Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hammond's Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii) - 29Nov2015

See my other posting for a comparison to the similar Dusky Flycatcher.  This Hammond's Flycatcher actually did vocalize which helped to clinch the ID.  Some other key hints: more peaked looking head, long primary projection (how much the primary wing feathers project from the secondary ones), it stayed fairly high up most of the time choosing fairly mature deciduous and coniferous trees and finally it was in an area where other experts have regularly reported this species and not the other.  This was in Ramsey Canyon in a comparatively more lush landscape with plenty of large trees including very large conifers.  Of course taking photos of a small flycatcher in a conifer is not easy so luckily this one forayed a bit into nearby deciduous trees that had lost their leaves or dead branches.

Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri) - 26Nov2015

The Dusky Flycatcher is one of those troublesome empidonax that is almost impossible to distinguish by sight alone.  It is easily confused with Hammond's Flycatcher.  However, by piecing together typical habitat, behavior, voice and previous sighting information, it can be done fairly reliably.  The below bird was photographed in Florida Canyon near the famed Madera Canyon in Southeast AZ.  Dusky Flycatchers tend to stay out in the open, lower down and in more scrubby riparian habitat.  Hammond's on the other hand tend to hand out higher up in coniferous areas.  I ended up seeing a Hammond's on this same trip a couple days later over in Ramsey Canyon which is definitely chock full of conifers and true to form it stayed higher up.

I believe this particular bird was the same bird that some other very good birders (eBird reviewer) had also reported in Florida Canyon on either side of my visit.  Note the relatively short primary projection.

Note the relatively rounded appearance of the head.  Hammond's has a more peaked looking head.

Here is presumably the same bird taken later in the day when I brought my brother back to look for the close by Black-capped Gnatcatchers.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) - 18Sep2016

Black-throated Blues are the quintessential Blue Ridge Parkway warbler for North Carolina.  This is one of the handful of warblers that can be found summering in NC.  They can be found at lower and higher elevations and their buzzing song can be heard even by half deaf birders like me.  I captured the below picture on the Commissary Ridge Trail just down from the Mount Mitchell summit, the highest point east of the Mississippi River.  Now I just need to get a picture of Black-throated Green eating green grapes.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) - 22May2016 and 13Aug2016 & 08Sep2018

From Wiki: The bridled tern (Onychoprion anaethetus, formerly Sterna anaethetus is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. It is a bird of the tropical oceans. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus is onux, "claw", and "prion", nail. The specific anaethetus means "senseless, stupid"

Apparently this unfortunate greek name stems from the fact that hungry sailors captured this relatively docile bird on the high seas fairly easily.

I didn't think I would top my other Bridled Tern pics, but this one takes the cake.  This was a pair floating close inshore on our way back from the gulf stream in 2018.

The following pics were taken on two different days out on a Brian Patteson Pelagic in NC waters in previous years.

If you see a dark backed tern sitting on a piece of flotsam out in the Gulf Stream, chances are it is a Bridled Tern. The below bird was found on a particularly large piece of bamboo.

Note the white nape, on a Sooty Tern the white collar would not go all the way around.

The back is much more pale than on a Sooty Tern.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Bahama Woodstar (Calliphlox evelynae) - 05Dec2015

This Bahama endemic is the namesake of one of the little houses at Calypso, my father's property down in Eleuthera.  The three houses all have the word "star" in the name.  There is Sea Star of which is named after the giant Seastars found down the road in Savannah Sound.  Technically this Seastar is a Bahama Cushion Star Fish.  Morning Star is the converted garage steps from the beach and I believe named as such because the sun rises over it when sitting at the main house (Seastar).  I think it may also have a double meaning, something to do with Homer's Odyssey.  Then last but not least is Wood Star which is named after the Bahama Woodstar but also because it is mostly made of wood or at least has more wood in the construction than the other houses.

The Bahama Woodstars litter the property mostly because my father has feeders everywhere but also because of all the flowers including tons of "Firecracker" which they love.  Recently there was a split with a hummer found on Inagua, aptly named the Inagua Woodstar which can only be reliably told from the Bahama Woodstar by a careful analysis of the tail feathers or vocalizations.  Luckily that species is endemic to Inagua and does not inhabit Calypso.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) - 20Aug2016

The Long-billed Curlew or "Sicklebird" or "Candlestick bird" is native to central and western North America but does have a tendency for vagrancy.  Every year someone finds one or two in North Carolina and usually it is on the Core Banks.  Here is a better picture form the Lower Rio Grande Valley in TX in 2017.  See further down for NC records.

The following pictures were taken at Ophelia Inlet.  This is one of those species where the female has a longer bill than the male.  So maybe this particular bird was a female.  Here is another interesting tidbit gleaned from Wiki: "Candlestick Point in San Francisco was named after this indigenous bird, and subsequently Candlestick Park stadium inherited the name".