Looking good, little peep

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Tiny little sandpiper spotted splashing in a puddle in the parking lot of Little Jack’s seafood restaurant, Hampton Beach, this morning.

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Extremely adorable shorebird.

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Since it is so tiny and has yellow-green legs, I think it is a Least Sandpiper.

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers known as “peeps”—not much bigger than a sparrow. They have distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched creep call.

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This little bird is just passing through. It’s migration time.

Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles.

That is mind-boggling.

A chime of wrens

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Backyard bird #54, the House Wren!

Three of them were chattering in the maple tree by the big garden this morning.

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Noisy little birds. Peppy and adorable. Funny I’ve never noticed them in our backyard before.

A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the House Wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects.

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Guess they nest elsewhere and are just passing through. Maybe they are migrating south already?

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There were other signs this morning that it is bird autumn: Great Blue Heron lifted off from pond edge as I walked out back with the dog; flock of eight or ten Tree Swallows were dipping down to drink from the pond on the wing.

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House Wrens on the garden fence.

In summer, House Wrens are at home in open forests, forest edges, and areas with scattered grass and trees. Backyards, farmyards, and city parks are perfect for them. In winter they become more secretive, preferring brushy tangles, thickets, and hedgerows.

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Oh stay, little bird. Do not fly away with our summer too soon!

Hello, kingfisher

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Driving along Route 1A near Rye Harbor, I spotted a small bird with a distinctive profile perched on a wire overlooking Awcomin Marsh.

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Belted kingfisher!

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Keeping an eye out for an afternoon snack on a rainy summer day.

Belted Kingfishers live mostly on a diet of fish including sticklebacks, mummichogs, trout, and stonerollers. They also eat crayfish and may eat other crustaceans, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and even berries. A kingfisher looks for prey from a perch that overhangs water, such as a bare branch, telephone wire, or pier piling. When it spots a fish or crayfish near the surface, it takes flight, dives with closed eyes, and grabs the prey in its bill with a pincer motion. Returning with its prize, it pounds the prey against the perch before swallowing it head first. It may also hover above the water instead of searching from a perch. As nestlings, Belted Kingfishers digest the bones and scales they consume, but by the time they leave the nest they begin disgorging pellets of fish skeletons and invertebrate shells.

There are some very beautiful, colorful members of the family Alcidinidae.

RBG in July

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Perched atop a swamp maple at the edge of our pond, the male Red-winged blackbird keeps an eye out.

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Piercing call sounds territorial.

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A handsome defender. But when the seasons change he will move on.

I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been busy yard-saling, craigslisting, cleaning and painting to get ready to put our house on the market in less than two weeks. Stay tuned.

What did you say your name was?

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“Phoebe, phoebe…” alright already!

Noisy little flycatchers zooming all over the place.

The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fencelines. Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently.

Streamlined

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Tree Swallow intensity.

Swallows have adapted to hunting insects on the wing by developing a slender, streamlined body and long pointed wings, which allow great maneuverability and endurance, as well as frequent periods of gliding. Their body shape allows for very efficient flight, which costs 50–75% less for swallows than equivalent passerines of the same size.

Yellow Bird

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You know you want a Yellow Bird too.

It’s a drink! A Caribbean cocktail for sipping on the back deck or patio while watching pretty birds.

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The Common Yellowthroat is a pretty bird to watch. Or listen to… witchety, witchety. But only in summer.

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You can watch Goldfinches all year round, around here.

My recipe for a batch of Yellow Birds to share. Mix in a pitcher and serve over ice.

  • 1.5 cups light rum
  • 3/4 cup creme de banane
  • 1/2 cup galliano
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1.5 cups pineapple juice
  • juice of 1 lime

Bonus bird: a (banded) Yellow Warbler spotted on the Isles of Shoals last May.

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