Tuesday 29 May 2012

Summer birds.

So much happened bird-wise in the USA, and Elis took so many photos that it is proving a long business to get them all organised and blogs written. We'll be feeding stuff on these birds and places in dribs and drabs.
Mourning Dove, Milford, CT, USA
Since we got back to the UK we have not however just been stuck behind the computers but have been out and about a bit looking for, and at, summer migrants and other local breeding birds.
Skylark in song flight over Bury Field
A short walk in Bury Field behind the house brought our first, if not unexpected, Common Whitethroat of the year.
Whitethroat at Bury Field
At Sandy RSPB reserve we found another new year species, a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in the process of building a nest.
Spotted Flycatcher at Sandy RSPB
Also there we had excellent views of both Great Spotted and Green  Woodpeckers.
Great Spotted and ...

... Green Woodpeckers at Sandy RSPB
A whizz over to Calvert to see this duck, which, those who know more than I about these things, seem to think is a first winter Greater Scaup. I'm prepared to take their word for it as it is a tick for Elis.

1st summer Greater Scaup
Common Tern is a regular breeding bird at Calvert.
Summer plumage Common Tern
A short stop over at Willen lake on the way to town produced photographs of two skulking warblers, Reed and Cetti's whilst the Pied Wagtail collecting food for its nestlings was much more obliging.
Reed Warbler

Cetti's Warbler
Pied Wagtail

Monday 28 May 2012

Birding USA V

Two other sites close to Westport were visited, the first was Sherwood State Park just along the coast from our local beach. It was a lovely sunny morning that promised good birding and we were not disappointed.
Canada Geese with goslings at Sherwood State Park
The first new bird was Willow Flycatcher, as always with this family, identified by call, a sort of "Fitz-biu".
Willow Flycatcher
We also added a wader species in the form of a summer plumaged Willet sitting on a branch.
On the wader theme, a small group of Calidris waders flew in to the mud bank and Elis snuck up on them getting these shots to help identify them as Least Sandpipers by the leg colour.
Least Sandpipers
A Great Blue Heron flew by but was ignored by the nesting Ospreys.
Great Blue Heron
As we were leaving we came across another wader in the form of the smart Killdeer, one of the birds Elis had most wanted to see and photograph and of course another one that helps us on our way with our Wader Quest.
After this we drove to Fairfield where we visited the Connecticut Audubon centre on Burr Street. The centre itself was closed, but the trails were open. They meander through some excellent second groth woodland. The whole area had been cleared for farming at the end of the 18th century, but it has been allowed to regrow and the result is magnificent.
We added some good birds here including Ovenbird and a very obliging Veery who sang just feet from the path.

Another bird that we added was like an old friend, Elis recognised its song immediately, "Chivi Vireo!" she said, and indeed its song was almost identical, but for inveterate splitters this Red-eyed Vireo is a new species for Elis (and as I keep her list up to date, my rules apply!).
Red-eyed Vireo

Thursday 17 May 2012

Birding USA IV

Down at the beach and the surrounding wooded habitat, several birds can be seen. For those who split everything that moves (like me) these Pale-bellied Brent Geese are of interest. Whether or not you split them, they are a natty little goose.
Pale-bellied Brent Geese
This Black-crowned Night-Heron had a last feed before heading off to roost.
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Back at the H. Smith Richardson reserve the warm sun meant birding was more pleasant, it also meant some of the birds had moved on, we did finally get a record shot of an incedibly elusive Common Yellowthroat and a passing Northern Parula was not much more confiding.
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Parula
Butterflies basked in the sun including these two species; American Painted Lady and the Question Mark, so named for the small but discernably white crescent and dot on the under wing.
American Painted Lady
Question mark butterfly
A male Orchard Oriole was in good voice and close by a female Black-and-white Warbler put in a brief appearance.
Orchard Oriole
Female Black-and-white Warbler
A Downy Woodpecker performed well for the camera feeding away with no concern for our presence, the tiny black spots on the outer tail feathers can just be made out in this picture. Overhead a Red-tailed Hawk circled.
Downy Woodpecker
Red-tailed Hawk
Elis was really enjoying her time in these verdent forests seeing many new birds and experiencing the New England spring in all its glory.

I, on the other hand, seem to be slightly less enthralled! I just closed my eyes for an instant (honest) enjoying the warm sun on my back, lovely!

Birding USA III

While in Connecticut I am staying with my brother, Andy, who was responsible for me being interested in birds in the first place, he has since lapsed, but is now becoming a 'born again' birder and came out with me to see some of the local birds that he hadn't seen at his feeders.

Andy and me checking out the sparrows
Among the birds that were new to him were Yellow Warbler and Baltimore Oriole, and Elis found a stonking Prairie Warbler.
Prairie Warbler
After this my brother went off for a spot of fly-fishing in a beautiful spot where water tumbled over rocks and Elis' arty side came to the fore.
Trout fishing river

Aparently this is a relaxing pastime, but being up to your gonads in freezing water is not my idea of fun.
The master at work
I learnt something about fly-fishing, when your line gets snagged in a tree, you simply wade over and retreive it, no problem!
Not such a masterful stroke
 As my brother fished away to his heart's content, Elis and I birded along the river, here we found some interesting birds with Eastern Phoebe, Chimney Swift, Cedar Waxwing and Red-bellied Woodpecker being added to Elis' life list.

Eastern Phoebe

Chimney Swifts

Red-bellied Woodpecker
My sister in law, Catarina, also a Brazilian, has no interest whatsoever in birds, but was happy to cart Elis and me around to show us some of the best birding places near to their home, lunch by the beach USA style, not quite the bikini and shorts style of Brazil at this time of year.
Catarina, Elis and me lunching at the beach
Meanwhile back at the feeders a pair of House Finches brought their youngster to be fed, both the male and female fed their squawking offspring.
Male House Finch feeding its young
Now it's the female's turn
The feeders were busy; with the House Finch pair and a pair of American Goldfinches it was full house.
Full house at the feeders
When space allowed a White-breasted Nuthatch put in brief appearances, mostly nabbing a sunflower seed and flying off to eat it elsewhere.
White-breasted Nuthatch
This splendid Northern Cardinal enjoys the facilities too from time to time.
Northern Cardinal
Chipping Sparrows visit the feeder, but also pick up fallen seed on the decking,
Chipping Sparrow
often in the company of this charming little fellow, a Chipmunk.