Archive for July, 2012

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, 7/31/12

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs can be difficult to identify when you’ve only got one to look at but that’s not a problem when you can see them side by each. Here the differences in size are obvious and one can see that the Greater is slightly darker and more spotted along the flanks, with a bill longer than the width of the head. It’s not readily apparent in this light but the bill of the Greater is lighter at the base and thus more two-toned, whereas the Lesser is all dark from the base to the tip. Both are members of the sandpiper genus Tringa, characterized by long colorful legs. The Tringa sandpipers are more commonly known as “Shanks.”

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Eastern Kingbird fledglings 7/30/12

There are 2 fledgings in this photo from a group of 5 I came across at the water’s edge in Alfred, Maine. Eastern Kingbirds are a fairly common flycatcher in New England found around open areas including lakes and ponds. Dark gray above with white underparts, juveniles are similar to the adults, once these fill out a bit more and their bills take on adult shape, it will be hard to tell them apart as they sally out over open areas to catch insects on the wing.

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Snowy Egret 7/27/12

Despite the bright yellow boots, this Snowy Egret was likely born last summer and not yet a breeding adult. If the feet were dark rather than yellow, that would mean it’s a juvenile from this year. But this bird still has the yellow stripes up the back of the legs, an immature field mark indicating it’s still subadult. From other pics I took I can also tell there’s no sign of any worn breeding plumes. Next year its feet will stay yellow but its legs will be all black. Fetched in Rye, NH.

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Least Sandpiper 7/26/12

Smallest of all shorebirds, Least Sandpipers are also one of the earliest to begin migrating south from the Arctic. You’ll often see them in mixed flocks with other peeps (the term peep loosely refers to the smaller sandpipers), as well as by themselves. They are darker and browner than the other common Calidris Sandpipers, though when the juveniles start arriving a couple weeks from now you’ll see some that are quite reddish. Besides being quite small, Leasts are also recognized by their greenish legs, and relatively short and just barely downturned sandpiper bill. Fetched at Seapoint.

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Wild Turkey poults 7/25/12

Young turkeys are called poults, though I’m not sure if the term is still applicable once they get this big. These 3 are part of a group of 5 (2 toms and 3 hens) that roam through my back yard every few days. They mostly peck at the overgrown grasses, but also cruise the compost heap (I think for the bugs), forage under the birdfeeders, and stab into my raspberry patch. In other words, Wild Turkeys eat just about anything—one reason they’ve become so plentiful since reintroduction. One of the young toms is in the back, he’s larger and more colorful than the 2 hens in the foreground, you can see the beginnings of his snood (growth at the base of the upper bill) as well as the wattle forming under the chin, and finally if you look close you can see his beard, a tuft of modified feathers sticking out from the chest.

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Willet 7/24/12

There aren’t many shorebirds that actually breed along the New England coast, but the Willet is one of them, and one of the largest of them. When you see these birds at rest in the salt marshes or on a beach, they are rather nondescript large sandpipers in mottled brown. It’s only when they take wing like in this photo that you can see their bold wing pattern, which when coupled with their large size and long bill makes them easily identifiable. Either of the yellowlegs species have bright yellow legs and a much plainer wing pattern, and immature Black-bellied plovers are much chunkier shorebirds with short plover bills.

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American Robin 7/23/12

American Robins raise 2 or sometimes three broods of youngsters during the breeding season. This one is on its second clutch, using the same spot as the first though the 2nd nest is new. Unfortunately they’re not in a location I can get at for photos.

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