Archive for October, 2011

Green-Winged Teal, 10/31/11

North America’s smallest dabbling or puddle duck, Green-winged Teal juveniles and females look similar to female Mallard Ducks. I found this little squadron at the south end of Plum Island Saturday just as the storm was about to hit. Notice the green speculum in the folded wings which isn’t always prominent but shows up in all of the above birds. Drakes are much more colorful, even in bad light, with their cinnamon and green iridescent heads, lacy gray bodies and buffy rear ends.

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Canada Goose 10/28/11

Canada Geese are the most familiar and widespread of the North American Geese. They are dabblers in the water, tipping for submerged plants like eel grass, and on land they graze grasses, sedges, and leftover agricultural grain. They reach adulthood after 4 years and mate for life, and young geese will stay with their parents for up to a year. Even in large flocks individuals may be closely related to one another. When migrating, they form a loose V with experienced birds taking turns at the van. Fetched at Eel Pond in Rye, NH.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler 10/27/11

At this time of year Yellow-rumped Warblers (aka Myrtle Warblers) are moving south in great numbers and you can readily find them along edges where they’ll sally out into the open to catch flies on the wing and then fly back to a shrubby perch. This one was flycatching on the rocks at Fort Foster and was just one of about a dozen or so. Yellow-rumps come in three basic plumages right now, all have streaky breasts with yellow flanks, white eye-rings and wingbars, and all have a flashy yellow patch at the base of the tail. Males will be grayer, and sport a yellow crown, females are without crown but also somewhat grayer with less yellow and are less contrasty than males. This one I believe is a juvenile since it’s much browner and even less contrasty than the adults. Here’s a shot of an adult male in spring breeding plumage.

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Great Black-backed Gull 10/26/11

Our biggest gull here, or anywhere else for that matter, Great Black-backs are for the most part only found on the coasts from Northern Europe to northeastern North America and the Great Lakes, including the shores of Iceland and Greenland and other North Atlantic islands in between. In the shot above are an adult in the foreground and an immature behind. Great Black-backed Gulls take 4 years to reach maturity, with the immature bird in this photo only into its first or second year. Immature birds start out very brown and checkered, over time becoming whiter and less streaky around the head and breast, their bills and eyes go from dark to yellow, their wings become all black on top, and their legs turn pink. As winter approaches and like many of the white-headed gulls, the heads of adults tend to become a bit streaky instead of pure white. Fetched at Seapoint.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10/25/11

A number of New England woodpeckers have red patches on their heads, but only the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has a red throat, and only the males at that. Females have a red crown like the male but their throats are white. In this pic you can see the pale yellow-belly giving the species its name. Sapsuckers drill shallow holes into trees to harvest sap from, and other birds use their drills for the same purpose. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breed from the Northeast and across boreal Canada to Alaska, and all of them migrate to the southern US, and Central America. Fetched at Fort Foster, Kittery Point, ME.

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Black-and-white Warbler, male 10/24/11

A common warbler of the Eastern US found in mature and second-growth forests, Black and Whites creep somewhat like nuthatches among the branches and trunks gleaning insects. They are another of the fall warblers that pretty much look the same as they do in their spring plumage. Males, like this one, have much sharper black and white contrast than the duller and greyer females and juves.  Fetched at Odiorne Point, Rye, NH.

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Snowy Egret 10/21/11

Time to get your last look at the egrets as they’ll be on their way south soon, along with the other herons. This one’s a juvenile, see the yellow-green stripe up the back of the legs? Adults have all black legs and bright yellow feet. Snowies are the American counterpart to the old world’s Little Egret, which look and behave much the same and are occasional vagrants to the US. But the European subspecies of Little Egret we get here (rarely) doesn’t have that bright yellow between the bill and the eyes. Fetched in Rye, NH.

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