Oyster Catchers caught! (And gulls and terns and a beautiful Common Yellow Throat and . . . )

. . . Butterflies too, and flowers, and rocks – hey, it’s fun on Gooseberry in late summer – lot’s to see. And what’s so common about a yellow throat? But enough!  The first dozen or so pictures – be warned – are all of a pair of  American Oyster Catchers that struck me as a great comedy duo – a sort of avian Laurel and Hardy – though that may be 99% in my imagination. However Pete Dunne, in his  “Essential Field Guide Companion,” does  say that Oysteer Catchers get quite noisy and “even maniacal sounding.” He describes their call as ” a prolonged giggle.”  But I honestly didn’t hear  it.  There was simply something about their whole deportment that I at once thought was both beautiful and made me want to smile, if not laugh out loud.

Maybe it’s just that crazy, long, bright orange/red beak? Or red eye? See what you think!

(As always, click on an image for  a larger version.)

Ah, that's better - now keep your eye on the guy with the paddles - we're going to make a carrier landing.

Understand, that Dunne also says Oyster Catchers are common.  Now I’m just a casual birder – but I’ve been a casual birder for half a century and I’ve spent an awful lot of time on beaches and marshes and rocky coasts and in all that time I’ve only seen Osyter Catchers once before – a week or so ago when I had the wrong camera and wasn’t at all satisfied with the pictures. This time I was out on Gooseberry early and at this particular moment as I walked the northeast beach toward the point I was thinking about how few shorebirds there were – nothing like the day I was out here with Don Douglas.  And right at that moment I caught somehting unusual flying towards me – two somethings – so I aimed the Canon Rebel with the 300mm lens and started clicking.

And while we’re on the topic of “Common”

I really hate it when the word “common” is part of a bird’s name – as in Common Yellow Throat. It just deflates that sense of discovery. Now I’ve seen one or two other  Common Yellow Throats before this. But I couldn’t begin to count the number of Chicadees, Robins, Blue Jays, Herring gulls, Black Ducks, etc. that I’ve seen and none of them have “common” in their names. And I would argue that the Common Yellow Throat is uncommonly beautiful. This one was in the thick shrubs out beyond the Towers along a path that goes down to the beach.

Catbirds are common around here – and I love them dearly – but this one seems a bit uncommon just because he looks in the second shot as if  he just stepped out of the shower – but no shower was in sight!

Cabbage Whites are  also common – very common – but kind of pretty. I suspect they’re a good part of the reason there are so many nice birds on Gooseberry!

And I was really charmed by this tiny, bluish Spring Azure. He’s about half the size of a Cabbage White and I consider Cabbage Whites small.

Meanwhile, back on the beach. I did want to mention these two clowns – it seemed to be a day for avian clowning. They walked right towards me like they were offering to share breakfast!

I declined. I was more distracted at the time by this ancient ruin – a sign of more intelligent life – or at least life with thumbs – that at one point  inhabited this beach.

Meanwhile, back on the rocks, a Herring Gull was enjoying it’s moment in the morning sun . . .

. . . and this Cormorant  had hung his wings out to dry. Does any other bird do this?

The Ruddy Turnstones continue to entertain – but while on other days they all seemed to occupy big rocks just off shore, today they seemed to be on the beach and were occupied – well, turning stones perhaps. What really struck me was how hard they were to see – how the rocks, and seaweed blended so nicely with their coats of many colors.

In flight they’re especially pretty.

And speaking of Turnstones – this next bird isn’t. He’s the Semipalamated Plover and more recently there have been a lot more of them then there were today – far more than the Turnstones. But as I looked carefully at this bird I noticed it’s beak was all black  – which is one of the few changes from mating season when it’s beak is half orange with a black tip. So mating season is over and I assume these guys are just passing through?

One bird that’s been frustrating me is the terns. I keep seeing them and I know they’re terns just by their size and behavior – but they don’t get close enough for me to make a positive identification of which tern. As I approached the causeway to leave I noticed this one who had discovered a school of minnows. So who can resist – one good tern . . .

. . . deserves another – and another, and another. . . hey there were plenty of fish and when I get tired I get punny!

And finally, on the rocky causeway, I got a good look at the difference in size between the Least Sandpiper (6″) – closer to the camera – and the Semipalmated Plover (7.25″).

OK – maybe that isn’t the Least – maybe it’s the slightly larger Semipalmated Snadpiper? I think it’s the Least because it’s bill seemed longer and abit curved and in other pictures it’s legs looked greenish-yellow, not black.

But who knows? This, I think, is a Semipalmated Sandpiper. But please – if you know your shore birds, correct me if I’m wrong.

There are many things that puzzle me about Gooseberry. Not the least of which is the way some of the rocks look split – almost by design – or as if they were dropped here from some great height and broke when they hit the beach. Or maybe someone took a chisel to them?

Ah – but mystery is what it’s all about. If we had all the answers would it really be so interesting?

And while we’re on the topic of mystery, are these some sort of wild morning glories? Or maybe something domestic-variety-gone-wild left over from the Gooseberry summer colony?  I have been taking pictures of flowers all spring and summer, but haven’t published many because I really don’t know whatI’m seeing. I figure I’ll sit down with the wildflower guides and brighten up some winter’s day by trying to sort them out.








Oh – and speaking of morning and common, I almost forgot the Mourning Doves which makes such a wonderful, haunting vocalization and such a dramatic sound when they take off.  well, take-off really isn’t what they do – they sort of explode into the air as if flung up by an unseen catapult. These were grazing the path out near the towers.


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2 Responses to Oyster Catchers caught! (And gulls and terns and a beautiful Common Yellow Throat and . . . )

  1. Daphne says:

    Nothing common about any of these birds! Gooseberry is a veritable avian paradise!

    Love the blog!

  2. Paul C says:

    You can even see the half-webs in between the toes of the SEMI PALM ated sandpiper.

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