Monthly Archives: April 2008
With only a cursory look at the shoreline, we headed off to the woods with its inviting green blush of tiny leaves. The light shining through was translucent and limey, like a long drink of a margarita on a hot day-tangy, refreshing, relaxing but a little exciting too. As we birded along the road leading to the woods, a Cooper’s Hawk then a Red-tailed Hawk graced us with their presence. And tantalizingly close was the liquid sweer, sweer, sweer…of a Louisiana Waterthrush. It sounded near, yet far…no, no, really close, wait, maybe not…. We squeezed around the metal gate at the end of the road and onto the woodland path.
The trail repair from last week has been completed but they threw good-sized stones so there was lots of crunching, even on tiptoe. With this kind of noise every bird in the tri-state area knew we were coming. The Waterthrush led us on a merry chase deeper into the woods. We scanned high and low. We saw Titmice, a Phoebe, heard Chippies, Chickadees, Flickers, and Cardinals. There was drumming off in the distance.
The Louisiana Waterthrush sang its fool head off. We never did see it. But it is nesting there. According to Suzanne it has been there for 3 weeks. Next week I am going to feign indifference. By then there will be more warblers and if he wants us to oooh and ahhh, over his fresh new plumage then he had better show himself. Harumpf!
On the way back to my car, I saw a beautiful male Commom Merg with his harem of 3 lovely ladies. Suzanne, the volunteer leader from Weis Ecology Center will be emailing us the trip list. I’ll post it when it arrives.
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
Henry David Thoreau
How do they always gobble in unison? It is not like they have a 1,2,3. Go signal….
I lagged behind; dazzled by fuzzy willow catkins glowing in the pale morning light while the rest of the group went ahead. It was a cold but not frosty morning on Beech Road. Monksville Reservoir was flat and still with only one boat of fisherman tucked against the far bank. It was quiet with very few birdsongs.
The Thursday morning bird walks led by Suzanne, a volunteer at Weis Ecology Center started a month ago. I am a laggard or maybe a slug or need ginkgo biloba in the worst way. Thursday would roll by and on my way to work I would glance over and see all of the cars, wonder what was going on, then mutter CRAP! under my breath. It must be Suzanne’s walk. I would make a mental note–next week I am going to go. This went on for weeks. Yesterday, I remembered.
I like these bird walks they give me chance to get out in the early, albeit frosty, morning air; meet fellow birders; and experience nature before I sit in my windowless office for the next 8 or 9 or 10 hours. AND the birding is good there during migration.
While I was distracted by the catkins, one of the women on the walk yelled out in an excited voice, “ There is a bird with a long nose.” I whirled toward the group. Suzanne, got her bins on it and identified it as a Wilson’s Snipe. I abandoned the catkins and dashed over to the group. That is a good bird. I have not seen a Snipe since they changed its name from Common to Wilson. We searched for it in vain.
We continued the walk into the woods hoping for warblers, gnatcatchers or maybe a waterthrush. What we got instead were trucks and bulldozers. The freeholders were repairing a trail in the woods that had been washed out. While a good thing, heavy earthmoving equipment does put a damper on birdlife.
We did see, Great Blue Heron, DC Cormorant, migratory Canada Geese, Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Crows, Wood Ducks, 2 female Buffleheads, Tree Swallows, A Rough-winged Swallow, the ubiquitous Cowbirds, and of course, there was the Wilson’s Snipe.
I left the group early, but I’ll be back next week, if I remember.
I’m birding in the rain
Just birding in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
To see warblers again.
Ok, it was just a passing thought, as I stood in the 40-degree drizzle looking up at dozens of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumps and 6 or 7, maybe even 10, kinglets (they were everywhere the warblers were. Their ruby crowns were standing up like tiny mohawks). Wait, be still my heart, over there…see it…it’s a Louisiana Waterthrush tail-wagging along the rushing mountain stream. Ah, life is good. I am so glad I detoured to the local state park on my way to do errands. Yes, I know it is not really on the way to anywhere, but most detours are not.
Today’s list was Am. Kestrel, Eastern Phoebes, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, RC Kinglets, Downy WP, Yellow -shafted Flickers, Pileated WP, Tree Swallows, Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, LA Waterthrush, Robins, RW Blackbirds, Grackle, Turkey Vultures, and way too many Cowbirds.
WARNING: THIS IS A DISGUSTING POST.
“Don’t Look.” “Don’t Look.” “Don’t Look.”
I don’t know what it is about road kill, but I am compelled to look at it. Nay, even worse, I am compelled to try and identify it. It is a disgusting habit. I try to control myself when there is someone else in the car with me. But I can’t help it. They could be telling me their life’s story or some terrible tragic thing and I end up saying things like,
in the middle of a conversation. Needless to say, I get quizzical looks and a polite “I’m sorry, what?”
But, as a result of my vast un-mentionable experience, I am pretty good at calling out road kill at 60 mph. Some of it is easy.
Smaller is harder. Opossum, raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, groundhog, kitty. Skunk, although one of the smaller ones is also easy due to the lingering odor and the stripe. Birds are nearly impossible unless it is large like a goose or duck.
Because of habit of “noticing”, I have seen some pretty interesting things dead on the road. And ya know, road kill is regional. I have seen porcupine in Maine, coyotes out west; armadillo in Georgia; (that was a shock. I actually pulled over and got out of the car for that one.), a bear and a porcupine up here on the mountain as well as a mink or weasel or something similar. The list goes on and on.
I have a friend who even plays a road kill game on long car trips instead of the license plate game. So, I am not the only one, but I digress.
Even though I notice road kill, I always try to avoid hitting animals or birds (it has only happened to me once-the thump of a robin as it impacted the grill-shudder, I will never forget it.) I will brake, swerve or honk if I need to. I have crept behind a beaver family with a long frustrated line of cars behind me until they got off the road. I have gotten out of the car to remove turtles from the roadway. It is a sad state of affairs that we have so many cars, and the animals are trying to live their lives in spite of us.
If someone is going really slow ahead of you, be patient, it could be she is keeping safe a mama duck as she moves her family from one pond to another or a entire flock of turkeys ambling across the road in their search for acorns or maybe, just maybe a couple of befuddled beavers.