Thursday, 7 December 2017

Birds and Berries - Part 5 - American Robins

This is almost the end of this line of posts since the robins arrived in large numbers and stripped the trees of their remaining berries. After taking these shots and leaving at the end of the day I had hopes that I could return several more times to take pictures. I was amazed that on the following day by early afternoon the only berries remaining were the ones a few robins were cleaning up that had fallen to the ground. There was one bird in the flock that stood out from the rest so I'll save those pictures for a subsequent post. November 11,  East Jordan NS.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Birds and Berries - Part 4 - Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 Shortly after the male arrived, there were at least two female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks feeding in the same area. I managed to find one in good light late in the day on one occasion to get these shots. These birds somewhat resemble a large female Purple finch but with a much larger bill and more striking head pattern. November 7, East Jordan.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Birds and Berries - Part 3 - Scarlet Tanager

As I mentioned in a previous post there had been a Summer Tanager in the area and as I waited for the possibility of that bird showing up in a spot where I could get a decent photo this Scarlet Tanager arrived instead. While I'm not that happy with the quality of the shots - again, it was soft light and the bird wasn't in the best spot for a photo - I was very exited to see this bird since they are a rarity here.

I'm more familiar with how they look in the Spring with their bright red plumage that gives them their name. This may be the first time I've seen a male in Winter plumage, at least in the past twenty years or so. I have a faint recollection of seeing one in the Fall with faint wing bars when I first started birding that had me confused at the time but does occur in some juveniles. November 1, East Jordan.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Incoming - Juvenile Great Blue Heron

I almost forgot about these shots. I took these while waiting for something to land among the mountain ash berries. I knew this bird was around but was a little startled when it flew in. I haven't seen it in recent days so maybe it did the smart thing and moved on before things begin to freeze up here. October 22, East Jordan.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Birds and Berries - Part 2 - Northern Parula

Unlike in the previous post this bird was not attracted to the berries but rather to the bugs that were perhaps attracted to the berries. Whatever the case it spent enough time in these trees that I was able to take many photos, a few of which I'll share here.  On a later day I realized there was a pair of Northern Parulas at this location so I'm only assuming it's the same bird in all these shots. October 30, East Jordan.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Birds and Berries - Part 1 - Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I took a lot of shots over a period of a week or so of birds feeding on Mountain Ash berries at the same location in East Jordan. The first was this male Rose-breasted Grosbeak shot on October 29. There had been a Summer Tanager at the same location which I had overlooked initially because my attention was drawn by a mostly blue male Indigo bunting which I failed to get a decent photo of.  This bird was the last of 3 species that I was lucky enough to find on the first day.  I shot this one in soft light, the sun wasn't always shining and the area was in shade when it did until late day.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Western Kingbird

I found this bird on October 20 here in East Jordan NS. This is the first time I've seen this species in several years. It is very similar to its Eastern cousin in habits but couldn't be more different in appearance with it's bright yellow belly and pale grey head and back. I checked again the following day but couldn't find it. I was hoping for better images but had to be satisfied with these.

When I first found the bird it was on the perch in the bottom photo which was a great spot for a photo but I couldn't get close enough. I was lucky to have the bird land close by for the top image but, typical for a Kingbird it landed on the top of the tree so I could only get a belly shot.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Red-eyed Vireo

This is our most common Vireo. The red eye is not obvious in this bird which may indicate that this bird is in its first year. These birds should be mostly gone by this date since they winter in South America. I took these shots on October 3 at Hemeon's Head. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Pectoral Sandpiper - Out of Hiding

This bird was part of a flock of several birds that were feeding/hiding in the grass at Matthew's Lake. I wasn't aware they were there until they jumped almost at my feet. Although I was surprised at the moment it happened I wasn't surprised that they were there in the location I found them. It's pretty typical habitat for them and I've found them in the same general location in past years.

This was my second attempt to get close enough for a photo, on the first try both the sandpipers and myself were startled when a Northern Harrier made a low pass flyover and the birds all jumped in unison. The bird in these photos slowly made it's way out of cover and allowed a clear shot before I left them in peace. October 1.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Another Juvenile

I found this bird feeding at the edge of Matthew's Lake on the first day of October.  I thought it was a Great Blue Heron at first from a distance but soon realised it was far too small and short-necked.  This species is fairly regular in Nova Scotia in the Fall but it's mostly juveniles that show up here.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Wood Duck Drake

There were still a few Wood Ducks in the pond I frequent up until late September. By the end of the month they had disappeared. The water levels were somewhat higher than they were earlier which makes it harder for them to feed and being migratory they do tend to head South around that time with a few lingering into late Fall and Winter.  September 23, East Jordan.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Preening Pileated

For a while in late Summer, early Fall I was seeing and hearing these birds almost everyday in the woods near home. Mostly hearing since they can be pretty vocal at times. It's not always easy to locate them in the dense woods since they are often in the tops of the highest trees or feeding on or near the ground.  Since I wasn't always in photography mode when they were around getting a chance to take a picture happened infrequently.  This bird was part of a group of three or four, two of which stayed in one place long enough to take a few pictures. They stayed high up in the pine trees and almost out of reach of my camera for acceptable photos but this is the first time I've actually witnessed one preening.  September 9, East Jordan.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Bobolink - Fall

   When you see these birds in the Fall it's hard to imagine that this can be the same species that you see in the Spring with their striking black, white and yellow plumage. The male resembles the Spring female this time of year which, if you didn't know might mistakenly think was a different species.

   Although it may look like the second shot is just a tighter crop of the first, the bird actually stayed in the same position for a few minutes as I moved closer. I couldn't decide which one I liked best so I posted both. The first shows a little more of the habitat that you typically find them in, open spaces in which they generally are found close to the ground.  September 8, near Matthew's Lake.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Red-necked Phalarope

I knew this bird growing up as the Northern Phalarope. The name was changed several years ago to its present name which goes some way to describe the bird when it's in breeding plumage. The bird seen here is in drab Winter plumage. This species spends most of its life at sea where it can be seen in large numbers in areas rich in marine life.  Occasionally after strong onshore winds batter the coast a few can be found in brackish ponds near the ocean. Since they rarely see people other than in fishing vessels they are often easily approached. This bird didn't seem very bothered by my presence. Sept. 4, Hemeon's Head NS.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

This is a species I hope to see every Fall but I am often not lucky enough to have the opportunity. This was the first time since 2012 that I managed to find one. Besides being relatively uncommon they are, in my opinion, one of the most attractive of our shorebirds. September 3, Matthew's Lake.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope - One of a Pair

This bird was one of a pair of Wilson's Phalaropes seen about a week after the earlier sighting of the lone individual. The other bird in the pair was an adult and wasn't as approachable. This is likely the same juvenile I photographed earlier although I can't say with any certainty. It was found in an area not far from the previous sighting but under different lighting conditions.  September 2, Matthew's Lake.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Black-bellied Plover

This species is quite variable in the plumage phases it exhibits when they arrive here during their migration South. I'm mostly guessing when I say that of the three birds shown here, two are juveniles and the other is a female moulting into Winter plumage. There are usually many birds that are sporting full breeding plumage (black breast and belly) but the ratio gets less as the season wears on. I'm not often lucky enough to get shots of the those birds. The bottom two shots are from September 2, the top is from mid August.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


 This was the first time I observed this species this year at the lake. They are always one of the last shorebirds to arrive after nesting in the high Arctic and one of the last to leave. This one is still sporting some of it's breeding plumage but will turn mostly grey and white later in the Fall if they haven't already. These were taken over a month ago.  September 2, Matthew's Lake.