Monday, August 28, 2006

juvenile Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

One might assume that the sombre greys of this juvenile Cedar Waxwing could be that of a black and white photo mounted on a blue background, if it wasn't for the yellow that can be seen at the tips of its tail feathers. Several Cedar Waxwings were flying back and forth near the edge of a lagoon; assumedly they were catching insects. At first I only noticed the adult Waxwings and was surprised when reviewing my photos to see a grey, colourless looking juvenile included with the group. When seeing the 'grey waxwing' photo I decided to check carefully to see if I could find other juveniles when suddenly a Merlin appeared and all the Waxwings flew away.

Below is a colourful, adult Cedar Waxwing photographed in our feeder area in June of this year.
blog edited at 8 pm

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chipping Sparrows (Spizzella passerina)

All of the many sparrows at our feeders this time of year confuse me! They are at so many different stages and ages that if I do not actually see an adult bird feeding a fledging I often cannot identify the bird. I have a tendency at first to think they are all Song Sparrows until I see a bit of yellow at their lores and then I am thinking Savannah or White-throated Sparrow. It there seems to be a lot of creamy coloured beige at their malars, then I am starting to think Lincoln Sparrow.

Looking at the photo to the upper right might give you an idea of what I mean. Without seeing the adult feeding this bird I would have been at a loss to identify it as a young
Chipping Sparrow.

Chipping Sparrows are probably the most resident of summer birds at our feeders, yet I had never really identified its young before until taking these pictures this week.

Below is a handsome adult Chipping Sparrow at our feeder area in May, '06.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)

I hadn't seen many warblers this spring with the exception of a Common Yellowthroat that nests nearby each year. However recently there have been a lot of warblers around the trees in our feeder area and our gardens and within the last few weeks we have noticed Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and a Black and White Warbler.
I had only seen one Yellow-rumped Warbler this spring, in May, perched on a bridge by a stream several miles away.
Yesterday we saw an juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler in a wooded area along our river. It was high in the tree tops busily flitting about eating insects. Other years we have often seen Yellow-rumps here but this one, seen yesterday, was the first sighting for us at this location this season.

The yellow area on the sides of the breast of the juvenile is not as prominent as that of the adult bird.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Arriving in mid to later May the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is always a welcome sight at our feeders.

The iridescent, red throat patch easily identifies the male and an up-close view illustrates the scale-like appearance of its feathers there.

The throat of the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird is white and also the female has white wing tips at her tail feathers.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

The other day I was slowly driving down an old, country, secondary highway when all of a sudden a bird dipped on the road right in front of me, picked up an insect; then flew up and perched in a tree alongside the ditch.

I braked, backed up; grabbed my camera and took its picture out of the passenger seat window. It looked right at me!Then it shifted position and gave me a great profile view. A Gray Catbird with an insect in its mouth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Yesterday I decided to check out the lagoon for ducks and there had been a few there; but they flew before I could even get my binoculars in my hands. I think they had noted my approach beforehand for I had stopped and started my car a couple of times to take a few pictures of a doe and its spotted fawn in the adjacent meadow. A short time later, while scanning the river for Great Blue Heron and Osprey, I noticed some Eagle movement downriver. Thinking about how fortunate I was to have seen so much nature activity within such a short time period; I then noticed movement in the water almost directly below me.

Muskrat; two of them, were swimming very close to the edge of the small pool of water alongside the main river. The water area in the center foreground of the small picture to the right shows their location.

I'm surprised I hadn't returned to this location earlier as I had seen one Muskrat there in June of this year(2006) and had taken pictures at the time. What had alerted me to its presence then was that I had seen noticable movement in the grasses and could see that the movement was proceeding to the small water area. I had seen a Muskrat emerge carry vegetation in its mouth and watched it swim to the other side of the small pool.

I have seen these fairly large rodents along the river other years. The small Muskrat photo to the right was taken in September, 2001. That year I had watched them from a bridge above the river all summer long. This photo really illustrates its rodent appearance well. Below is another picture of the two Muskrats I had seen yesterday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

Finally, I captured a photo of this little warbler!

It has been hanging around our feeder area for a couple of weeks now; flitting about, fanning its tail, giving me just a glance of its beautiful yellow plumage before it disappeared into the foilage again.

When I first saw a Redstart with yellow plumage I had to be convinced that it actually was a Redstart because it had yellow feathers where I expected that they should be red. Previously I had only seen the male adult Redstart which has orange/red and black plumage. However I learned that the female and first summer male Redstarts have yellow and grey colouring. Hopefully I will soon be able to add a picture of the adult male 'red' Redstart that is also flitting about among the trees of our feeder area.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Rainbow

After a light shower on Friday evening I went outside and discovered a double rainbow arching over my backyard. The colours were very strong and intense: BEAUTIFUL!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

When I first looked out our window overlooking our bird feeders I was mystified at what appeared to be a round ball of feathers hanging onto our peanut feeder!

As I started to take pictures it moved slightly and I could then see a head and beak and knew it was the young Downy Woodpecker that we had been seeing around our feeders recently.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Great White Heron and Great Egret

The White Morph of the Great Blue Heron is common in the Florida Keys and that is where I had taken this photo while vacationing there in 2000.

When distinguishing the White Morph from the Great Egret, one of their differences, that of leg colour, is a distinctive feature easily compared in the two photos I've included. Note that the legs of the White Morph, (seen above) are a buffy, grey colour.

When in Quebec in June of this year (2006), I photographed a huge, white bird which resembled the White Morph; however, I noted that the leg colour of this bird was black so I was able to identify that bird, (seen above) as a Great Egret.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

I hadn't ever seen a Great Blue Heron until just a few years ago. We were driving along a country road nearby and all of a sudden a huge, winged creature arose out of a small pond area! It was so unexpected and unfamiliar that I was in awe; totally amazed and fascinated to think that such a large bird could be found in our area. I had never seen a heron during all my years of growing up along our river but in recent years they have now become frequent and familiar sightings.

I think they are magnificant birds! With a wing span of about 70" (more, or less), I never fail to be fascinated when I see one of these huge creatures take off in flight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor)

I kind of forget about Common Nighthawks each year until they begin to re-appear again over my back yard in the evenings of early or mid-August. Soaring over the old chimneys of our house, they disappear, then appear again coming from another direction. Quick in flight and manouvering at high speeds; they are beautiful to watch. They are insect eaters and eat hundreds of insects and mosquitoes each day while in flight. They are always welcome birds.

I have only seen Nighthawks flying and perhaps would not recognize them otherwise for when in flight their distinctive white wing bars give immediate recognition. The white wing bars are on both the underparts and outerwings ; but only the male has a white tail bar. Below is a male Common Nighthawk. Also distinctive of the male is the white throat patch which is easily seen in the photo. The female has no white tail bar and its throat patch is buffy instead of white. This can be seen in the photo of the female Common Nighthawk below. Also notice the short beak which is characteristic of both male and females.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yellow Warbler (Denroica petechia)

As two Yellow Warblers chased each other around our yard last evening I followed them with my camera trying to take their pictures as they darted from tree to tree. In the photo above, one of the warblers is perched momentarily on our Weeping Curly Willow tree. The streaks on its breast are not too prominent suggesting that this is perhaps a female or immature Yellow Warbler.

In the photo above, the evening light shining through the Pear tree highlights the yellow edging on this Yellow Warbler's tail feathers. Another identifiable feature of the Yellow Warbler is its yellow eye-ring. The eye-ring is easily seen in the photos both above and below.

In this last photo a clear view is shown of this Yellow Warbler's short, tapered tail.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wilderness Beauty

Home to many woodland creatures; this is my favourite wilderness spot. I have seen many White-tailed Deer here and also Moose. The alert, watchful Deer, in the photo above, had come down to the water's edge for a drink.

Clouds reflecting in the waters of the meandering stream accent the quiet beauty and calmness of its flow. Lush vegetation abounds.