Archive for April, 2012

Greater Yellowlegs 4/30/12

Greater Yellowlegs are just starting to show up along the local tidal creeks, passing through on their way to their northern breeding grounds which stretch from Newfoundland to Alsaka. I found this one in the salt marshes behind at York Harbor in Maine. They are one of the bigger and longer legged sandpipers, belonging to the “shank” group which are characterized by long brightly colored legs but are otherwise are adorned in mottled browns. Note the bill is longer than the width of the head which distinguishes it from its smaller and proportionally shorter-billed cousin the Lesser Yellowlegs. They have a plaintive and piercing call,  often paraphrased “tew, tew, tew, tew” and usually repeated 3 to 5 times. The Lesser Yellowlegs call is similar, but usually only repeated 2 or 3 times. Both yellowlegs species show off bright white rumps in flight.

Comments

Northern Cardinal 4/27/12

Here’s Handsome, mate of Hot Lips, who together are already nesting somewhere in the thickets of my neighbor’s backyard. Both occasionally visit my feeders for sunflower seeds and Handsome often sits in the lilacs boinking away with his loud song while my 3-legged cat watches from below for an unlikely chance.

Comments

Brown-headed Cowbird 4/26/12


Brown-headed Cowbirds belong to the Icterid or blackbird family most famous for being brood parasites of other birds nests. Females don’t build or use their own nests but lay eggs in those of other species, so that in time a bird as small as a warbler might raise the much larger cowbird chick as its foster parent. Adult males have the stocky black body and brown head while females are drab all over with streaked bellies. They have the thickest bills of all the blackbirds, almost looking like they belong to the finch family.  Often seen with other blackbirds, they also forage on the ground and strut about noisily like Common Grackles.

Comments

Lesser Scaup 4/24/12


Believe it or not Lesser Scaup are one of the most abundant ducks in all of North America, but we don’t often see them in New England since they only winter along the coastal bays here, usually in large flocks and not coming close to shore. In early spring they begin their migration toward the Rockies and disappear altogether, but do stop on open fresh water along the way. I fetched these 3 drakes awhile back at the Exeter Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Comments

Snowy Egret 4/23/12

Snowy Egrets have been back for a week or so. So far my shots this year haven’t been great for showing off their black legs with bright yellow-boots or their fancy spring plumes caught in the breeze, or a freshly caught fish in their spear-shaped bills, but I’ll keep working at it. Meanwhile,  keep an eye out for our 2 fairly common white herons (Great Egrets are much bigger and have yellow bills) as they’re beginning to show up in numbers along the coastal salt marshes and other wetland areas. Fetched at Rye Harbor.

Comments

Red-winged Blackbird 4/20/12

Adult male Red-winged Blackbirds arrive in their summer breeding grounds weeks before the females to compete with each other for dominance and claim the prime territories in wetland areas. This one’s perched next to the parking lot at Seapoint Beach, squawking “konk-a-ree” and flashing his gaudy epaulets in the wind. In this location they’re also frequently seen down in the seaweed and wrack washed up along the tideline, an excellent source of invertebrate snacks.

Comments

Peregrine Falcon 4/19/12

This Peregrine (at least I assume it’s the same immature one) has a regular perch on the Hampton Beach water tower. Last summer I posted a similar shot of it plucking and feeding on a Common Grackle, but here it has what I believe to be a Mourning Dove, but I didn’t actually see it capture its prey. Fully adult Peregrines are blue-ish rather than brown-ish and have finely barred rather than heavily-streaked breasts. They are becoming a more commonly sighted along the New England coast and aside from this somewhat reliable perch, can often be seen atop one of the bridge towers in Portsmouth. Since their recovery from DDT poisoning, many have taken to man-made structures in more urban areas as alternatives to their more natural mountain clifftop haunts.

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »