Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random bird pictures!

Not as many birds in the yard as last year, wonder why!  In the meantime, here are some not-so-great birdie photos!

A skulking Hermit Thrush

A male House Finch, check out the grey eyebrow - best way to tell them from Purple Finches! 


That's an old school push-mower.  He's checking it out, I don't think he approves!

A Harris's Sparrow

A Common Grackle.  Most people complain about these birds at their feeders, but I've never had more than one at a time, and they don't visit too often.


A Chipping Sparrow, these guys are so neat...

A White-Crowned Sparrow, he checked out the bath, and had a little drink, but was too suspicious to actually get in there! 


At the opposite end of the spectrum is this Lincoln's Sparrow, who had a grand time!  More than half of my pics of this li'l guy showed him with his beak open, wonder why they do that while bathing!

And just for good measure, a Redhead, sitting on a nest??  Standing on a muskrat lodge?  Or a beaver house?  Got me!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

White-Throated Sparrows

Not much to say about them, but here's a few pictures of the White-Throated Sparrows that have invaded our yard - I estimate about 18 of them, which is a huge jump - normally there are less than 5 at any given time! 


Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip Report - Southwest


Back to normal?  Maybe!  My scanning project was waylaid by a s-l-o-o-o-o-w computer, that problem is fixed, but now I've got new ones!  Can't use my faithful "Riptide" image program, so the pics in this post are uncropped and not resized. 

But we finally got to take a trip!  Had to pack all of our birding into one day, but we managed!  Our first tour was through the Alexander-Griswold marsh, where we picked up all of the expected ducks but two (dipped on Green-Winged Teal and American Wigeon). 

One of the first birds we spotted was a far off Swainson's Hawk! 

Western Meadowlarks are most conspicuous this time of year, singing for territoriy is serious business!  This fellow looks like he's crossing his legs.

A bit more classic pose.

Lots of ducks to be found, but not many good photos to be had!  Here are a few, starting with a Canvasback

A Northern Pintail

Northern Shoveler male (left) with Lesser Scaup Male (center) and female (right). 

Sorry this is a bad picture, but it includes a Ring-Necked Duck (second from right), another Canvasback, and a pair of Redheads.  We saw lots of Redheads and quite a few Gadwalls, but most were too far away for pictures. 

We also saw quite a few Blue-Winged Teals, but they were likewise skittish. 

Lots of American Coots around, these three are displaying. 

Tons of Red-Winged Blackbirds,

and Song Sparrows too!

We also saw a Wilson's Snipe, and quite a few Yellow-Headed Blackbirds.  Mammals were a little sparse, but we did spy a muskrat, a Richardson's Ground Squirrel, and this cutie (a Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel).

Our second destination was Whitewater Lake.  The wind had picked up by now, and the clouds were starting to roll in.  A big flock of Snow Geese was spied along the roadside.

Another Western Meadowlark. 

Flushed a pair of Gray Partridge from the roadside, here is a picture of one of them!

We also saw a few American Kestrels during the day.

And a single Horned Lark.

It started to rain soon after we got to Whitewater, and there wasn't too much to see. 

We thought about turning around, but decided to stick it out, and had lunch in the car. 

This trio of Common Grackles kept a close eye on things. 

Good thing we stayed!  In short order, there were ducks (Redheads and Scaup), gulls (Franklins or Bonapartes, couldn't see well enough to determine which), and a Double-Crested Cormorant, struggling to fly against the wind.  Then a pair of American Avocets out in the water.  Next to show up was a flock of American White Pelicans, then a flock of Tundra Swans!  Only bad pics, of course! 

Leaving Deloraine, we spotted a Eurasian Collared Dove.  These guys are new to the province, and it was a life bird for both of us. 

More Snow Geese and Tundra Swans seen along the highway.

Then a family group of Sandhill Cranes flushed across the road, and stuck around long enough for pictures. 

Our next sighting was another Swainsons Hawk,

And our last bird of the day was another Robin.

Other birds seen but not pictured:  Mallard, Canada Goose, Red-Tailed Hawk, American Crow, House Sparrow, Rock Pigeon, Killdeer, Ruddy Duck, Pied-Billed Grebe, Northern Harrier, Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Ring-Billed Gull, Brewer's Blackbird.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Well, I wanted to make an Earth Day post, but then I got one via email from The Conversation Report.  And I can't top it, it's wonderful.  Do check it out!!

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mr. Pink, our Purple Finch

Some more not-so-great pictures of this kinda cool bird. 





Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yard birds!

Yay for spring!  Not that I don't appreciate our year-round birds, but it's great to have new faces!

We usually get quite a few Dark Eyed Juncos, this year they look a little odd to me.  We get lots of the grey and browns (females and juveniles) in the fall, but usually, in the spring, most of the Juncos in the yard are the darker ones.  The regular Junco for the area is the Slate-Colored, but I'm wondering if we've got a different one or two, but have no experience to say!

American Tree Sparrows arrive early, and don't usually stay very long!  Most of my pictures of these sparrows are of the lame, head-down-eating-from-the-feeder variety.  So it was a nice treat to have this one individual that checked out our whole yard, posing quite nicely for me, for the better part of the day!

Here's another new one for me, I knew this was a Purple Finch, but I'd never seen one this color before.  I've been told by the folks at birdforum that this is probably a year-old male. 

It's also tough to get good photos of Fox Sparrows!  They forage almost exclusively on the ground, usually under cover, and move very fast!  This cute guy paused in his scratching long enough for a photo, and was even nice enough to lift his head up! 

For comparison's sake, this is the most common type of Junco we get here. 

Here's the adult mare Purple Finch, what great color they have!  Purple Finches have it in for me, you know...  Nearly all of my photos of the males are blurry.  I have no idea why!  Not terribly blurry, but just enough...  Tricky little buggers!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Bad News Friday

First, a story about how CITES itself has voted to continue trade in endangered species.

Read the UK Times article here.

Second, a short story and lots of pictures - not for the fainthearted.  Even in remote colonies, Albatross parents are finding plastic in the ocean and feeding it to their chicks, killing them.

The last image is a heartbreaker.  Click here.

Both tips via russlings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Leucistic" Puffin - very cool

Very cool "leucistic" Atlantic Puffin, photographs here, tip given on the 10000 birds blog.

Time to revisit a rant...  Leucistic is a useless term.  The article states this bird is diluted. It's not, look at the dark spots.  It's got large white areas.  Another tipoff is the small dark areas on the rest of the body - a dilute will either be diluted overall, or will have one color diluted. 

The difference is clear to see, and the photo doesn't fit the description - looks more like the pigment is absent in most places, not that it's diluted.

Read my full-on rant here.

The Year Without A Summer

Wow, found this on the Choosing Voluntary Simplicity blog, a newspaper clipping from 1889 describing the New England summer (or rather, lack thereof) from 1816, a year with hard frosts in each month. Described by the farmers as "Eighteen hundred and starve to death". 

Hello, perspective!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oak Hammock skies

There's a lot to see at Oak Hammock Marsh, lots of great birds, other animals, and the marshes themselves make for some neat photos.  It's not as scenic as some areas, but it's this very feature that, to me, makes it incredibly attractive.  In the city, if I see some interesting cloud formations, or a pretty sunset, chances are that I won't be able to get a good photo of it.  There will always be buildings and power lines and whatnot in my picture.  Trying to head out of town doesn't usually work - by the time you get to an area without all that skyline clutter, the sky has changed. 

I know it's not always "skyline clutter", and have seen some beautiful urban photography.  But my love is nature, and the vastness of Oak Hammock allows for great sky views. 

Most of these photos of mine include man-made structures.  But somehow, at least to my eye, it doesn't seem to be out of sync. 

(July 27, 2005)

(July 27, 2005)

(July 27, 2005)

(July 27, 2005)

(July 27, 2005)

(June, 2002)