I was baffled about the identity of this warbler so I called on my buddy Gerard Binsfeld, a neighbour, and one of Canada's eminent birders, for his opinion. The bird looks like it should be easy to identify. It has some obvious features: the white eye ring, the greeny-brownish patch behind the neck, blackish streaks along the sides of the breast, white wing bars. But in total, these features seem more than one warbler species is capable of. Do you have a guess? My best guesses were an immature Northern Parula, then I decided or an immature Magnolia. I'm waiting to hear from Gerry.
A Yellow-crowned Nigh Heron positions a frog by flipping it in its bill, so that it can swallow the amphibian in one smooth gulp. Photographer Nate Chappell captured this shot at Kitty Hollow County Park in Missouri City, Texas, south-west of Houston. Yellow-crowned Night Herons are found throughout the Americas. They are also known by the names American Night Heron or Squawk. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
A King Penguin gets coated in mud after a huge mud lake poured across the ice and separated the birds from the water at Salisbury Plain on South Georgia, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, near Antarctica. The penguins emerged encased in mud before reaching the open sea and throwing themselves into the icy-cold ocean for a much-needed bath. South Georgia is a British overseas territory over which it is has claimed sovereignty since 1775. Argentina laid claimed to South Georgia in 1927 and ill-fatedly went to war with Britain in 1982 during the very brief but all-too-real Falklands War. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
A boy watches an ill-fated pelican on contaminated beaches at Guacalillo, on the Costa Rican Pacific coast. Although Costa Rica sells itself, and is recognized worldwide, for its natural resources and environmental policies, it also has a shameful record of having one of Central America's most polluted rivers: the Tarcoles. It flows into the Pacific Ocean and is polluted with the waters of the rivers of the greater metropolitan rivers, homes to half of Costa Rica's population. Many of these people dispose of their solid waste and sewage into the water. Visiting birders need to leave their opinions, as well as their dollars, when and where they can in this special place.
A juvenile hummingbird perches on a woman's hand to suck sugar water, in Newark, Ohio. Erin Neese, who shot this photo says "He was pretty happy when he learned that he could get food from us. It was an amazing thing to be able to feed the little guy". The hummer seems smaller than the woman's thumb.
These artificial gourds are strung across one of the lily ponds at King Township's Seneca College on Dufferin Street. A nearby sign (pictured below) explains the presence of the gourds as homes for Purple Martins.
I have no idea how well this Purple Martin nesting project has worked, as I have only just become aware of it. I did not see any Purple Martins at the time of the picture-taking. Purple Martins normally only raise one brood of chicks and depending on how early they arrived on their breeding ground, they can begin their reverse southern migration as early as July. So perhaps if there were martins here, they have already left. I plan to pursue this and will report on it again as details are available.
I made a return visit to Luther Marsh, north-west of Orangeville, this week, to see Great White Egrets. I arrived later in the day this time and stayed until almost sunset. The egrets started gliding in, from unknown points north, a little after 7 p.m. I suppose I was expecting 250 to 300 birds to arrive all at the same time, drop down right in front of me, and I would take dozens of prize-winning photos of these wonderful creatures. It doesn't work quite like that however. They arrived intermittently... one, two, sometimes three at a time. There was no sound, no warning, they just appeared overhead, floating into the marsh and the snags of dead trees, before making an abrupt turn and dropping down onto logs or directly into shallow water. It all seemed so casual that I forgot to count them. Unfortunately, they were landing about 300 to 400 metres away from me and in a spot of the marsh that was completely surrounded by and hence unapproachable from my vantage point. I decided to set my camera aside. It wasn't going to be a photographic outing. I decided to enjoy the scene for what it was worth. Egrets continued to show up according to their own schedule and I admired every one as they arced across the sky. I watched for almost 45 minutes and realized that unless I retreated I might be walking in unfamiliar territory, in the dark. Then I realized I had not counted the Great Whites I had seen. I stood on a bit of a knoll and looked over the roosting territory. I quickly counted approximately 60 egrets, plus one Great Blue Heron. It was a most satisfying experience, though not as dramatic as I had naively anticipated earlier in the evening.
These two Tawny Frogmouth chicks were recently welcomed into the world at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. There are 16 species of frogmouths in the world and the Tawny Frogmouths are native to Australia, although they also show up in Tasmania and southern New Guinea. This species has been in existence for 52 million years and although they are related to owls, they are more closely related to oilbirds and nightjars. The Brookfield Zoo is owned by the Chicago Zoological Society, a non-profit organization. In the photo below, Tawny Frogmouths do not appear to become more attractive as adults.
Photo: Featherdale Wildlife Park, Doonside, Sydney, NSW, Australia
The Blue-crowned Laughingthrush (a.k.a. Courtois's Laughingbird) is among the top 10 species in the world that are fighting extinction with the help of zoos. Their population numbers between 200 and 250 mature birds in the wild in China. Trapping for the bird trade is a major cause of the species' recent decline. Only 100 are known to exist in public and private zoos and their status is listed as "critically endangered".
Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has just released this photo of one of three Bali Mynah chicks hatched in July of this year. It is the first time in 12 years that the Lincoln Zoo has seen a successful hatching of the birds. The zoo claims there only 115 wild birds on its native range on Indonesia's island of Bali, where it is considered " critically endangered". An estimated 1,000 more exist in captivity worldwide. The Bali Mynah is also known as the Rothschild's Mynah and the Bali Starling.
My west coast birding acquaintance, Dave Kemp, just sent me this neat photo he took of a juvenile Cooper's Hawk at Terra Nova Park in Richmond, British Columbia. The Cooper's Hawk doesn't get the attention the bigger hawks do, but it is an impressive looking bird. Dave has captured the dramatic elegance of this accipter, even though just a juvenile. Cooper's are found throughout North America. They are among the world's most skilful flyers, finding their way through thick tree canopies at high speed and emerging to create havoc at bird feeders. The eye colour of the juvenile in Dave's photo is pale yellow, but when mature the colour will be red, giving this bird an even more compelling look. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
I spent a few hours at Luther Marsh this past Thursday hoping to see the 250-300 roosting Great White Herons. Actually the herons roost at a smaller portion of the larger Luther Marsh, called Monticello Marsh, about a kilometre north of the Luther main entrance and a 1/2 km. south of the hamlet of Monticello, north-west of Orangeville, Ontario. I arrived in mid-afternoon, planning to wait around until early evening when the herons return each night to roost. I saw a few Great Whites, but was rained-out late in the afternoon and decided to return another day. I got a couple of pictures (see below) and did enjoy my abbreviated visit.
GREAT WHITE HERON
I got a little excited when I first spotted this female Bobolink because I momentarily thought it might be a female Yellow-headed Blackbird. It had much too much yellow on its underside for a Yellow-headed Blackbird however, and I dolefully accepted it as a Bobolink....another time, perhaps.
This the plaque marking the Monticello Marsh and paying tribute to the many partners who were instrumental in its development. Many people are surprised to discover that one of the lead development partners was the Ohio Division of Wildlife and that funding for the project came from Ohio hunters.
One of thousands of Leopard Frogs to be found in the grass along the margins of the Luther and Monticello Marshes, and which provide tasty snacks for the hundreds of Great White Herons.
Above and below are two views of the main lookout tower, available to birdwatchers in particular, at the main entrance of the Luther Marsh, which straddles the border between Dufferin and Wellington Counties, north of Highway 9.
These mammoth wind turbines are visible from and nearby to Luther Marsh. They are a source of concern and controversy for many people in the area. They appear to reach approximately 80 metres (260') into the sky. I have not heard how these monstrosities affect Luther's Marsh's egrets.
My friend, Mpho Phiri, from Mafikeng, South Africa, posted the photo above in his August 14th, Mafikeng Birding Blog. The birds are Pied Avocets which he photographed just outside Mafikeng, at the Modimola Dam, a local birding hotspot. Pied Avocets are found throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the far east. There are only four species of avocets found in the world. In addition to the Pied Avocet, there is the American Avocet (North and South America), the Andean Avocet (South America) and the Red-necked Avocet in Australia. Just four species...but they seem to encircle the globe. They are all almost identical in size: 17" long with a wingspan of about 31". Mpho Phiri commented in his blog that these avocets were the first he had seen in his part of South Africa in three years. I'm happy for Mpho because these are truly elegant birds to see. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
It's that time of year, mid-August, when first-year hummers are matured and now join their parents at the backyard feeders. But it is not all familial bliss. Every hummer is pre-occupied with protecting what it thinks is its own private feeders and chasing away all interlopers, even if its a brother, sister or parent. The backyard is a constant swirl of small squealing birds chasing each other.
I know...I know...it's not a bird, but this photo caught my eye and I just had to share it. This is an Atlas Moth, native to south-east Asia. This is a newly-emerged specimen at the Chester Zoo, one of the UK's largest zoos and the most-visited wildlife attraction in Britain. This specimen is being held by butterfly keeper Heather Prince. Atlas Moths have a wingspan of up to 30 centimetres. According to Wikipedia, the Atlas Moth's Cantonese name translates as "snake's head moth", which refers to the image on the tips of the forewing, that when fully extended, bear a passing resemblance to a snake's head (see photo above). Now, back to those feathered, flying thingys. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
A two-week-old Chilean Flamingo stretches its wings under the watchful eye of its father, Maurice, at the Drusillas Park in Alfriston, East Sussex, England. Apparently, the zookeepers played songs to the birds, sung by Barry White, to encourage breeding.
I photographed this Trumpeter Swan three weeks ago in the Holland Marsh. It seems to have become fond of the Marsh and is hanging around the north canal, a couple of hundred metres east of the intersection of Simcoe and Canal Rds. Meanwhile, below, this Great Blue Heron has taken up more or less permanent residence nearby. It can be seen regularly a couple of hundred metres west of the same Simcoe and Canal Rds. intersection. It was one of three Great Blues I spotted on the marsh canals on Friday.
Andy Rouse, professional wildlife photographer, has been awarded the Cherry Kearton Medal, by the Royal Geographical Society in England. The annual award recognizes the contribution made by a wildlife photographer to photography, conservation, and bringing geography to the masses. I have selected some of his bird photos for this blog.
Photos by Andy Rouse/Rex Features
An aerial view of over 7,000 King Penguins, by photographer Andy Rouse, is seen on South Georgia in the lower Atlantic Ocean. The brown areas in the photo are the chicks in creches, being protected by black and white adult penguins.
A Barn Owl hunting in the UK
Gentoo Penguins on an iceberg in Mikkelsen Harbour, Antarctica
A common Kingfisher sits on a perch in Britain
A seemingly laughing Snowy Owl perches in the Canadian Arctic
King City resident and neighbour of mine, Gerry Binsfeld has just returned from Peru, South America, where he saw 524 bird species in 23 days. His sightings were made in a variety of habitats, including Peru's Pacific coastline, the Andes Mountains and on the Amazon River. Gerry got warmed up for his Peruvian journey by visiting Mexico for three weeks in January of this year, where he recorded 293 species of birds. He estimates his life list is now somewhere around the 1600 mark. Gerry is a retired locomotive engineer, a volunteer fireman in our village, and a full-time birder. Gerry and I sat on my backyard deck for an hour one morning this week and I got to hear about what Gerry calls his best birding trip ever. I thought when I asked him for his favourite bird on the trip, that he might hesitate while trying to pick one bird from a list of 524, but he quickly mentioned the Ornate Hawk Eagle (art print below, left, by Frederick Pallinger). He also recalled, as special, his sighting of an Inca Tern (pictured below, right, By Adrian Pingstone) while on the Pacific coast. Another highlight was a special outing to look for hummingbirds. That search turned up 32 species of hummers! I've only ever been birding with Gerry on one occasion and that was three years ago when he was leading a birding walk at Jokers Hill, the University of Toronto's Koffler Scientific Reserve, here in King Township. Now, Gerry has asked me to join him this fall for a couple of days birding at Point Pelee, Ontario. I'm looking forward to it.
Just in case you missed it, above is a photo of a Sira Barbet, a new bird species discovered in Peru. A colourful, fruit-eating bird with a black mask, pale belly, and scarlet breast (never before described by science) has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes. The Sira Barbet is described in a paper published in the July 2012 edition of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologist's Union. It was first spotted on October 8, 2008, which gives some idea of how long it takes to lay claim to a new species. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
It seems to be game-over for this duckling in the top photo, as a large heron snatches it from a pond near Dublin, Ireland, and carries it to a treetop for a tasty meal. But the duckling wriggled mightily and escaped the heron's clutches. It fell from the treetop back into the pond to paddle about for another day.
I've had trouble with one of my hummingbird feeders this week and finally took it down to work on a solution. In the interim, I put up a bird feeder with mixed seeds, just to see what it would attract. Immediately, there were some very confused hummingbirds, but the first, other, bird species to visit the feeder was a White-breasted Nuthatch. It's the first one I've had at the backyard feeders, winter or summer, in almost two years. They used to show up regularly, year-around, but recently seem to be in the woods, on the edge of the village. Whatever its reason for suddenly appearing, its more than welcome. They are such interesting little creatures. They have incredibly strong legs and feet and are one of most acrobatic birds, equally adept hanging upside-down as perching right-side-up. This one was quickly followed by the birds pictured below.
Now I have to get a baffle on the pole holding up this feeder because the squirrels quickly found the feeder also and things are getting mighty crowded and nasty.