Newfoundland – Day 2

The time difference between Houston and Newfoundland is 2 1/2 hours. We’re adjusting well, but we’re already early risers and with the sun coming up around 5:00 am we’re out of bed by 6:00 am.

This let us get an early start on exploring as we went to Cape Spear which is the furthest east you can get in North America.

We saw our first icebergs!

Iceberg

And we had the entire site all to ourselves

Cape Spear Historic Site

Cape Spear Historic Site

After visiting Cape Spear we had some breakfast and made our way to Bay Bulls to take a whale and puffin watching tour with Gatherall’s

We say thousands of puffins and other seabirds as well as about 4 or 5 Fin Whales, the second largest mammals on the planet. Sadly, no good photos as they only briefly ever broke the surface.

I did manage to get some photos of the Common Murre

Common Murre

At one point thousands of them left their rocky perches and took to the sea

Common Murre

Common Murre

We drive for a bit more and headed up to Pouch Cove, a small and picturesque town north of St. John’s

Pouch Cove

After this we were pretty wiped. We had an early dinner and called it a day. St. John’s and the surrounding area has been just lovely.

St. John's Newfoundland

Tomorrow we head to Bonavista.

Superb Owl Season

I was watching TV when I heard the very plaintive squawking of a Mockingbird in distress coming from tree in the front of the house. The last time I heard something like this it was a Blue Jay trying to fend off the neighbor’s cat that was stalking her baby who had fallen from the nest. The Mockingbird was very agitated and did not fly away when I approached. I could not immediately sort out the threat until I peered into the tree noticed a mottled lump amongst the branches. I ran inside to grab my camera and a flashlight and was able to capture these images of what I found staring back at me. Cynthia quipped “It appears you have been accepted to Hogwarts

Baby Screech Owl

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s a bird

Cynthia and I went outside Friday evening and we heard a very loud, very distinctive squawk coming from the neighbor’s tree. After a minute a green Quaker Parrot flew out and landed in another tree. I tried to coax him down, but he was very timid. After I started to walk away he flew out of the tree and landed on my shoulder. Obviously this is someone’s pet. Cynthia has named him Murphy.

Murphy

Trip to High Island

Seagull Shrimp Buffet

I finally made it out to High Island to visit the Audubon bird sanctuaries. I drove to Galveston and took the Bolivar Ferry over to the peninsula. Had fun watching the seagulls get fed by the willing tourists and the shrimpers.

Cheeto Party!

Once on the peninsula I found my way to High Island and the world famous Rookery. Hundreds of Roseate Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets building nests. Used the Sony A99 and my Minolta 300mm lens combined with a 1.4 teleconverter.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Snowy Egret

Backyard Birding Report – April 20th, 2011

We’ve not spotted a single hummingbird so far this spring. BUT, we’ve spotted two kinds of birds not previously seen in our yard. We’ve seen a few Indigo Buntings, but I’ve not managed to get any photos. We’ve also seen a few of these:

Carolina Chickadee - 3

Carolina Chickadee - 2

I knew it was a Chickadee the minute I spotted it. Cynthia said it can’t be a Black-capped Chickadee (though it looks EXACTLY like one to me) because they don’t come to Texas. We looked up the Black-capped Chickadee and sure enough, they’re indigenous to the norther regions of the U.S. and they don’t migrate. A little research and we determined them to be Carolina Chickadees.

Also, one of the birdhouses we have hanging on the side of the house looks to have been attacked by something with sharp claws. It has not, however, stopped a pair of sparrows from raising three babies in it

Baby Sparrows

And, although not spotted in my yard, this guy strikes me as interesting. A very ragged vulture that rides the drafts between my office building and the one next to us.

Ragged Vulture

First Hummer Of The Season

We had ZERO hummingbirds in the spring. Very disappointing. Donald Ray Burger keeps a log of Houston hummingbird sightings going back to 1993 and when I read that he had his first fall sighting on August 5th I decided to put the feeders out. Today we spotted two hummers. One male and one female, both Ruby-Throated. It was late in the afternoon, but I setup the tripod real quick anyway and caught my first photo.

Hummer!

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Hummer!

Hopefully I’ll get some more shots before we head out on vacation. Even better, maybe they’ll still be here when we get back!

Fergus

Baby Blue Jay

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Baby Blue Jay

Poor little guy. Looks like the wind blew him out of his nest which is up pretty high in the Bottle Brush Trees so I couldn’t put him back, plus it looked like he might have a hurt wing as a result of the fall.

That and the neighborhood cat combined didn’t give me a good feeling about his chances of making it through the night so we scooped him up and took him to the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition just to be safe. His parents were frantic and dive-bombing me like crazy. I’m sure it was quite the site to see.

I felt bad. But in this scenario, everybody lives.

Cynthia named him Fergus.

The Wild Peafowl Of West Houston

Off Memorial Drive between Kirkwood and Dairy Ashford reside the wild peafowl of West Houston. Peacocks and Peahens roam the yards and streets, putting on a show and making a racket. Their call sounds like a baby crying out or a cat in severe pain. Some residents describe their call as “sounds like somebody being murdered.”

Overall they seem oblivious to the human residents and the occasional gawkers like myself who drive down to see them.

Apparently the population of about 50 birds are offspring from a pair that a landowner gave his wife more than 30 years ago. From what I understand, most of the residents like the birds.


And this one particular Peacock had no problem at all with me taking his picture as he presented himself, in all his glory, to any Peahen who cared to have a romp or a gander.


Spring Is Coming – But Wait!

We’re having some very odd weather here in Houston.

The last few days have been very comfortable and rather mild. There’s been just a hint of spring in the air. I’ve noticed that the birds are gearing up for the upcoming mating season. You can see it in their activity around the house and in the neighborhood.

This male Cardinal was singning to beat the band and showing off his mighty crest.

Cardinal Crest

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Cardinal Crest

And these two House Finches are busily building a nest in the neighbor’s tree

house Finches

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House finches

They seem blissfully unaware that we have our second snowfall of the season predicted for this afternoon.

That’s right, snow.

again

in Houston, TX

Poor birdies.

Backyard Birding Report Oct. 25th, 2009

Crow

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Crow

A murder of very large, very loud and very clever crows have taken up station at the end of the block. Apparently there’s a pecan tree down there yielding some nuts. The crows are flying to the top of the neighbor’s house and attempting to crack the nuts using their beaks. When this fails they let the nut roll down the roof and into the street to be crushed by oncoming cars. It’s quite a site to see. At one point there were about 7 or 8 crows lining the peak of the roof and all had pecans they were working on. One by one they let skitter to the street below. I can only imagine what it sounds like inside the house.