Thursday, December 31, 2015

Woolly Bear

Insects in Winter

Woolly Bear
Seeing an insect slowly crawling across the trail in front of me last week was a surprise.  I knew Wooly Bears were common but had never noticed one alive and active so late in the season.  Our good weather in December must have contributed to its late activity.

The Woolly Bear is the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella).  Its adult form is a smallish moth with light orange wings and orange body with black dots running down the length.  It is found in many cold regions including the Arctic.  

In some areas it is called the Woolly Worm.  In the USA there are Woolly Bear Festivals!  The Woolly Bear is not 'woolly' at all.  It is actually covered with stiff bristles and feels much like a stiff brush.  

Folklore tells us that the Woolly Bear is a weather predictor.  As the story goes, the width of the black bands on the front and rear of the caterpillar are indicative of the coming winter weather.  If the bands are narrow, we will have an easy winter.  Conversely, if the black bands are broad, we will have a severe winter. 

Isabella Tiger Moth  [Internet Photo]
The Woolly Bear (Isabella Tiger Moth) completes its life cycle in one year in the temperate zones of North America.  Farther north it may take more than one year.  In the Arctic it may take several years because of the short season for the caterpillars to feed.  Some have been known to take up to 14 years!  How does it do this?  Well, the Woolly Bear caterpillar can freeze and thaw without damage.  

The adult moths lay their eggs in summer and the larvae develop over the summer to become the Woolly Bear caterpillar, as we know it, by late summer.  In late fall they disperse, looking for suitable sites to overwinter, in holes in rocks and trees and logs.  There they freeze solid.  In spring they thaw and then spin a cocoon in which they develop into adult moths.  An interesting cycle!

So the two Woolly Bears I found last week were still looking for suitable sites to overwinter.  I hope they found something because heavy winter has since come.  With the temperature at -13ºC this morning, and about 25 cm of snow which has come since, they are likely in for the winter.  

Friday, December 25, 2015

Fredericton Christmas Bird Count

Douglas Sector

Bald Eagle [Internet Photo]
The Fredericton Christmas Bird Count has taken place now for over 50 years.   I have participated in a very large number of them.  It has been an interesting experience.

We cover the Douglas sector, the area between the Claudie Road and the former site of Hillcrest Fruit, just above Grand Pass.  It is usually held on a Sunday before Christmas, this year on Dec. 20.  We spend most of the day on the roads or somewhere on the landscape in that sector trying to establish the species of birds that are present and their numbers.  

This year the river was totally open so that tends to depress the waterfowl count.  One would think the opposite but it is because the vast surface of open water disperses the ducks, making fewer in our area.  Sometimes in very cold years, the only open water is at Currie's Mountain,  just below Grand Pass, and many ducks can be present there.

This year finch numbers were low.  That was unexpected because we had heard of a huge number of Redpolls which had passed through Quebec earlier in the season.  Naturally we expected to see large numbers here.  That was not the case.  We found that there is a large amount of fruit on the trees and that should bode well for winter feeding.  We found lots of apples, mountain ash berries and grapes on the vine.  There is a heavy cone crop as well.  We should get a lot more birds moving into the area as winter progresses.  

Also, we found a few members of migratory species still hanging around.  That is not surprising given the mild weather we have had so far this winter.  We found a large flock of robins and in other sectors they found a Common Yellowthroat and a Black-and-white Warbler.

American Robin s

Notice that we saw no sparrows, no starlings and no pigeons.  Finch numbers were indeed low as were waterfowl.  The Red-tailed Hawk was a nice bonus.  We had seen it around occasionally before the count and were fortunate to find it on count day.  

Red-tailed Hawk [N Poirier]

See below for the list for our sector.

Canada Goose 31
American Black Duck 16
Mallard 5
Bald Eagle 5
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 2
Herring Gull 3
Mourning Dove 31
Downy Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 9
American Crow 45
Common Raven 6
Black-capped Chickadee 102
Red-breasted Nuthatch 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Brown Creeper 1
American Robin 40
Bohemian Waxwing 9
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Purple Finch 9
American Goldfinch 35

Friday, December 18, 2015

Red Is For Christmas

Nature's Red Spells Christmas

High-bush Cranberry Viburnum opulus
Christmas is a time for red, to cheer us from a dull landscape.  The human eye likes the colour red.  Perhaps it is because it is the complementary colour to green which we see so much of in our surroundings.  It acts as 'eye candy' and a wonderful accompaniment to Christmas.

Red Trillium Trillium erectum

Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinals [Internet photo]

Red is not a common colour for wild flowers.  So, we start celebrating in summer with the two shown above, the Red/PurpleTrillium and the Cardinal Flower.  The Red Trillium grows in our mixed and hardwood forests in early spring.  It is a welcome sight after a long winter.  It is sometimes called Wake Robin.  The Cardinal Flower is smallish and insignificant on first sight.  But looking closely it is very beautiful.  What a gorgeous colour!  It grows along stream banks and adjacent damp meadows in a few places here.  

Mountain Holly Ilex mucronatus
Winterberry Ilex verticillata
Shown above are the pleasing red of two of our berries.  These ripen in the fall.  Mountain Holly is found in damp thickets, swamps, bogs and wet woods.  Winterberry is beautiful in late fall and early winter as the bright red berries cling to the naked stems.  It is often picked and placed in Christmas bouquets.  

Florists market many commercial red flowers at Christmas time.  Shown below are the red rose and the amaryllis.

Red Rose

And, to finish this post, I will show a photo I took of a visit to a greenhouse where poinsettias were being grown for Christmas.  What a sight this was!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mountain Bluebird

Rare Fall Vagrant Found in Acadian Peninsula

Mountain Bluebird 
New Brunswick has had a rare visitor for the last 10 days or so.  A rare fall vagrant has been found in the Acadian Peninsula near Inkerman at Four Roads.  Although the bird may have left yesterday according to a report today, many birders and other interested people have seen it.

The Mountain Bluebird is a member of the Thrush Family and is a 'cousin' to our Eastern Bluebird and our American Robin.  Its preferred habitat is fields and field edges and mountainous areas.  It normally breeds in the Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, the western states and northwards into Alaska and Yukon.  It winters in southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and northern Mexico.  So the bird that was found here should be headed for Arizona now.  It is rare to find this species here but it does happen occasionally.  One was seen in 1996 in Caraquet and one in Pennfield in 2000.

Why is this bird here?  We don't know for sure but it is thought that their navigation system gets damaged somehow so instead of travelling southwest, they travel northeast, for example.  It could have also got caught up in high winds during a weather system which blew it way off course.

Mountain Bluebird
The Mountain Bluebird is about the size of our Eastern Bluebird, 7.25 in. or 18.5 cm long.  The male is very blue over most of its body, darker on its wings.  The blue of this bird is iridescent, a very beautiful colour.  Eye candy indeed!  Our visitor is a female and she is duller with gray on her throat and breast and ultramarine blue on her wings and cerulean blue on her back and tail.  She is still amazingly beautiful.  They are cavity nesters like our bluebirds and readily use nest boxes.  They use tree cavities in the wild.
Mountain Bluebird [L Legere Photo]
Mountain Bluebirds feed on insects, fruits and berries.  They are the only bluebird which hovers.  That was what the bird at Four Roads was doing, hovering over the field and dropping down to get an insect.  The one which I saw in Pennfield in 2000 was in a blueberry field eating blueberries.

The Mountain Bluebird flies like our Robin.  It has long primary feathers and the long primary projection is a way to tell it from the Western or Eastern Bluebird when there is a question.  This could happen when sometimes the female shows a bit of orange tinge on its breast causing some confusion.  The primary projection is a technical term used by serious birders and denotes the length the primary feathers project over the tail in a sitting position.

Mountain Bluebird
Shown below is one of the many peat harvesting sites from the Acadian Peninsula, near where the Mountain Bluebird was found.  It is good to boost the economy with the sale of natural resources but one wonders how long it will take before these areas return to natural vegetation which can be used by our wildlife.
Peat Harvesting

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Birding the Tantramar

Tantramar Marsh Supports Significant Bird Population

Tantramar Marsh
On November 26 we visited the Tantramar Marsh looking for birds and other wildlife.  It was a warm, sunny day and great to be out!  Although we covered all the roads in the marsh we spent more time on the Anderson Marsh Road.  

We were looking mainly for raptors.  The marsh is a good area for them to rest on migration because of suitable habitat and a high rodent population, the main diet of many raptors.  We saw many hawks including 13 Northern Harriers, 4 Rough-legged Hawks, and 2 Red-tailed Hawks.  

Rough-legged Hawk [Internet Photo]

Red-tailed Hawk
Eagles were also taking our attention.  There had been a few sightings of a Golden Eagle there in the last two weeks but in spite of careful searching we did not find it.  However, we did see 2 Bald Eagles.

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle [Internet Photo]
The Golden Eagle has a very large territory for its 'home range' so was probably hunting over marsh areas across the border in Nova Scotia.  There were some ducks in the many streams flowing through the marsh and they were attracting the Bald Eagles.  The Common Eider shown below was seen in one stream.  A few days earlier a birder had seen an eagle feeding on an eider in this area.

Common Eider
The highlight for me was also another raptor species.  We saw two Short-eared Owls.  These owls have been seen on the marsh lately but it is unusual to see them active during the day.  We saw two of them in flight.  We did not know whether they were feeding or if they were being harassed by the many crows on the marsh.  

Pheasants and Snow Buntings were very numerous.  We saw many groups of Ring-necked Pheasants numbering at least 50 individuals.  There were several flocks of Snow Buntings, some very large.  We estimated seeing between 300 and 500 buntings altogether.  

As you can see we had a wonderful day exploring the Tantramar Marsh.  There were not many cattle pastured on the marsh but there were large round hay bales everywhere.  We did see a group of Scottish Highland Cattle on the edge of the marsh.  They were enjoying the breeze and the lush feed.

Scottish Highland Bull

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Paint Basics

Knowing Paint Better

Watercolour Paint - Daniel Smith, QoR

I have wondered for a long time about the true nature of artists paints.  I have been searching for answers to some questions about how paint functions and how watercolour, oil and acrylic paint compare.  Here is what I found out.

What makes paint dry?  What are artists paints like on a microscopic level? 


Watercolour paint is a solution of gum arabic (the binder) and water and microscopic-sized pigment particles.  Gum arabic is an exudate from a gum tree.  More precisely it is the sap of two species of acacia trees.  Microscopically it is a long chain that is soluble in water.  The pigment particles are in suspension in the liquid.

When watercolour paint dries the water evaporates leaving the gum arabic to become a solid which holds the pigment particles in place. You can lift dried watercolour paint because the gum arabic will redissolve in water. 

Watercolour Paint in Palette

Acrylic Paint 

Acrylic paint is a suspension of spherical polymer particles (about 1 micrometer in size) in water.  The pigment particles are also suspended in the water.  When acrylic paint dries the water evaporates, the polymer particles coalesce to form solid sheets which trap the pigment particles.  You cannot lift this paint because the polymer is now a water-insoluble solid.

Gesso is made up of water, acrylic polymer and gypsum (calcium sulfate) particles. 

Oil Paint

Oil paint is a mixture of an organic solvent like turpentine or mineral spirits and drying oil (linseed oil, tung oil) and pigment particles.  The oil is soluble in the solvent so they do not separate.  The pigment particles are so small they remain in suspension.  When oil paint dries the solvent evaporates leaving the oil and pigment on the surface.  When on the surface the oil oxidizes and becomes a solid which is no longer soluble in either solvent or water.  
Why can you put oil paint on top of acrylic paint but not the reverse?  Oil paint can be put on top of acrylic paint (or gesso) because the dried acrylic paint is essentially a plastic sheet and the oil  will bond to it.  However, you cannot put acrylic paint on top of oil paint because the dried oil paint is hydrophobic and it repels the water in the acrylic paint thus causing it to flake off.  

How do each of these paints stick to a paper/canvas substrate?  They use a process called wetting in which they form a strong physical bond with the surface.  

Why do we need gesso on a canvas before painting it?  It helps to keep the paint from absorbing into the substrate and it also smooths out the surface. 

What does water do when added to watercolour paint (oil to oil paint or water to acrylic paint)? It reduces the viscosity, which means it dilutes the paint.  If too much is added to acrylic paint, it will not harden.  When considerable dilution is desired you should use acrylic medium which contains acrylic polymer particles and so it acts the same as the paint. 

Paints usually have a fourth component termed an ‘additive’ which is used to make the paint flow well, maintain its quality in the tube, keep it homogeneous, etc.

Water Miscible Oils

Water Miscible Oil Paint is a modern invention that may be going to revolutionize the oil painting industry.  Time will tell how well it is accepted.  Right now it is just in the trial stage by most artists.  How is it different?  It can be thinned by just adding water and brushes can be cleaned in water only.  No solvent is needed.  How is it formulated so this can happen?  

The oils in oil paint are made of long-chain fatty acids.  Most of these fatty acids are hydrophobic (water repelling) so the paint is incompatible with water.  However, in normal oil paint there are normally some hydrophilic fatty acids (water loving).  If this portion of hydrophilic fatty acids is increased, the paint becomes water soluble.  Water can then become the 'solvent' for the oil paint!  Just like magic, the paint can then be thinned with water and clean-up done with water.  Organic solvents (turpentine, mineral spirits) are no longer needed.  

How does water miscible paint dry?  The water evaporates leaving the oil and pigment on the substrate.  The oil then oxidizes and hardens, trapping the pigment. 

Pigment particles 

Pigment particles are made from natural and artificial compounds which are pulverized into ultra-small particles (0.1 to 100 microns).  Some pigments are derived from naturally occurring compounds like iron oxides (ochre, umber, sienna), carbon black, lapis lazuli.  Others are from manmade pigments which are usually based on metal compounds like cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, titanium and zinc.  When a tube of paint is labelled ‘hue’ it means that the colour will be almost identical to the genuine paint for which it is named.  However, the pigment is not the same as in the original. It is often a cheaper or a blended form. 

Golden has recently marketed an innovative watercolour paint called QoR, an acronym for ‘Quality of Results’.  They are advertising it as possessing some nice features like:  incredibly smooth transitions, good flowing while maintaining liveliness on the paper, excellent resolubility in water, excellent glazing qualities, vivid depth of colour in one stroke, greater resistance to cracking and flaking, more density of colour than traditional watercolours, and easy clean-up.  Besides these stated advantages they have marketed new  grounds and mediums to go with the paint.  These apparently increase gloss, improve flow or wetting properties, and allow you to achieve different textured surfaces.  It is exciting to be part of modern advances in paints and materials.

QoR paint has a newly formulated binder called Aquazol.  It appears that the company is keeping a tight lip on its formulation.  I have not been able to determine its chemistry but expect it is an acrylic or an acrylic/gum arabic mixture.  I have used QoR paints only minimally so far and find them bright and easy to use.  The only negative is that I have found the Aquazol has separated somewhat from the pigment in one or two of my tubes.  Time will tell how successful they are.  They are probably the forerunner in a lot of new products in the watercolour industry.

There is some discussion about QoR paints not ‘lifting’ as well as traditional watercolours.  I have done a short, uncontrolled test on my own and find that to be true.  See the photo below which shows lifting in traditional paint compared to QoR paint. The two on the left show lifting from traditional paint and the one on the right shows lifting from QoR paint.   I used the same amount of water, the same bristle brush and the same number of strokes on each followed by dabbing with dry paper towel.  It appears the traditional paints lift better than the QoR paints.  However, this is too simple a test to draw any conclusions.  One would need to do many more samples and under more controlled conditions.  I like the QoR paints and will continue to use them and time will tell how they work out.  

Lifting Watercolour Paint; Traditional Paint Left and Centre, QoR Right

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vagrant and Out-of-Season Birds

Unexpected Birds

Every fall we are privileged to have vagrant birds arrive here.  A vagrant is a bird that is beyond its normal range.  In other words, its presence here is accidental.  The Franklin's Gull shown below is one such species.  It appeared in a ploughed field in Ste-Marie-de-Kent last week and has remained for several days, associating with a large group of Ring-billed Gulls.

Franklin's Gull [Brian Stone Photo]
 The Franklin's Gull inhabits mainly the mid-continent of North America where it breeds.  It winters in fresh water marshes off the Pacific coast of South America.  It lives inland in North America because it likes ploughed fields and prairie land.  This trait earned it its common name,  'prairie dove'.

It is a medium-sized gull being 36-38 cm long (14"-15").  It is a black-hooded gull and has prominent white eye crescents and a slaty-gray back.  In winter the black hood is washed out with white and the bill changes from its prominent orange of the breeding plumage to black with an orange tip.

Franklin's Gull [L Nichols Photo]
The bird which arrived here is a 1st winter bird.  Note the dark gray-brown on its back.  Older gulls would be all gray on the back.

Ring-billed Gull and Franklin's Gull
Shown above is a Franklin's Gull with a Ring-billed Gull showing the difference in size.  This Franklin's Gull was seen at Scotch Lake several years ago in the fall.  Note it, too, is a 1st winter bird.

Overbird [Nelson Poirier Photo]
The bird shown above is an Ovenbird which has been coming to a feeder in Moncton.  This species is a common warbler species seen here in summer.  It is unusual because it is still here, appearing healthy and coming to a feeder.  It normally feeds on the ground usually in the forest.  It is not a feeder bird at all.  It is called an 'oven' bird because of the domed-shaped nest it builds on the ground with a side entrance.

The season for rare fall vagrants and out-of-season birds is still upon us.  Keep a close eye for anything unusual.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Art: Watercolour

Watercolour Workshops

The Storm
Recently I have had the good fortune to attend two watercolour workshops.  The most recent was presented by Peggy Holt of Fredericton.  Peggy put on a day filled with excellent instruction and demonstrations showing her work and skill.  She motivated us with her excellent teaching skills.  The session was complete with coverage of nearly every possible aspect of watercolour painting.  She even introduced some cutting edge ideas!  

The painting above was done from a photo which she used to have us paint a landscape.  I was intrigued by the severity of the storm and what it was doing to the landscape.  I enjoyed putting that on paper.

At the end of September I attended a 5-day watercolour workshop put on by the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour in Cornwallis, NS (see previous post).  This was a fantastic experience.  There were 8 teachers covering all aspects of watercolour painting.  Each was a master of her/his area.  We could choose to spend a day or more with our choice of 5 of them.  Some selected more than one day with some but I chose a day with 5 individuals.

Calgary Cityscape
One instructor was Rex Beanland from Calgary who specializes in cityscapes.  We had a fun day learning his techniques.  The painting above is what I was able to execute.  Getting the perspective right was the challenge.  

The symposium was also filled with extras.  We had a lobster banquet one evening.  On another we had a 2-hour presentation on Golden products.  We were shown dozens of their products with concrete examples of what they can do.  We finished the evening with lots of take-home samples.  Other extras included a life drawing session, night painting demonstration, and a welcoming reception.

I am not sure I am a watercolorist but I certainly enjoyed being shown what they can do.  Most of them are transparent and I love the luminosity they show.  It is also interesting to see what they can do by themselves as they move around on the paper.  They are a challenge to use but a rewarding challenge!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Late Birds

Saying Goodbye to Our Summer Friends

Eastern Phoebe
One thing birders often do is keep track of the dates during which species of birds are actually here in New Brunswick.  This gives us early and late dates for each species and also information about what the species is doing, its arrival and departure, its geographical locations, its movements from place to place for food, nesting, etc.  

Two species I watch carefully are the Eastern Phoebe and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  They feed and nest around our place and are easy to monitor.  I consider them my friends and am always sorry when they leave.  I wish them well as they wing to warmer climes each fall.  

Eastern Phoebe
The Eastern Phoebe arrives earlier than many of our migrants.  That is because it is a bit hardier than some flycatchers, of which it is one.  Its main diet is insects which it catches by flying from a good vantage point like the one on the roof above.  It also eats berries and other fruit so it can survive a bit better in cold weather when insects are difficult to find.  The last phoebe we saw here in Fredericton this year was on October 11.  We saw one later than that, on October 18 on Covedell Road near Tabusintac.

It can be a problem for flycatchers if they return too early in the spring.  If the weather is unusually warm, sometimes they will appear early.  That is fine if some insects have hatched providing food.  If, however, the weather turns bad and there are no insects about, it can be difficult for our phoebes.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Female
Another species I watch carefully for early and late dates is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  They arrive almost every year on Mother's Day weekend.  Sometimes it is a day or two on either side, but I can usually depend on having visitors to our hummingbird feeders on Mother's Day weekend.  They usually leave around Labour Day weekend.  This year we saw our last hummingbird on September 23.  I still have my feeders out in case an unusual hummingbird shows up looking for food.  That is very unlikely but it has happened in NB before in late fall and in almost every case the hummingbird has been a rare species.  One time it was a Rufous Hummingbird and one time it was a Broad-billed Hummingbird.  You just never know what surprises our avian visitors have for us.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Field Trip to Maquapit Lake

Bur Oaks and More

Bur Oak
On Friday past a friend and I went on a field trip to see a stand of Bur Oaks near Maquapit Lake.  Bur Oaks are not common in New Brunswick and to see a stand of them was an exciting prospect.  It was a sunny day about 10ºC.  Our fall colours are a bit past their peak but never-the-less are still beautiful.

The habitat was mainly lowland hardwood with a rich understory of ferns, blueberries, and other plants.  The overstory was dominated by water maples, red maples, balsam poplars and oaks.  The oaks were mainly bur oaks with very few red oaks.  We estimated there were at least 50 bur oaks, mostly mature trees.  We measured three of the largest and their diameters were 86, 78, and 66 cm.  Those were big oaks!  Pictured above is a view looking up into one of them.  They still had some of their foliage left although much had fallen off.

Bur Oaks
The Bur Oak's range extends from eastern Canada to the prairies and south through the mid-western states to Texas.  It is a hardy species being able to withstand fire and drought.  Note the thick bark shown below which protects it from fire. 

Bur Oak Bark
Bur Oak Leaf

The Bur Oak was an important source of food for aboriginal peoples.  The acorns are edible and today provide a food source for mammals and birds.  I have searched for bur oak acorns under nearly every tree I have found over the years and I always find a lot of acorn debris but rarely intact acorns.  They are all chewed open or show evidence of worm holes.  I suspect the animals are practically under the trees waiting for them to drop or the squirrels are in the canopy harvesting them before any other creature gets a chance.  It would be fun to harvest a few and boil them up to see what they taste like.  They have been found in archaeological digs going back 5,000 years showing they were an important source of food for our ancestors.  

Bur Oaks
Pictured below is the bark and leaves of the Red Oak.  Note the similarity the red oak bark shows with the Bur Oak.  The leaves are quite different.

Red Oak Bark

Red Oak Leaves
According to "Edible Wild Plants" by Lee Allen Peterson, the acorns of both the white and red oaks are edible although the red oaks are not as desirable as the white oaks.  The Bur Oak is a white oak and the acorns are apparently sweet.  The nuts (acorns) of white oaks can be used for flour, meal, or eaten as nuts or candy.  They are usually shelled and boiled to remove the tannins and then dried and roasted.  Dried nut meats can be dipped in maple sugar and eaten as candy or ground into a meal and used to make breads and muffins.  They are an excellent source of protein and fat.

The habitat we were in was on the shores of a marsh leading into Maquapit Lake.  The scenery there was beautiful as noted in the image below.  

Maquapit Lake Marsh
The waterfowl habitat in the marsh was excellent.  We found wild rice (Zizania) growing and other abundant food for waterfowl.  We happened upon a large flock of about 50 Wood Ducks and 20 Green-winged Teal.  See below.  We also found 5 Great Blue Herons.  

Ducks Feeding and Preening in the Marsh

Wood Ducks with Green-winged Teal in Background

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Birding Saints Rest Marsh

Lesser Yellowlegs
On a cold, rainy day last week I visited Saints Rest Marsh in Saint John.  It is a little late to look for shorebirds but there were still a few there.  We drove the roads of the marsh and Taylor Island slowly but found nothing interesting.  Being past low tide but not yet high tide, I walked the marsh.  This requires good boots and tenacity because the walking is not easy.  But, it paid off.  There were shorebirds there that were not visible from the road.

Above are two of the several Lesser Yellowlegs present.  One flew in and lit right beside me, obviously not realizing I was there.  There were a few Greater Yellowlegs in scattered ponds as well.  I also found Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dunlins, Black-bellied Plovers and a Stilt Sandpiper.  The Stilt is a rather rare shorebird here but a few pass through in the fall.

Lapland Longspur
Walking among the marsh grass sometimes reveals other interesting birds.  This time it was a Lapland Longspur.  I spotted this bird feeding on tidal debris and was able to get a photo before it spotted me and hid in the grass.  This species breeds in the high arctic tundra and winters in the United States where it feeds in grassy fields, airports and beaches.

While I was surveying a group of ducks at the nearby lagoon, a Peregrine Falcon flew over and struck one of the ducks as it was attempting to get fly to safety.  It knocked the duck back into the water but did not kill or capture it.  That was dramatic!  Also seen in the area were the Double-crested Cormorant and Great Black-backed Gull pictured below.  With the gull are Ring-billed Gulls.  The cormorant is a juvenile.

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Black-backed Gull
Below is the list of birds seen (not including waterfowl seen at the lagoon).  The crow is marked with and 'x' to indicate they were not counted.

Green-winged Teal 3
Lesser Yellowlegs 12
Greater Yellowlegs 3
Semipalmated Sandpiper 3
Dunlin 3
Stillt Sandpiper 1
Black-bellied Plover 6
Great Blue Heron 3
American Crow X
Canada Goose 30
Peregrine Falcon 1
Lapland Longspur 1
Savannah Sparrow 2
Black Ducks 20