Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fox Sparrow

Another in a series of sunny fantastic fall days brought a fox sparrow to the yard.

fox sparrow comes up hill

He first appeared on the edge of the garden, under the rhododendron, right next to the bird bath.

fox sparrow near bath

He came uphill towards the seed feeder, and stayed around quite a while, feeding on the ground.

fox sparrow with leaves

They are a beautiful rusty red, with grey on the face and neck.  Look how he blends with the fall leaves.

fox sparrow another angle

I took pictures from all angles to be sure to capture his best side!

fox sparrow back

They are larger than your average sparrow.  His size, in addition to his coloring, clued me in that we had a new visitor.  Notice too in the picture further down that he has a clump of a spot on his breast, similar to what a song sparrow has.

fox sparrow looking good

Hadn't seen one in the yard since early last spring.  Hope to see many more over the winter.

fox sparrow front view

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fantastic Fall Weekend

Under the weather here on the Edge, but nonetheless a fantastic weekend.  How could it be otherwise with fall in full bloom?  Took the opportunity to take a few pictures of the "regulars" in their fall surroundings.

mourning doves in pine needles

Not much new to report. The mockingbird still sings much of the day in our cherry tree; I have continued to hear the Carolina wren and chickadees singing. Also thought I heard a white throated sparrow singing weakly.

house sparrow in fall colors

I've been scanning the yard, checking out all the small birds, in the hopes of seeing a pine sisken or red breasted nuthatch.  Two years ago had many red breasted nuthatches; have heard they are around this year but have not seen.  Have never seen a pine sisken in the yard, so I'm hoping to see one of those as well!  No luck this weekend.

mourning doves lounging in tree at day's end

The doves moved up to their favorite tree at the end of the day.  A quiet close to a beauty weekend.

Happy Monday - Cheerily

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beautiful Day for Juncos

It was a fantastic fall New England day out there today, a beautiful day for all of us, including Dark-Eyed Juncos.

dark-eyed junco in the leaves

I got out there mid morning to take some pictures.  There were only a couple of juncos around, but the weather and scenery were so nice, I stayed for a while to see what I'd get.  The juncos move around so much so quickly these days it's tough to get a good shot.  I got a few of this one.  He started out on the lawn amongst all the unraked leaves, hopping along between pecks at the ground.

dark-eyed junco in apple tree

Then he flew up into a crab apple tree.  Happily he sat on this branch for a few minutes.  I was pleasantly surprised, he spread his wings unexpectedly when I happened to be clicking the camera.

dark-eyed junco spreads his wings

Then he perched and looked out towards me, his beak opened in sound I couldn't hear.  I loved seeing the many faces of this bird today.

dark-eyed junco speaks

In other news, we had a mocking bird singing in our pin cherry tree all day today; he sang long and loud for hours.  He would fly away after a while, then come back after a few minutes and start up again.

It's interesting to notice which birds are singing this time of year.  I am marking, October 17, 2012 - mockingbird.

Another bird's singing I'm curious about is the chickadee.  I heard a chickadee singing today too, October 17.

Enjoy the evening - Cheerily

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Look at a Northern Flicker

Walking across the lawn of late I notice holes and divets all over the place.  Every time I look out the window, birds are everywhere on the grass, mostly in groups, poking at the grass, hopping, poking some more.

northern flicker

One of these today was another Northern Flicker.  I posted pictures of flickers on September 30.  Both of those were male flickers; you can tell because they have a black malar, the area that goes down and back off the base of the beak.  The female flicker does not have this.

northern flicker pokes at lawn

This one today was a female.  What I thought interesting is that looking at her from a distance, with the naked eye, I could not see that she had a red patch on her neck.  Both sexes have this patch.  My friend Hannah was discussing this with me the other day, telling me she saw flickers in her yard that didn't have the red patch.

Northern Flicker face in grass

I thought I'd post a few pictures of this bird because, as you can see, the red doesn't cover a large area, and depending on how far away you are, or what angle the bird is holding her head, you may not see the red.  I was looking at her from about thirty feet away.

Northern Flicker takes a break

Frankly I was looking for an excuse to post more flicker pictures! 

Northern Flicker view of head

Nevertheless, every time I put camera or binoculars to a flicker, I am reminded, being closer does allow us to see more.  These birds can look a dull brown or gray from afar; up close they amazing.

Northern Flicker looking good

Enjoy the eve - Cheerily

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Frosty October

We had our first frost warning of the year last night; we spent the afternoon saving our plants, bringing some inside, covering others.  Luckily a rainy morning turned into a sunny afternoon, so we had some weather to work with.

While it rained in the morning we watched the birds for a while.  They were flying in and out of the yard somewhat frantically.  We saw lots of the birds dominating the yard of late - many chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and mourning doves.  We saw a couple of male cardinals chasing each other.

The most noteworthy sighting was the handful of juncos we saw on the ground by the edge of our rhododendron garden.  So nice to see them again, they are such a happy beautiful bird of winter.  I snapped a few shots but didn't get any worth putting up.  Many more chances to come in the coming months.

The highlight of the bird day though was seeing a bunch of blue jays fly wildly around the yard in the sunny afternoon.  I took several pictures of them.

blue jays together in apple tree

I can't help it, I love blue jays, I've mentioned that on this blog before.  I think I could have a blog dedicated just to them!

blue jays side by side

They do the darndest things, and they make the oddest noises.

blue jay amongst the leaves

Just when I think I've noted all the sounds they make, I hear something new come out of their beaks!  They were making the common "jay" call people are so familiar with, but they were also making soft squeaking mewling sounds.

blue jay on the grass

They chased each other about, flew in and out and in and out again, hopped together and hopped apart, then finally all flew away.

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Thursday, October 11, 2012

American Goldfinches, Welcome Back!

Happy Second Week of October!  It finally feels like fall around here, cold, wet, with leaves falling all over the place.

american goldfinches

The other day was one of the first cool days.  I noticed things felt a little different in the yard.  There was a hint of cold weather hysteria (ok, maybe that was emanating from me!!)

american goldfinches on feeder tray

Last year we had tons of goldfinches around all summer.  For some reason this year, we hardly had any.  I would see one every now and then, but never more than one or two, and they wouldn't hang around very long.

more american goldfinches on feeder tray

So I was pleasantly surprised to see a flock of small birds start flying in and out of the feeder.

even more american goldfinches

They were all American Goldfinches.  A bunch of them made themselves at home on the feeder tray.

american goldfinches eating seeds

This time of year the goldfinches are a duller yellow color, almost an olive or brown.

and more american goldfinches

I don't know where they've been all summer, or why they chose to come back now, but they were enthusiastic and excited about eating black oil sunflower seed!

american goldfinches up close

They stayed for about fifteen minutes.

american goldfinches crowding on tray

A couple of stray finches jumped on the tray with them.  Not sure what that brown backed bird is above, probably a house finch.

american goldfinches one at window

Was fun to watch these guys, an unexpected fall pleasure.  They seemed to have a good time too!

american goldfinch with seed

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wrapping up Warblers

About time to wrap up September, well into October!  We saw several more warblers, and maybe a vireo or two, here and there, and we tried to capture them in pictures, but for the most part, these are the last two decent images we got.  The other birds are happy memories, no pictures this year!

yellow rumped warbler
First a yellow rumped warbler.  Out and about, away from "the Edge", I've seen bunches of these this fall.  The few times I've seen in or near the yard they've been high in trees pretty far off, too far for a good picture with my camera.   This one did come closer and I got a better shot.

black throated green warbler
The other warbler that I saw in the yard, I'd seen here last year; no luck with getting a very good picture as they don't stay still for very long.  This picture at least I like because I can see the features of the bird even though I didn't get the lighting right.

Saw quite a few of these over the spring and summer out hiking.  Had the pleasure of seeing several sing in the spring up close in the woods, again, away from "the Edge".  Here in the yard, I've only seen them flitting about.  It's always a pleasure to see such a beautiful bird.

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oops, Wrong Bird: Blackpoll Warbler

Once again going through recent pictures, trying to put together a few good ones of the migrant birds from September.  One of the birds I saw the most was a yellowish bird with white wingbars.  I knew this time of year, birds no longer have the bright breeding plumage of spring, and might in fact look quite different from a typical picture in a guide book.

That said, these yellow birds, I became convinced, were pine warblers.  Pine warblers have the yellow color, they have the white wingbars.

As I worked on this post, a nagging thought told me to remember the fall plumage differences, and to double check if there are any similar looking birds this time of year.  I remembered last time I studied warblers, I noticed many of the female birds looked yellowish, especially in fall; some of the corresponding male birds looked completely different, maybe not yellow at all.  Since most of the time, especially when we are not very familiar with a species, we visualize the male breeding plumage, I knew I might be missing a female and/or fall yellow bird.

Good thing I checked.  As I did, I also was glancing back at the pictures, and I looked at this one.  And something stood out - orange feet!

blackpoll warbler

A little more research and I had a new bird.  The pine warbler's feet are not orange, but the blackpoll warbler's feet are.  I never suspected the blackpoll warbler; the male breeding plumage is black and white, so it never occured to me that a female bird in fall would look like this.

The other big clue that I just missed for so long is the marking pattern on the back of this bird.  The pine warbler has an unmarked upper back; this bird you can clearly see has some dark back markings.

The eye area has another clue.  The dark shadow of a line behind the eye - the female blackpoll has this marking.

blackpoll warbler in flowering dogwood

Ok, so I guess all along there were lots of clues!

I love this picture above of the blackpoll warbler in the flowering dogwood.  At least I think it's a flowering dogwood....don't start me on trees!

This picture in the dogwood makes me happy.  I love the colors.  Something about it just raises my spirits.

Enjoy the weekend - Cheerily

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Purple Finches in September

Last spring, I finally saw a purple finch in the yard.  I say finally because for months I looked for one amongst all the many house finches that visited.

purple finch on the feeder

When at last we saw a male, we wondered if he was just passing through, but we continued to see him into summer.  We also saw a female or two around.  One day I was scanning trees and saw the female sitting silently in a white pine.  As summer passed, we saw less and less of the purple finches.

purple finch front view

I have seen so many house finches perched in the yard trees, but the purple finches, other than that one female I saw in the pine, I've only seen at the feeder.  They like the house finches tend to sit at the feeder a while, as opposed to the chickadees and titmice who fly in and fly out quickly.

two purple finches with chickadee and cardinal

Earlier in September, on the 11th and 12th, we had a bunch of female and/or immature purple finches visit.  I noticed them because I glanced at the feeder and saw a bunch of birds "hanging out" all together.  Turns out along with the chickadees and the cardinals we had several purple finches.

two purple finches with cardinal

Then at the end of September, I finally saw a male again.  Sitting right in the feeder tray, eating away.

male purple finch from behind

I must say I haven't taken too many "flattering" shots of the male purple finches.  They always seem to be stuffing their beaks when I see them.

purple finch view of face

Right before writing this entry, I looked out the window, and there in the tray again was the male purple finch.  Hopefully will continue to see these finches into the winter, and hopefully on occasion will see them perches in trees, instead of sitting on the feeder.

purple finch one last view

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Probably a Parula

A gloomy early October day here.  The past few days, I've had a wake up call - a Carolina wren has been singing outside my window first thing in the morning.  The Carolina wren song to some sounds like "teakettle teakettle", but to me of late, it's "timegetup timegetup".  My thanks to my friend Hannah for sending the wren over from her yard, I've very much appreciated!

Continuing to wrap up September entries....during mid month, for three days, I saw this bird.  I saw a couple of him or her last year as well.  I think it's a Northern Parula.

northern parula hides in leaves

Took me a while to realize that's what this bird is.  If you look up a picture of a Northern Parula, the picture of the male shows a much darker bird, more of a dark blue or gray, whereas the blue of this one, obviously, is much paler.

northern parula

I'm assuming this one is a female.  The female bird is paler.  It might also be an immature bird.

northern parula from the back

The above picture show the bright yellow olive patch on this bird's back.  Also see below, the yellow on the front throat.  Another characteristic that made it for me, is the pair of white crescents above and below the dark eye.

northern parula sitting pretty

As I've done with other birds, had to show this bird likes another tree too!  Plus, you can see in next picture, on the front chest, a darker crescent cutting across the yellow.  The male has that dark band across the front, so maybe this bird after all is a young male.

northern parula coming out of pignut tree

It was nice seeing this bird again.  The very first time I saw a Northern Parula was a couple of years ago when one hit our window and lay stunned on our deck for an hour.  At that time I got a great up close look through a window.  Was so glad when the little guy finally stood up and flew away!

Enjoy the evening - Cheerily