Archive for September, 2009

Tufted Titmouse 9/30/09

tuftedtitmouse

Here’s one anybody with a birdfeeder is familiar with. Tufted Titmice don’t migrate or flock together, but stick to their territories year round. They’ll often group up with chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers in backyard feeding stations where they tend to dominate the smaller birds. Typically they’ll grab one seed from a feeder and fly off to crack it open in private. Time to refill your birdfeeders!  Another shot of a Tufted Titmouse is the bird of the month for March in my 2010 calendar.

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Orange-crowned Warbler 9/29/09

orangecrownedwarbler

Fall warblers are one of the biggest challenges for birders. Spring and summer male warblers are all pretty colorful and distinct from one another, but come fall migration, males, females, and immatures have all taken on various shades of drab and are something of a nightmare to ID. I’m calling this one an Orange-crowned Warbler for several reasons. First there’s the complete lack of wingbars which right there cuts the possibilities in half. Next the bright yellow under the tail and the bit of yellow stripe above the eye narrows it further. Finally the dingy and slightly streaked breast is what leads me to conclude Orange-crowned, but admittedly I’m at the edge of my expertise. Maybe a Tennessee? Hooded? Mourning . . . ? Fetched in Rachel Carson NWR, Cutt’s Island.

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Belted Kingfisher 9/28/09

beltedkingfisherKingfishers are one of my favorite waterside birds to watch, but can be difficult to sneak up on for photographs. Their loud chattering calls always make me smile whether two are playing in the salt air above the tidal creeks, or scolding when I get too close and they give me their version of the bird. All Belted Kingfishers have the thick blue band below the throat, but females like this one, are more colorful with rufous flanks and a rusty red belly-band below the blue one. This one was fetched over the Brave Boat Harbor salt marshes off the backside of Cutts Island in Kittery Point. You’ll see them around here for awhile yet before they’ve all disappeared south, even into December if the weather stays mild enough.

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Double-crested Cormorant 9/26/09

doublecrestedcormorant

Cormorants, also known as Shags, are medium sized seabirds in the pelican family. We have two different kinds along the New England coast, the Double-crested Cormorant like this one, and the larger, blockier and much less common Great Cormorant. This Double-crested is an immature, told by the pale breast plumage (adults are darker black) and is photographed in the wing-drying posture typical of shags. Chauncey Creek, Kittery Point.

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Semipalmated Plover 9/24/09

semipalmatedplover

While the large flocks of shorebirds frequenting Seapoint recently have already moved south, Semipalmated Plovers are still around. You can find them foraging anywhere from the water’s edge all the way up to the dry seaweed at the high tide line, and even behind the beaches in mudflats and shallow marsh pools and pans. They resemble Killdeer in appearance, except they are smaller, shorter legged, and only have one dark band across the white breast.

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Great Egret 9/23/09

greategret

Much bigger than a Snowy Egret but smaller than a Great Blue Heron, Great Egrets have yellow bills, yellow eyes, and black legs and feet. Unlike Great Blues, they have a funny way of stalking with their body and neck stretched out straight at an angle, looking down for something fishy to strike. Back in the depression these birds came quite close to extinction. Photographed along Chauncey Creek in Kittery Point.

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Dunlin, 9/22/09

dunlin

Dunlin are one of the easier migrating shorebirds to tell apart in the fall. Even in nonbreeding plumage they are more colorful up close, and their long drooping bills stand out from other medium sized sandpipers like Sanderlings. They breed in wet tundra and are circumpolar, the eastern North American populations winter along the southeast Atlantic and Gulf state shorelines, but it’s not unheard of to see them as far north as New England in wintertime.  These 2 are from a group of 5 migrants fetched up on Crescent Beach in Kittery Point.

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