Monday, March 28, 2011

Glaucous Gull

First winter (or perhaps given the late date, better to say "first cycle") Glaucous Gull in rather worn plumage, taken on an NJ pelagic. Although in this case we were very much inshore, perhaps only a mile or three off the coast. The mass of the bird is rather well shown in this instance - chunky body, broad wings, but the tail is in all sorts of disrepair. However the size of the bird wasn't appreciably greater than the multitude of Herring Gulls.

This pelagic was not at all productive for actual pelagic species, but having a Glaucous Gull soar over my head was a decent consolation prize. Other gulls included two Icelands (the immature was the more cooperative of the two) and two Lesser Black-backed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Painted Bunting

In contrast to the drab Eastern Phoebe this male Painted Bunting is positively lurid. This was taken on the same FL trip, but in West Palm Beach.

Eastern Phoebe

Adult Eastern Phoebe, Everglades National Park. Eastern Phoebes are one of those species whose most hardy incarnations turn up in March in NYC, but more typically opt for a more luxurious winter in the balmier climates of FL and southern TX. This is an adult (as evidenced by tail feather shape, since these get replaced in fall). I've seen Phoebe fledgelings as early as the 3rd week in May, so their hardiness translates to an early start to the breeding season.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Short-tailed Hawk in flight

Pale morph Short-tailed Hawk, apparently an immature based on plumage pattern around the head. There don't seem to be reliable population estimates for Short-tailed Hawk, but the FL population is isolated and probably not all that large. It's also easily overlooked - superficially similar to immature Red-tailed Hawk - quite a few birders don't recognize Short-tailed when they see them, even along Anhinga Trail which is one of the most reliable places to see them in the winter. This bird was circling fairly low over me as it took off from near the Anhinga Trail visitor center at 9am. I saw a total of two pale morph and one dark morph at Anhinga over multiple visits, and one more dark morph at Shark Valley for a total of four on my recent FL trip. In FL the dark morph predominates in the population.

Snail Kite in flight

This is an immature male Snail Kite that I watched hunting at Loxahatchee NWR in western Boynton Beach in FL, at the north-eastern edge of the Everglades. This is about as close as I'd ever come to a Snail Kite as it made regular hunting forays over the wetlands and picked up snails. Snail Kites have highly hooked bills that enable them to work with snails. This individual is banded.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roseate Spoonbill

Adult in flight at Paurotis Pond in Everglades National Park. The Roseates were nesting amongst a colony of Wood Storks.