Big Dip Dodged

The weather has turned into a more November-like form and time in the field requires a warm coat, finally. This doesn’t mean that the birding good times have come to an end though, as the ‘big ones’ often happen in November. We didn’t have to wait too long for the prophecy to come true on November-10 when Ervin came across a bunch of shivering hirundines at the end of Chebogue Point. Any swallow at this time of year is good but the ones we have been seeking are special, Cave Swallow. Sure enough the hypothermic gang contained two that had more sense than their Barn Swallow friends, as they cleared off about five minutes before we got there. We were rather hoping they’d reappear the next day, perhaps busily engaged in chipping insects out of the frozen ground, well one did.

For some years late in the autumn, Cave Swallows have flown north of their core range; far north in fact. Why is complicated. Perhaps they are scouting as part of range expansion, you presume that birds, when they do extend their range look before they leap, they are habitat and food source driven after all. Another possibility is a 180° error in migration, reverse migration, although why would so many suffer the same affliction? A third option is just that they are just stupid, and the premise has some traction given that their wintering grounds would be considerably more hospitable given their diet.

Northern Cardinal is a non-birders bird, so often badly photographed as to make it somewhat taboo for the serious birder to tackle, still, since I’m rarely serious and when one sits up in front of you then you might as well…

While looking for Scarlet Tanagers in Argyle recently this popped up. Called Summer in the field then doubted thanks to a husk of seed giving the impression of it having the diagnostic bill-tooth of Scarlet. Reading up, I hadn’t realised that eastern Summer Tanager has a 15% smaller bill than its western counterpart – split!

A roadside hawk around here is almost always a Red-tailed and it almost always flies off when you stop, almost always.

In any other year an Indigo Bunting in the yard would have me scrambling to get decent shots. Such has been the glut following the late October fall-out that enthusiasm for them is muted. A partially blue one showed up out back so I sat with the camera on lap in full view of the birds and waited. No Indigo unfortunately, I had just had to put up with this yard-tick Lincoln’s Sparrow!

This Cooper’s Hawk dropped by our yard recently, no doubt tempted by the menu, sorry diverse species mix. I took the photo through the window, amazed it came out although it was cleaned recently, we had rain.


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