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PeakFest Bird Walk 2024

Despite the rain two intrepid birders show up at Battery Steele. Well, sort of. One, Hannah, apparently wandered off course and arrived at Alderbrook and Seashore Avenue where we rescued her – escorting her to the back of Battery Steele. Judy rides her bicycle from Central Avenue; we agree to meet her at Battery Steele.


As we wait for Judy’s arrival we look and listen for birds in the rain. Walking along Florida Avenue we hear a male Pileated Woodpecker drumming on a dead tree. (The male is distinguished by its red chin stripe, red crest, and a red cap extending over the head. The female has no chin strip and only a red crest on the back of the head.)

Note the feet:

Photos © Patty Wainright

Intent on getting its prize, perhaps a large grub, we had great opportunities to take photographs of its endeavors:


We also observe male Red-winged Blackbirds displaying their bright orangish-red and yellow feathers at the bend of their wings. The orangish-red feathers are their lesser coverts and the yellow are the median coverts. These covert feathers overlay their flight feathers. Ornithologists have names for each type of feather.


Also hanging around the ponds are Common Grackles – without sun we do not observe their pretty iridescent bluish-purple feathers. We hear a Great-crested Flycatcher – its ‘bubbly’ call (kwip-kwip-kwip-kwip kweep kweep, krriip), not the clear rising wheeep-call.


A Chimney Swift is briefly seen fluttering stiff-winged, through the trees. We hear a Blue Jay, a Yellow Warbler, a Song Sparrow, and American Robin. We also verify these calls on Merlin, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s birdcall identification application (app).


We receive text from Judy – she is stranded on the path from the shore to Battery Steele. We rescue her – drenched from the rain and wet pathway. Now together, we see Herring Gulls gathered on the rocks – both adults and their newly fledged young. We discuss that they nest on Ram Island and they are here just for a visit, and to feed. We also discuss the Common Eiders, our year round sea duck. Currently there are females and their young. The majority of the males have left for their bachelorhood molting grounds. Because the male eiders are flightless during their summer molt they need a safe place away from predators such as weasels, which swim.


Neither Hannah nor Judy is familiar with the Merlin app, so Sam gives a little tutorial on its uses. We all agree that we are wet and cold. Judy pedals home and we take Hannah to her dry place.


Thank you Faith for arranging this Bird Walk – even in the rain it was a success.


By: Patty Wainright

Reviewed by: Sam Wainright, Michelle Brown, Marty, Michael LaCombe, Valerie Kelly

Reference: Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. National Audubon Society.


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The Backshore Bird Blog


The objective of The Backshore Bird Blog is to share the wonder and diversity of bird species seen along the Peaks Island shore.

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