Sunday, May 24, 2009

Birding Millbury-Sunday, May 24th

Well it was a day of local birding for me and the first time in close to two months that I have done a full day or birding solo. I was out there bright and early at 6:30am and the first thing I noticed when I went to the power lines was that a lot of birds were singing and I knew most of their calls and songs. I could tell almost immediately what birds were in the vicinity before I even got a look at them. Very cool! I know now why knowing bird songs and calls are so important. In fact at this point I think its more valuable than knowing what they look like because a lot of the birds are harder to see due to the heavy foliage on the trees.

Anyhow, the photo above and below are that of the Blue-winged Warbler. There were quite a few of these gorgeous birds at almost every location I went in Millbury today.

I got this bird to get really close to me by pishing and it worked as evidenced by my first halfway decent shot of this bird.

Song Sparrows were abundant at the power lines as well, but acting very antsy. I kept my distance because I believe they are nesting.

The Prairie Warblers were very vocal this AM and I could see some almost immediately when I went to a different habitat at the end of the lines (more brushy and dry).

This male Baltimore Oriole was perched up in a tree preening itself and was so absorbed in his task that he didn't even notice me very close to him taking his picture.

A picture of a Red-eyed Vireo. The Vireo species of birds are the ones that have me most confused right now. Two weeks ago it was the warblers, and this week its the vireos. You would think it would be easier because they don't really look much alike. An example of my confusion is the fact that when I took this picture I was convinced that it was a Blue-headed Vireo based on its song which was the clear-oh-lee, cheer-yo OR cheerolee, cheerio as I call it because I like to make up my own names for the songs (weird but true). I zoomed in on the bird and got one picture before another bird chased it away. I took about 20 shots of the birds and all came out blurry. I previewed this picture and was totally confused because it didn't look like the Blue-headed Vireo, but the Red-eyed instead.........I am convinced I heard the Blue-headed because I have memorized it song but I didn't hear the Red-eyed the entire time I was at this location! I did hear it somewhere else though. Needless to say I am very confused but what else is new.

The picture below is of a female Scarlet Tanager (thanks for the ID Alan!) This bird had me stumped because I had only seen the male tanager before. Such difference in colors!

Now onto one of my favorite birds which is the Wood Thrush. This is one of the calls I look forward to hearing the most when I am out in the woods. While I am thrilled that the photo came out so well, I am a little disturbed over how I got it. You see the thrush was walking across the dirt path when I noticed her. I immediately stopped dead in my tracks and adjusted my camera settings knowing I had to get a picture quick before she spotted me and flew off. The thing is she did see me and didn't fly off.....She just walked rather quickly into some brush. I don't know if she is hurt or just nesting and that's why she behaved like that, but I am hoping its the later.

The one thing I have noticed over the past few days is the increase in Cedar Waxwings. Sure they have been around as I saw them this winter, but they have been in hiding, at least for me. Here is one I took of in flight.

My first half-way decent shot of an Eastern Phoebe. For some reason the pictures I take of this bird always seem to look washed out.

Now onto some of the more bizarre episodes of the day. I swear word got out in the bird community that I was birding solo today so the birds decided to have a little fun on my behalf. The picture below is that of the oh so innocent American Crow. Or is it?????

When I was walking from the path near the Fire station in Millbury I saw a bird mobbing another bird and I excitedly thought that perhaps it was an owl. I couldn't see that well because of the sun and you will see my predicament in how bad the photo came out. I went over to the other side where the sun was more hospitable and was sure it was an American Crow being mobbed. I waited to see if the bird would mob it another time but it didn't. I now think its a Common Grackle attacking an American Crow but I have never seen anything like it before. To make things even more confusing the crow was making a call that I had only heard once and that was his rattle or comb call. If you want to hear it you can do so in the video I took at the end of my post. Very weird

I went over to the Millbury cemetery and was able to get really close to an American Robin taking a bath in the Blackstone River. So cute and it looked as if it was enjoying itself. I don't think I would ever bathe in that water though. Look at the color, its green! To each their own I suppose. ;o)

Another strange thing was a bird swimming in the Blackstone who was very far away from me. All I can see it is long neck and head above the water and automatically thoughts of Creatures of the Black Lagoon start filling my head. Lighting is terrible again and I manage one quick photo before it flies away.

Okay I needed help with this one and Alan just emailed me to tell me this is a Double-crested Cormorant! What a VERY COOL bird and is now my favorite Cormorant for the month of May! . Seriously! Must go out and find this bird a little more often as I love the way it swims.

Very cool to watch it fly away. Look at that wing span, its breath taking I tell ya! Must sneak up on it tomorrow for a better look and photo if it's still around

So, I managed my first day of birding solo better than I thought. I even decided to do checklists today because its something I hate doing and want to try and get into the habit of it more. I do NOT like eBird at all. The map drives me crazy and it never goes where I want it to, but that's another topic for a different day.

Total Species Count Today:

1 Canada Goose

2 Mallard

3 Great Blue Heron

4 Ring-billed Gull

5 Mourning Dove

6 Chimney Swift

7 Downy Woodpecker

8 Hairy Woodpecker

9 Eastern Wood-Pewee (HEARD ONLY)

10 Eastern Phoebe

11 Eastern Kingbird

12 Blue-headed Vireo

13 Red-eyed Vireo

14 Blue Jay

15 American Crow

16 Northern Rough-winged Swallow

17 Black-capped Chickadee
18 Tufted Titmouse

19 Wood Thrush

20 American Robin

21 Gray Catbird

22 Northern Mockingbird

23 European Starling

24 Cedar Waxwing

25 Blue-winged Warbler

26 Yellow Warbler

27 Chestnut-sided Warbler

28 Pine Warbler

29 Prairie Warbler

30 Ovenbird

31 Common Yellowthroat

32 Scarlet Tanager

33 Eastern Towhee
34 Chipping Sparrow
35 Field Sparrow
36 Song Sparrow
37 Northern Cardinal
38 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
39 Red-winged Blackbird
40 Common Grackle
41 Baltimore Oriole
42 House Finch
43 American Goldfinch
44 House Sparrow
45. JUST ADDED and not in proper order: Double-crested Cormorant

And here is the video of the Crow. When I first heard it I had forgotten it had this strange call. I got excited thinking it was a Fish Crow. It then gave me a break by doing its more famous Caw call and the mystery was solved.


Big Yin said...

Not sure what your species will be in the States but the last two photos are of a Cormorant species. The bird being attack is a Crow - species unknown to me but you will see lots of this. Crows predate smaller birds so they have to be driven off.

Shellmo said...

Loved that photo of that preening Oriole! And great that you can put your pishing skills to use!! (I need to learn how to do this!) You had an impressive birding list!!

Kallen305 said...

Thanks Big Yin. I thought it was a Great-blue Heron because I am not at all familiar with the DC cormorant. I knew deep in my mind that it wasn't a heron due to how it swam but one of the pictures of the wings had a blue-gray color so I just assumed that it was that. I never thought a Cormorant would want to swim in the Blackstone!! HA! I am intrigued by this bird now and am going to try and stalk it tomorrow at the same location so I can see the double crests on its head.

Shelley, I am telling you its easy. I had a Red-eyed Vireo come really close to me at another location today but I couldnt' get a decent shot of its eyes so I used my other photo. Every time I pished, it would hop lower on another branch. This bird likes to stay up high so I was amazed at how well it worked for me. Just practice and you will get the hang of it.

The Early Birder said...

Whow Kim, that's an impressive list. Just proves that you have put all those tips & skills you have learnt over the past month or two to very good use.

Alan said...

Great day Kim! The pishing technique sounds very interesting. What kind of equipment/software/speakers,etc do you use??

Kallen305 said...

Thanks Frank! I am learning but still have so much more to learn! That's what makes it fun though.

Alan, the only equipment I use is my lips. ;o). I bird very often with someone who uses an Ipod but we only use that in cases of rare emergencies when I need to bird on my life list and they will not cooperate. You just want to say the word pish with perched lips and you should hear an almost whiltling pishing sound. It's actually very easy once you do it once. HA! I never thought I would be discussing this on a public forum. A lot has changed in a year. ;o)

Kelly said...

...awesome birding! I adore the first two Blue-winged Warbler shots. It must have been kind of fun to go it alone and realize just how much you have learned. At the beginning of the season, so much of it was new. I love that feeling...

Ratty said...

I am actually learning to recognize a few bird calls thanks to the influence of you and your blog. I love the picture of the bird in flight. And I even knew that the strange swimming bird was a type of cormorant. I've seen three of those now. They remind me of dinosaurs when they are swimming.

Kallen305 said...

Kelly, I know exactly how you feel. Its amazing how much you can learn in just a couple of months.

Ratty, you should have been with me at the Blackstone to help me out as the bird is new to me! ;o). So glad you are paying attention more to the birds and their calls. I know you are an avid hiker and it makes hiking more interesting in my opinion. It's the perfect excuse to take a break from all of that walking/hiking to look at a bird and try and figure out what it is.

Elaine Dale said...

Love the bathing robin! So many great shots.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Okay Kim... The rookie birder wants to know what pishing is!!!!! Sorry--I've never heard of it..

Great pictures. YOu did great on a solo expedition. I need to try harder learning the bird songs/sounds.

That crow video was interesting.

Have a great evening --and Memorial Day..


Dale Forbes said...

the orioles are my favorite!

Jayne said...

What a day Kim! So many things to see, you lucky duck. :c)

Tina said...

Kim, You certainly are being an inspiration to me to get out as a solo. I need to work more on the bird calls..I have some down in my little brain but as you said so many are confusing..esp. if there have several calls.
Congrats on such a long list of sights for your day out!! Wished you lived closer..would love to join your outings once in a so much to learn and so little time to do it..
I have seen the female scarlet tanager but didn't know what it was..thanks.

dAwN said...

Where do I begin.
First of all I think it is so cool that now when you go birding on your own you have so much more birdie can identify cool is that!
And you know when to call in the Expert..when you need a bird ID.

I love that you add the photos that you take of the birds..even if they arent perfect...I am doing that is a good record of what we see.
I really liked your photos of the cedar waxwing and the robin bathing.
I could sit all day and watch birds bath..tee hee
I hope you can join us June would be fun to meet in person..
so far we have a decent group getting together.

Chris said...

Congrats on your first solo tour for months! It looks like it was a good one, with many species and good shots. Yeh I guess knowing the song of the birds also helps you to get nice shots. just by hearing, you then know what is around and how to behave!! Well done.

T and S said...

45 birds in one day, that's incredible.

Deborah Godin said...

Just incredible photos and wonderful field notes! That flying cormorant casting off water is just stunning!!!

Steve said...

Fantastic list for today Kim, but being Dr.Doolittle helps I suppose. lol. Have a great week.

Ginnymo said...

Wow! Another fantastic birding day for you!! great shots of all these birds Kim!! That Crow video sounds like mine. I have so many of those things around but they come in handy when there is danger and warn all the others. I know you had a terrific weekend!! Now back to those Falcons..LOL

Steve B said...

Looks like another cool day in the field. The fish crow has a double caw-caw call that will sound out of place when you hear it. I've only seen them in Florida on visits, not here...yet. I guess they do come north, but the crows in Glah-sta seem to be American.

Wonderful warblers again.


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