Wednesday, May 29, 2013

South Jersey Shorebirds

A miscellany of shorebirds along the Delaware Bay:

Least Sandpiper ...

Least Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plover ...
Semipalmated Plover

Short-billed Dowitcher ...

Short-billed Dowitcher
Willet ...

Horseshoe Crabs mating ...

Horseshoe Crabs mating
Dunlin ...

Red Knot ...

Red Knot
Short-billed Dowitcher ...

Short-billed Dowitcher
Good Birding!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Turning Stones and Forster"s courting

My recent trip to southern New Jersey was a little early for shorebirds, but most species were present in modest numbers.

At Forsyth NWR, Ruddy Turnstones were actively "turning stones" ...

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone
The bird with the turnstone in the preceding photos was capitalizing on the sand being churned to forage. When it finally presented its profile, it gave itself away as a Sanderling in glorious breeding plumage. I am accustomed to seeing the Sanderling as the wave-chasing white sandpiper ...

Sanderling (foreground)
One more Ruddy Turnstone, just because I like the pose ...

Ruddy Turnstone
Forster's Terns were in hyper-active courtship mode, with the ladies calling for food ...

Forster's Turn

... and the gentlemen doing their best to accommodate, though coming up from a dive empty was not unusual, as seen here ...

Forster's Tern

On his way with a gift for his lady ...

Forster's Tern
Good Birding!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Worm-eating & Prothonotary

From last week's birding in southern New Jersey, a few additional images ... Worm-eating Warbler, Bellplaine State Forest ...

Worm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler, Beaver Swamp WMA ...

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
Common Baskettail ...
Common Baskettail
Eastern Tailed-Blue ...

Eastern Tailed-Blue
And ... some of the younger of this year's crop of Canada Goose goslings ...

Canada Goose - goslings
More images soon.

Good birding!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Snowy Egret - Plumes in the Breeze

A gentle breeze stirred the nuptial plumage of the Snowy Egrets; I nearly swooned.

A hundred years ago, those delicate plumes nearly led to the extinction of this small white egret as market hunters fed the demand of the millinery trade. (See post of column on October 29, 2011, "When Feathers were More Valuable Than Gold.")

The Snowy Egret has made a tremendous recovery. At Forsyth NWR, they were in all their splendid finery. A sampling ...

Good Birding!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fledgling Great Horned, et alia

When you are in a birding hotspot and see people lined up and staring intently in one direction, you know there is something noteworthy

In this case, at Heinz NWR in Philadelphia, it was a pair of fledgling Great Horned Owls, just two days out of the nest.

Great Horned Owls - fledglings

For all of the downy cuteness which these young birds exhibit, it is well to remember that if they succeed in "growing up" and making it as adult birds, they will be formidable predators. (See the posting of my column on April 1: "The Winged Tiger in our Woods."

Great Horned Owl - fledgling

There is a section of Heinz NWR known as "warbler woods." On Sunday, the trees were filled with warblers. They were high in the branches and quickly led to severe "warbler neck." As a result, the warblers yielded no photographs, but there were sufficient other opportunities. A sampling ...

Baltimore Oriole - female
Barn Swallow
Swainson's Thrush
 Good Birding!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Samples from Cape May

Clapper Rail is easy to hear in the New Jersey salt marshes, but a sighting is often a matter of luck, or long patience waiting for one to walk into the open. But it is Spring, they have just arrived, the hormones are surging, and they are hyper. At Jake's landing I kept seeing the birds pop out of the marsh grasses, fly a short distance, then disappear into the grasses again. But I was patient and tried to be alert. The payoff:

Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail

Wrens are compact bundles of energy and irrepressible song. Higbee's Beach WMA teemed with Carolina Wrens; Jake's Landing hosted vocal duels from Marsh Wrens, and in various places House Wrens let their song tumble forth. It was a particular treat to see the House Wrens in a "natural" setting, rather than a backyard setting ...

Carolina Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
 The Red-winged Blackbird is rightly appreciated for the bright red epaulets which he flashes to intimidate rivals and attract females. The female is usually passed over as a rather dull, medium-sized, brown bird, but the one below demonstrated an often overlooked and under appreciated variety and beauty ...

Red-winged Blackbirds - female
Red-winged Blackbird - female
Red-winged Blackbird - male displaying
 Courtship season is going full tilt. Forster's Terns used the same land posting at Jake's Landing that I have seen them use in previous years. The gentleman on the right did not bring the lady a fish, and after a few moments she flew off in an apparent huff ...

Forster's Terns

... and across the marsh, the Willet winged back and forth with their "pee-will-willet pee-will-will-it" ...

 And finally, the Seaside Sparrow is not much to look at, and nor is his song much to listen to, unless you happen to be another Seaside Sparrow in the throes of the breeding season ...

Seaside Sparrow
Good birding!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Warblers on the Way

Spring migration has been slow in Vermont, but the warblers are on the way.

I spent yesterday in Cape May for the first full day of birding/photography which I have had in many months. Yesterday was the day when the migrants arrived in Cape May, and it was a great day for the many birders flocking to Cape May for the World Series of Birding and the Cape May Spring Bird Festival.

Warblers - those coveted little bundles of color and energy - were everywhere, and my camera was busy. The breath-taking male Magnolia Warbler continued to play hard to get, and others like the Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, and Prairie were also elusive. But many others were at least semi-cooperative. Choosing photos has been tough ... here are a few:

Northern Waterthrush (along Wissahickon Creek, Philadelphia)
American Redstart - first year male

Common Yellowthroat - male
Yellow-breasted Chat - male
Yellow Warbler - female
Yellow-rumped Warbler - female
Northern Parula - female
Black-and-White Warbler - male
Black-throated Green Warbler - female
Black-throated Blue Warbler - male
Good Birding!


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