Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catharus Thrush Songs

Some of the most beautiful woodland sounds from the northern states of the US and Canada come from the Catharus genus of thrushes. Back in midsummer I made some recordings of three species in Maine. Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) was the one that got away, being too distant for a decent recording. The term ethereal probably best describes the overall quality of their sound and even with a decent microphone its difficult to capture the sound in quite the same way my ears heard them. Sometimes its best just to get out and hear bird song in a natural context to fully appreciate it. The excitement I felt on first hearing these three species was just like when I hear my first Blackbird of the year in late winter.

Woodland at Brownfield Bog/Major Gregory Sanborn WMA

Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
Brownfield Bog, Maine, USA 43° 58' 06.0" N 70° 52' 48.6" W 19 June 2014 
Song composed of strophes (shorter than Swainson's) of steady flute-like elements with slight wavering endings; each strophe starting at different frequencies. Singing at dusk from mixed, dense maple/oak/spruce forest.

Veery  Catharus fuscescens
Brownfield Bog, Maine, USA  43° 58' 06.0" N  70° 52' 48.6" W  30 June 2014
Song composed of nasal or 'metallic' sounding fluting which rolls and decreases in frequency, c1.5 metres up in the understory of mixed deciduous woodland bordering wetlands.

Spruce forest north of Nesowadnehunk, Baxter State Park

Swainson's Thrush  Catharus ustulatus
Baxter State Park, Maine, USA  46° 00' 37.4" N  69° 03' 46.0" W  25 June 2014
Song composed of strophes (longer than Hermit) of low flute-like elements spiralling into higher frequency whistles. Singing from old-growth spruce forest.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Serpentine Grebes

Urban Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus) in London, photographed in natural lighting conditions. These individuals survive mostly on European perch (Perca fluviatilis) but wintering Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) have quickly learned to kleptoparasitise them. 


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