Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Friday, September 30, 2011

Straggler Catch-up: Warbler Hell was Upon Me

Back to the reality of my cottage critters before Ann's arrival on September 13th: today I find myself back in Warbler Hell, but it's a kill me   shoot me now  welcome break from scary Moose and whining Osprey. Well, not quite re the Osprey, but at least this post has some other goodies in it for a change, beginning with our resident Otter who made another one of his visits at dawn off the dock, he was actually snorting when he came up out of the lake with a crayfish in tow:

My spidergirl friend Laura called me about this beautiful Monarch Butterfly chrysalis she found on her garage door. Look carefully and you will see the orange and black wings!

I returned a few days later to find it gone, but did find this Monarch Butterfly in all its glory nearby:

On Friday, September 9th, I inadvertently entered Warbler Hell while taking a walk along the back road towards the swamp, beginning with this first year male Common Yellowthroat:

It seemed like only the young ones were out and about, always intrigued by the sound of my camera (and not put off by my groans as I struggled to identify them). This young male Black-throated Green's wobbly song was a dead giveaway, though, he would need to put some more effort into that for the gals, as acrobatic moves on their own just won't cut it:

A first year male Magnolia Warbler was a pleasant surprise:

By Golden Hour on the Saturday night, I was twitching for the Osprey nest, so off I went and while watching the babies, what is either a Song or a Swamp Sparrow landed on the wire fence next to me. I'm going with a Song, thanks to Master John as he's got more years of experience than I, plus the angle of the shot is limiting any other field markings:

Meanwhile, up in the nest, one of the Osprey babies was snoozing in the sunshine:

...and he's out cold, head drops down, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz:

But not for long, as this one made his way over to one of their preferred spots in time for Golden Hour:

Early the next morning, after this gorgeous sunrise...

...a silent but curious young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak watched me from above along the back road towards the swamp:

And yup, again that night I found myself back at the nest at the Golden Hour, observing a gagging Osprey:

...a fluffy Osprey:

...a regal Osprey:

...a headless Osprey:

...and an itchy Osprey (can you begin to imagine what this would look like if those talons scratched out an eye??? Major OUCH!) :

By the morning of Monday, September 12th, I had been totally swallowed up by Warbler Hell. I'm only just now reviewing my photos today to identify these suckers, and granted, some were readily identifiable on the same day (wow, what a difference a year makes!), but others were still a challenge, and I even discovered some new species that I'd missed as my eyes no doubt glazed over them all. 

So here goes, in order of appearance that day down at the swamp, wheeeee!

Not a warbler at all, grrrr, a $#%^ Warbling Vireo!

A first year female Northern Parula:

Yellow-rumped Warbler:

Cape May Warbler:

First fall female Yellow-rumped Warbler:

At times she was too close for me to focus on her!

A female adult Blackburnian Warbler, my surprise photo find of the day and a toughie, thanks to Master John for agreeing with me!

A first year male Black-throated Green Warbler, with its same wobbly song from before:

And lastly PHEW! , a handsome first year male Northern Parula:

It was time for me to retreat back to the comfort zone of the Osprey nest that night as I was exhausted by all of those warblers. I tried to stay away, I really did, but I only stayed for half an hour, but what an unusual time it was that evening! Both babies were quite feisty and irritable with each other:

Dad flew in with his usual Golden Hour food drop...

...and all hell breaks loose with the babies, more so than usual. The one on the right has won the fish fight:

As I was checking my camera settings, the babies got into yet another skirmish and I heard a loud "SNAP". I immediately feared that it was an injury to one of their wings, but in the end figured out it was a breaking branch in the nest. They were extremely snarky and aggressive towards each other so maybe the father was weaning them off his food drops to encourage them to do it themselves. 

The baby eventually left the nest with the fish, making a brief fly-by around the area, and I fully expected it to land in one of their usual feeding trees. Instead it returned to the nest with the fish and stayed put, occasionally just looking at it, as the poor fish was still flapping around every so often. Here was proof that dad does not always remove the head for them, but the baby soon began to eat, putting the fish out of its misery.

With a tight grip on its meal,  the baby Osprey fluffed itself up, I just love the beauty of these magnificent birds:


It continued to contemplate its next move with its meal, always wary of its hungry sibling up in the nest:

I left them alone for another day, but was thrilled to have seen different behaviour during this visit, as this was the first time that I had seen such nasty battles. Perhaps they were finally figuring out that it was time for them to part company and head south? 


Jeremy Medina said...

Wow, awesome photos! The male parula is really cool.

Angie in TO said...

That pic of the monarch chrysalis is very, very cool! :)

Jen said...

Haha, warbler hell, love it... I will trade you your warbler hell for my shorebird hell anyday... Amazing shots of the osprey and the butterfly before and after shots are awesome to see.