Archive for November, 2017

Golden-crowned Kinglet 11/22/17

Kinglets are the smallest of all songbirds and come with twittering perky personalities. They are difficult to photograph on account they seem to never stop foraging for insects and spiders to keep their metabolism going. How they manage to find enough to eat during the long New England has always been a mystery to me. They come in 7 species around the world, 2 of them found in North America including the Golden-crowned. Males have a reddish streak in the middle of their yellow crests which can be erected. Kinglets are not warblers.

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Dunlin, male 11/20/17

In New England we have a handful of shorebirds that spend the winter and Dunlin are one of them. This one is in gray above and white below winter plumage, while Dunlin in breeding plumage are quite striking with black bellies and quite rusty reddish backs. In all plumages they have black legs and a long decurved black bill. Once you’re familiar with them you’ll know that this one’s bill is actually short for a Dunlin, indicating it’s male. They breed all around the Arctic and winter along temperate and tropical coasts and come in ten subspecies. I found this one by itself but in winter they become quite social forming large flocks, the nearest one I know of can be found in Hampton Beach.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler juve 11/13/17

Yellow-rumped Warblers are the last of the migrating warblers to move through New England in any numbers, though even in November it’s not unusual to find stragglers of other species. This was one of a half dozen juves I found on the beach at Fort Foster, flitting down from a low tree branch or up from a piece of driftwood on the beach to catch brine flies on the wing, with astonishing acrobatics.

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Purples are back! 11/11/17

The arrival of Purple Sandpipers at Seapoint represents a season change in my bird calendar. It’s Bird Winter now. Purples are the very last of the shorebird migrants, only instead of passing through these birds are arriving from the high Arctic to take up residence along more temperate coasts for the winter. Only 2 have arrived at Seapoint so far, but eventually the flock will settle out somewhere between 40 and 80 individuals, staying until April. You’ll find them foraging for invertebrates among the rocks and surf. Note the orange in both the legs and bill, the dark streaky breast, and the somewhat long and slightly drooping bill.

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Red-throated Loon adult nonbreeding 11/9/17

Yesterday I posted a juvenile Red-throated Loon, but pulling in to the parking lot at Seapoint today, this adult was dead ahead. There are a lot of them about at this time of year so if you’re not familiar with them, this is an excellent opportunity to find one. Unlike the drab gray throat, face, and neck of the juvenile, winter adults have white faces, throats, necks and undersides, with a speckled back and a thin pointy upturned bill.

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Red-throated Loon juvenile 11/8/17

Red-throated Loons are both smaller and sleeker than their Common Loon cousins. They ride lower in the water and have thinner bills with a slight upturned and more pointy appearance. This one’s a juvenile told by its overall dull gray head and neck, winter adults have bright white throats, necks, and undersides with dark gray caps. The red throat is seen in both sexes but only in the breeding season. I see many RTLs at this time of year, and this year they seem especially abundant, but as winter progresses they seem to disappear. The only hypothesis I’ve come up with is that the places I tend to see them also happen to be frequented by Snowy Owls in recent years later in the winter and perhaps they become prey.

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