Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Weekend in Algonquin Provincial Park 24- 25 March 2018


     Last year we decided to take a late winter break in Algonquin Provincial Park and enjoyed it so much we decided to make it an annual event.
     Thus, for the second time, most of the members of The Tuesday Rambles with David group, namely Franc and Carol, Jim and Francine, Judy, and Miriam and I prepared for a couple of days of birding in the near north. This year we were joined by my daughter, Caroline, and son-in-law, Andrew, who journeyed from Ottawa and met us in the park.
     Last year we arranged with Spring Lake Resort in Dwight, ON to open up four rooms for us ahead of their normal opening date of 1 May, and this year they kindly obliged us with five rooms. It is an ideal spot for us to stay, about sixteen kilometres from the west gate of the park. Irene Pobojewski, our congenial host, permitted us last year and again this year, to swing by in the morning to plug in a crock pot of chili which was Francine's contribution to the dinner we would all enjoy together in one of the rooms that evening.
     Having taken care of this chore, we headed for the Spruce Bog Trail where Caroline and Andrew awaited us in the parking area. It was cold, minus 11.5°C, with a bit of a wind, but in the shelter of the dense stand of spruce the effect of the wind was mitigated. This is the best spot in the park for Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), a species that will sometimes walk right up to you, but at other times can be frustratingly difficult to find. We had no luck today.


Carol, Caroline, Francine, Miriam, Judy, Jim
     Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) were both numerous and noisy and they were quite happy to feast on the bird seed we left for them.



     As we moved across the exposed area of the bog, a classic northern peat bog by the way, the wind made its presence felt, and we were happy when we finally returned to the car to go down to the Visitor Centre to have lunch and check the feeders there.
     We had seen both Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and Two-barred (White-winged) Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) feeding on minerals and grit at the side of the highway, but at the visitor centre we had much better views; with the male Two-barred Crossbill being the star of the show. Many Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus) were still present and a lingering cohort of about twenty Evening Grosbeaks (Hesperiphona vespertina) took advantage of the feeders.

Red Crossbill
Two-barred Crossbill (male)
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak
      And a pair of Purple Finches (Haemorhous purpureus) was an added bonus and a lifer for Franc and Carol.

Purple Finch - male

Purple Finch - female
     It was good to sit inside with hot coffee and the lunches we had brought from home. There is a great book store to check out, but unlike last year, I don't recall anyone buying anything this year.
     After lunch we went back out on the deck where it was quite a bit warmer than it had been earlier and I ran into my old friend, Rayfield Pye, and it was great to do a little catching up. It was incredible to look back on the time we have known each other, and birded together and manned hawk watches - almost thirty-five years! Where does time go?
     Northern Raven (Corvus corax) has expanded its range south in recent years, but it is still one of the signature birds of the park, a wily opportunist that survives the worst of winter's challenges.



     After lunch we went down the Opeongo Road, one of the very best locations to see Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) and we were not disappointed. This was the species Caroline had looked forward to seeing most of all and they put on a show for her. 




     Following the encounter with the Grey Jays we moved on to the Logging Museum where we spotted a Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus  almost right away and even though it played hide-and-seek with us a little we finally managed to get some fairly decent shots.



     Miriam decided this was a great spot for a group photograph.

Franc, Jim, Carol, Francine, Caroline, Andrew, David, Judy

     It was already late afternoon and we decided to head back to the motel. The Logging Museum is almost at the east gate of the park and from the east gate to the west gate is 57 km and we had a further 16 km beyond there to get to Spring Lake Resort. This is a big park, and the Highway 60 corridor cuts through the narrow part of it in the south.



     We checked in with Irene and paid our bills, then all assembled in Jim and Francine's room where the wine flowed and the food was plentiful. This really is a perfect way to end the day, much better than having to drive and find a restaurant. And the variety of food we all brought was fabulous.
    Following a good night's sleep we went to Judy's room where she made copious quantities of coffee for everyone, and even filled our thermoses for later in the day, and provided her homemade Morning Glory muffins, bran muffins and Caroline contributed a fresh fruit salad for a great breakfast. Birding on a full belly is always better than feeling hungry!
     Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), one of the two three-toed species in the park, is always high on the list of the special birds, but it is not an easy target to locate. We had checked the locations for recent sightings and tried our luck at the Tea Lake area, but we came up empty. The other area where a bird had been seen was the Mizzy Lake parking lot. Here we hit the jackpot. We parked and stationed ourselves at different spots around the perimeter of the parking area, and within about ten minutes Franc called with great glee, "I have it!" 


   
     We all saw the bird, but it then flew back and we lost sight of it. Again we all fanned out and checked different sections of the stand of dead trees where we had first seen it. Finally, Jim called us all over and the woodpecker was there in front of him feeding on a downed log.


      We watched it for at least fifteen minutes and even when it flew farther back it was still visible for us. 



     This is only the second time that I have had this kind of protracted session with this species. It was very special indeed.
     Following this excitement we went to the Visitor Centre where we had lunch from the ample leftovers from dinner the previous night and checked out the feeders again, but the activity was relatively subdued as more and more birds are moving off into their breeding territories. We decided to head home from there and bade farewell to each other, well satisfied with our weekend. We needed to go into Whitney for gas, but everyone else left to get on their way.
     We had an uneventful drive home happy in the knowledge that we will do it all again next year. Francine already has me on notice that she wants a Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus)!

All species: Ruffed Grouse, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Grey Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Northern Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, Two-barred Crossbill, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak.  Total: 18
     
     

76 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Again you took us with you on this wonderful outing! What a variety!! YAM xx

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  2. Hi David,
    I can imgane you all enjoyed this weekend full of succesful birding.
    So many lovely looking and mostly colorful birds. I like the woodpecker very much for his nice yellow cap. The blue jay's colors are stunning - so beautiful.

    Best regards, Corrie

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  3. Hi David.

    Beautiful species are passing by.
    Nicely put in the picture.

    Groettie from Patricia.

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  4. Hi David,
    Oh yes, there he is, the blue jay :)) I love it very much. I hope see him on day, may be with you lol
    Yours birds are very colourful. It's a joy.
    All the best :)

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    1. I would enjoy showing you our birds, Nathalie. Come on over!

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  5. What a nice weekend for you, David! I'm amazed over the numbers in your group. Hobbies are very nice to share with others. The Blue and Grey Jays are so beautiful.

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  6. Hej David!

    Din berättarkonst är underbar, trots att jag inte läser din berättelse på mitt modersmål så har du sannerligen förmedlat en känsla och en härlig upplevelse av ett veckoslut. Bilderna är så vackra på alla dessa fantastiska fåglar som jag aldrig sett eller kommit i kontakt med. Din djupa kärlek för fåglar och natur lyser starkt genom din levande text.

    Tack!

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    1. Thank you so much, Gunilla, for those very kind words. Makes me happy to know of your reaction.

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  7. Hi David.
    I’m sure your weekend was very enjoyable with all those beautiful species!
    Such beautiful and colorful birds! I like the Blue Jay ,the Purple Finch and the Ruffed Grouse!
    Enjoy your day!
    Dimi...

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  8. Both species of Crossbill! I'm jealous............

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  9. Such meetings of bird lovers and spending time together are a pleasure. How to add a successful bird watching this trip was definitely successful. Greetings.

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  10. Wow thanks for taking us along but I am glad it was a virtual trip. I would never have survived those temperatures!! You have such interesting birds, love the purple finch and the black backed woodpecker, but they are all interesting. Take care and hope that you have a Good Easter. Diane

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  11. Magnificent shots of our beautiful feathered friends and what a fun weekend for you!


    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  12. What a wonderful and rewarding weekend you had. I love the photos of all the beautiful species of birds. You now have me very interested in bird photography. :) Have a wonderful day.

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  13. Simply fantastic!
    What a great trip you had.
    The photographs are stunning - we are so blessed to have such a variety of colourful birds worldwide.

    With Easter almost here, I wish you a happy one.

    All the best Jan

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  14. Hi David - lovely write up with stunning photos - sounds like a wonderful time with friends, family and birds ... cheers Hilary

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  15. Hola David, enhorabuena a todos, preciosas fotos y preciosas aves. Los azules son espectaculares, Saludos para todos.

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  16. That's an impressive list of birds you saw. Sounds like a wonderful weekend.

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  17. Lovely clear photos of the birds.
    I do like the Grey Jay, it has the sweetest face it's smiling :)
    My that's a cold temperature but you must be all used to that and I admire how you all get out and about in such weather.
    Interesting map, lots of water there.

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  18. This is an amazing selection of birds. Thank you for letting us tag along.

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  19. Bonjour cher ami,

    C'est formidable de découvrir tous ces petits emplumés que vous avez photographiés ! Les clichés sont formidables. Je suis éblouie.
    Quelle belle promenade !

    Gros bisous 🎀

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  20. Sounds like a great place to go winter bird watching. Congratulations to Franc too for some excellent photos.

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  21. What a great break and all the better with friends and family. The Woodpecker is beautiful, great that you managed to see it well.

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  22. What a refreshingly chilly and rewarding weekend you had, David!
    So many interesting and beautiful species spotted.
    Happy spring!

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  23. A super account of what was obviously a great birding and social weekend, David. I'd have been absolutely delighted at seeing any one of those birds - except, perhaps, the Raven, which would not have caused quite so much excitement, as it is not a rarity in these parts!

    With love to you both - - - Richard

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  24. Wow, these are all fabulous sightings. The park is great for birding all year round. The winter images do look cold, I am sure everyone was dressed for the outing. Your birds and photos are all beautiful. Have a great day and weekend ahead.

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  25. Hi David,
    It is obvious that you had a great time with a number of people having the same kind of interest. There was a lot to be seen, looking at the pictures you show us here. I enjoyed looking at those pictures, seeing birds we don't see here in the Netherlands.
    Greetings, Kees

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  26. Wonderful array oh birds here, David!
    I see Franc had a ball at taking photos!!
    To me the highlights are the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Two barred cross-bill, they are really stunning and the Grey jay is really a cutie!
    Hope you and Miriam are well,
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo, y buena fin de semana :)

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    1. Franc had fun for sure. The Black-backed Woodpecker is special indeed, Noushka.

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  27. What a wonderful trip you had and so many lovely photos of some great species. I particularly like the Blue Jay.

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  28. Fabulous pictures David, I really love the shots by Franc.

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    1. All this praise will go to his head. There will be no living with him!

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  29. Hi David,
    Another interesting post of you, your family and group of again on another jaunt.
    And what a place to visit, some wonderful images well done to Franc.
    Top birds for me are the Black-backed Woodpecker, the Crossbils and of course both the Blue and Grey Jays.
    Wonderful post.
    All the best to you both. John

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  30. I enjoyed your writing in this post ... I felt included every step of the way. Congratulations on such a successful outing ... surely all those eyes are better than two when birding! The Grey Jay has such a bright, shiny eye - gives him lots of personality!

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  31. What a great picture of the group with family and friends. You really find some wonderful birds to photograph. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Easter- Diana

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  32. Another fruitful excursion! Love all the birds pictures!

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  33. Ooh, you changed your header. It's a stunning shot with the contrast of black and white.

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  34. Hello David, brrrrr it must have been cold. But what joy you saw such lovely birds. That Woodpecker is stunning and we do not see this kind here. The pictures taken by Franc and Miriam are wonderful.
    Warm regards,
    Roos

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  35. beautiful new header...i had to check to be sure i was in the right place!!!

    this looks like a great trip, rich with many species of birds!! you included several birds not familiar to me, birds i don't see here. the woodpecker with the yellow cap gorgeous and the gray jays, the first image is stunning, i was surprised to see one banded!!

    nice that you include everyone's captures and the group shot was great. sounds like a well planned out trip!!

    i replied to your comment on my blog, if you would like to read it!!

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  36. Excellent photos! I used to see pine siskins when we lived on a mountain but we moved to a different elevation and don't see them. I guess they are picky.

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    1. They have to go where their food can be found, although this is a species that can be attracted to backyard bird feeders with small seeds.

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  37. Hi David...such beautiful photos of feathered our friends! So beautiful. Everyone looks happy that they joined the birds outside.
    My hubby and I have about four bird feeders in our yard and four bird baths. We love having birds around.

    Have a lovely day🐦

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  38. What a great getaway trip! All the birds were great finds, but that woodpecker is really special. We always like to eat at least one meal in our hotel room when we go away for a few days..... a tradition started when we'd travel with our kids and could certainly feed six people cheaper and more healthfully than the fast food places we could have taken them too way back then. Now of course for us two oldsters the healthful part is the main thing. Our boating group of friends do the same thing, for the same reasons! (I wish we had such a compatible group of birding friends as well as the boat ones....we've not been lucky enough to find those!).

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    1. Well Sallie, if ever you make it this way one day you will be our honoured guest and you can bird with the whole gang!

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  39. Hello my friend David,
    what a great beautiful pictures of the Jay and also of the crossbeak. Also the Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch and all those other birds are a joy to watch. Wonderful to see so many beautiful birds. That does my heart well again.

    I wish you a few beautiful Easter days.
    Dear greetings,
    Helma xxx

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  40. Colour me awed. And grateful. Feathered enchantment that I will probably not see for myself.

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  41. A beautiful nature reserve, with a beautiful landscape and a snowy environment that makes it more attractive, although I see it was very cold, The photos that Frank achieved are sensational. I am glad that you have had a good time observing species that were looking for and enjoying good food

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  42. Hi David, it must have been a wonderful weekend with all these nice and beautiful species. I love the Grey Jay (do you report the colour rings? I always do) and the Black-bellied woodpecker, what a beauty he is! I was suprised to see you have 'our' Crossbeaks and Raven in Canada and I think Franks photo's of the Raven are great, untill now I never managed to get a good one.

    Enjoy your Easter,
    Marianne

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    1. Hi Marianne: Usually I do report banded birds, but in this case there is a team of resident biologists working in the Park with this species, so they are well aware of the birds’ movements.

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  43. .
    It looks cold with the snow now.
    Yet you have made beautiful pictures of all these beautiful types of David.
    Greetings Tinie

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  44. Hi David. That was a super day with some rather special birds. In my visits to LP I never did get to the much discussed Algonquin where the available species sounded so enticing. One of the other guys at LP, Ian (can't remember his surname) lived near there and loved winding up the Brits with tails of the parks' birds.

    Can you believe three's been more snow in the Pennines this morning? Still very few migrants around but warmer by weekend we're promised.

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    1. Hello Phil: In the winter you are not going to see a whole raft of species there, but as you see there are some quality birds.

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  45. Beautiful photos! The Crossbills and Grey Jays are fantastic!

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  46. I think I goofed on my comment posting and accidentally logged out! I just wanted to say this post was fabulous and I really admired all the work of the contributing photographers as well. Amazing birds!

    And that I loved your comment on my lamb post. As for me, I say yes to wool and no to lamb chops! If you're going to tout the cuteness of sheep, you have to have standards!

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  47. Hello David,:) So sorry that my visit to you was delayed. Franc's fantastic photos of these beautiful birds are delightful, and your outdoor excursions are always a pleasure to read about. I do admire your stoic resistance to the low temperatures. Very enjoyable narrative.:)

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    1. There is going to be no living with Franc! We will have to widen the door frame to let his head through!

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  48. Magnífica sesión ornitológica David, me han gustado mucho las fotos. Tienes que felicitar a Franc y a Miriam por su trabajo. Un fuerte abrazo desde España, todo lo mejor!!!

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  49. Love to see your various beautiful birds and smile on your friends, bird lovers as well!
    I always enjoy your new header too.
    Sorry,I am a late visitor. I am looking forward to seeing your new birds!!

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  50. Hello David,
    Wonderful series of photos of the different types of birds.
    They are all perfectly photographed and very sharp, my compliments.
    Photo 3 is my favorite.
    Best regards, Irma

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  51. What a wonderful trip you had. I miss the northern birds and enjoy your photos of them. I sure would like to see the black-backed woodpecker. He is splendid with his little orange chapeau.

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  52. Those are some amazing photos you got on your trip! It does look cold there. I am familiar with some of the birds but some are new to me as well. You really did well on getting to see so many! cheers, Nora

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  53. The guy at the back of the group shot looks frozen stiff!

    Grea set of pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Frozen? Frozen you say? Piffle! We are hardy Canadians unfazed by the winter!

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  54. Hello again! Hi David, hope you are having a good time in B.C. and have a great time on Vancouver Island! Send me a note if you want any birding tips for around here!!

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  55. HI David, what a fun outing y'all had and you got your target birds for the most part that always makes it even more fun! Good idea to bring your own eats that was a great idea.

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    1. I bet that Black-backed Woodpecker would be a lifer for many readers of this blog.

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  56. What a wonderfully enjoyable outing, I had a superb time imagining being there with you all. Glad you found the bird you were looking for. I find them all extraordinary, so different to our birds.

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  57. Successful trip! Beautiful pictures of birds!

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  58. That is a cute woodpecker.
    Reminded me of the one I filmed in Orcas island.

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  59. Hi David, Next time you are in town hope to meet up with you for some birding.

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  60. Beautiful bird images David. Blue jays are beautiful and so colorful. Ruffed Grouse looks amazing. Last summer we had parrot crossbills in our yard. Nice Weekend to you and your family.

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  61. The Blue Jays look as if they're mad that someone interrupted their feeding. I'm pretty sure its giving you the "eye."

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    1. Nah, he is just saying, “Thank you!”

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  62. Amazing post with super Birds,wonderful images.
    John.

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  63. One bird more beautiful than the other.
    Beautiful colors.

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