Archive for September, 2010

Great Black-backed Gull 9/30/10

Great Black-backs are the king of the gulls along the New England coast, and are the largest of all the world’s gulls being about 30″ long with wingspans of 5 and a half feet. In the center of the photo is a juvenile which will take 4 years to reach the black-backed plumage of the adult birds on either side, each year becoming a little less brown and a little more black-backed. Like most gulls they are opportunistic scavengers, but Great Black-backs are also aggressive predators, especially among the nesting colonies of seabirds. Fetched at Fort Foster, Kittery Point.

Comments

American Avocet 9/29/10

Avocets are a good sized wading shorebird at 18 inches with very long legs like their close cousins the stilts. All 4 avocet species around the globe are mostly black and white and have a strongly upturned bills that they sweep from side to side while foraging for invertebrates in the shallows of prairie ponds and marshes. American Avocets are found in the midwest and west coast, but a few like this one show up in New England from time to time during migration. In breeding plumage their heads and long necks are cinnamon-colored, which in the fall becomes a pale grey. This one is a female which sports a sharper upturn at the end of the bill than males where the curve is more gradual and somewhat straighter. Fetched in Sanford, Maine.

Comments

Lapland Longspur 9/28/10

A Lapland Longspur is a bird I never expected to bump into yesterday. I do run into them from time to time around here, but usually that’s much later in the fall or early in the winter. Yet here was one hopping about the rocks at Seapoint looking for windblown seeds. One of the fieldmarks I use is the dark ring around the auricular region of the face (many sparrows have the stripes of the forward part, but not the connecting back edge), and the rusty panel in the wing coverts. With the coloration being rather pale without much in the way of black markings, this could be an adult female but more likely a juvenile bird coming into its first winter. Here’s a darker, more contrasty adult male from last January.

Comments

White-breasted Nuthatch 9/27/10

White-breasted Nuthatches are fairly common birds at backyard winter feeding stations, but I found this one in the thickets and woodland edge of Odiorne Point. They are non-migratory birds with a loud nasal call and a habit of creeping up and down trunks upside down. Nuthatches get their name from their habit of jamming big seeds and nuts into the bark of trees and hammering away at them to hatch the nut.  The White-breasted is the largest of the nuthatches.

Comments

Pine Warbler 9/24/10

There is a tremendous variety of warbler plumages for each species—adult male and female breeding plumages, adult male and female nonbreeeding plumages, as well as male and female juvenile plumages. As a rule spring males are the most colorful and with well-defined colorful patterns, and juvenile females the most indistinct and drab, with the other plumages falling somewhere in between. Spring warblers you pretty much only have to contend with knowing the adult breeding plumages, but in the fall the non-breeding plumages are not only less boldly patterned and colorful, there’s the addition of the juvenile plumages as well as the overlap between species becoming much harder to distinguish. Here is an adult female Pine Warbler with gray wings and white wingbars, a hint of faint streaking in the breast, a faint yellow strip through the eye and a fairly distinct eye-ring. For a bit of comparison, here’s a spring male shot back in April. Fetched at Odiorne Point, Rye, NH.

Comments

Canada Goose 9/23/10

I pulled over along the shoulder by Eel Pond in Rye the other day to photograph a family of Canada Geese swimming against the light. Then this one got right out of the water, crossed the road nonchalantly while stopping traffic in either direction, climbed up the over seawall and disappeared down onto Rye Beach. Honkers, especially youngsters, can be quite fearless. Here’s a photo of a younger family of Canada Geese I photographed in my Kittery Point neighborhood back in May, when the goslings were just fuzzballs.

Comments

Eastern Bluebirds 9/22/10

These 2 juvenile Eastern Bluebirds aren’t as colorful as either of their parents, with their grey-brown speckley breasts and just a flash of blue in their wings and tails.  But by spring they will be wearing adult coats. You’ll see bluebirds now in little family flocks, fluttering down from perches to catch insects near the gound. As fall progresses they may gather in larger groups of a couple dozen or more in some neighborhoods. Once the ground freezes their diet will shift from insects and other invertebrates to berries and fruit, and when the dead of winter sets in they’ll migrate a short distance for a few months, arriving back with the spring thaws. Odiorne Point, Rye, NH.

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »