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Apr 22, 2018

World Press Photo Contest 2018 Winners

 Photo: Corey Arnold
Nature - Singles: First Prize
A Bald Eagle scavenges for scraps of meat in garbage bins of a supermarket in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, USA.  This photo, by Corey Arnold, won first prize in the Nature - Singles Category of the 2018 World Press Photo Contest.

Photo: Thomas P. Peschak
Nature - Singles: Second Prize
Rockhopper Penguins do what they do best as they navigate the coast of Marion Island, a South African, sub-Antarctic territory in the Indian Ocean.  This photo, by Thomas P. Peschak, won second prize in the Nature - Singles category. 
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Apr 21, 2018

Much anticipation...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
WRuby-throated hummingbirdW
(Archilochus colubris)
I'ts coming around to that time of year when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be arriving from their spring migration in my neck-of-the-woods: southern Ontario.  For many of the past several years, they have been arriving on May 10th, but have also arrived a few times, as much as a week prior to that date.   It's been a cold rainy/snowy spring so far, hereabouts, and I wouldn't be surprised if they arrive a little later this year.   Some years, Indigo Buntings and Baltimore Orioles (see below) arrive at the same time, or just after, the 'hummers'.  We shall see what we shall see, however, and with pleasant expectations.   A comparative reference shows that early spring migrants in Britain appear to be 20 days late this year.

Photos by BarrytheBirder

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Apr 19, 2018

These flycatchers are occasional wanderers to southern Canada...

Photo: Peter Llewellyn / Alamy
(Pyrocephalus obscurus)
A male Vermillion Flycatcher (above) is seen perched on a branch of a tree in Jocotepex, Jalisco, Mexico.   This flycatcher occasionally reaches northward from southern Texas into eastern North America, where it creates quite a stir among local birders.   This is also the case with Scissor-tailed (Tyrannus forticatus) and Fork-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus savana) that sometimes stray northward from Mexico, Texas, Florida and the Atlantic coast.   The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which I saw (one time only and a 'lifer') in southern Ontario, many years ago, has been known to nest rarely in the east in Virginia and North Carolina. 

Photo: Terry Sohl

Photo: Scott Buckel
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Apr 18, 2018

Natural colouration in the abstract...

Photo: Yuri Smityuk / TASS
(Aix galericulata)
A Mandarin Duck is seen (above) on a tree by the Solyonaya Protoka River, outside Vladivostok, Russia.  Below, is a photo by, Stephano Ronchi, of a male and female Mandarin Duck.   The bottom photo, by Foto Martien, shows a mutation, called a White Mandarin Duck.   

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Apr 17, 2018

Camouflage: natural colouring of an animal to blend in with its surrounding

Photo: Mats Janson / Alamy Stock Photo
(Gallinago gallinago)

Photographed in Nynashamn, Svierge (Sweden)

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Apr 16, 2018

Tender moment at dusk...

Photo:Ronald Wittick / EPA
(Ciconia ciconia)

A White Stork is seen feeding its mate (above) in a roof-top nest, near sunset, in Philippsburg, on the Rhine in western Germany.   The ICUN ranks the status of  White Storks as of 'least concern'.   They winter in Africa by the hundreds of thousands.

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Apr 15, 2018

Many Black Kites perish...

Photo:Diptendu Dutta /AFP / Getty Images
Over 60 Black Kites die in India
Photo: Azak / Tehran Zoo
Sick Black Kites (Milvus migrans) lie on the ground, above, at Bengal Safari veterinary hospital, in Siliguri, India.   More than 60 of the large medium-sized birds of prey were recently found dead overnight, due to an unknown cause of death, a forest official said.   Global population of Black Kites is estimated to be 6 million.  The birds are widely distributed throughout Eurasia, Australasia and Oceania.
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Apr 14, 2018

Cormorant forages as deep as 120'

 Photo: Alexander Mustard
(Phalacrocorax penicillatus)

Photo: Teddy Lovat / Howcheng
The legs of a giant oil rig off the coast of California form a maze for this swirling scene of the hunter and the hunted.   Alexander Mustard took this photograph, at top, of a Brandt's Cormorant flying through a shoal of Pacific Chub Mackerel.   Predators such as sea lions, porpoises and dolphins also regards these rigs as prime fishing
sites.   The Brandt's use the oil rigs as both underwater larders and platforms for roosting, while drying their wings.

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Apr 13, 2018

Ontario bird quiz...

What are the two wild bird species
designated as endangered*
in Ontario?

* 'Endangered' means a species that lives in Ontario but faces immediate extinction or extirpation.

Photo: Alix d'Entremont
(Protonotaria citrea)
In Ontario, the Prothontary Warbler is found in the warm climate of the Carolinian deciduous forests, particularly in the south-west  portion of the province.   10 years ago, there were only between 28 to 34 individuals in Ontario.

Photo: Gabriel Lugo
(Sterna dougallii)
A medium-sized tern, similar in appearance to several other species, The Roseate Tern is primarily a tropical bird, and while it usually breeds in tropical waters, some reach up to the north Atlantic temperate zones; including Ontario where it has bred in scattered localities.

Please comment if you wish.

Apr 12, 2018

Ibis crisis down under...

Photos : Rick Stevens
WAustralian White IbisW
(Threskiornis molucca)
Tip Turkey, Bin Chicken, Rubbish Raptor, Dumpster Chook - the Australian White Ibis goes by several unflattering names. However, it is a true, urban, success story, scavenging in cities across Australia, as wetlands have been greatly declining.   Wildlife photographer Rick Stevens has photographed numerous ibises in the city of Sydney and many have been published as part of 'Australian Cities Week'.  There are up to 9,000 ibises in the Sydney region alone, twice as many as in the country's inland wetlands,

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Apr 11, 2018

Subgenus of White Cockatoo...

Photo: Allan Collins
Photo: P Stubbs
Huge flocks of noisy, white Western Corellas are to be found (above) in the trees that line the Darling River in Bourke, Australia.   Western Corellas are one of six species, three of which live in Australia.   Three other endemic species are to be found in the Phillipines, Indonesia and the Solomons.   They are rather small cockatoos with pale bills, some red to their bills and yellow-tinged underwings.
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Barrythe Birder   

Apr 10, 2018

Also found on four continents...

Photo: Mei Yongcun / Xinhua / Barcroft Images
(Motacilla alba)
Here's another bird (similar to yesterday's Bluethroat) that is also found on four continents, including Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, where it infrequently shows up in Alaska.   The Wagtail certainly gets maximum impact from its black and white appearance.
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Apr 9, 2018

Found on four continents...

Photo: Ronald Wittek/EPA
(Luscinia svecica)
A Bluethroat sits on a stalk in the Wagbachniederung Nature Reserve in Waghausel, near Karlsruhe in Germany.   Bluethroats live in Europe and Asia and winter in North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.  They can also be found in western Alaska.
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Apr 8, 2018

Pelicans in Australia

Photo: Mezzanine1/GuardianWitness
Australian White Pelicans (Pelecamus conspicillatus) are seen in flight (above) near Penguin Island, off the Western Australia coast.  They look as spectacular in silhouette as they do in their normal colours.   There are eight Pelican species in the world and the Great White Pelican is found in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Fiji, and Indonesia.  

Wikipedia Photo
The closest living relatives to penguins are the Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta) above, found in sub-Sahara Africa, and the Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) below, found in tropical east Africa.

Wikipedia Photo
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Apr 7, 2018

Egrets in China

Photo: Xinhua / Barcroft Images
(Ardea alba)
Great Egrets are seen, above, in Xiangshan Forest Park in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province, China.   Great Egreats are found in most of the world's tropical and temperate regions.   They are also known as Great White Egrets and Great White Herons.   The long feathery plumes growing from the back are called aigrettes and appear during the breeding season.   Pictured below are Great White Herons which I photographed at Luther Marsh, about 1 hour from my home in south-central Ontario.

 Photos by BarrytheBirder

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Apr 6, 2018

First Turkey Vulture of spring...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
(Cathartes aura)
I saw my first Turkey Vulture of the year this past Sunday, April 1st, in the hamlet of Temperanceville, in King Township.   I can recall many years ago never seeing a Turkey Vulture in southern Ontario, and then a few years ago seeing them in southern Ontario in summer.   Now they appear in early spring and remain until late fall.   They are readily recognized up close by the large dark body, red head and white bill.   At a distance they are recognized by their flight, as they rock from side to side, with their wings held upward in a shallow V.   Their wing-beats are deep and slow, with  minimal flapping.  

The Ontario Field Ornithologists website reports that 12 Turkey Vultures were spotted in the Niagara-Queenston area on April 2nd, plus a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) on the same day.

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Apr 5, 2018

Spring harbinger...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
American Robin
(Turdus migratorius)


     THE ROBIN is the one
     That interrupts the morn
     With hurried, few, express reports
     When March is scarcely on.

     The robin is the one
     That overflows the noon
     With her cherubic quantity,
     An April but begun.

     The robin is the one
     That speechless from her nest
     Submits that home and certainty
     And sanctity are best.
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
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Apr 4, 2018

Tiny bird with a big name...

Photo: Georgi Licovski / EPA
(Parus major major)
This charming wee bird, with the otherwise provocative name, is seen in a winter setting, on a tree in the Jakupica Mountain Range in central Macedonia.   Apart from the yellow flanks, the Great Tit reminds me of the omnipresent Chickadees in my Ontario backyard cedar hedge.
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Apr 3, 2018

Snow is excellent backdrop for European Goldfinches

Photo: Rebecca Cole / Alamy Stock Photo
European Goldfinch
(Carduelis carduelis)
European Goldfinches are seen in a snowy garden at Burley Wharfedale, West Yorkshire, England.   This past winter was not particularly harsh in Britain, save for a few snowstorms late in the season, as evidenced in the photo above, by Rebecca Cole.   This bird loves niger seeds and has the perfect bill for the job.
Photo by Nexhmedin Ramadani

if you wish.

Barry the Birder

Apr 2, 2018

Invasive mink

Photo: GB Non-native Species Secretariat
An American Mink (Neovison vison), an invasive species in Britain, attacks an unfortunate juvenile gannet.   This skilled predator consumes small mammals like voles shrews, rabbits and rats, plus fish, frogs, eels and crayfish, as well as birds and eggs.   American Mink were introduced to Britain in the 1920s, but its numbers are declining.
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Apr 1, 2018

The Turtle Dove...

Photo: Alamy Stock Photo
(Streptopelia turtur)
I've just acquainted myself with images and descriptions of the Turtle Dove.  A few other elegant-looking doves in the genus Streptopelia are also called 'Turtle Dove', such as the Asian Oriental Turtle Dove and the African Dusky Turtle Dove.  The Turtle Dove is quite similar to the Mourning Doves (photo below) that inhabit my Canadian backyard in both summer and cold, snowy winters.   I'm not familiar yet with the sound of Turtle Doves, but the cooing of Mourning Doves is one of my favourite, sweet and soft bird sounds.

Photo by BarrytheBirder
(Zenaida macroura)
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Mar 31, 2018

Hawaiian Islands beach...

Photo: NOAA
One of several Layson Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) chicks finds itself surrounded on a beach littered with plastic marine debris, on a shore in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.   Sadly, this is a scene to be found around the world, on beaches and on floating masses of sea debris.
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Mar 30, 2018

Weddell Seal and Gentoo Penguin in Antarctica

Photo:Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
(Pygoscelis papua)
A Weddell Seal snoozes near a squawking Gentoo Penguin on Greenwich Island, part of the south Shetland Island Group in Antarctica.   The exact origin of the Gentoo name is long forgotten.   They are the only penguin species currently increasing its population and range.   Their numbers are increasing on the Antarctica peninsula but are plummeting on some surrounding islands.   They received a 'near threatened status' on the IUCN Red List in 2007.
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Mar 29, 2018

Bird with an over-designed bill?

Photo:Biju Boro / AFP / Getty Images
(Anthracoceros albarostris)
An Oriental Pied Hornbill eats a seed as it perches in a tree in Pobitora Village, on the outskirts of Guwahati, in India's northeast Assam State.   The huge bill assists in fighting, preening, constructing nests and catching prey.   Whatever its intended use, it seems an over-statement and does, in fact, compromises the hornbill's vision field somewhat.
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Mar 28, 2018

Egyptian (or Nile) Goose

   Photo: Sina Schuldt / AFP / Getty Images
Photo: Andreas Trepte / Wikipedia

(Alopochen aegyptiaca)

A young Egyptian Goose (a.k.a. Nile goose) is seen above hiding under its mother's belly, in Stuttgart, southern Germany.  Egyptian Geese are native to sub-Sahara Africa.

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