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?
This Kingbird cracks me up. Hey! What’s up there?
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’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.