An August Occasion

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An August Occasion

Postby Jim B » Sun Aug 07, 2005 4:08 pm

August always seems to be a slow month for birding in my area. The usual suspects, Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Northern Mockingbirds and so on continue to flit around the yard. The Barn Swallows are picking off insects tirelessly. They are starting to spend more time on the wires; a sign of getting ready to migrate. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are showing up fairly continuously at the feeders. They have already begun migrating.

It looks like it has been a great year for Little Blue Herons. Dozens of immatures are feeding alongside of the Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets. Great Blue Herons are feeding alone and making that weird call of theirs at night. The resident Belted Kingfisher is feasting on small fish.

Double-crested Cormorants, Least and Common Terns join with Striped Bass and Bluefish in feeding frenzies that make the water boil with activity as the fish drive smaller fish to the surface. Laughing Gulls pick daintily at the surface.

Shorebirds have started to migrate as well. Sanderlings, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Willets zip by the shore, while Black-bellied Plovers and Greater Yellowlegs are starting to trickle in.

These images were all captured on the mudflats of my yard in the warm light of the setting sun.

Image

A pair of Greater Yellowlegs (yardbirds)

Image

The easiest way to tell a Greater from a Lesser Yellowlegs is their call but often they are silent. If you get a good look in profile the Greater will show a slightly upturned bill while the Lesser?s is straight.

Image

The most populous migrating shorebird around here for the last week or so has been the Semipalmated Plover.

Image

I think they are one sharp looking little shorebird.

What's happening in your neck of the woods this August?
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August

Postby veery » Sun Aug 07, 2005 9:39 pm

Great photo essay, Jim! I really like the golden light. Are those snails on the beach around the plovers? And is that a clamming rake?

It is fairly quiet inland, south of Gloucester where these photos were taken. The usuals are around, in greater numbers because of all the fledglings: six northern mockingbirds (!), five cardinals, numerous American robins including some still with speckles chasing through the big willow tree. There also are quite a few blue-gray gnatcatchers (small birds with a small sound) catching insects among the leaves and several phoebes and other flycatchers.

Two male Baltimore orioles appeared in the yard after a few weeks' absence, along with male and female rose-breasted grosbeaks. A beautiful black-and-white warbler climbed up the tree trunk early one morning--easy to distinguish from the usual white-breasted nuthatches. A female common yellowthroat has appeared from time to time.

Farther afield, we have been watching two ospreys who visit the local ponds to fish. We're hoping they are breeding in the area or perhaps will breed here next year. Also saw a mother turkey with six young crossing a backroad from one field to another.

Soon it will be time to watch for common nighthawks zooming across the sky!
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An August Occasion

Postby Tonkluvr » Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:25 pm

Hey everyone....it's been awhile since I've posted. Work and life have been crazy, but I still take time to watch the birds. I've seen a bit a slow down in Kansas too. I still see a ton of Baltimore orioles, but its more the youngsters than the adults and they aren't at the mealworms and jelly as much as they were a month ago. They are wreaking havoc on my hummingbird feeder, however. You can imagine that ain't making the resident hummer too happy. I've seen a slow down, in general, at the feeders.....I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the availability of natural seed sources in late summer and the fact that I switched to safflower about 6 weeks ago to cut down on the "garbage" birds.

Here's who's regularly around in the yard:
baltimore orioles
hummingbirds
house finches
cardinals
robins
carolina wrens
brown thrashers
blue jays
grackles
starlings

A lot of these are year round birds. The orioles, hummers, thrashers, and grackles all will migrate in mid to late September. Everyone else should be here all year. Interestingly, we have robins all year.....but not the same robins. Ours will migrate south in the fall, but some from further north will spend the winter here. Our winters are mild enough (usually) that they can find food.

Soon enough the orioles will be gone and the juncos and harris sparrows will return....

Shari
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Postby Jim B » Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:40 pm

Hi Veery and thanks. I'm not sure if it is a clamming rake or not. I get so concentrated on getting the image of the bird, I just don't see anything else.

Hi Tonkluvr, nice to see your face in the place again! We get the same thing with the Robins. You often find them mixed in with Cedar Waxwings in winter feasting on berries. Here's a loaded question: what is a garbage bird out there? :D
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An August Occasion

Postby Tonkluvr » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:53 pm

Hey Jim -

I guess one person's trash is another's treasure, right? With that said...."Garbage" birds here in Kansas are grackles, starlings, and some varieties of sparrows (like house sparrows). They show up at the feeders in droves, make a mess, and keep the more desirable birds away. Grackles will drain my sunflower feeders in no time at all. I finally switched to all safflower to get rid of them. The starlings are a problem if they discover the mealworm feeder (which they haven't this year, thankfully). They aren't much larger than the orioles, so they can get in and consume large quantities of worms if I don't watch out.

In the winter, I add crows to the "garbage birds" mix. When they run out of food in the wheat fields, they make their way to our yard and make a terrible mess. Though, I have to admit it's kinda funny to see a big ol' crow trying to hang on a tube feeder!

Shari
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