2 Greater White-fronted Geese, 2 Snow Geese, and 2 Canada Geese all foraging together on a local ballfield. Both Greater White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese are rarities here on Cape Cod, so to get such an unusual conglomeration of all 3 Goose species was quite the treat the other morning. Canada Geese are common year-round birds here…Snow Geese, while unusual on Cape Cod, are not completely unheard of…White-fronted Geese, however, are very rare for this area. I didn’t approach the Geese too closely, because I didn’t wan’t to scare them away, so photographs were distant…but this rare grouping of birds was still fun to capture.
This lovely Canada Warbler had the lucky distinction of being my 400th life bird! I was lucky to get some looks at this awesome bird the other morning…he was one of the last few warblers I hadn’t seen yet. I’m not sure how long it will take before I reach 500, but this milestone feels great…I can’t wait to see more!
In their normal range, Tricolored Herons aren’t all that uncommon, but here in Massachusetts, they are tough to come by…there may be one, or two appearances a year during migration season. I have seen Tricolored Herons before in Florida, so this wasn’t a life bird, but it was a new state bird for me. As their name suggests, Tricolored Herons are multicolored in shades of blue, white, and red. Fortunately, this heron decided to make a stop in a marsh very close to where I live, so I didn’t have to go far to catch a glimpse and get some pictures!
American Woodcocks are strange, secretive birds. The males come out at dusk in springtime to sing and dance for the ladies..They bob up and down, fly around, and make loud, nasal “peeent!” noises. I photographed this one at the edge of the local Walmart parking lot of all places. It’s an odd location to see such an interesting bird, but it lies adjacent to their preferred wet, swampy habitat. The ambient light from the parking lot let me get close enough to get a snap of this one.
Hoary Redpoll – Woods Hole, MA – 3/21/15
A very rare bird for these parts, Hoary Redpolls breed on the Arctic tundra, and generally live in northern Canada in small numbers among flocks of Common Redpolls. They are distinguished from Common Redpolls by the lack of streaking under the tail, minimal streaking on the flanks, a pale, frosty overall color, and a short, stubby bill. This one showed up at my feeder in Woods Hole last week for a couple days and was life bird #397 for me! What a treat!
Peregrine Falcons are the fastest birds in the world…they have been clocked at 175 mph! This Peregrine Falcon has been hanging out on the MBL Lille Building in Woods Hole. Tall buildings are perfect artificial cliff faces for Falcons to dive from, so they often set up shop on these high ledges. In serendipitous fashion, this building is right across the street from a statue dedicated to Rachel Carson, the woman responsible for helping to ban DDT…the pesticide which put Peregrine Falcon’s on the endangered species list. Perhaps this Falcon wishes to give thanks to Carson for saving its life! Maybe it wants to learn some science at the MBL…or maybe this is just an awesome spot from which to hunt!
Common Redpolls are nomadic, and their numbers vary from year to year…here where I live they only show up once every few years…this winter happens to be one of those years that they are around, and they finally started coming to my feeders. I didn’t see any last year, so it was exciting to get some new visitors this year. Redpolls are a small finch with a bright red cap and a small yellow beak. I got some snaps of one of the more rosy-colored males despite the dim, drizzly weather…
As of Today, December 24th, I have seen 247 bird species in Barnstable County, MA in 2014. I got married this year, and had a full time job, and still managed to put up a pretty good number! I did not expect to see so many…and there have definitely been a few challenges, and near-misses. I still have the next week to fill out the list and perhaps hit 250, but most of the remaining birds can be tough to find. I’ve been putting together a list of potential remaining birds for the year…some are more likely than others
…Some target species I need, and can still get with a little luck are:
Among the highlights of the year, all of which were lifers:
-Cape May Warbler
Among the near-misses that eluded me despite my efforts:
I don’t usually spend too much time taking pictures of birds at my feeders, but this was a cool moment outside my window I was happy to see. A Hairy Woodpecker, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker came to one of my suets at the same time and made for an excellent two-for-one shot. Hairy Woodpeckers are practically identical to the abundant Downy Woodpecker, but they are slightly larger and have a bigger bill. In this case, the Red-bellied was more aggressive, and pushed the Hairy away for position on the suet.