Many times as I start across the causeway I see a flock of Common Eiders by Bar Rock and I stop to photograph them because I’ve learned at last that what I assume are Eiders may be something else. Well, the shot I took on the way in showed only Eiders. But on the way out I repeated the process and bingo! Two – or more – Black Scoters showed up, the first I’ve seen this season. ( I may have seen some other years – not sure.) You can see them too. They’re the pair to the left in this picture. Note those bright orange bills!
It was roughly 1 pm and 62 degrees (balmy) and clear skies and pretty low tide, so I decided to walk the West Beach to the towers, something I haven’t done in years. Before I got to West Point I was greeted by this little fellow, hopping from rock to rock ahead of me. (On the shore I expect shore birds – but I’m finding there is quite a spill over of songbirds from the land. ) So . . .
Why isn’t this a Yellow-rumped Warbler?
Because the yellow is under the tail – not on the rump. No yellow patches on the breast near the wings either. So what is it? My best guess is a first year female Common Yellowthroat. The Yellowthroat vanished and another bird appeared so quickly I missed the exchange. As I continued to walk I assumed it was the same bird in front of me – but this one was a flycatcher – a juvenile Eastern Phoebe I believe. (The slight yellow tinge would make it a first year bird.)
A few steps more – this was all in the neighborhood of what I call Westpoint – and I see this little beauty in the brush – and again, the yellow under the tail catches the eye. But it’s not a Common Yellowthroat. This time I’m quite sure it’s a Palm Warbler. Note the dark eye line, the pale stripe above the eye and the general, dullish brown coloring. That all fits nicely with what is shown in The Sibley Guide to Birds.
So today’s walk really got off to an interesting start and thanks to the camera, I’m gaining a certain amount of confidence in my bird identification. Back in the field, I have a better idea of what to expect and what to try to notice.
As I approached the area of the towers I noticed these metal posts set in blocks of concrete. I suspect they were part of the chain link fence – which must have gone right to the water – that surrounded the WWII military installation. (Cukie Macomber told me about it. ) Amazing they’re still here.
And when you walk off the beach just a few feet, this is the view that greets you as you look north by northeast. I really found it striking.
Near the towers -a great area for small birds – was this female American goldfinch still in breeding colors. Now this is something I see at the house often, so I’m pretty sure of the identity. (Nope – I’m wrong. In his comments below Paul C. identifies this “a Blackpoll Warbler in a bush.” OK – I now see that Sibley shows a “first winter” Blackpoll that looks just like this. And I should have known this bird does not have a finch beak which is short and thick and good for cracking seeds! Learning! Thanks Paul!)
With temperatures in the low sixties, there was plenty of butterfly action – though no Monarchs – and I really liked this American Painted Lady. It seemed to have more intense color than the one I saw yesterday.
I walked a short distance past the towers towards the south end of the island which has proven to be prime Monarch territory – and saw none. If I had had the energy to go all the way out, however, I suspect I would have seen a few, but the vast majority have certainly passed through now. What I did see was this fellow and to the naked eye – remember, I’m using a powerful telephoto, plus sometimes enlarging the pictures – I thought it was a Slate-colored Junco and I took this shot, then backed off to get a picture of it flying showing to show how the white on the outer tail looks in flight. Wrong! It’s another Eastern Phoebe and when it flew the picture showed nothing but shades of deep grey.
Sulphurs are green!
OK, the guide starts the Sulphurs page by saying: “Sulphurs are yellow. . .” And yes, most of the ones I see flying certainly look yellow. But the pictures in the guide – and the picture I took today – show a predominant green tinge with red trim – very colorful. This is a Clouded Sulphur.
I saw several Cabbage Whites, I believe, as well. Also took a lot of plant pictures and perhaps in winter when things get dullI’ll try to sort them out. For now, I’ll stick with the birds and the buttterflies and hope some of what I’m processing gets stored in memory where I can recall it 😉