Seeing Semipalmated Plovers at the Seashore
Here's a familiar shorebird friend, the Semipalmated Plover. Semipalmated Plovers are so named because of their partially webbed feet (semi = partly, palmate = webbed). Unfortunately , that's a feature you cannot see here because his feet are in the mud!
There are a lot of similar looking plovers in the world, but if you see one like this around here, chances are it's a semipalmated. Semipalmated plovers gave have a single, dark neck band in all plumages.
In breeding plumage the bill is distinctly black-tipped and orange-based, and a white dot is visible behind and above each eye.
In breeding plumage, the white forehead is surrounded by black. In non-breeding plumage, both the band and the head are brown instead of black, and the bill is more black than orange.
Raptors Roost on House Chimneys in Framingham!
We were packing up the car for a weekend wedding in Vermont when my husband glanced up and saw a big raptor on the chimney.
What a stunningly beautiful bird, huh? A big guy, too. He was surveying the yard as if checking out the various meals to be had at each of the very crowded feeders.
Since Red Tails aren't known for eating feeder birds, I'm not sure why he seems so interested.
I was impressed to he could turn his head nearly as far as an owl!
For an idea of the odd scenario we are seeing here, and the size of this bird, here is a look from afar.
Fawn in the Backyard!
I was surprised to a spotted fawn and her mother in the backyard around 11:00 this morning.
I've seen mother and fawn in the yard before, but it is usually around dawn. I was so shocked I practically scared them both away running for my camera and fumbling to turn it on. I didn't have time to change any settings, so what you see is what I got!
The fawn has actually grown quite a bit since the last time I saw her. She is still half the size of her mother, but she looks more graceful and doe-like. Still has her spots, though!
I was frantically snapping pictures through the window, and this little one flicked her ears at every shutter click. I didn't even get a real close look at her until I reviewed the images this afternoon. That is when I noticed there was something on her face in every picture. It turned out to be a big, fat fly.
My husband said the biting flies we saw at the cape were deer flies (as opposed to horse flies or green flies, who bite as well). It took a ton of bug spray to keep those flies away from us. I just hope the deer are thick-skinned about it, because those things really hurt!
Identifying a Cape Cod Sandpiper
This little guy flew in to the edge of a little pond in the marsh. I find sandpipers difficult always, but one lone sandpiper with no other birds for size or shape comparison is even harder on me! I usually start by assuming it's the most likely species seen in the area. The most prevalent sandpiper here at this time of year is the Semipalmated Sandpiper. But Semipalmated Sandpiper's have black legs, and this bird has yellow or greenish yellow legs. This fellow is definitely not a Semipalmated Sandpiper.
There are a lot of other sandpipers on our beaches this time of year. I knew I would have to pay attention to every detail if I didn't want to post inaccurate information on the Internet. I hate when that happens!
When identifying shorebirds, the first step is supposed to be determining the age of the bird. I have difficulty with that still, so my first identifying feature is usually size. Size is hard to judge in a vacuum, but I would say this guy was certainly small. The smallest sandpiper of all? I couldn't tell.
The yellow legs were a big clue. Most other smallish sandpipers that you would expect to see around here have black legs. Those with yellow or greenish yellow legs often have yellow bills, as well. The pool of possibilities shrunk to small sandpipers with yellow legs and a black bill.
I noted the all over brown coloring, but what really convinced me of the identity of this bird's species was the slightly downward droop to his bill.
Now, I could well be mistaken about this ID because there are SO MANY sandpipers that all resemble one another. And it really is hard to ID a solitary bird in terms of size and coloring. Nonetheless, after consulting all my books and scouring the web for pictures, I've determined that this small sandpiper with yellow legs and dark bill that is slightly tipped downward is indeed a Least Sandpiper; the smallest sandpiper of all!
Greater Yellowlegs: A Lifelister
A Close Encounter with Great Egrets
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