Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bulletin #154 - Spring Migration #3

Well it is over for another year and what a strange spring it was. I never saw even one example of some fairly common species such as Yellow-throated, Canada, and Nashville Warblers.
Three other species I saw only Tuesday May 8th after a rain.
There were reports all last week of Black-throasted Blue and Cape May Warblers at LaFitte's Cove. These are both very uncommon, but I missed them again this year, the Black-throated Blue by only 5 minutes on Friday 4th:(
However, there are always birds to photograph and the Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)provided my best photos ever of this species. This black and white male has a solid black crown with white cheeks. However, the notable feature is the orange legs.

Blackpoll Warbler - male
The female is black and white with a yellowish wash below. However, notice that she has the same color legs and this is the ID mark. I think this is the first time I have ever seen a female of this species.
Blackpoll Warbler - female
The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) is a brown backed ground, dwelling warbler with a striped head and central orange stripe. It has a streaked breast and might be confused with a thrush, but it is much smaller. It is named for its nest that is built on the ground and resembles an oven. It is not named for its taste.

The male Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea) has a brown cap, throat and flanks. The face is black as are the wings with 2 white bars. He has an insect in his mouth in this picture.

Bay-breasted Warbler - breeding male
The Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) is a brown-backed thrush with spotted breast and no eye-ring. The lack of eye-ring distinguishes this bird from the similar Swainson's Thrush. The sexes are similar.
Gray-cheeked Thrush
An unusual photo was this Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). Shrikes, as you know, capture insects, small reptiles etc and impale them on thorns or barbed wire to store them until eaten later. Normally, they are skittish, but this one flew onto a dead snag 15 feet from me and allowed a single photo before leaving. An important field mark of all shrikes is the heavy hooked beak. Here is a photo of the business end of this bird.
Loggerhead Shrike - detail
On May 8th at LaFitte's Cove, another birder told me there was a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) in the oak tree by the bench, above the drip. It was 8pm and had been raining a little. I found the owl, and as luck would have it, the flash was dead. I turned it off for a moment and luckily it recharged or dried out and I got a couple of flash shots. His ear tufts are in disarray due to the rain (looks like a punk haircut). Here is a frontal view.

Great Horned Owl
And here is the back of the bird.

Great Horned Owl
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2012 David McDonald

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