Thursday 2 July 2015

Odds & Ends 27 June 2015

On Saturday 27 June 2015 visiting Mike Force (BC) and I did the Southern Avalon Loop. It could have easily been a mundane early summer trip but a little luck and taking our time turned it into a nice day of birding. Mike made stars out of common summer trash seeing things like his first breeding plumage Blackpoll Warblers in years and there were other eastern birds so common for us that I can't even remember what they were now.  

The calm overcast and cool weather made for excellent conditions of scanning over the barrens. The high vole population has brought in some nice summer mousers. We saw three Short-eared Owls, one Snowy Owl, a pair of Rough-legged Hawks and three Northern Harriers. Short-eared Owls have begun appearing everywhere starting in June. Where were they in April and May? How did they find out about the voles? No pictures of the owls this time.

I was happy Mike didn't mind taking time to photograph a pair of tame Horned Larks feeding on the side of the Cape Pine road. He was taking pictures too. There was hardly any yellow on their throats. Had they faded since spring? I am not really sure what our breeding Horned Larks should be like but in April the throats are brighter yellow but maybe those were migrates heading farther north.

The male of the pair of Horned Larks sported a nice rack of horns.

There was very little yellow in the face.  Was it yellower in spring when it arrived three months ago?  Did the southern Avalon winds blow the yellow away leaving a wind-blown washed out white face?.


The female had a speckled forecrown and less intense facial markings.

When trying to touch up the sharpening around the head of the female lark I accidentally used the cloning tool. Suddenly I had a second head and in a matter of seconds there was an identical twin female Horned Lark sneaking in the side of the picture.  

This is a bright yellow Horned Lark photographed at Cape St. Mary's in mid April 2014. It was very tame by the parking lot so thought to be one of the tourist-hardened Horned Larks that nest there.


While spending time with the Horned Lark we had one eye in the sky waiting for one of the Rough-legged Hawk pair known to be in the area to turn up. It happened. Didn't take long for it to catch a vole and head off to coast where it likely has a nest of chicks which by the way is the most southerly nest of Rough-legged Hawk in the world. They have nested here before. If you look close you can see the tail and one hind leg of the vole.

The most unusual sighting of the day was this duck.  A small bachelor group of teal at the community of St. Mary's held a Common Teal.  I've seen lone drakes in late May on the Avalon that likely inseminated a local teal but this was the first in June that I am aware of for Newfoundland.  So far hybrid Green-winged X Common Teal are quite rare. I have seen just three over time in Newfoundland but two of those were at Lundrigans Marsh in St. John's during June 2015.  


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  2. Bruce, I check out your blog all the time & was excited to see that it looks like Tropical Storm Claudette is headed right to where your area. I was curious if this might bring in some interesting birds to your area that typically stay further out at sea? The strongest winds look like they'll set up right along the Avalon Peninsula if it maintains its track.


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