This morning I was treated to an unexpected life bird! A couple Lapland Longspurs were foraging on the ground near some Savannah Sparrows. At first I was unsure of the ID, but I was sure it was a bird I had not seen before. After consulting the field guide, I realized the birds were Lapland Longspurs. Luckily, I was able to get some great close shots of this female.
This morning was an awesome morning for birding…the bird of the day was probably this Yellow-breasted Chat. The largest of all warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat’s aren’t just hard to come by…they are also very secretive, making them a tough bird to spot. This was probably the best look I have ever had at one of these stubborn birds…although it stayed pretty hidden in the thicket, I was still able to grab some good photos when it showed it’s face briefly. The Chat had been eating red berries, and had berry juice all over its face.
I have been trying to see an American Bittern for a while now with no luck whatsoever. This morning, my wife and I took a trip out to Fort Hill in Eastham, MA specifically to see a Bittern, and our efforts finally paid off! We saw a couple Bitterns within 15 minutes of arriving at the marsh, and I even got a great close-up photo opportunity with this one as we were leaving. Bitterns are notoriously difficult to spot…they are extremely well camouflaged in tall grasses. Usually, Bitterns are only seen at very high tide when the rising waters force them to relocate to a shallower location…we timed our visit perfectly today, arriving just as the tide was coming in. I would have been happy just to come away with a Bittern sighting, but I was lucky, and I was able to snag some great photos too! Overall, today was a huge success! Life bird #270!
I have been seeing Purple Finches every day this month, but until this morning I have only been seeing females. Today I finally got some looks at a colorful male stuffing his face with berries. It has been said that male Purple Finches look as though they were dipped head first in raspberry jam…they really do come in a stunning rosy color. I was able to catch a few good photos of this guy before he took off too…
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are the least common woodpecker in my area…they are an uncommon sight, so it is great to catch a glimpse of one now and then. October is a good time of year to see one as they move south for the winter. I saw this Sapsucker on my walk the other morning…it is a patchy juvenile bird with very little color, but I will take what I can get!
October is the only time I get to see Orange-crowned Warblers on Cape Cod…they are one of the last migratory birds to pass through during fall. In most areas, Orange-crowned Warblers are tough to see at any time, so it is nice to pick up a few looks at them while I can…I have already seen 2 this week. This morning the weather was dark, and light was low, but I managed to snap this photo of a first-year Orange-crowned Warbler. It is a drab bird overall, but the identifying marks are the grayish head, broken white eye ring, sharp bill, unmarked tail and yellowish undertail coverts. A fun bird to see!
I usually hear, and/or see two or three Flickers every day…they are fairly common, and easily recognized. Despite their regularity, I am always happy to see them because they are one of our most boldly-patterned birds…they are quite nice to look at. Because we do not get Pileated Woodpeckers on Cape Cod, Northern Flickers are also the largest Woodpeckers I see in my area. Here in the Northeast, we get the “yellow-shafted” race of Flicker…this photo I took the other day clearly displays the yellow coloring under the tail feathers.
In the Northeast, our only winter warbler is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. We call these birds “Butter-Butts” because the abundant first-year birds have bright yellow patches on their rumps. They are very common near water, so here on Cape Cod, Yellow-rumps are seemingly everywhere this time of year. I was swarmed by dozens of them the other day and snapped this photo which clearly displays the yellow rump of a hatch-year female.
Purple Finches have migrated into the area this season. They are far less common than House Finches, and their numbers vary from year to year. I snapped this female the other morning gleaming berries from the top of a tree. Although she doesn’t have the beautiful rosy feathers of the male, it is still nice to catch a glimpse of one while they are around.