The Adventures of a Field Biologist and Boy Explorer
Sunrise minutes ago from my office in downtown Montpelier, Vermont.
That’s the Trinity United Methodist Church in the foreground and the First Baptist Church of Montpelier in the background. I was standing near the Unitarian Church.
The Second Sunrise: A Final Monhegan Migration Report
He flashed yellow like an autumn sugar maple. When he launched from the meadow, the sun rose a second time over Monhegan Island. And as we left the island Monday for a wild boat ride, this star of fall migration – a young male Yellow-headed Blackbird – was still flying sorties and issuing his kuh-duck flight calls to the departing birdwatchers.
A Yellow-headed Blackbird has been traversing the skies over Monhegan Island, Maine, for the past couple of days. This westerner heads east now and then, more commonly reaching the Midwest. Occasionally one or two will land here on this small rock off Maine’s midcoast.
Dawn and Rare Birds
SUNRISE THIS MORNING is better than any warbler on Monhegan Island. Well, except for yesterday, when I found a Connecticut Warbler on the Burnt Head trail. Other big news from a flight of birds on Wednesday was one or more Yellow-headed Blackbirds, first discovered by Steve and Jane Mirick.
The Fog of Birding
In the rain, wind and fog on Monhegan Island today, we studied the finer points of common birds. When the winds blow strong from the south, as they have the past two days, migrating songbirds do not come to Monhegan. No worries among the group of amiable birders I am now guiding here. We’re enjoying whatever flies across our path.
A Monhegan Fallout
Today on Monhegan Island the winds blew fair with birds. Peregrine Falcons gave chase and took life. In the lilacs near the Rope Shed a Nashville Warbler cavorted with a Tennessee Warbler. A flock of a dozen Baltimore Orioles paraded around the village.
The Spineless on Monhegan
On north winds Wednesday morning the songbirds came to Monhegan – and then they left. Our gentle rain of migrants included newly arrived Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-winged Warbler (thanks to Tony Vazzano) and Cerulean Warbler, an extraordinary bird for the island. Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow, the usual Monhegan oddballs, entertained the besotted birders.
To borrow an entire chapter from William Faulkner: My favorite is a fish. Even though we saw more Cape May Warblers than Yellow rumped Warblers; even though Northern Gannets are plunge-diving everywhere offshore; even though Philadelphia Vireos present themselves with such elegance; even though Philadelphia Vireos make me swoon and happy; even though a Sharp-shinned Hawk chased a Belted Kingfisher by our deck during brunch; and even though we watched a couple of Minke Whales drift past Black Head; my favorite encounter during our first day with fall migrants on Monhegan Island, Maine, was the Ocean Sunfish off White Head.
Full Moon Rising
The full mooon rising over a ridgeline in Montpelier, Vermont, on Monday seemed to be a big hit on social media this week.
So here’s a reprise.
Next full moon: October 8.
Going Nuclear for Dragonflies
On a crisp, sunny day in September, after what was probably a typical summer for a dragonfly, a Common Green Darner took off and began to migrate south. As it cruised past the summit of Vermont’s Mt. Philo, with Lake Champlain below and the Adirondacks off in the distance, the dragonfly crossed paths with a Merlin.
Fall Warblers on the Move
Ah, the cleansing north winds of autumn. They’re bringing us songbirds. On these cooler morning you’ll find warblers nearly anywhere.
Shorebirds, Hawks and Extinction
ON THIS LABOR DAY, you need not labor over shorebirds. As sandpipers and plovers head south this month, I’ll remind you of my Solving Shorebirds post – a guide for landlocked birdwatchers. For those of you already skilled at shorebird…