Sunday, October 30, 2011

The realm of miss-ID

Last week while at Van Wagner's Beach (Jaeger-watching) - I had one of those eye-opening experiences that I actually really enjoy.

Cheryl Edgecombe, myself and a few others were busy searching the waves during the strong NE winds. We eventually picked up on two Jaegers, not far, yet not close (outside the wave tower). One was a monster, pretty clearly a Pomarine Jaeger in its own right. The other?

Well the other was visibly smaller... But after years of watching here, and also having them "up close" in the zodiac, I knew size wasn't all it is made out to be with Jaeger ID. Check out these birds below:


Here's two Pomarine Jaegers seen "up close" from the zodiac in recent years. Both were so unbelievably monstrous, their bulk alone clinched the ID of POJA:



Yet we have seen multiple "other" POJA's that were not nearly as large as the above birds. 



So how reliable is size? Just because the second Jaeger is visibly smaller, does it automatically mean it's a different species? I sure don't think so. So I watched the two birds behaviour.  They were "flying together" - but not just "flying together" - they were reallly flying together. Following each other very close, doing some seemingly playful interactions, no true "chases", never breaking apart very far.....

---

So there it was. I started loudly proclaiming to Cheryl how after these "close encounters" with Poms over the years, my lack of trust in the "different size = different species" ID, and the fact that the two birds were closely "hanging out" with each other, that I had little doubt that those two birds were both, in fact, Pomarine Jaegers. 
The one "clearly" was, so must be the smaller bird!


------

And isn't that just where things threw me for a loop? The birds did a 180 and returned our way. Yet this time they were considerably closer to shore, and providing excellent looks. There was the monster Pomarine, a very nice bird indeed (no photos unfortunately), here's my chance to study the second bird:

-Smaller size
- tail projections obvious 
- limited white on the underside of the primaries
- very few white primary shafts (barely visible)
- funny lemon collar behind the head

----- waaaait a minute

(not thee bird)

there it was, plain as day with a really good scope view. A Juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger directly associating with this juvenile Pomarine Jaeger. Of course the size difference was obvious before ,but really? A Long-tailed Jaeger? Perhaps the strangest thing really was how "buddy buddy" the LTJA and POJA were together... I ran to grab my camera, but we did not see those two birds again. 


---------------

So there I was, right after explaining why I thought they were probably 2 POJA's before, I suddenly had a POJA and LTJA together. It may sound odd to those who never want a bird ID to escape them, but it was one of those moments I really enjoy when birding that reminds you no matter how much you think you know about a given topic, you're going to be wrong sometimes! (and other times, you're really just doing educated guesswork!)

One of the things that makes Jaegers so much fun!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hudson - Hudson Bay - Forecast - Environment Canada

Almost forgot.. Here's the link to the weather forecast for our area! We really really want north or NE winds!


http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=08&siteID=06705


----

I was almost right about the Gannet at VWB yesterday... We are all on the train now.. Very few updates for a while, but I have some pre-written material that will appear over the next few weeks!


Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 reasons I'm going back to Netitishi Point

You know the drill. Here's the maps:




Here's the dates: Oct 28 - Nov 10

Here's what it looks like:



Here's the crew: Ken Burrell, Mike Burrell, Barb Charlton



Here's the 10 reasons I'm going back:

10. Yellow-billed Loon
9. Ross's Gull
8.  Glaucous-winged Gull 
7.  Ivory Gull 
6. Atlantic Puffin
5. Northern Fulmar
4. Thick-billed Murre
3.  Great Shearwater
2.  Horned Puffin 
1. Great Skua


Fasten your birding seatbelts everyone, this could get crazy. 


===============================

I  apologize  for any emails that I didn't get around to before leaving, and I probably won't even be back onto a computer until after Nov 20th (doing a second trip with my darling girlfriend right after Netitishi, to BC). But I will answer as soon as I can!


I have some pre-written blog material that will post every few days while I'm gone. This time it will actually work!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Lakes - Lake Erie and Lake Ontario - Forecast - Environment Canada

Just a quick update since I'm in the field working for most of the day!


--

I don't like to make predictions, but there is a strong smell of Gannet wafting from Van Wagners Beach for tomorrow morning. It would actually be borderline criminal if one wasn't seen there either tomorrow or thursday.



http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=11&siteID=08207


Quebec has seen a good increase in alcids/pelagics in the St. Lawrence seaway recently, leading me to believe that was the route the Ottawa Razorbill arrived from. Which also means more Gannets etc could have reached Lake Ontario (ala the two Gannets reported this morning near Amherst Island).

---

The track of this storm still seems a bit iffy right now, so check for the 630pm update on the marine forecast, and then again in the morning if you're debating on heading to the lakewatch!


Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

horn-tooting


The "winter issue" of NAB has been posted online (and maybe in your mailbox), which is a great publication if you haven't seen it! (All about bird sightings. 4 per year (per season). 

Anyways, had to toot my own horn, as I was very excited to have one of my photos (Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll) on the cover. 

Also excited to have about 15 pictures in the feature Redpoll article in this issue:


Also managed to get a single photo in one of the other main articles (on "Sharp-tailed" Sparrows):



=========

I also like this kind of stuff, because it's a lot of reading - yet minimal writing on my part!




were did the Ottawa Razorbill + Gannet come from?

Big news in the Ontario birding scene. Must have been exciting for Mark Gawn and everyone to be watching a mega rarity like a Razorbill when a Gannet arrives on the scene as well.  I know we just had some serious weather, so where did these birds come from?

Conventional wisdom would say down the St. Lawrence Seaway, but I've always wondered what the odds are of soo many pelagic birds following the river down. James Bay is directly connected to the ocean, and not really that far away "as the pelagic flies" from Ottawa... Especially this time of year, when any birds that end up in James bay are trapped and looking for a way out.

The sibley range map will tell you to not expect a bird like a Gannet anywhere near James Bay, but with records in Alaska (+ James Bay) + the recent ADULT Gannet on Lake Superior, all point to these birds covering big ground - and I think James Bay is a very viable option for the arrival of these birds in southern Ontario.


Anyways, lets look at the weather maps and see if we can't figure something out:


Oct 20th: Large low pressure system centered over  southern Ontario. Note how all the air from a huge area is flowing into it. This is the map from thursday morning, right after the wicked NE winds on Lake Ontario switched to a strong SSW as the trough (pink line) passed over us from the south. 

The winds are NE in the St. Lawrence, and N at southern James Bay (doesn't really help us, now does it?) next map:


Friday: 

The storm weakens a bit as the low pressure becomes elongated, and eventually two centres of low pressure are recorded (over lake Huron and another over southern Quebec). 

Note in this map that the winds in Ottawa are already SOUTH, as the trough/front moves to the north. The winds are still NE in the St. Lawrence seaway however, but that big pink line is going to act as a wind block to any lost vagrants. 

Winds are stronger from the NNE on southern James Bay. Next!


Late friday:

The storm is really not looking pretty right now, (actually a bit of a mess) but one fun thing happens. The two lows move northwards (almost off the map) and a third small area of low pressure forms DIRECTLY over Ottawa. 

Winds are blowing steady from the S or SSW up most of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Working 100% against any  birds moving towards Ontairo. 

Winds in southern James bay have switched a bit to NORTHWEST behind a few fragmented/weak troughs, yet it looks like these winds are feeding directly into the weak low over Ottawa! 



Saturday: other than a week trough, things are looking pretty relaxed on the weather front - enough to get the birders out and searching for pelagic vagrants. 




---------------------------------------------

So? Did the Razorbill show up back on Thursday from the St. Lawrence, early and before the winds went SW? 

Or did it arrive late on Friday from James Bay, a poor lost little seabird doing an overland flight to find real salt water again? -- and eventually dropped in Ottawa as the wind blew it to the centre of the low pressure?

I don't really know :) But it was fun to look at the maps anyways. 



*** disclaimer *** my interpretation of the maps is pretty much guesswork, as I've never really studied weather with someone who knows what they're doing. 


One of the several Gannets I've seen in Ontario. Such an odd bird to have here pretty much annually. 




Saturday, October 22, 2011

worthy of its own posting too:

One of the UK guys from Punkbirder found a bonafide mega rarity: Rufous-tailed Robin (2nd for the UK? 3rd for Europe maybe?)...  Finders account below:

http://www.freewebs.com/punkbirder/rufoustailedrobin.htm


You may be like me, and have no real back story or understanding about this bird, but you know enough that these guys love finding rare birds, and the finder has had one of those moments we live for when hunting vagrants! It's a fun read.


The wiki page has some extra info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufous-tailed_Robin


----------------------------------------
also:

----------------------------------------


Eastern Willet with Western Willets:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgalick/6248490977/in/pool-437129@N20/

So how long until the split happens?


----------------------------------------


Third winter Great Black-backed Gull @ the Moosonee Landfill:




------------------------------------------------------------

numerous spectacular photos of Newfoundland's Fork-tailed Fly:


(scroll until you find them)

______________________________________



Friday, October 21, 2011

What are you doing on Nov 6th?

November 6th: Hamilton fall bird count!

It turns out, I'm going to be away for the count, and it sounds like there are multiple (some very good) areas that need coverage.

If you're a skilled birder, and looking for a spot - send me an email  and I can put you in touch with the people in charge! I think there are spaces every year that miss coverage, and it's for a good cause.


Here are some fall birds to help you make up your mind:



(i've had it in my area before)

(I've had Snow, Cackling and Brant too!)



Here's the info from the HNC website:


The HFBC always occurs on the first Sunday in November and thus it can only occur in the one week window from November 1-7. This count was started by club member Alan Wormington to correspond to the Hamilton Spring Bird Count. This spring count was initiated in 1952 and was conducted in most years until 1977 when it was abandoned. The HFBC was also loosely modelled after the Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) fall count that has been held for over 70 years. The BOS Fall Count occurs on the second Sunday in October and the count area actually extends into the extreme southeast part of the HFBC count area. For the HFBC, the first Sunday of November was chosen by Wormington as it is a time when birder activity has decreased substantially compared to the September-October period. Thus the count gets people into the field at this date and this is an excellent time to get late migration dates for several species. The results over the years have borne this out with the Hamilton Study Area record late date for many species falling between November 1-7.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Van Wagners Highlights - Oct 19

I arrived at VWB around 8:30 am yesterday, and left just after 5pm. Winds were NE ~40kmh for most of the day. It was good! Not unbelievably good, but pretty darn good indeed.

Barb Charlton and I actually talked for a while about how spoiled we get by this time in the season. We really only focused on "close" birds (inside the wave tower), in sharp comparison to getting hyper excited in late August - seeing mini specks of Jaegers on the horizon.  Here's the highlights:

Red-throated & Common Loons
All 3 scoters
2 Merlins and a Peregrine
5-6 Phalarope Sp (that I missed)
1 juv Black-legged Kittiwake - visited twice during the day, for 10-15 minutes each visit
1 ad. Little Gull - a very good/fun bird for Hamilton lakewatching
1 juv. Common Tern
~3 juv Pomarine Jaegers
~3 (2 ad, 1 juv) Parasitic Jaegers
3 juv Long-tailed Jaegers 


+++ A bunch of other "Jaeger's Sp's" that I didn't really keep track of. Numbers of Poms and PAJA's were probably reasonably higher, but that is the ultra-conservative count (all of those 9 birds gave really good views "inside the wave tower")

The Merlins seemed to be migrating past. The juv Peregrine had some fun trying to grab gulls off the water, all in the morning.

The kittiwake was the first of the year for the VWB lakewatchers, and it was really nice to have it "hang around" for 10-15mins each visit. It was just inside the wave tower as well.

The juv Common Tern was seen late in the day, being chased by some Bonaparte's. Rob Dobos had spotted a distant tern maybe an hour before this sighting


Many of the Jaegers were seen several times each, as they seem to get "stuck" at our end of the lake when they arrive. The first Pom eventually met up with a juv. Long-tailed Jaeger and gave really nice views. I will have to write an extra story about these birds sometime soon (tomorrow?) --- was a learning experience.

We had a few more Pom sightings, until finally around mid-day we had 3 Parasitic Jaegers (the 2 adults and a juv) fly past inside the wave tower, making for the Jaeger tri-fecta.

Many more distant Jaegers, some confidently Pom's, happened until late in the day. Two different Juv. Long-tailed Jaegers made close passes, making for a really good count of 3 on the day. I've had LTJA's this late before, but 3 is pretty good.

--- I actually think there may have only been 1 other day where I've had all 3 Jaeger species in the same day. It involved this below Long-tailed:


Photographed in a large "flock" of passing Jaegers in terrible conditions on Oct 22, 2005. The below Pom was photographed at the same time!:


So yeah. Other than that spectacular day (all 3 Jaegers at once, yet only 1 LTJA), today was pretty remarkable in getting really good looks at 3x3 Jaeger species! 



If only we had a Gannet!

===========================================
===========================================

Here's my total list I submitted to ebird:


Canada Goose  X
Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  2
Greater Scaup  X
Lesser Scaup  X
Surf Scoter  X
White-winged Scoter  X
Black Scoter  2
Long-tailed Duck  X
Bufflehead  2
Red-breasted Merganser  X
Red-throated Loon  5
Common Loon  40
Horned Grebe  10
Double-crested Cormorant  200
Great Blue Heron  1
Northern Harrier  1
Merlin  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
Sanderling  25
Dunlin  2
Black-legged Kittiwake  1     juv
Bonaparte's Gull  75
Little Gull  1     ad
Ring-billed Gull  X
Herring Gull  X
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Common Tern  1
Pomarine Jaeger  3     juvs 3+++
Parasitic Jaeger  3     2+ ad's, 1 juv
Long-tailed Jaeger  3     juvs
jaeger sp.  3     probably many more  - only close birds named
Rock Pigeon  X
Mourning Dove  X
American Crow  X
European Starling  X
Dark-eyed Junco  5

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You're starting to get a sore throat?

I'm sorry to hear that. Headache too? Sounds like an oncoming illness


http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=11&siteID=08207


Hope that all clears up for you by thursday or friday. It probably should.




Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The world gull watching record is within your grasp


This is something most gull watchers are familiar with: the world record of 14 gull species in a single day was set at the Niagara River.

Here's something Ontarian's may not know, the record was tied by birders in St. John's, Newfoundland in 2010.



SO, here's the plan. We take sole possession back.. And here is how it's done:

Niagara River is the location. Mid to Late November is probably the time. Species on board:

1. Bonaparte's Gull
2. Ring-billed Gull
3. Herring Gull
4. Iceland Gull
5. Lesser Black-backed Gull
6. Great Black-backed Gull



Species that you can sometimes miss, but we will pick up early and often:

7. Glaucous Gull
8. Thayer's Gull
9. Little Gull



Rarities that show up on the river with some regularity (annual to almost annual). Thankfully, they'll all be there at the same time:

10. Black-headed Gull
11. Franklin's Gull
12. Sabine's Gull
13. Black-legged Kittiwake
14. California Gull


So, record tied, again. Let's break open the bank. Any one of these species can put us over the top. Heck, it wouldn't be hard to get TWO of these, and demoralize anyone thinking of even trying to tie 15. All of these birds have multiple records at the river:

15. Slaty-backed Gull
16. Mew Gull
17. Laughing Gull
Ivory Gull
Ross's Gull



Not only that, but there's still a few species we could/should someday get at this marvelous gull watching locale:

Glaucous-winged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Black-tailed Gull
Kelp Gull
Heermann's Gull



All in a days work!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zodiac report form Oct 10, 2011

My Dad and I did some offshore birding last Monday. I'll let ebird give the rundown:



Canada Goose 30
Gadwall 10
American Wigeon 100
American Black Duck 75
Mallard 200
Northern Shoveler 8
Northern Pintail 150
Green-winged Teal 25
Greater Scaup 600
Lesser Scaup 50
Surf Scoter 10
White-winged Scoter 750
Long-tailed Duck 1500
Common Goldeneye 10
Ruddy Duck 15
Common Loon 15
Red-necked Grebe 3
Double-crested Cormorant 20
Bonaparte's Gull 25
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Pomarine Jaeger 2
Parasitic Jaeger 1


All in all, not a bad list. The really strange part though, is we were WAYY offshore. And I mean WAAY offshore. So what the heck were all of those puddle ducks doing out there? Check out this photo:


Mallards and Pintails and Wigeon, oh my! But seriously, we were 10-15km offshore. What the heck? We even had some oddities like Ruddy Ducks out on the deep blue:




The Jaegers were the other bonus. The two Pomarine's were seen separately, way the heck offshore. The first bird was found when we heard a gull screaming for its life, and located the source of the commotion. I managed to get a really bad video, of just a few seconds of the chase... The Pom really lays a beatdown on the gull:



To see anything, you MUST click on the video multiple times until you can watch it on youtube. Then you'll have to watch it on "full screen". It may not even be worth the trouble really..... 


The next Pom was a similar situation. Miles out on the lake, chased a few gulls, but was very difficult to follow and eventually lost. I managed a few photos off all 3 Jaegers we had, which I'll have to post some other time. 

The last Jaeger (Parasitic) was brought in late in the day during some bread throwing fun. It was unique, in that it was our first PAJA to actually "hang around" the boat for longer than 15 seconds (a few minutes for this one)... I took several pics, but the light was gawd-awful... Finished the day photographing some Ring-bills and Herring Gulls (and Bonaparte's, which were more numerous than usual on the lake), before heading in at dusk. 

-----------------


Ever wonder what it is like being out in a tiny zodiac, miles offshore in Lake Ontario?!?! Wonder no longer!!! All the fun and excitement captured in this never before seen footage:









Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gyrfalcons everywhere?

After this past winters irruption of Willow Ptarmigan into Quebec, I wondered if there was a chance for predators to rebound this year. (eg,/ Gyrfalcons)

Now I'm starting to hear about Gyrfalcons here and there in the far north. (Off Greenland, Alaska, etc) Including some spectacular photos of white morphs.

Here in southern Ontario, I've already seen numerous Rough-legged Hawks on the great lakes. A sign that we are in for a very good year for them!



So what about Gyrfalcons?! Could this be the year that they "irrupt" south, resulting in scattered sightings far and wide? It has been a long time since the last one, in fact, long enough that I haven't been birding since they were "around". (1996?)

My understanding is to not get excited for wave after wave (like last years Bohemian Waxwings), but they will be "around" - I think Hamilton's best Gyr year was 3 sightings during the entire winter. (Some single observers). But hey, anything is better than nothing with these beauties.



So there we go! I'm going to make a slightly early prediction that we have a 50/50 chance at a "Gyr year". Things should be 100% clear by mid November, and I'll check back in with an update on them! Nothing like doing predictions. (Anyone see any Little Blue Herons or Wood Storks this summer?)

-------------------------

The sweet smell of rarities is in the October air. The next few days are going to punch some very strong W winds, which could be good for something (Franklin's Gulls?)

Check out what the world is seeing:

Ontario's Purple Gallinule:

http://kenburrell.blogspot.com/2011/10/purple-haze.html

http://www.naturesbestcreations.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6613&p=34359#p34359

Purple Gallinule in MA:

http://www.surfbirds.com/media/gallery_photos/20111009092309.jpg

Purple Gallinule on Lake Erie in PA: (no photos, but it was found the same day as the Ontario bird!!)


Ash-throated Flycatcher in MA:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryser915/6238028956/in/pool-437129@N20/


"Rufous Hummer" in PA:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/47556484@N02/6232773348/in/pool-437129@N20/


Green-tailed Towhee on Lake MI in IL: (early oct):

http://www.surfbirds.com/media/gallery_photos/20111001024635.jpg


Also read WPBO's waterbird blog for updated sightings of their ADULT Northern Gannet that has been hanging around:

http://wpbo.org/blog/5

--- they also had a Townsend Solitaire recently!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nelson's Sparrow

I miss the "sharp-tailed" part of the name.


Ken Burrell and I did a quick walk around the "Nelson's Area" of Cootes Paradise, Hamilton on Oct 8th. Picked up the bird everyone goes there to see, Nelson's Sparrow.


Not only that, but I got a picture I was pretty happy with! Not the "standard" photo, but I liked the reeds and the difficult subject. The birding was entertaining, but nothing really unexpected. Two HUGO's were seen earlier in the day (and earlier) but they weren't around for us. Some of the notable species were:

Peregrine Falcon
Merlin
Blue-winged Teal
Carolina Wrens and Red-billed Woodpeckers (always nice)
Marsh Wren
Blackpoll Warbler

..... annd I think that's just about all I can remember for now!


Monday, October 10, 2011

quiz answers


Thanks to everyone who answered the quiz through the comments section, or messaged me privately! The highest score went to my smart and attractive girlfriend Jennifer, who was the only person to figure out the secret bonus question. (What the heck is Googolplexennial?)

Well, let's break it down: (from wikipedia):

googol is the large number 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by 100 zeros:
10,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000
The term was coined in 1938[1] by 9-year-old Milton Sirotta (1929–1981), nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner. Kasner popularized the concept in his book Mathematics and the Imagination (1940).


So a Googolplex is:

googolplex is the number 10googol, i.e. 10^{10^{100}}.

n 1938, Edward Kasner's nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, coined the term googol, then proposed the further term googolplex to be "one, followed by writing zeroes until you get tired". Kasner decided to adopt a more formal definition "because different people get tired at different times and it would never do to have Carnera be a better mathematician than Dr. Einstein, simply because he had more endurance and could write for longer".[1] It thus became standardized to 10^{10^{100}}.

and "ennial" is just my own addition to signify years. So once added all together, it roughly means I don't plan on doing photo quizzes on the blog very often! And if you're wondering, it's roughly where google got it's name from (their headquarters is called the Googleplex)


--------- so, onto the birds!





Quiz bird #1 - part of the reason I did the quiz was becuase I knew I had some tough photos, and apparently this one was the hardest, since no one went with the correct answer of Northern Goshawk... Size is really tough to tell from photos, but maybe there was some clues in there that this was just a bit too big for SSHA? (Hard to say.. I just provide the photos).. 

Being a tiny bird, juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawks have tiny markings. A good clue for this bird is the circular "blotches" on the underside. Here's a sample of a Juv SSHA with tiny little streaks:

(click)

Coopers Hawk (Juv's) have a different arrangement of streaks, being lighter and concetrated higher on the breast. Once you get down towards their feet, they can be almost clean whitish! See:


Juv Broad-winged Hawk has more patterning to it's underside markings, (and I don't have a good photo handy), but it's not quite like the quiz bird..... 







This next bird didn't give too many people trouble, but was still fun for the quiz. The correct answer was Vesper Sparrow - in fine fall plumage. The brown/buff colour, breast streaking, white eye ring and white outer tail feathers (somewhat visible) all clinch the ID. 

It's a fun species, because (i think) it only molts once a year..(attains breeding plumage through wear) so they look pretty different in the fall, compared to when we often see them first arrive in April. 

(note the loss of buff, and increase in the shoulder patch) - taken in early May 




The final quiz photo was on a streak similar to the goshawk, until the last few entries nailed it as a juvie Little Gull 

I had hopes it would snag some people as a possible shorebird, given the terrible viewing angle, and it did! But yes it's actually a small gull. 

Adult small gulls are generally eliminated by the black visible on the tail. Juv Sabine's Gull have such a striking upper wing pattern, that it really is (and would be) noticeable on the underside of the winds as well. 

Juv Black-headed  Gull will show more dark markings on the underside of the primaries (and maybe elsewhere too) than our quiz bird:


Along with Bonaparte's Gull, which will shows less ,but probably wouldn't be as clean whitish on the underside of the wings as our bird. (BOGU also shows more black on the tips of the secondaries than most LIGU). Structure looks really good for Little Gull  (in my experience), even with the terrible photo. They often give the impression of being really tiny on the back end, with a really short and squared tail. 



Hope the quiz was fun! (even for you cheaters! *cough* Josh *cough* )






(Josh didn't actually cheat) 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Real lively photography: three



Just one photo today, as I'm sort on time, but it's a goodie....

Photographed this Gray Wolf in August up on James Bay as it arrived to scavenge on a very old Moose carcass on the beach. We had made a snap decision to watch the water for the last bit of daylight left (after rain chased us back for dinner earlier)... I only had my small point-and-shoot camera, and the battery was essentially dead - but I thankfully got one shot I was happy with!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Real life photography: part deux

Back to the photography game! More new photos taken this past August on James Bay:


Semipalmated Sandpiper:




Northern Harrier:


Snow Goose:


Black-bellied Plover:






Again, was trying to work the "new style" .. Let me know what you think!

It's really sad how much reduction there is in quality from a full-frame image --- even down to this large 900 pixel size... The photos that look the best on my computer (the first shot of the Semi-sands) don't look all that great here. Where as the photos that don't really stack up (the harrier), look tack sharp when reduced down to this!