Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bird Count, Running and Follow that Bird!

Example of a bird chase taken a couple of week ago

Another day of the Great Backyard Bird Count, but had a late start in that I spent some time this morning performing my motherly duties and took my youngest to the grocery store to buy his girlfriend a box of chocolates and all the fixins for a romantic dinner made by my charming son that would consist of salad in a bag and a box of Prince Pasta topped with Ragu! Yup, he has potential in the husband department for sure but not for another 10-15 years or so at least and I make sure I remind him of that often. ;-)

Anyhow, I picked up his girlfriend on the way back and was making my way past a corner when suddenly I saw two Red-tailed Hawks soaring above doing a wonderful aerial display of chase it appeared so I yelled in excitement as it looked as if these two hawks had a little valentine romance of there own going on and was happy to have caught it. My sons girlfriend is in the back and my son in front and I can tell by his crimson little cheeks that pulling over on the road with camera in hand would probably not be wise so off we drove to put the groceries away much to the relief of my son.

Further on, I see a large bird in the sky riding the wind swaying to and fro and much to my delight was a Turkey Vulture. I scream Turkey Vulture at this point with a big goofy grin on my face and try and follow it, wondering when the next side street is so I can pull over with camera in hand for a record shot of course. The TV has other plans and takes off behind a house as I am keeping one eye on the road and the other on the fleeing bird and off I drive disappointed to never get that shot, but happy just the same to have seen it. Can someone say Spring is another day closer!!! HA ;-)

After that, I took off to do some birding and running and decided to hit a new trail in town that I had discovered thanks to a couple of sites out there that the local mountain bikers maintain to discuss and map local trails they like so have been using it myself for planning my trail runs. What's even better about this is that these guys even keep up the trails through cleaning, marking, etc so it's a win/win situation for all, especially me. ;-)

I start with a slow run as there was no spring in my step today after yesterday but soon enough find some incredible paths that were magical to run through as the sky was blue, the sun was warm and the snow sparkled as I ran through it. I made a stop a couple of times for birds with the most notable being an entire flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets (6 in total) that were fixated on a couple of spots which I thought was very interesting as this was the first time I have ever seen a flock of kinglets of that size and also because there were no Black-capped Chickadees around which I thought was pretty cool.
The trail went for about a mile or so (am guessing there is more to it, but not daring enough to explore in winter out of fear of getting lost), so will go back there soon as it has much potential with its combination of woodland paths and a vast amount of powerlines that are scrubby and definitely warbler worthy. After that it was off to do my hill training for the week so I went to my favorite powerlines for more running and birding. I make my way through the beginning of the trail and the first bird I see and hear is one of the Common Ravens and was happy to have gotten them today for the bird count. About a mile or so after that, it was one of the local Red-tailed Hawks so I am guessing they will be regulars now which is so nice because I missed them both.
As I said earlier running was tough so would pray to hear a bird here or there so I could use it as an excuse to stop and get my camera out for photos and counts. I had a Northern Mockingbird mixed in with some American Robins, some American Tree Sparrows, Juncos, etc and of course the Tufted Titmouse like the one above.
After that it was onto more uncharted territory to get in my total 5 miles of running for the day and made my way to a path that was pretty deep with snow and very difficult to run through but did my best.
After a while my legs cried in protest so I decided to stop for a while and just enjoy the sun on my face as I drank some water and ate some Dark Chocolate. As I stood there and entire flock of Black-capped Chickadees decided to pay me a visit and land near me so I could get some photos like the one above.

All in all not a bad day and was happy to get some new species to my backyard bird count list including the Turkey Vulture and Northern Mockingbird.

Take care all.


Renee said...

I admire your ability to run in the snow AND watch for birds. Me, I'd trip over my own two feet and fall flat, have a hard enough time walking and gawking. :)

I've been known to chase birds down with the car, just did it the other night. Fortunately, my son is much younger and doesn't understand..... yet.

the b in subtle said...

Wow! I found you via a comment on Up in Alaska. i just couldn't believe your photo! I have a thing about owls going on with my newborn son. there is also something going on with to do with robins and him. i'm sure he will take an interest in birds when he's older so we'll have to keep track of your site. the anonymous donor i chose for my in vitro surgery was part Irish, English and Native American. his names are in three parts - his first name has to do with water, his middle name with the forest (it literally means "little deer" in Gaelic) and his third name is of the sky - my IVF cycle began the peak night of the perseids in August of 2008. so he has water, earth and sky in his name. he LOVES his toy owls. i'm fascinated by what you do and your blog. so excited to find you! {nancy}


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