I lay considering the pitter-patter of rain on the windows. Should I go to Beech Road or not? Rain is not much of a barrier with the right gear, but I had to go to work right from the field. On the other hand it is the last scheduled bird walk with Weis for the season and although migration is slowing down, there are still new arrivals daily. I threw back the covers and headed for the shower.
When I arrived Suzanne was the only person there. As we waited we watched the swallows zip by, a large flock of cedar waxwings settle onto a cedar (go figure), and a green heron erupt from the shoreline to find a comfortable snag. Just as a carload of birders pulled up, a warbling vireo started a complex musical interlude. Finding a smallish non-descript gray bird can be difficult in the flat light on a gray day. But his song kept us focused. Suzanne finally spotted him tucked into a fully-leaved out maple. I found him once he flew and started to carol again. Everyone had good looks.
We tracked many of the birds by ear. But some of them were silent, elusive, intent on feeding, setting up territory and getting on with their lives. They were not “wasting daylight” as my mother would say. Among the later category I would put the mystery warblers; the silent ones that were high in the canopy, furtive maybe magnolias or canadas or drab olive tennesees.
Here is the list that I saw or heard–not counting the mysteries. Not bad for an hour.
A few mystery warblers
Wood Duck with 7 ducklings
I stamped my waterlogged sneakers on the frosty grass. It was another 30-degree morning on Beech Road. I had rifled around in the car and found a fleece vest that I had neglected to put away. I put it on under my coat and over my blouse and sweater. I was cold and whiney. One of my fellow birders had an extra pair of gloves that she loaned me. I am sure she saved me from frostbite. (All right, probably not, but it was cold out.)
As we waited for more birders to arrive I watched the Rough-winged and Tree Swallows. They were out in full force, skimming the water and having mock battles with one another. Tree Swallows never cease to amaze me; their clean white undersides and those iridescent backs are too stunning. There was also a noticeable influx of Rough-winged Swallow over the last week. (One of the cool things about doing a once-a-week bird walk in the same place is being able to watch the migration as it happens.)
An Eastern Kingbird sat at the tippy-top of a tree. It watched us watch him. It kept looking up as if wondering what was so exciting up above him.
After snapping a few shots (see yesterday’s post) of the Kingbird, I started to scan across the water on the opposite bank. Years ago, an old timey birder in Nova Scotia told me to scan the hills and look for a golf ball among the dark evergreens. That would be a Bald Eagle, he said. I still follow his advice. As I scanned the opposite bank, there was a white blob (not really a golf ball) in a tree. It was definitely a white-headed raptor. And lo and behold, it was a well-on-the-way to being an adult Bald Eagle. (golf ball trick still works, sort of) It is always a thrill to see an eagle.
Other birds of note, a few Blue Gray Gnatcatchers, quite a lot of RC Kinglets, over 20 DC Cormorants, and the usual forest birds. Don’t you want to join us next week?