Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yellow Warbler

A handsome little male Yellow Warbler has been flitting about among the leaves of Bird Alley, our feeder area, for the past couple of days but it is difficult to get a photo of it without it being in motion. It is darting here and there, occasionally coming into full view but most often I just get a glimpse of it now and then. This is character -istic of warblers for these tiny insect eating birds are often on the move. This male Yellow Warbler is easily identified by the red streaking on its yellow breast.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

Blackpoll Warbler

Our small narrow strip of deciduous trees, which we refer to as Bird Alley, was very busy this morning with many feeding birds, and so when I spied a black-capped, black and white bird in the tall branches of one of our Highbush Cranberries I automatically thought; Black-capped Chickadee. Then a second thought said; "take a closer look" and I did and I realized it didn't have a black chin like a Black-capped Chickadee does and it had black and white streaking on its sides which a Chickadee doesn't have; and it had yellow feet! It was an adult breeding male Blackpoll Warbler, and from what I have since read, it is a common warbler often seen, though this was only my second sighting of one; previously having seen one in June, 2004. A welcome little feathered visitor to Bird Alley.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Variegated Orange Moth

I saw this moth along the Mud Lake Nature Trail in Quispamsis on May 25 '07. Searching for similar moth images on the internet I found a match with the name, Variegated Orange Moth. This moth was very small, about the same size as a small skipper. The patterning was very bright and reminded me of woven yarn.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pitcher Plant

The Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous plant! How exciting it was as a child in school to hear of such an un- imaginable thing; an insect eating plant! The explanation today is much less dramatic and understandable for the pitcher shaped leaves of this plant contain a digestive fluid in its bottom and when insects are lured and then trapped into this pitfall trap of digestive juices, the insect is gradually absorbed within the plant's system. The downward pointing hairs on the inside of the Pitcher Plant's leaves do not allow insects to escape by crawling back out.
These Pitcher Plants were found in a sphagnum bog alongside a boardwalk at the Mud Lake Nature Trail in Quispamsis.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I had been waiting for this species to show up at our feeders for a while now as neighbours had already mentioned seeing one at their's. A glance out my window immediately messaged, male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, when I noted this Starling size bird with its distinct black and white patterned side and large pale beak, perched on a branch among the newly opened leaves. A frontal view of this black hooded, male bird left no doubt of its identity as it turned and displayed its red/rose coloured chest, and white belly.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Palm Warbler

The rufus crown and rufus streaks on its breast indicate that this little Palm Warbler is in its adult breeding stage. A Palm Warbler is roughly about the same size as a Black-capped Chickadee.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Muskrat in the River

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Indigo Bunting

This handsome little blue, sparrow-size bird showed up in our feeder area this week. I have only seen this species once before so it was a special treat to see it again. This male Indigo Bunting in the photos above appears to display the transitional stage of a first winter Indigo Bunting. I found an interesting fact while researching Indio Buntings on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site, All About Birds. Indigo Buntings migrate at night and use the stars to guide them. Fascinating!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In my posting yesterday I had mentioned the dangers Gaspereau encounter as they fight the river current, rapids and fishing gulls as they return up river to their spawning grounds. Another danger always present are Osprey as they patrol the river watching for Gaspereau in the waters below. A common sight this time of year is to see an Osprey flying over the river with a fish in its talons.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gaspereau and Gulls

This is the time of year, sometime around the first week in May to the first week in June, when Gaspereau leave their salt water habitat and return to their spawning grounds destination in the upper waters of the North Oromocto. When these fish encounter the Gaspereau Falls on the north branch of the Oromocto at Fredericton Junction they must manouver the fast moving waters located there with speed and agility. As well as the challenging feat of endurance they must conquer to pass through these falls safely; the Gaspereau are also prey to the many gulls waiting for their arrival at this location. These gulls are a squabbling bunch and often give up on their own watchful position in the rapids to give chase when they see another with a successful catch.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Snapping Turtle

I found a Snapping Turtle in a pond beside the river earlier this week, on May 10th. This is the earliest spring sighting I have had of one of these big snappers . For several years now I often come across these large turtles during the last couple of weeks in June; laying eggs in locations adjacent to the river.

It was only last year, on June 6th, 2006, that I had found three or four in the same pond where I had seen the one this week. I probably will see more at the same pond location over the next few weeks now that I know where to look for them. Reading of Snapping Turtles in Stanley Gorham's, The Amphibians and Reptiles of New Brunswick, NB Museum publication, 1970 (p.14-15), he writes that these freshwater turtles hibernate at the bottom of ponds, so it makes sense to me that a pond is where I first find them in the spring. (top photo taken May 10th, 2007, other photos June 6th, 2006)

editing note May 14:
I saw this Snapping Turtle sunning itself today at the edge of the pond.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sandhill Crane

Seeing this large crane feeding in an open field in Hoyt was an exceptional sighting for me yesterday, as a Sandhill Crane is a (R) rare bird to be seen in New Brunswick. There have been other reports of their presence in the province, at other places, other years, but this is the first I have seen here. (Hoyt sighting pictures above and to the left)

Whenever we recall our very first sighting of Sandhill Cranes we laugh at our reaction at the time. My spouse and I were driving through South Carolina in 2000 and we were still very new to birding. We had been making a list of all the different birds we saw when suddenly my spouse said,

"I think I just saw an Ostrich!"

My reply was, "You couldn't have seen an Ostrich", and my spouse replied:

"I know, but will I write it down on the list anyway?"
What we had seen of course, shown above, was our very first sighting of Sandhill Cranes.
I have read that these cranes are sometimes found in large flocks and this was the case when we saw a large group in a field near Blind River, Ontario in 2002.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

American Bittern

It sounded like an American Bittern, had an angonizingly slow gait like a Bittern, stretched its neck high and pointed its beak skyward like a Bittern, was in the same boggy/marsh area as another Bittern; but it had plumage like I have never seen before!

I have concluded that this is an American Bittern displaying breeding plumage although there seems to be very little information relating to this stage on the internet.

editing note May 11, 2007: I found a reference today making mention of white, fluffy feathers sometimes seen on an American Bittern. In his book, Sand Dunes and Salt Marshes by Charles Wendell Townsend, 1913; chapter X; Townsend writes in reference to the American Bittern:
"...the birds have an interesting courtship display of soft fluffy white feathers which are ordinarily concealed, but which on this occasion are spread conspicuously on each side of the breast while the gallant cock-bird struts before the hen." source found online at:
There were two birds seen in the bog. Directly above is an American Bittern photographed in the same bog/marsh as the bird with the white spots.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Barn Swallow in Flight

The beauty of some rather common place birds often takes me totally by surprise! I have seen hundreds of Barn Swallows in flight before but never really examined their features in close detail before. Yesterday I had been watching a flock of sheep beside a barn and there were several Barn Swallows flying about as well. Sitting in my car, I was not really being very successful when attempting to get a photo of a swallow. Just before moving on I saw three sitting on overhead wires to my left and started to take a picture just as they flew away. Missed oppor- tunity I thought; but what a surprise when I downloaded my pictures this morning. What a magificent design on this Barn Swallow's undertail. From my photo archives (June 30, 2001), a female Barn Swallow tends to young swallows still in their nest. This nest was built high in the rafters of the Starkey Covered Bridge which crosses Long Creek at Coles Island.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Glossy Ibis at Jemseg, NB

Seen today at Jemseg, NB; two Glossy Ibis. This was my first sighting of this species in New Brunswick. Although not seen often, the New Brunswick Bird Records Committee lists the Glossy Ibis as a migrant (m*), a rare but annual visitor to our province.