Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Gift of the Maggie

What a gorgeous day!  Warm but crisp air, lots of sun, and a wonderful walk in the park.  Today the Bird of the Day was the lovely Maggie!  It really seemed like every time we turned around, there was another one.  Some were so vivid, it was really lovely!

magnolia warbler
I love the black-and-white warblers, they look so formal to me.  All dressed up, nice and neat.
black-and-white warbler
 Some house finches came over, trying to distract us from the warblers.
house finch
 This grosbeak came over and sat right over us, like it was surveying its domain.
rose-breasted grosbeak
 Meanwhile this downy woodpecker was hard at work!  There was sawdust flying.
downy woodpecker
 Chimney swifts are particularly difficult to photograph.  This is, believe it or not, one of my better efforts.
chimney swifts
 This phoebe demonstrated flycatcher behavior to us quite well.  They perch, fly around and perch again, right until the time you get used to where they perch, and then they find a new perch, usually not visible.
Eastern phoebe
 Brown thrasher!  These guys were hard to see, but see them we did.  I still remember the first time I saw one, it basically just came over to me for no particular reason, so I took some pictures.  I didn't realize at the time how lucky that was!
brown thrasher
 Mystery thrush that came by while we were distracted by the brown thrasher.  Sorry thrush, next time we will pay more attention to you.
mystery thrush
 These two came by way too quickly, just stopping for a few seconds over the water and then moving on.    
black-throated green warbler, blackpoll warbler
 Check out that streaky back!
blackpoll warbler 
This vireo was a joy to watch after all of those warblers.  I guess it needed a rest, it stayed perched for us for quite a while.  
red-eyed vireo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mystery birds

Mystery bird 1 and mystery bird 2

Mystery bird 1 leaving as mystery 2 bird watches, amused

Mystery bird 2 shows off its profile

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beauties and the Beast

So, it was another AMNH walk with Paul, and another gorgeous day!  I got up the the area a little early so I thought I'd head down into the upper lobe before meeting the group.  But I didn't even get that far!  On the bridge on the park road, looking into the lake, something interesting flew into the trees to the left.  It was this juvie waxwing!  Look at that tail, like it was just dipped in bright yellow crayon wax.

cedar waxwing

It wasn't alone for long!  Look who kept it company.

black-throated green warbler, northern parula

This parula, and........
northern parula
 this black-throated green!  Oh, we were spoiled, looking down on gorgeous warblers so close to us.  They flitted about and left when it was time for us (one woman from the group joined me there) to go meet the group.
black-throated green warbler
 We met up with the group and had just barely started into the park when we saw The Beast - Paul called out that there was a hawk overhead, and then his voice got more excited, he said hawk again, and then he said, "That's a Bald Eagle!"  It was gorgeous.  Not quite a full adult, but nearly.  Soaring, circling, and generally being majestic.  It was definitely the highlight of the day for me!
bald eagle

bald eagle
 On to the normal beauties - this cutie black and white.
black-and-white warbler
 This Swainson's thrush hung out and posed for a while.
Swainson's thrush
 There was a Tenessee warbler at some point.  I think this might be him exiting the area.
mystery warbler
 This palm warbler lured us into a closed lawn, and some guy kicked us out.  He sounded really exasperated too, so I guess people must hop that fence all the time.  And the palm warbler wouldn't allow a picture of its face!
palm warbler
 Another parula taking full advantage of the light.
northern parula
 There were several redstarts, including a group of about a half dozen in and under one tree.
American redstart
 After leaving the group I saw this poor mottled guy, looking like there just wasn't enough ink in the printer to get the job done.
American robin
 Finally after seeing several common yellowthroats I managed to get the camera on one.  They are so skulky!
common yellowthroat
 Even the grosbeak came out to play.  This one looks like a young male to me.  There was definitely a patch of red although it doesn't show well in this picture.
rose-breasted grosbeak
It was a gorgeous day, made really special by that eagle!  :-)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Back to Brigantine!

Back on the bus, and back to Brigantine - and what a day we had!  The weather was absolutely glorious, and Paul said that the winds were setting us up for a great day.  Off we went!

Almost immediately after arriving and heading out to the boardwalk we saw this gorgeous kingfisher.  Yes, the picture is terrible, but it was quite a highlight for me!

belted kingfisher
 Our first sandpipers, being overseen by a marsh wren in the reeds.  Yes, that's a marsh wren.  I know it looks like a non-descript whitish blob, but it's actually a marsh wren.  They are very good at defeating camera and mine stood no chance of getting a good picture.
marsh wren, semipalmated sandpipers
 Continuing the bad-shots-of-great-birds, here's the clapper rail we saw!  Jack spotted it, and I was able to see it disappear.  Then we all heard it, and eventually it (or another one) came out briefly.
clapper rail
 These crabs were numerous, and according to the gulls, quite tasty.
fiddler crabs
 Back on the bus, to go around the loop and stop wherever we thought it would be interesting.  Here's a harrier looking for lunch.
marsh harrier
 A bunch of sandpipers foraging and flying in, and one pectoral sandpiper looking regal.
pectoral sandpiper, semipalmated sandpipers
 Monarchs were around too!  As usual, they were a wonderful distraction.
Monarch butterfly
 This is a Cooper's hawk making off with something.  We couldn't figure out what it was carrying.  But look at that........ does it have a fish?  Did it maybe steal someone's catch?  I haven't heard of that, and the picture isn't great, but........
Cooper's hawk
 Lots of egrets everywhere, and this one coming in for a landing was just gorgeous.
great egret
 A whole mess of forster's terns hovering and diving for fish, there are several at each stage in the fish-catching process here.
Forster's terns
 No fish for this one this time.  Try again Buddy!
Forster's tern
 A great blue heron coming in for a landing.
great blue heron
 During our lunch stop this fish crow hung out with us.  We all had the chance to learn its call and see it flying.
fish crow
 This was quite a sight.  I saw the ibis fly out of the bus window, but I misidentified it as a little blue heron - wishful thinking!  When we found it, it climbed up to be with the egrets.  So here they are, 2 snowy egrets, a great egret, and a glossy ibis.  :-)
glossy ibis, snowy egrets, great egret
 This is what a yellowlegs looks like when it leaves.  I love it!  Also, that's a short-billed dowitcher.  Yes, that's right, they call it short-billed.  It makes me pretty excited about seeing the long-billed version!
short-billed dowitcher, yellowlegs
 Semipalmated plover among sandpipers.
semipalmated plover
 Black-bellied plover showing off how it got its name.
black-bellied plover
 Caspian terns!  There were four of them there, they are the ones with the reddish bills.
Caspian terns
 Juvie osprey coming in for a landing.
 Avocet!  What a looker!  My first one.
American avocet
 The female boat-tailed grackles are quite different from the ones I'm used to!
boat-tailed grackle
 Before we left we obviously could not resist a walk through the woods.  I found a turtle!  It was small and extremely cute.  We have no idea what kind it was.
mystery turtle

mystery turtle
 Someone found a toad!  And then another one, and another one, and....... I could barely see them when they were pointed out, but apparently they were all over the place!  We wondered if they were born in the pond and once they got old enough went to the woods, and we were seeing a batch of them make the journey.
mystery toad
 That was about it - it was a great day, and we saw tons of great things.  Here is my best shot using my iPhone and the scope.  The attachment I got worked great once, and not-so-great once, but it's still a big improvement over not having the attachment.
Caspian terns
Thanks to AMNH for setting up the trip and thanks to Paul for being such a great leader!  :-)