Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Willow Flycatchers - in the Sault!

And at one of my patches no less!

Since it was nice out today, I decided to head down to the Locks after work to look for some butterflies, as I had been down there on Sunday but didn't see much due to the cool weather and clouds. The butterflies weren't cooperating today either but while I was wandering through the overgrown field at the east end I heard a flycatcher 'whit' call. My first thought was "hmm that really sounds like a Willow...", so I checked it out. I got a brief look at the bird from a pretty good distance (didn't have my binoculars, just my camera!) and then spent the next few minutes playing hide-and-seek with it constantly calling before I finally found it, sitting not 15 feet in front of me, low in a shrub. Willow Flycatcher!!! It was carrying food too, and as I stood there I heard a second bird. They seemed pretty attached to a certain shrub and I suspect there is a nest in there somewhere, but I didn't want to disturb them any more than I already had so I made a quick sound recording (on my new phone - old phone couldn't do such things!) and left.

Willow Flycatcher is a rare breeder in the area, probably less than annual, although it has been seen more frequently in recent years. I only got my first one for the Sault last year, and that was just a few calls at night, so I didn't actually see the bird. This was also my 204th species for the 'Locks' area (Whitefish and South St. Mary's Island), which has a total combined list of about 220-225 species. On the second atlas it was listed as a 'possible' breeder, so I'm not sure if breeding has been confirmed in Algoma before??? Anyone??

Adult with food

The second adult, both were giving incessant 'whit' calls but didn't sing - might have to go back in the early morning for that.

Link to sound recording: https://soundcloud.com/david-bell-64/wifljul302013 (you might have to turn up the volume).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pelee finale(?)... who knows

Well here it is, possibly the grand finale... I may go back at some point and edit more pics but here's what I've gotten out of my time at Pelee for the current year! Decided not to drag it out any longer as I have a few other posts I want to make before I head out! (more on that in a later post too).

Finally got a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher to sit still!

Young Northern Watersnake

One of several Grasshopper Sparrows

A fairly tame Hooded Warbler gave many photographers some great opportunities, unfortunately my camera was still set up for taking horrible photos of reverse migrants so this is the best I got!

One of the multitudes of terns at the tip (Common)

A pair of Little Gulls put in near-daily appearances, to the delight of many birders

Bonaparte's Gulls were a constant theme as well, providing some relief from the quiet periods at the tip

Pelee Warblers - gotta love 'em! (Chestnut-sided)

All three scoter species in one pic

A Killdeer that Barb and I came across trying to defend its nest - we spent about a minute after this trying to find the nest, little did I realize I'd already photographed it!

Blue-winged Warbler hanging upside-down

American Lady

Brandon, Josh and I did the East Beach walk of death, and not surprisingly found more dead birds than live ones, but these Red-breasted Mergansers beat the odds and put on a good show

The tip on a NW wind - dead calm on one side, crazy on the other!

White-crowned Sparrow that a certain someone 'had no time for'

Blackburnian fight!

This would've been good if people didn't throw so much trash in the lake...

Since the swallows were all sitting on the beach, I took advantage of it and crawled up to them on my belly - they didn't seem to care if I sat still enough and usually came even closer! (Cliff Swallow)

Bank Swallow

Barn Swallow

Tree Swallow

Cliff again

The tip was absolutely loaded with Common Terns one morning - bonus points if you can spot the Piping Plover

One of the only decent flight shots of swallows I got - I mostly like this for the shadow

This isn't a great shot but I think it's cool that you can see the bug the swallow is going after!

Later in the day the Eastern Kingbirds joined the swallows on the beach

A Pelee post wouldn't be complete without a Scarlet Tanager photo

Eastern Whip-poor-Will that Brandon's dad found one morning

Pelee's second-last going-away present, a singing male Cerulean Warbler - not the first I've seen, or even the first for the trip (I think it was the fourth or fifth), but the first I've ever photographed!

Pelee's last present was a Yellow-throated Warbler, literally as we were driving out of the park. I didn't get any photos but it was my 37th species of warbler for the two weeks (in May) in the park!!! I got my 38th warbler for the year (Connecticut) a few weeks later in Petawawa. Maybe there will be a November mega for me to chase when I'm home to make 39???

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pelee pt 15 - FOTE PHOT (o shoot)

Toward the end of my stay at Pelee there was a bit of a cold snap, which resulted in hundreds of swallows sitting on the beach, picking little beetles out of the sand and generally looking unhappy. With the little bit of warmth in the afternoon they started flying around, providing an opportunity to try out some swallow flight photography. Unfortunately the light was pretty terrible and there wasn't much that came out of that, but I'll probably put a few of these pics in a later post.

What did come out of my time spent failing at swallows in flight (as usual) was the opportunity to photograph some Forster's Terns that were diving into schools of little fish just offshore! My aim of this was to get a shot of a tern just as it entered the water, and after about 400 photos I did not succeed! I did however get to spend some time up close with these birds and got a few interesting shots!

I have a few photos like this, just a fraction of a second late for what I wanted!

In addition to the 'splashes with birds in the background' I also have a series of 'splashes with no birds', but I doubt anyone wants to see those!

Most of them were successful in catching lunch!

My original strategy was to aim at the point on the water where I thought they'd hit, and then burst fire when they were diving. After a while I gave up on that and tried to follow them through their dive, which didn't give me any better luck but resulted in a completely different set of images!

I think this would have been the money shot but unfortunately the bill got cut off...maybe next time!