Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bulletin 207 - fall birds

I have found some interesting birds the past few weekends. As you may recall, several months ago I featured the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) in both male and female plumages. They are very common at Anahuac NWR and one can easily see a dozen or more. In the Sibley bird guide, he also shows a juvenile plumaged bird which he lists as being found from July to September. He didn't point out the differences, and I studied the photos for a long time before I saw that the juvenile has white tips on the primary wing feathers. So I looked for a juvie at Anahuac and never saw one.

On Oct 12, I found this bird at LaFitte's Cove on Galveston. He has the white tips!

Common Nighthawk - juvenile
Another juvie was a male Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon). These birds tend to be skittish and when you try to approach them for a photo, they fly away. I saw this one on a post in a canal and stopped the car and took the photo out the window. The juveniles have a mahogany brown breast band, that gradually molts to blue the first fall. This one is partially molted.

Belted Kingfisher - juvenile male
One of the rarer warblers in Houston is the Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia). I have probably seen it fewer than 5 times in 25 years here. I got my only photos in Michigan last summer. Here is a first winter plumaged bird at LaFitte's Cove on Oct 19th. Because it was the first juvenile plumaged bird, I wasn't sure what the ID was. Several experts confirmed it. The grayish hood is discernible and along with the dark breast band points to either Mourning or Connecticut, but the yellow throat is the field mark for Mourning.

Mourning warbler - 1st winter
The black streaky breast band is seen better in this photo. There is also a partial white eye ring which is lacking in the adults to add to the confusion. This is the first juvenile I have ever seen, and without a photo to review afterwards, I would not have known which bird it was.

Mourning warbler - 1st winter

Another juvenile was a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) who flew in and landed overhead at LaFitte's Cove. He was so close, I couldn't get the whole bird in the photo.

Cooper's Hawk - juvenile
 The last photo is of a skink I saw at the drip in Lafitte's Cove. It is a Broad-headed Skink juvenile. It is very colorful with orange head and blue and purple tail. The ID was made by a Texas reptile expert. When birds are slow, I photo other nature. This was a life reptile for me.

Broad-headed Skink - juvenile
 Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

Lisa Kelly-McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2014 David McDonald & Lisa Kelly-McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


No comments: