Saturday, July 31, 2010

Plum Island 7/31

Today I spent some time on Plum Island. Instead of looking for all the rarities that have been seen there lately, I decided I'd look at some of the common things in a little more detail.

Every fall there are lots of Tree Swallows that Stage on Plum Island. I've never seen it before since last fall I was obsessed with chasing down every rarity in NH. Today, I was absolutely blown away with how the swallows filled the sky. And it's not even to its peak yet!!! Here are some of the birds taking off today.

Not only do they fill the sky but the fill the road too! I wonder how many birders zipped through not bothering to stop and appreciate how cool this was on their way to chase down a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Royal Tern, etc.

One of the other neat things I got to see there was this Semipalmated Sandpiper which was actually tagged!!! I like how you can see the reflection and the habitat in the photo instead of a full frame shot. It may not be field-guide worthy, but I didn't have to flush any birds and it shows a different side of the birds that is often overlooked in my opinion.

Finally, I ended the day taking photos of terns and appreciating all the diversity in looks amongst terns this time of the year. You get adults, juveniles, and some making some neat transitions and there is also individual variation! And when you consider that there are 3-4 species around this diversity is quickly multiplied!!!

I didn't get any spectacular shots but I did manage to pull this shot off which shows a Tern diving from the underside... Kind of neat ... but not perfect!!!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Seal Island NWR 6/27

So a while ago I went to Seal Island NWR and had a fantastic day. I saw tons of alcids and lots of other neat birds. One of the most memorable things for me had to be a fight I saw between two Razorbills:

Razorbills are closely related to Puffins which also were present on the Island:

I had never seen a Puffin prior to this trip so needless to say I was very excited about it!!! Puffins actually breed on the island and were one of my primary targets for the trip. The number 1 target was a Red-tailed Tropicbird that's been seen on the island over the past few summers.

Unfortunately we struck out with the Tropicbird. But that happens from time to time! You just don't get to see everything.

We did get to see lots of other birds though including Arctic Terns which are not very common in NH. In fact only 6 pairs breed in NH and I've never had such knee-buckling views as I did near Seal Island in Maine:

All in all I had a great time and got to see tons of Puffins, Razorbills, and other Alcids like the Common Murre on the left 1/3 of the photo below. Yes, those are puffins on the rocks to the right!!!

Sometimes its nice to get away and just enjoy something new and different. I've never seen anything like a breeding colony of alcids before and... it was definitely worth the trip. Hopefully one day I'll see a puffin in NH, but if I don't... At least I had the awesome experience of seeing them on their nests!