Friday, 24 April 2015

Not so Tough Birding

Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) photograph by  John Daniel

Some days birding can be hard - cold mornings, hot days, wading through water and mud while fighting mosquitoes the size of grasshoppers, crawling on all fours through tall grass...  It calls for patience, stealth and a good sense of humour.  Why a good sense of humour you may ask?  This comes in handy when you endured the above and still did not get the bird, or it was flushed by one of your companions (not mentioning any names).

photograph by  John Daniel
And then there are those oh so few days when you awake from a peaceful slumber and look out your window to a rarity sitting a few feet away from you.  Tuesday 21st was one of those days for me.  It started when I decided to take a short cut home from work.  I was traveling eastward on a road locally known as Hangman Hill (I have no idea why it is called that) which is located in the central parish of St. Thomas.  This road is a link between two major highways and is in a state of disrepair, which caused me to drive at a pedestrian pace.  As I approached the last corner before exiting onto the highway I noticed a bright reddish bird sitting in the middle of the road.  I stopped the car and approached the bird but it flew into a field of grass on the right of the roadway.  The bird was a Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea). The vehicle which was driving behind me also stopped and we both took photos with our phones, (even though I had my Canon Camera with a 400mm lens, no card, but that is a different story).  I informed the lady driver of the name of the bird and explained how the bird happened to be here on the island. She was thrilled.

Scarlet Tanagers are 7” in size.  Non-breeding males and females are both yellowish green in colour but when there is love in the air and chicks to be made the males take on a Reddish/Scarlet colour with black wings and tail to attract the females.  This bird was on its way to North America after wintering in South America.

I needed to get a photograph of this bird but the other photographers were all unavailable so I called a close friend, who lived nearby, and he took the photographs I am sharing with you now, thanks John Daniel.

All photograph by  John Daniel