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.
I always like to see male/female bird pairs next to each other…especially ducks. It makes for a nice image, and also shows the species plumage as a whole. Buffleheads are undoubtedly the cutest ducks…they are diminutive, but the striking white males have a beautiful iridescent rainbow sheen on their heads that shines when the light hits them at the right angle. I got a nice low-angle look and picture of this pair the other day.
I can always appreciate Crows when I see them. The detail in an entirely black bird can be hard to see, but when the light hits a Crow just right, they have a vibrant sheen that really sets them off. Crows, and Ravens are also up there with the most intelligent species…they can recognize human faces in a crowd, and they have demonstrated problem-solving abilities that rival those of most human children. Crows are also very social birds, and are often seen in groups. These groups can be very domineering and aggressive, so it is not uncommon to see, or hear a pack of Crows mobbing a predator in a demonstration of their strength in numbers.
Last week I posted a blog about how difficult kinglets are to photograph…I was pretty happy with the photo I had, but this one from the other day is definitely my best one yet. The biggest challenge is to get a clear photo of the bird that also displays the golden crown. Kinglets are so quick and restless, it is almost impossible to get them to sit still…I am glad I caught this guy with his crown exposed.
Last week this female Indigo Bunting showed up at my feeders during a snowstorm, and she has been present ever since. These are really neat birds to see under any circumstances, but to see one in the snow, in my yard, in Massachusetts, in December is a very rare treat! I don’t know why this bird is this far North this late in the year, but I assume she will stick around as long as I keep putting food out. Although she is not a brilliant shade of blue like a male, you can still see hints of blue on her tail and on her flanks…if it were not for these highlights, it would be very difficult to ID this bird, especially because she is such an unexpected visitor.
Cardinals are extremely photogenic. They may be common, but Its hard to ignore their striking red plumage…even the subtler females are gorgeous. Cardinals are not migratory, so the Cardinals in your yard in winter are often the same ones you saw in the summer. I could take photos of these beauties all day…here is a nice one from the other day 🙂