Thursday, September 23, 2010

First day of Fall

So here we are, the first day of fall and I could use the cliché that it looks like it!

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Pretty dull and gray and wet out there today…..

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as so often happens though, there was a lot of bird activity.  In the immediate area of the boat launch there were about 30 Mallards, some in their typical green headed breeding plumage (like those above), but some still in their ‘eclipse’ plumage….before I insert a photo demonstrating ‘eclipse’ plumage ~ look carefully in the above one, you’ll see 4 white heads belonging to Bald Eagles…way over there across the flats.

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The above picture obviously wasn’t taken today on the Chehalis Estuary ~ I took it on August 28 ‘10 at Tunkwa Lake, B.C. and am using it to show the plumage stage that male Mallard go through after the breeding season.  When Mallards are in this stage it is pretty hard, from a distance, to figure out what they are, however, since they are the only duck species to ‘quack’ when they fly, they are still pretty easy to identify.

Back to today’s report…there were also about 15 or so Green Wing Teal ducks…also in eclipse plumage….Green Wing Teal are the smallest of the dabbling ducks….so again, easy to identify, even out of breeding plumage.

Another species, this time of shorebirds, that is easy to identify by their sound, are Killdeer and today there had to be a couple of dozen all sounding quite hysterical which is typical of Killdeer.  They were too far away to get a decent picture today, but since I’ve mentioned Killdeer a few times now, decided to post another picture, not taken on the Estuary, but again, at Tunkwa Lake.

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I will do this from time to time as getting good pictures of birds is always a challenge….especially good pictures at a specific location!  Also seen today was a small flock of about a dozen small shorebirds…I think, due to the fact they ‘flew as one’ they were Dunlin….but can’t be absolutely positive.

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back to today, there was major activity in the bushes…..Robins and Towhee on the ground, but also many Ruby Crowned Kinglets mixed with Black Cap Chickadee in the vegetation and I even spotted a late juvenile Common Yellowthroat…at least I think that is what it was.  Hard to see through binoculars when rain is running across the lens!  Thank goodness they are waterproof!

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Here is the area by the log bay…a far cry from how it looked yesterday!  One last ‘bird’ note….I haven’t seen it, but I’ve been hearing a Varied Thrush out behind my place today.  Weather like today is typical ‘Varied Thrush’ weather, but it does seem really early for one to be here.  They usually don’t show up until early December, although I have known them to be here in early October ~ they love berries and fruits like crab apples and there are a lot of those sort of things in the area right now, so I guess not really surprising that one showed up.

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