Bathing Dunlin

QUICK POST: Family obligations pretty much kept me out of commission this weekend birding-wise, so I have nothing to post from the weekend. However,  I’ve been wanting to post this bathing Dunlin since I photographed it a couple of weeks ago out at Glenmere Lake. I’ve always liked bird images with water, particularly with splashing, spraying, or flowing water. I’ve tried to photograph bathing birds before, but usually the results are just not that great. I found these shots interesting and I hope you enjoy this glimpse of Dunlin behavior.

Interesting Pelagic, 11/04/18

~Great Shearwater at the end of a long day on the water, See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip 11/04/18.~

I would venture to say that See Life Paulagics‘ November 4th trip out of Brooklyn was not among their most productive in terms of seeing target birds. Unfortunately, it just comes with the territory. In spite of doing all the right things to find and attract birds, some days are just going to be  better than others. Of the target species listed for the trip (Red Phalarope, Manx, Cory’s and Great Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar, Pomarine Jaeger, and  Great Skua), we only saw Manx and Great Shearwaters. We did have all the expected gulls, scoters, and many Northern Gannets in every type of plumage you can imagine (they put on a real show, see below). Other good birds included: Black-legged Kittiwake (3-4), Lesser Black-backed Gull (3), Parasitic Jaeger (3), Bonaparte’s Gull (35+), and what I believe they eventually identified as Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (1 or 2). The Wilson’s Storm-Petrel was apparently a good find; they should have left the area by this time of year.

~Northern Gannet up close and personal. These trips provide a great look at this bird – it’s really a treat. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 

One of the more interesting things about the trip was the unbelievably large number of passerines we saw out there. By my count, we had at least 13 species of songbirds: Dark-eyed Junco, Purple Finch, Marsh Wren, Winter Wren, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, American Robin, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, and Pine Siskin! Add to that two bats! Apparently Saturday’s strong west winds blew many birds off course. The Paulagics crew came prepared for it, however. They brought two potted plants, some loose brush cuttings, plenty of bird seed, and water dishes. Some of the songbirds landed on the boat for a rest and to hopefully refuel. Unfortunately, others seemed too intimidated by all the humans on-board and would not land, or if they did it was only briefly. The Dark-eyed Junco made itself at home on the boat. When it landed, it was in dire straits. But after getting some water and food it was up and about, always under foot so you had to be very careful not to step on it. A Brown-headed Cowbird joined it; they both stayed for the duration, only flying once we were on land again. For me, it was sad to see these passerines out of their element and in potential peril, but it was also sweet to be able to help a few of them.

~Crazy shot of a Red-winged Blackbird out at sea. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~

Later in the afternoon, we came across a large group of Northern Gannets actively feeding. It was pretty incredible to watch them diving repeatedly into one relatively small area. Then, the first whale appeared and then the Common Dolphins became apparent. In all there were two Humpback Whales and who-knows-how-many Common Dolphins. The dolphins were curious and spent much time swimming alongside the boat. It was a pretty incredible show to watch, but one that I found difficult to photograph. Part of my problem is that I didn’t know where to look – there was so much going on all around the boat. I tried to document it for a bit, but then stopped and just enjoyed the show. In my opinion, between the gannets and the cetaceans, this show saved the pelagic. As expected, the trip offered plenty of photo ops, so enjoy the pics.

~Great Shearwaters were, in my opinion, the best bird/photo op combination of the trip. Nice looking bird and we had a good number of them around the boat at any given time. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~What a treat to watch these dudes. NOGA in flight low over the water, See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~I was having a hard time with this bird. We had at least a couple first winter Lesser Black-backed Gulls during the day. Once I lost it in the flock of gulls following the boat, it was hard for me to pick it  out again without help. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~Common Dolphins! Looks like and adult and a young dolphin to me. This photo has a strange quality to me – I’m not sure why, but it almost seems like the dolphins were pasted there.  See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~Northern Gannet going down for a bite to eat. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04//18.~
~Now this bird will fly very close to the water, navigating flawlessly. Great Shearwater during See Life Paulagics’ Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~
~Northern Gannets! This was awesome to watch! See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~
~NOGA contemplating a dive. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~Lesser Black-backed Gull on the water. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~A mix of Surf and Black Scoters in flight. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~
~This was one smart junco, he/she knew a good thing – plenty of food and water AND a free trip back to land! Hard to beat that. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~I really didn’t get any good whale shots, but I had to include at least one. See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 
~LIFER! I was happy to get at least a documentary shot of this bird – MANX SHEARWATER during See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip, 11/04/18.~ 

A Word About Cattle Egrets

~Eastern Cattle Egret in Taiwan, breeding plumage. Photo by Bill Fiero.~

It’s going to take me a couple of days to go through and edit my photos from yesterday’s pelagic trip to the Huson Canyon, out of Brooklyn, NY. The trip proved to be interesting in ways I don’t think most of you would imagine, so stay tuned, I should post in the next few days. Meanwhile, with perfect timing, Bill Fiero has contributed yet another excellent post. I personally can’t get over how beautiful the Eastern Cattle Egret in breeding plumage is – great shot Bill and thanks for the post. -Matt

A Word About Cattle Egrets – By Bill Fiero

Cattle Egrets have undergone an extremely rapid and wide ranging expansion in the last century or so; originally found in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia, at the end of the 19th century it was found in Souther Africa, and now occurs virtually worldwide, first being observed in North America in 1941. 

The Eastern and Western populations have been recently split by some taxonomic systems as ‘Western” (Bubulcus ibis) and ‘Eastern’ (Bubulcus coromandus). They are very similar in appearance, but different enough to be considered separate species. 

Here are pictures of both; the now famous ‘Western’ Cattle Egret found by  Matt at the Liberty Loop, and the ‘Eastern’ species that I took in Sri Lanka; both are shown in non-breeding plumage. At the top of the page is a shot of the Eastern species in breeding plumage. 

~Eastern Cattle Egret in Sri Lanka, non-breeding plumage. Photo by Bill Fiero. ~
~Western Cattle Egret at the Liberty Loop, non-breeding plumage. Photo by Bill Fiero.~ 

Mt Peter Hawkwatch, 11/03/18

~I was trying to turn this bird into a Northern Goshawk in the field. Examining pics at home, I’m sticking with a healthy looking Cooper’s Hawk. Mount Peter Hawkwatch, 11/03/18.~

It’s hard to believe that today was my last day as counter for the 2018 hawkwatch season at Mount Peter Hawkwatch. I was scheduled to count next Saturday, but I will be out of town so Rick Hansen is covering for me. The morning rain caused a 2 hour delay to the start, and when I got up on the mountain it quickly became clear that it was going to be a cold and windy day. I had most of my 38 migrating raptors in the first 2 hours, and then things slowed down after that. Raptor highlights included 2 migrating Bald Eagles, one adult and one immature, as well as a nice adult Red-shouldered Hawk. The real highlight of the day, however, came when Bobby Linguanti and some of his family stopped up for a visit. Today is a year since Carol (Bobby’s wife, hawk counter extraordinaire, and all around awesome person) passed away, and they were making the rounds to some of Carol’s favorite spots. It was a sweet and sad visit. As usual, I’ve included my report at the bottom of this post.

~Red-shouldered Hawk passing over the platform, Mount Peter Hawkwatch 11/03/18.~ 

PELAGIC TEASER: Tomorrow I’m heading out on an 18 hour pelagic trip with See Life Paulagics, out of Brooklyn, NY. Hopefully it will be a good one, our target species include: Red Phalarope, Manx, Cory’s and Great Shearwaters, Northern Fulmar, Pomarine Jaeger, and the holy grail for this time of year Great Skua.

~Northern Gannet taken during a winter pelagic trip I took back in January of 2017.~