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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
from Lillian, Don and the Corgis
(our Corgi, Phoebe, is on the left and her mother, Chanel, is on the right)
Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Northern Gannet

Northern Gannets are migrating along the NH coast now. These large ( 72" wingspan) ocean birds breed in a few large colonies in the North Atlantic, then migrate down the East Coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. If you go to coastal locations now and bring your binoculars or spotting scopes, you may see them. Sometimes they are far out, other times they come close to shore.
I photographed this juvenile Northen Gannet in Feb. off the west coast of Florida. It takes several years for them to attain their adult plumage of mostly white with black wing tips. Very cool birds, go try to see them.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boston Red Sox Win World Series

At a little after midnight, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. Remember when we said in our blog post of Oct. 17th titled, Hope, "Note that only 10 times in baseball history has a team come from being down 3 in the postseason to win the ALCS and then the World Series. Of the 65 teams who have trailed by 3 games in the postseason, only 10 have come back to win. Guess what? The last team to do it was the 2004 Red Sox who came back from a 3-0 score against the Yankees in the ALCS and then won the World Series."
Well, dreams do come true!

For more info. and exciting video of the winning moment, go to the Red Sox website click here.
and more video here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Common Merganser

Common Merganser, male

Ducks are migrating now. Common Mergansers, Scoters, Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks and more are on the move. We regularly see many of these species on our lake in fall. If you want to see some of these great waterfowl, grab your binos and head out to your nearest lake, pond, river or coastal area this weekend. Good Birding!

Photo©Lillian Stokes, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall Bird Garden

Recent scenes from our fall bird garden include this view of our "hummingbird gazebo," which Don built. We hang hummingbird feeders off of it in season. The hummingbirds have gone, but the hummingbird's favorite Salvia "Lady in Red," in the large pots, is still blooming. We haven't had a hard frost yet. The beautiful red foliage behind the gazebo is Staghorn Sumac. No, it's not poisonous. It's a wild plant growing behind the garden that we are just leaving, for now, and enjoying the flaming foliage.

Another winner is our Amalanchier (shadbush) "Autumn Brilliance" cultivar, living up to its name. This row of it is at the entry to our garden. It's got triple appeal, for it has beautiful white flowers in spring, followed by summer berries that the birds gobble and now this — warm orange foliage that glows like a candle.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rufous Hummingbird in NH

This just in...there is a Rufous Humingbird coming to a feeder in Westmoreland, NH. This unusual occurence was reported to the NHBirds listserve, spreading the news. To see a photo of the NH bird, click here.
The Rufous Hummingbird is a western hummingbird who's breeding range goes as far up as Alaska. Over about the past decade this little hummer has extended its wintering range to include the Southeast and, increasingly, this hummer is showing up in fall in many places in the eastern half of the country. Theories as to why that is range from the increasing number of people putting out hummingbird feeders, to variations in the hummer's internal compass. We once had a Rufous Hummingbird show up at our feeder in Oct. a number of years ago when we lived in MA. If you live in the East and have any hummingbirds with rufous on them coming to your feeders, report it to your local bird or nature organization.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purple Finches

Purple Finch, male

Purple Finch, male on bottom right, female on bottom left

Just saw a small flock of Purple Finches flying around our property. They landed and came to the feeders. The raspberry red male always produces "ooohs," including from us. Note that the streaked, brown female has a white eyebrow. This is a great way to tell her from the more common House Finch female, who does not have a white eyebrow. Telling male Purple Finch from male House Finch is a bit trickier, since both are red and you can't always go by the tone of the red. The male House Finch has considerable brown streaks on his sides and belly, the male Purple Finch has fewer streaks there.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Do you have Pine Siskins?

Pine Siskins at feeder

The Siskins are coming, the Siskins are coming to a feeder near you. Pass the word.
Pine Siskins are showing up in NH and other places now. These finches are an "irruptive species," meaning they appear across the country in winter in some years and not others, depending on how abundant the seed crop has been in their usual, more northerly range.
We had a flock of about 20 Pine Siskins show up yesterday at our feeders. They love hulled sunflower (shown in one of the Stokes Select finch feeders above), finch mixes and also thistle (Nyjer) seed. Since they are a flock species and like to feed as a group, the more feeders you have filled with their favorite seeds, the more likely they will show up and stay at your feeders. So we added a few more feeders to entice them.
Sort them out from your winter goldfinches, who are now in their more drab, brownish winter colors, by their fine bill, streaking and the yellow edge showing on their wing feathers. Tell us if you have Pine Siskins and what state you live in, click on the comment area below or email us.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More White-throated Sparrows

This White-throated Sparrow obligingly posed on the fence post behind our barn with the brambles as a backdrop. On certain areas of our property, we let the black raspberries and blackberries grow, because they're wonderful habitat for all kinds of birds, including the White-crowned Sparrows who are still migrating in numbers through our property. The tangles of the bramble stems provide cover from predators and nesting areas and the berries provide food. If you have an area on your property where you can let plants like this grow, you will attract more birds.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Hope is,
A hummingbird wishing for a safe migration journey across the Gulf of Mexico,

Birders wishing someone would get a clear photo as undisputable evidence of the possible existence of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker,

Phoebe hoping for a giant bone Every Day,

And, for those of us in New England, that the Boston Red Sox will come from being down 3 games to 1, against the Cleveland Indians, to go on to win the American League Championship and then the World Series.

Note that only 10 times in baseball history has a team come from being down 3-1 in the postseason to win the ALCS and then the World Series. Of the 65 teams who have trailed 3-1 in the postseason, only 10 have come back to win. Guess what? The last team to do it was the 2004 Red Sox who came back from a 3-0 score against the Yankees in the ALCS and then won the World Series.

So, there is always hope.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Misty Morning Yellow-rumped Warblers

Morning Mist

"Warbler Edge" on our property faces south and migrating warblers congregate there.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. Note the yellow rump, but it's not always visible, depending on the position of the bird. Note also the yellow at the side of the breast, another clue.

On these fall mornings the mist rises from the pond, like a movie set. The fall color is peaking on the "warbler edge" area of our property here in southern NH, and Yellow-rumped Warblers are migrating through. We drink in the beauty.

Look for Yellow-rumped Warblers in your own yard, they are migrating now across much of the country. We always encourage people to get to know the Yellow-rumped Warbler because it's so abundant and also so they will be able to sort out other, less common warblers, from Yellow-rumps. For more warbler ID help with confusing fall warblers, see our photographic, Stokes Field Guide To Warblers.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Palm Warbler

"Yellow" subspecies of Palm Warbler photographed in NH in fall

"Western" subspecies of Palm Warbler photographed in winter on Sanibel Islane, on the west coast of southern FL

In addition to the White-throated Sparrows, Juncos, and Lincoln's Sparrows we have migrating through here in NH, are some Palm Warblers, top photo above. These late migrating, beautiful warblers have yellow breasts and deep yellow undertail coverts. They constantly wag their tail up and down, a nice giveaway to their identification. These bright "yellow" Palms are the eastern subspecies of Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea) and breed from central Quebec east. They winter along the Gulf Coast, from LA to northern FL.

The "western" subspecies of Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum palmarum) breeds from Ontatio west, across to parts of the Yukon and ne. British Columbia and winters in the Southeast, down through south FL. Some may also winter on the West Coast. This subspecies has very little yellow on the breast but still has the bright yellow undertail coverts. There is a breeding zone south of James Bay where they intergrade. So this gives you some idea of why Palm Warblers may look different, depending on which area of the country you are in.

We enjoy watching the Palm Warblers on our property forage near the ground in the goldenrods along our "warbler edge", the edge of our field that faces south, and is the place where we see the most warblers in spring and fall migration.

Photos © Lillian Stokes

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lincoln's Sparrow

Speaking of sparrows, in with the huge number of White-throated Sparrows we're seeing at the feeders now, was this Lincoln's Sparrow, more rarely seen in our area of southern NH. It's always a thrill to spot one after carefully looking through all the white-throats.
This delicate sparrow has a fine-pointed conical bill, rounded head with 2 brown streaks, an eye ring, a creamy white breast with a faint wash of warm buff across the breast and sides, and fine breast streaks. Lovely! Look for them at your feeders.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

White-throated Sparrows

White-throated Sparrow, tan striped morph

White-throated Sparrow, black-and-white striped morph, winter

We have lots of White-throated Sparrows migrating now through our area of southern NH. Sparrows may be an acquired taste, since they're not as splashy beautiful as, say a Cardinal with its crimson coloring. But, with patience and careful looking, you can get into sparrows and appreciate their subtle colorings, and also learn to identify them. White-throated Sparrows have, you guessed it, white throats. They come in two morphs, but are the same species. One morph has a black-and-white striped head, which becomes duller in winter. The other morph has a tan-and-brown striped head. Note the yellow mark between the eye and the bill.
We put out mixed bird seed that contains lots of millet, since that is a favorite of sparrows. We sprinkle it directly on the ground (clean up any leftovers before they become old), or offer it in a platform feeder placed near the ground. Right now, they're are the seed practically as fast as we put it out. White-throated Sparrows are widespread during migration and winter across much of the country, so look for them coming to your feeders.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Peep Peak Fall Colors

Fall colors have just about reached their peak here at our property, "Bobolink Farm" in southern NH. The "leaf peepers," the tourists who come by the busload to view New England's fall colors, will not be dissapointed.
We love this time of year and watch each of our trees get dressed in its party clothes for one last fling before winter's sleep.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Dark-eyed Junco

Yesterday we noticed large flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos coming through on their migration. We had some birder friends from AZ visiting and everywhere we looked clouds of juncos were fluttering up. Another friend of ours asked, "since the snowbirds are here does that mean its going to snow??"
Oh no, not yet, not the "s" word. It will snow this winter. Just because the "snowbirds," (another name for juncos), are here, doesn't mean it's going to snow now.
Dark-eyed Juncos are named snowbirds because of their plumage colors of gray and white. They have "gray skies above and snow below." In other areas of the country juncos may look slightly different.
Some juncos may stay and winter with us here, in NH. Others will continue their migration and may show up at your feeders, so start looking.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fall Garden & Migration

Yellow-rumped Warbler

There's been no frost yet, so our bird garden still looks good. Asters and Cosmos and Salvia are still blooming, It has been very warm with Monarch butterflies still migrating and a few Yellow-rumped Warblers beginning to come through. It should be a nice weekend so get out and enjoy the birds and butterflies. We'll see you next week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Scarlet Tanager

Yesterday, we had a large flock of robins descend on our garden, eating our crab apples and drinking at our fountain. Among them was this lovely, female Scarlet Tanager.

The female has olive-brown wings and strong olive edges on the wing coverts and flight feathers. In winter, adult males, who are scarlet red in summer, also turn yellow, but they have black wings with no strong olive edging to their wing feathers. Subtle distinctions, but that is how you tell the sexes apart in fall. Birding is sometimes about subtle distinctions.

She hopped around the fountain drinking from each side. She looked like she wanted to bath, but the water was too deep, so she finaly just flew through the fountain spray! What a fun moment, she looked like a Scarlet Tanager at a water park.
P.S. If you want to attract more birds to your property add bird baths or ponds that have fountains or drippers. The sound of running water is magnet for birds.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007

PWCCA Corgi National Specialty Show

Hi from blogger Phoebe,
Lillian and Don are busy working on their book, so I'll tell you about me. This weekend I went to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi National Specialty show. This is THE top dog show for Corgis and over 500 of them from all over the USA and even other countries competed with one another to see who was Best in Show.

I went as a spectator and to cheer for some of my relatives, like my Grandpa, Troy (Champion Aberlee Storm Force). If I wasn't spayed (you can't be in a dog show if you're spayed or neutered unless you're over 7), I'm sure I woulda' won, cuz you know I'm perfect.

I watched everything intently.

I was a glorious day and the Corgis and their handlers lined up in front of the judge. She has a hard job because there were soooo many beautiful Corgis there, anyone of which could have won.

When you're a show dog, you have to learn to stand just right, with your topline level, so you look your best. Of course, you also get treats, like bits of yummy liver, from your handler as a reward. The judge evaluates each dog compared to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Breed Standard. This handsome Corgi, is Flynn, who is owned by my breeder.

If you're a human, the shopping was good also. There were lots of vendors selling Corgi items like these Corgi jeans. I think Lillian should get some.

And this cute Corgi purse. Reminds me of all the items with birds on them that are for sale when Lillian and Don go to birding shows and festivals.

This is the table with the awards.The middle purple and gold ribbon goes to the Best in Breed, the best Corgi in the whole show. By the way, my grandma, Tuppy (Llandian's Love in a Mist) was Best of Breed at the 2002 Corgi National Specialty. The red and white ribbon goes to the Best of Opposite Sex of the best of breed and the green and white ribbon is for the Breeder of the Best of Breed.

Here's my Grandpa, Troy, on the table.

He has to stand perfectly still while the judge goes over him thoroughly, checking his bones, teeth, posture, etc. Only the cream of the crop of the Corgis are entered at this level.

He's one gorgous dude, don't you think. Sometimes, when I visit my breeder, I get to play with him. One time we played chase and I caught up with him and nipped his butt. He's very fast though. I love Troy.

The tension really mounted as the judge kept making cuts until all her most select dogs were left.

Then she picked the winner, the Best of Breed, was a female named Champion Arbor Festiniog Tempest.

And Troy won also, he got an Award of Merit, given to each of the top 9 runners up to the top winners.

Photos @ Lillian Stokes, 2007