Welcome back, Rebel!

Yahoo! Whoop-ti-doo! I mean it took me a whole year to learn this? Yes it did! But it was a great morning – lots of neat shore birds and a new warbler or two – plus, as usual, something of a mystery.

Scolding from sun side! (With this - and all images in this post - simply click the picture for a larger version.)

Now here’s the story. I loved my Canon Rebel when I first got it back in the winter of ’04.  But there were some irritating issues and I tired of lugging it around, so last year I bought a neat little light weight  – tiny – Casio Exilim – and I have used it exclusively for the past year and it has been pretty impressive. But while there’s a 10X optical zoom, the focus in telephoto mode leaves a lot to be desired and it’s darned hard to frame your shot while in full sunlight and using the screen – and the screen is your only choice, there’s no viewfinder.

I’ve put up with it, but yesterday when I got home from an excellent birding expedition on gooseberry with my friend Don Douglas, I was really ripped. I had seen my first American Oyster Catcher, a  very handsome bird, and the shots of it were downright embarrassing they were focused so poorly. An example:

Ouch! I about cried when I saw my only shots of this American Oyster Catcher - my first - were soft and out-of-focus. Not terrible in this size -but bad when you try to zoom. Don't click to enlarge - move on to something better. (That is one helluva beak, though, isn't it?)

Same with several pictures of  a Black-bellied Plover.  So last night I dusted off the Rebel, charged the batteries, checked the cards, found my telephoto and refreshed my memory on how to get the most out of it – well, how to use it 😉  Then I headed out to Gooseberry at 6 am. The tide was high and there wasn’t the great variety of shorebirds, but oh my -was I pleased.  Not only was I able to get some nice, in focus telephoto shots, but I actually grabbed several in flight ones. The shot above of a screaming seagul wasn’t all luck. It was planned. I tracked him as he moved towards the Sun with the hope of catching a dramtic backlit shot – and then I got real lucky because my finger pressing was in sync with his screaming.

Some of the Semipalmated plovers – there were droves – were so far up the beach that some flew inland as I got near.

Morning Sun catches the mostly-white underside of a Semipalmated Plover.

Most were very cooperative, posing for portraits. But the subtle marking around the head were hard to pick up on the East beach. When I rounded the point, I was heading more southwesterly and the Sun showed them to better advantage.

First, some shots with the Sun pretty much straight on.

Semipalmated Plover heading east into the morning Sun.

You have to wonder who handles air traffic control for these guys - they all land in the same spot at once!

OK – here we are on the southeastern beach – better lighting.

Bookends with a case of the cutes! A lesson, too - note how the size and shape of the black breast band on these Semipalmated plovers depends on posture, as Sibley points out. Oh - and the orange bill with black at its tip and a thin black band just above it is breeding plumage. As near as I can tell that's all that changes. (Click image for larger version.)

The Ruddy Turnstones - there were several - seemed to love any rock about 10 feet from the beach. They retreated to them often.

Looks like someone started out to paint a Semipalmated Plover, slipped a little and kept tryin to cover their mistakes 😉 (This image won't get any larger.)

Turnstones don't seem to mind sharing a good rock.

Semipalmated Plovers show a lot of white in flight - especially with a low Sun hitting them head on.

Semipalmated Plovers - I could watch them for a long time without getting bored a second!

Didn't look like there was much out at the end of the island - except this cormorant hanging himself out to dry - so I headed for the inland path.

Female yellow warbler - isn't she pretty? The path near the towers seems to attract warblers.

Now that's a finch beak! What's attached to it, I haven't a clue? For me it's an "LBJ" - Little Brown Jobby.

OK, now this is a Least Sandpiper, I believe, and if I'm right, he's more likely to be here on the central path, than down on the ocean-side rocks of the causeway where I saw them the other day.

his one is new – for me – I believe.

A Prairie Warbler? I think so just on the strength of this picture - I'm looking at the eye ring with semi-circle under it. (click to enlarge.)

Now this really cinched it for me - notice the two white tail feathers? Also the streaked breast. Prairie Warbler - I'll stake my reputation on it - since I don't have one 😉

The shadows are a little tricky here, but this provides a little more ocnfirmation of this being a Prairie Warbler. (Now if you're someone who really knows warblers and I'm wrong, please set me straight! Use the comments at the end of the post.)

This is my LBJ #2. I should be bale to figure it out, but these guys throw me and my head is spinning already.

Let’s wrap things up with a little mystery. I need some help here, Gull-darn it!

But before that I caught several shots of something else in the air and I wasn’t sure what it was. It crossed the  causeway in front of me and I was just sure it wasn’t the usual gull (Herring or Blackback), though it was the size of a small gull. Here are the shots. Know what it is? It is quite small – the two Blackbacks you see are well behind it.

It double-size in the inset - click image for larger version.

Here are a couple more shots – the last really showing the white rump.

Have you identified it yet? I’m still not sure, but my best guess is it’s a Laughing Gull in some sort of between stage  from juvenile to adult.  I base that on the dark head, the white rump, black tail, size and duskiness. I guess it could be a second winter Herring Gull, but it seemed too small.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s