Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harrier Over November Fields ::: for Scenic Sunday

As the white, adult male Northern Harrier scanned the dry, browned, November grasses in search of prey, the dark gray background of the forest enveloped the barren trees in seasonal somberness.
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Ducks and Geese ::: for Camera Critters

They are called Common Goldeneye, but I don't think so common in their beauty, and they could easily have been named 'Polka Dots' for look at the beautiful white dot on the head of these male ducks. We found this group yesterday in the Saint John River at Maugerville.Winging their way over the water these Megansers carried their reflections along with them as they took flight over the Saint John in response to the stopping of our vehicle along the roadside.Seeing these Canada Geese and Mallards was no surprise, but finding this lone, male Ring-necked Duck was. All of these photos were taken along the beautiful Saint John River in the Maugerville area yesterday.
My appreciative thanks to Misty for hosting this site. To see other participant's photo contributions just click HERE or on the Camera Critters logo on the side panel.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Day Away

I didn't start out that early but this is what 9:30 AM looked like yesterday morning, lots of fog! And the fog continued along for most of my hour and a half drive to keep an appointment at 11:30. After my morning visit I had to put in some time before returning for a follow up appointment at 3:30 so I went in search of some water areas, hoping to find some ducks or geese.
I found this beautiful place and in the distance is what I think is an old, no longer used, railroad bridge. I had stopped when seeing some ducks in the water, but before I could get any pictures they had left. I almost left too, but then I heard a loud, constant honking, and finally found its source in the green shadowy area to the left of the above picture. It was a lone Canada Goose, and it was difficult to see for the shimmering play of light upon the water gave it a bit of camouflage. If it hadn't been for its loud 'honking' I wouldn't have seen it at all.Having noted my presence it continued swimming and emerged from the shadows allowing me to see it more clearly.
Returning home again, I encountered darkening skies and more fog during the last half hour of my journey, arriving home in darkness.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Invitation to Dine

They have been back several times, these Evening Grosbeaks, since I first sighted them in our yard on Saturday (Nov. 22nd). Other years I have just sprinkled black-oiled Sunflower seeds on the top of an old apple crate in our feeder area, but this year I decided to scatter some seed on top of our patio table, which we have decided to leave out for the winter, and this by far was the best invitation. I can now stand in my kitchen and take their pictures through the french doors and then the outside windows of our sun room. I have read that they like to feed on flat surfaces and the patio table provided room for lots of food and lots of grosbeaks.
A most distin- guishing feature of these Evening Grosbeaks are their heavy, cone- shaped bills which they are able to use very adeptly for husking sunflower seeds, which are a favourite feeder food for them.A female Evening Grosbeak
A male Evening Grosbeak

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rough-legged Hawk at Sheffield

I saw a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk today at Sheffield, along highway #105 which borders the Saint John River at that portion of the highway. The Rough-legged was high above the trees, just a speck really, circling in the sky, but my camera lense was able to pull it in close enough for me to id it. I have seen Rough-legged Hawks there other winters and they were not always as distant as this one was. By far my best photo of a Rough-legged is this one, with its wings raised upward showing its distinctive under wing pattern as it landed on a tree branch. This photo was taken in December, 2002 in the Sheffield area.The under wing pattern of the light morph Rough-legged Hawk has more white on it than the dark morph as its axillaries and coverts are light also. To the left is a light morph Rough-legged showing its pale head and chest. The dark morph adult has no white on its head or chest. These photos of the white morph Rough-legged Hawk were taken at Sheffield in December, 2006.

Field Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow Update

These little sparrow visitors, a Field Sparrow and a Chipping Sparrow, are still at our feeders today. This marks their seventh day of attendance since their arrival on the 18th.

The ground is still snow covered, since a snowstorm on Saturday, and the temper -atures have been, and remain, below freezing. At the time of this posting it is -12 degrees Celsius. I wonder how much longer these little sparrows will stay?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Evening Grosbeaks: for Camera Critters

I had been sitting upstairs at my computer when I saw a small flock of birds fly to the top of my neighbour's trees across the street from me. Rushing downstairs to get my binoculars to see what they were, just as I id'ed them they left, but then surprised me for they had circled around the back of my house and were waiting for me in our feeder area when I looked out the window again. I wait for these birds each year. They are visually exciting with their handsome yellow ski visors and black and yellow patterning.
Evening Grosbeaks; they arrived this morning with our first real snow storm of the season. I watched while the male fed on seeds from our Manitoba Maple and females fed on the crab apples from our Ornamental Flowering Crab Apple Tree.
I am sure they will be back for more!

My appreciative thanks to Misty for hosting this site. To see other participant's photo contributions just click HERE or on the Camera Critters logo on the side panel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Northern Shrike

This is more of a tale of a bird sighting, rather than of a bird encounter adventure. At this time of year, as both the leaves and temperatures drop and we are anticipating the arrival of snow, it is exciting to see the recent arrivals of different birds moving into the area for the season. During the past week I have seen a Red-tailed Hawk, and yesterday I had posted photos of a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk in my own backyard.
The sighting of this Northern Shrike (nov. 17), which I had photo- graphed on Monday is yet another bird predator that has returned to our area for the winter. I had seen it at a distance, high in a tree, then it moved to the top most branch giving me a better view for this distance photo.
As the season progress I am sure I shall have other opportunities to get closer photos of this species for they frequently visit our feeder area as winter progresses. Shown below is one such photo opportunity in January ('07) when I took this picture of a Northern Shrike at our feeder area.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Juvenile Accipiter

A group of Blue Jays had seen this hawk first for when I had gone outdoors and was going to my vehicle I heard a terrific series of loud squawks coming from around our back yard area. Being drawn to the noise,
I saw the Jays dispersing while at the same time I saw a hawk scrambling upwards among the branches of a clump of Alders. It was making its way to the upper branches while staying within them.Sharp-shinned or Cooper's? I am disappointed that I did not get a picture of the Blue Jays in the same frame with the hawk, for the hawk seemed much larger than the jays. In David Sibley's, The Sibley Guide to Birds (2000) p. 112, he gives the length of a Cooper's being that of 16.5" and that of a Sharp-shinned as 11". The length of a Blue Jay is also given as 11" (p.351), so based upon my observation that this hawk appeared to be larger than the jays around it, I would be inclined to think that maybe it could have been a Cooper's, but that is just speculation based upon my quick glimpse of its size in comparison to the Blue Jays.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Field Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow

We had a couple of very surprising sparrow visitors yesterday in Bird Alley: a Field Sparrow and a Chipping Sparrow. We have Chipping Sparrows often during the summer and early fall, but I don't think I have ever seen them here this late before. They usually seem to change places with Tree Sparrows around the end of October or early Novem -ber. These two sparrows seemed to be travel -ing with each other and they were seen feeding together often during the day. We woke to snow on the ground this morning and I have not seen sight of them yet today so hopefully they are on their way further south to areas lacking the white stuff.
Its always a surprise to see a Field Sparrow for although we have seen this species before at our feeders and it is seen yearly in our province it is classified as a 'rare, but annual' visitor by the New Brunswick Bird Records Committee. The visual differences between the Field Sparrow and the Chipping Sparrow can easily be seen. By comparing these species the difference in colouring is evident. As well it can be noted that the Field Sparrow lacks a supercilium, the dark line extending from both sides of the eye that is very noticeable on the profile view of the Chipping Sparrow. The white eye ring of the Field Sparrow is also quite a prominent feature.

editing note 1:15 p.m:
They showed up just before noon, and as seen in the photo below, still here today, still together.