Friday, 25 May 2012

Good photos of common birds.....

.....are things that I don't have a lot of.

Usually when I am out birding I am always searching for the rare and unusual species, so much so that when looking back at my portfolio, I have very few photos of the common birds! Though my main focus this year is to see as many species as possible, I am also on a mission to photograph as many species as possible. I have been using the same technique as I am for doing my big year - go after the rare ones, and the easy ones will take of themselves. So I have photos of nearly every single rarity I have seen this year, though a lot of the easy species are still missing!

After being at Point Pelee for 33 of 35 straight days, I was getting a little bored on May 23rd. There were few migrants around, and I hadn't seen a new bird for the year in 3 straight days (that streak changed later in the morning as I had a female Dickcissel flying around the tip). Anyways, walking along, I saw 2 male grackles dueling it out for the affection of what I presume was a female. I watched them for a while and took a few photos of one of the males.

Common Grackle - Point Pelee National Park

While its easy to ignore the common birds, I really like grackles. Despite looking a little like darth vader, they certainly have a bit of charm to them. Its pretty hilarious seeing one puffing himself up and making otherworldly creaking and croaking noises to impress his future mate. After a bit of a photo session with this guy I kept walking, happy to get my first few decent photos of this species.

Common Grackle - Point Pelee National Park

Eastern Kingbirds are another "fun" species. Most mornings this spring while standing at the tip counting reverse migrants, very few birds were actually passing by and it was easy to get a little bored. There was always a kingbird or two around however, keeping me entertained with their antics as they caught flying insects while chattering away. I managed to grab this photo of this one doing something they do rarely - sitting still.

Eastern Kingbird - Point Pelee National Park

As you can see it's been slow at Pelee! While it is still easy to get 15 species of warbler a day, good luck seeing more than 5 or 6 of them. The warm temperatures and lack of precipitation have allowed most passerines to fly right over Pelee. Good for the birds, but it makes birding tough with little around. I've resorted to spending most days driving around and looking for shorebirds and herons, hopefully to catch a rarity somewhere along the way.

While I have been largely unsuccessful in that venture, I have seen and photographed a few neat birds. I spent some time with this interesting quartet, containing from left to right a Dunlin, a one-legged Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Semipalmated Plover, and a Short-billed Dowitcher that appears to be of the rarer "griseus" subspecies.

shorebirds - Tilbury lagoons

The Dunlin were quite approachable, and by sitting near the shore I was able to get a few good photos of this species.

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

This Least Sandpiper would have been a good photo subject if it weren't for the vegetation stuck to it side.

Least Sandpiper - Tilbury lagoons

Another thing I have been doing a lot of is hawkwatching in the park, hoping for a Mississippi Kite or Swainson's Hawk to make an appearance. We've been largely unsuccessful in that venture as well (go figure), despite many other raptors, such as this kettle of Turkey Vultures.

Turkey Vultures - Point Pelee National Park

Many young Broad-winged Hawks are still around, though the local grackles make sure they stay up high, out of the grackles' domain.

Broad-winged Hawk harassed by Common Grackles - Point Pelee National Park

That's all for now. I'm back at my parents house for a few nights before I decide what my next move is. I may head down to Pelee Island for a few days, or to chase a rarity somewhere. I'll need to make it to Eastern ON to try for Kirtland's Warbler and Arctic Tern sometime before I start work on June 15. Also, I may have a big trip coming up but more on that later.

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