Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yellow Warbler - Fledgling Feeding

I was hoping that being out east in early summer would give me an opportunity to see a lot of cool warblers. Well, I saw a lot of warblers alright, but most all of them were Yellow Warblers. Le parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville was loaded with them.
Even with the high numbers, it was still difficult to get good pictures as these warblers are typical small birds, constantly moving and never letting you get very close. Just when you think you have a great shot, the bird will fly away just as you push the shutter. It can get frustrating.Then, as I was walking along a trail with tall grasses on either side, I came across a male and female that were feeding along the tops of the grasses near the trail. I was able to get many pictures, some of which turned out pretty good, even with the gloom of the overcast skies.Then, yet another surprise. I saw another Yellow Warbler that looked a little different and was flapping its wings vigorously as it was perched on a stalk. Soon another Yellow Warbler approached and I realized that the first warbler was a fledgling as the adult brought an insect and feed its young.I love watching adults feed their young.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Montreal Mammals

While I didn't see a lot of birds at Mount Royal Park in Montreal, I did see more mammals than normal. It started with Eastern Gray Squirrels. They were everywhere throughout the park and were rather tame.
Shortly after my first squirrel sightings, I noticed something moving high in the tree up ahead. It turned out to be a Raccoon sitting in a hole which may have been its den.
The rabbit below was huddled under some low hanging branches. Though it seemed a bit nervous, it didn't run off as I approached. I haven't been able to figure out what species it is, however I have a suspicion that it may be an escaped domestic rabbit.
There were a lot more birds than mammals at Le parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville which suited me just fine, but I a few great looks at mammals there too, starting with this White-tailed deer. It was munching on some grass along the trail and just stared at me for a couple of minutes while I photographed it before sauntering off.
After seeing so many Nutrias in the Portland area, it was nice to see a native large rodent. I believe this is a woodchuck.
Finally, as my day was coming to an end, I came upon a skunk and its babies. I followed them as they were making there way to the tall grass. Before entering, however, the parent turned and stared at me, beginning to move my direction. I quickly decided it was time for me to back off. :-)
Quite a few mammals on this trip made for some fun variety.

Monday, June 27, 2011

European Starling

These two wet European Starlings greeted me as I pulled into the parking lot at Le parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville on Saturday.
I have now seen European Starlings on 2 different continents, 3 countries and 6 states. I'm not sure that is a good thing. :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eastern Kingbird

As I drove the entrance road to Le parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville yesterday, this Eastern Kingbird was flycatching from some recently planted trees between the lanes. I was the only one around at the time, so I slowed down and inched up to it in my car in similar fashion to the auto tour at RNWR. I several good looks at it before it would fly on to the next tree.
It was a cloudy, rainy day which actually worked in my favor on this siting. The Eastern Kingbird has a red stripe on its crest that is typically hidden, however the rain matted its feathers down enough to make it easily visible.
New life bird number 3!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

American Redstart

I had the morning off today, so I visited Le parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville. Its an island in the St. Lawrence River similar to Sauvie Island in Portland except that just about the whole island is a national park and accessible to the public. It's really quite beautiful and is loaded with birds. There are a mix of trails ranging from graveled service roads to well-groomed grass trails like the one in the image above which I found to have the best birding.Early in the morning, one of the first birds I saw was an American Redstart. The male in the image above didn't stick around too long, but I was able to get this one reasonable shot. It's red flashes of red-orange where hard to miss and I knew almost instantly what I had seen.
New life bird number two!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Indigo Bunting

I'm in Montreal this week and I got a little time this afternoon to do some birding. I decided to visit Mount Royal Park since it was near my hotel and sounded promising on many sites on the web.
Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate very well as it was gloomy and rainy; kind of reminded me of Oregon. The bird numbers were very low. I'm not sure why. May have been the time of day, time of year and the fact that it was heavily wooded, but I didn't even hear that many birds.
Being a large hill or mountain in the middle of a city makes it a prime location for radio communication antennas. The area around the antennas was generally cleared. In one such area, I got lucky and came upon a couple of male Indigo Buntings. I first saw them as they flew in front of me; two small, bright blue birds. One landed on a railing above me. The lighting was challenging, but I did get a couple of reasonable shots.
New life bird number one for this trip!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swainson's Thrush - Banded

This Swainson's Thrush seen at Fernhill Wetlands last Sunday has a leg band. It would have been interesting to have been able to get the information from the band and learn about its past.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lesser Goldfinch - Fledgling Feeding

My wife and I took a stroll through TRNWR this evening to get out and enjoy the first day of Summer. During our walk I noticed a small yellowish bird flapping its wings rather vigorously in a nearby tree. It turned out to by a Lesser Goldfinch fledgling as only moments later an adult male swooped in and began feeding the youngster. The picture at the top doesn't illustrate it well, but the fledgling keep flapping it wings during most of the feeding.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron numbers are on the rise at Fernhill Wetlands. The images above are a sampling of some that I saw last Sunday during my visit.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Killdeer - Eggs

This post may be a little controversial. One of the bird ethics guidelines is to not disturb a bird's nest. I violated that guideline to get these pictures. I was very still and calm as I took the pictures and I wasn't as close as the pictures look as I was using a powerful telephoto lens, but none-the-less, the parents were obviously stressed.
I justified it, in this case, because they are Killdeers. Killdeers build their nest on the ground, in the open, with no protection other than great camouflage and an interesting behavior in which they fake being injured to draw potential predators away. So in a way, they are used to this.I first noticed a Killdeer near the service road as I walked at Fernhill Wetlands Sunday morning. It called out its familiar cry it uses when it is on alert. Then I noticed another Killdeer raise up off the ground a walk off. This tipped me off that I stumbled upon a breeding pair and their nest. I knew where the nest was only because I saw one of the pair raise from it, so it didn't take long to locate the eggs even though they are well camouflaged.It seemed that it was only one of the parents that stuck close by the nest using its broken wing technique in an attempt to draw me off. Then, it changed its strategy and began charging me, still on the ground. I assume it was exhibiting the behavior described on Cornell's All About Birds site, "The Killdeer’s broken-wing act leads predators away from a nest, but doesn’t keep cows or horses from stepping on eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path."That behavior was what made me decide it was time to leave. As I walked off, the two parents flew out ahead of me, alternating flying and crying out, leading me away from their nest.
I hope no one is offended.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mallard Ducklings

I'm stuck in NY. I was supposed to fly home last night, but my flight was canceled. The worst part of it is that I am going to be late for my church's Strawberry Blues Festival. It's the first year we added Blues to the fund raiser and I had set up some stage lights for it. I'm going to be late so I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I have my son and another church member helping out in my absence. Bums me out big time.
So, while I'm waiting for my flight I thought I'd see if I could catch up on some posting.
Tis the season for ducklings and goslings. I saw these Mallard ducklings with mom near the parking lot at Fernhill Wetlands last Sunday. They sure are cute!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Last Saturday my wife joined me for a walk through Mount Talbert Nature Park. It was my first visit and while it was a beautiful park, there weren't a lot of birds in view. We heard several, but like many densely wooded parks, the birds have many places to hide.
At one point along one of the many trails there was a clearing. It was there that I saw only my second sighting of a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I found its behavior interesting as, not only did it fly aggressively from tree to tree, but it also would hover in the air occasionally. Not behavior I would expect from a woodpecker. Also, when I zoomed in on the images I realized that it was actually catching insects as it had a couple in its bill. Checking on All About Birds, it states "Forages for insects by gleaning, probing, prying, tapping, and flycatching." So, I guess the behavior was not unusual after all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clark's Grebe

An interesting day at Fernhill Wetlands today. The migrants were pretty much gone. I saw no Western Tanagers, Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers or Warbling Vireos. I didn't even see any Yellow-rumped Warblers or Savannah Sparrows.
But there were other fun things to see such as a Greater White-fronted Goose, some hybrid Canada Geese (domestic Greylag x Canada Goose), Virginia Rails and three Clark's Grebes as seen above.
The Grebe's stayed out in the middle of of Fernhill Lake for most of the morning while I was there, but one ventured reasonably close to shore for a bit. It was kind of fun as while it was feeding under water, I would reposition myself where I thought it would surface. Take a few shots and then repeat the process. Eventually it rejoined the other two well out of reach of my lens.