Archive for September, 2014

Wild Turkeys 9/27/14


Why did the Turkeys cross the road?


Common Nighthawk 9/26/14


Admittedly not a very exciting photograph, but it sure was a piece of work getting it! It’s also unlikely I’ll get a better one anytime soon. I was photographing shorebirds foraging in the heaps of beach seaweed the other day when 4 of these uncommon birds (despite their name) started hawking over Seapoint and its beaches. It only took them about 15 minutes to empty the skies of dragonflies before continuing their migration southward (they have tiny beaks but huge mouths). Their flight is fast and erratic, loopy, batlike and unpredictable, and in a handheld telephoto they are usually outside the frame between the time you shoot and the shutter fires. Only 4 out of my 50 odd shots actually contained blurry birds in them, and this was the best, and honestly I was thrilled to capture their streamlined shape and the telltale window-in-the-wings fieldmarks. Common Nighthawks are usually only seen in lowlight conditions at dusk or dawn and belong to the Nightjar family which also includes the Whip-poor-will. They breed all across North America, winter in South America, and their populations are in serious decline.


Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper juveniles 9/25/14


As the name suggests, Least Sandpipers are the smallest of all the shorebirds, though only a little smaller than the Semipalmated. Occasionally some juvenile Leasts are quite reddish like the one in this photo and will really stand out in a crowd of other peeps, while others are a duller brown more like the adults.


Red-tailed Hawk immature 9/19/14


Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawk you’ll see in the northeast any time of year. Often soaring over open spaces but also watching for rodents and snakes from tree limbs or even powerlines, ready to pounce. Most of the hawks you’ll see along the highway are the blocky, handsome, Red-tails. Plumage among individuals is extremely variable, in part due to geography and subspecies. This is a typical immature of the east, note especially the yellowish eyes (brown in adults), white in the wings, and the tail is barred—the solid cinnamon tail of adult plumage isn’t achieved until the 3rd to 4th year. Females average a few centimeters larger than males.


Black-bellied Plover juvenile 9/18/14


Pluvialis plovers include the several Golden Plovers (European, Pacific, and American) as well as the Black-bellied, and occasionally the juveniles BBs show their golden plover relatedness on their backs. But they are stockier bodied, with heavier bills, and in all plumages have back axillary (armpit) feathers you see in flight where the axillaries of the golden plovers are white. They breed all around the Arctic and winter on coastlines all over the world. Outside of North America they are usually called Grey Plovers.


Ardea Herons 9/17/14


The genus Ardea makes up the dozen or so “great heron” species found around the globe, most having similar ambush foraging habits and colonial breeding habits. The Great Egret comes by its egret name by virtue of having showy white breeding plumes in spring (called “aigrettes”), in other respects it’s one of the smaller great herons. I was lining up these two birds in one telephoto shot, the juvenile Great Blue Heron in foreground and the Great Egret in the distance when all of a sudden the Great Blue took off like a shot, straight at the Great Egret causing it to flee in fright.


Blue Jay 9/16/14


With a shaggy throat like that, it’s no surprise to learn that Blue Jays are close cousins to Ravens.


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