler. I can see that I should probably warm the bench.
Shortly after that, Catherine Barrett spotted this beautiful Ruffed Grouse standing watch on a side road past Cappahayden. It was solidly planted.
Since Catherine heard rustling in the woods, it is thought this bird was boldly protecting its young. We moved on.
Sweet! Trying to quiet a bout of restlessness, I headed out birding this afternoon. I rarely go birding after lunch, but today the weather was warming as the day went by so I went out.
I wasn't at Bidgood Park very long before I spotted the Eastern Kingbird shown below. I figured that made the drive across town worthwhile.
Also interesting were three Hairy Woodpeckers fly catching. I stopped at a good viewing spot to watch the woodpeckers and kingbird vie for the many swirling flies. In the mix were quite a few warblers and sparrows.
Then, I noticed one small bird behaving differently from the usual warblers in the area. I got a glimpse of its underneath and thought it was curious. Over the next few minutes, I saw bits and pieces of the bird making me realize this wasn't a bird I had seen before.
Finally, it popped up and I was able to see the rich browns. Wow! I spent the next few minutes snapping pictures. I think it liked the little beep my camera makes during the autofocus process. Whatever, it was.... the bird felt safe and stayed close.
I made a quick call to verify the ID. Honestly, I thought it might be a Bay-breasted Warbler, but since I had never seen one before ... I was hesitant to say. With Bruce's help, the ID was made and the alarm was sounded.
I saw the bird singing several times, but I never heard a sound despite how close I was. I have to say, the hunt is always exciting as I await the next surprise to pop up. However, there is really nothing like it when one special bird does actually appear.
I also checked Third Pond and Mundy Pond but found nothing out of the ordinary.
My first bird of the day, an Indigo Bunting, was the best bird of the day. Unfortunately, I don't have a single photo. I saw it clearly with binoculars through the windshield of my car. However, the minute I got out of the car, it vanished. I tried long and hard to relocate it with no success.
However, the sheer amount of birds around this morning was uplifting. I'm sure I saw 40 species between Cape Spear, Bidgood Park and Powers Road. It is wonderful when the sun shines, and the birds sing. Another very nice encounter was meeting up with this screaming Northern Goshawk. It was amazingly close, sitting on the branch for at least 5 minutes vocalizing.
It is not often the opportunity arises to see this lovely bird so well.
Sitting in a nearby tree was one Rusty Blackbird. The other must be on the nest by now. Both of these birds were in the area of the first pond on Powers Road.
In the same area as the Indigo Bunting, there were Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Blackpoll, two Wilson's and a Northern Waterthrush. This was my first good mix of woodland birds this season. It really set me up for the rest of the day, nearly the whole day. Good conditions and good birding make the hands on the clock fly!
Snow, rain and a brutal North wind accompanied the arrival of swallows in St. John's. Tree Swallows, Barn and Bank Swallows (pictured below) are typical at this time of the year. A flurry of swallows nearly always show up with the worst Spring weather. They swirl over the waters in search of something to eat. This year a few Cliff Swallows accompanied the flash mob.
While much of the activity occurred at Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John's, a small number also gathered at Bidgood Park. It was there I got my best look at a Cliff Swallow. I have never really had an opportunity to stand and study this species. Keep in mind the sun popped out for one day this week, but the unrelenting North wind held steady.
In Newfoundland, it is always a battle between the elements, the arrival of good birds and perseverance. Given our island location, it is almost a given: Bad weather equals good birds.
Now for the best buzz! The most exciting bird arrival in St. John's this week was a Common Swift! This bird is a draw for birders across North America. So far, it has been here for five days. Since the weather today is rain, drizzle and fog with a temp around freezing and the presence of full-on North winds, it is likely the bird will continue at QV Lake.
For anyone who wants to view this bird, go dressed for it: Winter boots, winter coat, hat, gloves and hand warmers.
It is probable that viewers will be standing in one place for a long time tracking the steady movement of this swift. At times it will swoop in close, raising the level of excitement.
For those hoping to photograph this bird, be prepared to have lots of patience. Of the hundreds of shots I took, these are the best. Most were just a blur or a distant silhouette is in dull gray atmosphere.
Having said all that, make no mistake, the pleasure of seeing this bird far outweighs all the hardships. I will probably go down again today just to get another glimpse of this Common Swift.