26 August, 2015

17 August, 2015

Chimney Swift


The chittering of swifts is a most welcome sound of early summer in Minnesota. This is the view from our balcony, where we watched their amazing aerobatic displays.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Seen, and heard, while hiking along the Ubehebe crater in Death Valley.

Lucy's Warbler

Our one thousandth bird. Seen in May 2015 in Furnace Creek, Death Valley.

05 January, 2015

Xantus's Hummingbird

A chance meeting with a fellow birder led us to the gardens of the Tropicana Inn in San Jose del Cabo where we saw this elusive endemic the morning prior to our departure.

02 January, 2015

Merlin

Scientific Name: Falco columbarius

Range / Habitat:

Field Notes: Striped tail.

Personal Notes: We've been looking for this bird for a while, but finally found him in the San Jose Estuary.

18 August, 2014

Black Swift

Scientific Name: Cypseloides niger

Range / Habitat: Breeds in high, rocky niches in the Caribbean and at sites near the Pacific coast of  Canada, US and Mexico. Wintering grounds unknown, but they may travel as far as South America. 

Field Notes: Large, all black, swift which may have some white fringes to underparts. 

Personal Notes: Seen in flying over Maligne Gorge in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. We later saw these marked nest sites further up the gorge. 

Franklin's Grouse

Scientific Name: Falcipennis canadensis

Range / Habitat: Year-round in boreal forests and taiga throughout Canada and Alaska.

Field Notes: Medium-sized fowl with heavily barred back and breast. Breeding males nearly black, as above, females lighter brown, as below. Males with white-boardered black throat and red eye combs. Ruffed Grouse larger with a crest and no red eye comb.

Personal Notes: First seen in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. These birds were not shy, often found right on the side of the road, not moving even when we stopped to photograph them. We later found the male on route to Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Scientific Name: Regulus satrapa

Range / Habitat: Preferred habitat coniferous forest, year-round in the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern US. Summers in Canada into Alaska, winters throughout much of the US.

Field Notes: Very small songbird with grey to olive-green upperparts and buff underparts. Yellow to orange crown patch with black border. White eyebrow and black eye-line. Ruby-crowned Kinglet lacks eyebrow and eye-line.

Personal Notes: Seen in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

27 June, 2014

Northern Gannet

Scientific Name: Sula bassana

Range / Habitat: Breeds on offshore islands and inaccessible cliffs in large, isolated colonies in the north Atlantic, including Newfoundland, Iceland, the UK, Scandinavia, and Russia. Winters at sea in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, reaching down to 45 degrees latitude.

Field Notes: Large white waterbird with black wing-tips. Long bill and pointed tail. Head with orange-yellow tinges. Plunge-dives for food.

Personal Notes: First seen on Heimay Island in Iceland and (barely) photographed five years later on the Reykjanes Peninsula of Iceland.

25 June, 2014

White-tailed Sea-eagle

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus albicilla

Range / Habitat: Diverse aquatic habitats, both freshwater and marine. Year-round in SW Greenland, W Iceland, N & C Eurasia. Winters S to N Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Pakistan, N India and SE China.

Field Notes: Large eagle, overall dark brown with yellow bill and legs. In mature adults, tail white, head and neck pale buff. Unmistakable in range.

Personal Notes: Highlight of a "Viking Sushi" tour of Breidafjordur Bay in western Iceland, though the sushi was pretty good, too. Once the bird was sighted, Richard raced to the back of the boat and managed to get this shot (with the characteristic white tail) before we pulled out of range.

24 June, 2014

Red-necked Phalarope

Scientific Name: Phalaropus lobatus

Range / Habitat: Breeds on tundra in the circumpolar Arctic. Winters at sea in a variety of spots near the equator.

Field Notes: Small wader, smallest of the phalaropes. Small, needle-like bill and slender neck. Brown upperparts, with some gold, white breast and chin. Rufous horseshoe-shaped collar.

Personal Notes: A ubiquitous bird in small pools of water in Iceland in the summer, but surprisingly difficult to photograph.

Meadow Pipit

Scientific Name: Anthus pratensis

Range / Habitat: Breeds in a variety of open habitats in northern Europe, including Iceland and Greenland. Resident in western Europe but northern breeding populations migrate further south, as far as northern Africa, to similar open habitats, but also including seashores.

Field Notes: Small pipit with slender bill. Upperparts brown streaked with black, underparts buff, also streaked and sometimes coalescing in breast spot.

Personal Notes: We found this European bird to be somewhat of a cross between an American Pipit and an Eastern Meadowlark in its behaviour.

Purple Sandpiper

Scientific Name: Calidris maritima

Range / Habitat: Breeds on tundra and rocky areas from NE Canada through Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia to NW Siberia. Winters on rocky coasts of E North America and NW Europe.

Field Notes: Plump, medium-sized shorebird. medium-length bill with yellow base and slight droop at end. Short yellow legs. Grey to brown head, neck and back. Underparts lighter and heavily streaked. No purple in breeding plumage and only a faint sheen in winter.

Personal Notes: A surprise find at Snaefellsjoekull National Park in Iceland.

European Shag

Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax aristotelis

Range / Habitat: Marine bird with strong preference for rocky coasts and islands. Year-round on the Atlantic coast of Europe, including western Iceland, and in the Mediterranean.

Field Notes: Medium-sized cormorant, with short tail, glossy back overall. Eye turquoise, base of gape yellow. Crest in non-breeding plumage.

Personal Notes: Seen initially on the rocky coast of Snaefellsjokull National Park, Iceland. The mom and chick later seen in Breidafjordur Bay, Iceland.