Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Butterflies of Virginia

We spent the weekend visiting in-laws near Virginia Beach. The birding was so-so, limited time coupled with bad lighting when I did get out meant that I didn't come away with bloggable images. Besides, one Royal Tern post per year is probably sufficient.

The butterflies in the woodlot behind Brent's house, though, were somewhat more cooperative than the Pine Warbler or Carolina Chickadees. Some of these butterflies can also be found in Michigan, though they were all pretty new to me.

These monarchs are actually from Tiscornia.

I always hope to find hairstreak butterflies, but end up seeing a lot of tailed blues in Michigan. The only other hairstreak I've seen was in Arizona, also a Gray Hairstreak.

Common Wood-nymphs in the south have a distinctive yellow patch to the leading edge of the wing.

This Pearly-eye has me somewhat puzzled.
Per Kaufman and Brock, I was in the range of Southern Pearly-eye, and this one does have yellow antennae like Southern should have, but the wings look much better for Northern Pearly-eye: perhaps an intergrade?

This is a Gemmed Satyr, a somewhat subtle species that I thought had worn off some of the hindwing, but that's just the way they're patterned.

Now we move onto skippers, I've probably got some of these ID's wrong, but here's my guesses, there may be some addendums in the future...

I'm going to go Clouded Skipper on this one. I have a dorsal view which isn't as nice a pic that I think makes Little Glassywing less likely (but still probably possible).

This one might be a Dun Skipper, but conceivably could be a faded version of whatever the above one really is.

I'm fairly confident this last one is a Sachem skipper.

Maybe some day I'll find a Seaside Sparrow, but it certainly wasn't this last trip.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full-frame Frigatebird

I returned to Tiscornia this morning to find the bird putting on a full show, cruising up and down the pier rarely requiring a wingbeat, sometimes spreading the tail to angle in a somewhat different direction.

There were times when a person had to settle for head and shoulders shots since it would approach too closely to fit in the full frame.

The bird re-appeared suddenly in front of Tim and me to swoop down on some fish entrails tossed out for it by a fisherman. I don't think it actually ate them but did pick them up a few times giving good views of the dorsal side of the bird.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This time with pictures

I arrived at Tiscornia this morning to find the lakewatch overlook empty except for Tim's chair, and picked him up in the bins walking out the pier. I followed him out and eventually caught up to find he'd spotted a frigatebird way out over the water. Having seen one a couple years ago at Tiscornia I was glad that this time we'd get pics. I picked it up and we watched it cruise about, slowly getting closer. And closer. And closer. About the time it was about to start filling the frame I lost it behind the lighthouse. A quick sidestep over and here's an abridged series of what I saw through the viewfinder next...

Flabbergasted doesn't begin to describe seeing a Magnificent Frigatebird pull a murrelet and land on the lighthouse, but land it did. It remained despite workers working on the lighthouse, using a generator, blow torch, and scaffolding.

It was still there when I walked away 3 hours after it landed.

Just in case the gape color is useful in separating these from a couple of the Southern ocean species here's one more.
The lack of white in the underwing and the lack of alar bars on the upperwing reduce this to male Magnificent Frigatebird of the birds seen in the ABA area. Apparently Ascension Frigatebird is extremely similar to male Magnificent, though somewhat smaller. I still need to sort through all of the ~700 photos I just downloaded from the camera, I'll probably put a few more up in the next day or so depending on time and their value.
For what it's worth, the right wing is pretty beat up. I remember looking back over Berrien Frigatebird records a few years ago, to my memory all followed gulf hurricanes whose eye ended up Lake Michigan so this bird's a bit of an oddity. While that recent hurricane that threatened the eastern seaboard pushed frigatebirds up to Nova Scotia I don't know of any on the east side of the storm. The North American Birds Changing Seasons column from a few years ago that followed the last Berrien Frigatebird noted that frigatebirds were the main thing pushed inland by Hurricane Ike and that the pattern seemed to be that really massive (though not necessarily those with the highest winds) tend to push frigatebirds inland (such as Hurricane Gilbert that preceded 2 of the other Berrien Frigatebird records).

Friday, September 17, 2010

We take a break

from the Great Sandwich Tern Panic of 2010. Which is not to say I didn't spend 4 hours at Tiscornia this morning, but that was on general principle.

Went to visit the in-laws in the evening and found a nice group of warblers foraging for once in fairly open bushes in nice light. I think these are the best photos I've obtained of all of these species.

I needed to stop down on this Cape May, it's a tad over-exposed.
though not so bad once it moved into the shadows.

The first year Cape Mays are quite gray, but their short tails and the suggestion of fine breast and flank streaking give them away.

This Palm Warbler peered down at me, possibly wondering where the screech owl was.

I keep thinking Nashville when I see the fall Magnolias. It'd be nice to get a good shot at a first fall Chestnut-sided since they have bright eyerings too. Hazel was excited to see A Warbler, 2 magnolias flitting about were close enough for her to see easily before running back to the bonfire.

Finally a serendipitous, if mildly fuzzy, flight shot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Avocets at last

I don't think I've ever gone this far into the year before tallying an Avocet for the year list and it was starting to feel like a bit of a jinx bird, but 2 appeared today (probably the same 2 seen by others yesterday by the bird club) flying down the beach.

Note that the top/lead bird has white edgings to the tips of most of the primaries making it a first year bird.

The adult, which has a little more buffiness to the neck is moulting a secondary, though I'm not sure that's visible in either of the 2 pics above.
The birds landed on the beach. The adult is presumably a male based on the straighter bill.

The sanderlings are now virtually all juvies, this one was captured mid-sprint a few days ago...

Finally a butterfly new for me at Tiscornia, I think I've seen it before but I'm not sure where, a Variegated Fritillary:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall warblers are hard ...

... mostly to get a decent view of.

How sweet would this BT green have looked in spring if the redbud was in blossom and not foliated with leaves 3 times as big as the bird?

I've not had time to get out very much at all lately, birding has mostly been confined to the yard when I notice activity as I drive up the driveway.
Blackpoll warblers are always more common in fall than spring for some reason.

This is a pretty bright Magnolia for the fall

Tennessee warblers also look pretty different from the way they do in the spring.

Wilson's also seems more common in the fall, though I think this is more because they're a pretty late spring migrant but come south more with the bulk of the birds rather than taking a different migration route entirely like I think Blackpoll does on average.