Readers’ wildlife photos

May 31, 2022 • 8:00 am

Professor Paul Edelman from Vanderbilt has sent us a batch of pictures of birds from the South. His descriptions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

At the beginning of April,  my wife and I went on a birding tour to Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.  Dauphin Island is one of the first pieces of land that birds come to after flying across the Gulf of Mexico on their northern migration.  All types of birds rest  and regroup for the rest of their trip.  In addition a number of shore birds and marsh birds winter on the island before heading north in the spring.  Dauphin Island claims to be   “America’s Birdiest City” and it did not disappoint. The trip was organized by Naturalist Journeys and the guides, Andrew Haffendon and Rick Weiman, were fabulous.  As usual, these photos were taken with a Nikon D500 camera using a Nikkor 500mm f5.6 lens.

One of the great things about Dauphin Island and environs is the variety of habitats in a small geographic area.  On the beach we saw Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus). The latter had active nests on the beach as well. In the marshy areas we saw Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans) and Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus).  In the fields were Bachman’s Sparrow (Peucaea aestavalis) and Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum).  And finally in the forested areas we saw both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus and Coccyzus erythropthalmus), Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina), Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii)  and Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea).

We saw many other birds, a lot of new ones for us ( a total of 30 new birds!), but I couldn’t get pictures of all of  them.  Maybe next year!

Send in the birds! There ought to be birds. . .

Bachman’s Sparrow:

Black-billed cuckoo:

Clapper rail swimming:

Common yellowthroat:

Grasshopper sparrow:

Hooded Warbler:

Horned Grebe:

Piping plover:

Prothonotary warbler:

Ruddy turnstone:

Snowy plover:

Swainson’s warbler:

Yellow-billed cuckoo:

8 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Thank you for posting these gorgeous pictures. That hooded warbler is a beautiful little bird. The yellow looks so bright and striking. The yellow-billed cuckoo is completely new to me. There’s something comical about it-maybe it’s the way the bill is colored, it looks like it’s frowning disapprovingly. These are great pictures. I think it takes someone who knows and loves birds to take photos that seem to capture their personalities.

    One last thing: I have a terrible time telling sparrows apart. Even with the beautiful and clear photos, it’s difficult for me to spot differences. Does anyone have any tips?

  2. That sounds like a fun place to hang out and take photos. These were great, thanks! Loved the hooded warbler.

  3. How interesting! I have managed to not hear of this island. From your description, it would be fun to ‘watch the bird watchers’, as it seems there would be quite an assortment, all using Very Big Lenses.

  4. Love the photos! You might want to check the identification of the Piping Plover. The back and crown are typically the color of dry sand and there is not as much black in the face. It looks like a Semipalmated Plover to my eyes.

  5. Yes, indeed, it is a Semi Palmated Plover. it has white behind the beak; Piping Plover has a black spot. And it is way too dark for a Piping. As for Snowy Plover, this is out range.

    1. I think that LornaSalzman and jjpitre are correct–What I labeled a Piping Plover is indeed an semi-plamated one. Just learning my plovers!! (and pretty much everything else!) Thank you for the correction.
      In response to Desiree–identifying sparrows is really hard. The best way is if you hear them sing, which we did when we were out in the fields. It helped that the guides were VERY good birders. I doubt I could have identified them myself. The Cornell Ornithological web site can lead you to a number of sources for how to identify them. They are on my list to learn after warblers and, evidently, plovers!

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