Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count-Birding on the Run Day One

That's right everyone, just when you thought things couldn't get anymore stimulating this winter, I proudly present to you The Great Backyard Bird Count-Birding on the Run series starring moi. As some may know, I never do things quite the way most folks do and have proven it again this weekend as I plan on doing the entire Backyard Bird count on foot while trail running. You see, the sun doesn't come out early enough yet, for me to get in an early morning trail run, so I have to wait to do it during prime birding time to get it in so I am essentially killing two birds with one stone (pun intended). Of course, I could hit the pavement in the dark in the morning to get my running fix, but I do that during the week and really miss my trail running so I have to find a balance between running and birding and this will have to do for now. Plus, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I am the only one in Great Backyard Bird Count history to attempt such a thing so consider yourselves lucky to be able to experience it first hand. :-p.
I set off late this morning to Martha Deering because I was interested in investigating it more after I googled some maps of the area which shows trails from here that meet with trails of the Grafton Land Trust so I was hoping to get in some extra miles and find new places to explore.

I was rather surprised at the amount of snow that still remained on the trail and kicked myself for not bringing my snow shoes, but such is life so off I went with microspikes on my feet as I trudged through snow that made running rather difficult and tough on the legs. I now have a new appreciation for those who snow shoe race as running in the snow is as difficult as running in soft sand and can really slow you down.
Anyhow, except for a Hairy and Downy Woodpecker, all was fairly quiet bird wise as I made my way through narrow trails covered in snow and lined by trees. It was very nice out so I was in my zone at this point and was just enjoying a fantastic winters day until I came upon an open area of land in Grafton. I made my way to the center and scanned the skies for a Red-tailed as it just seemed natural to see one in such an area, but no such luck I'm afraid.
I was finally lucky enough to come across a pocket of birds back at Martha Deering near the old foundation of the house that once stood there. None were going to do me the honors of posing so I took what I could get including this picture of a White-breasted Nuthatch above chucking me the moon.
As well as a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets who wouldn't sit still for a photo.
And of course a Black-capped Chickadee mixed in with their old side kick the Tufted Titmouse.
And a picture of the old foundation at Martha Deering. This land was donated to the town and there once stood a house that went with it. Anyhow, someone decided to burn it down and this is all the remains sadly. Such a beautiful fireplace though none the less. They just don't make things like that anymore that's for sure. Talk about attention to detail.

I decided to hit Brierly after that and inhaled a couple of Cliff Bars and an entire bottle of water while in my car to the next destination as all that running had me famished! My legs were still in shock from the trauma at Deering and proceeded to cry in protest as I attempted a gentle run up the trail but soon enough, they accepted their fate and off we went. Sadly enough, there were even less birds here than at the other place, but it was awesome to be there none the less as it was quiet and peaceful which is what I yearned for.
Finally I see a pocket of birds near some brush so I stop and watch them. The flock consisted mostly of Juncos like the female above. Here she is peeking at a small body of running water that looks mighty tempting to her as evidenced by her sweet little face.
Anyhow, she decides to dive right in and take a nice brisk bath while I watched. Totally awesome!!! One of my favorite things to do is watch a bird bathe because they enjoy it so much, so I sat there for a few minutes staring at her and smiled. Highlight of my day. :-p. I made my way home after that, starving again and I felt good running five miles through the snow (of which maybe 1 mile in total was hiked as it was mighty tough, just to get in the 4!)
And the other Juncos too. Love these birds and will be sad to see them go in a couple of months. Well......Not really, as that will mean spring is another day closer, but I can still enjoy them while they're here!
Lastly a shot of a Cooper's Hawk taken by my son via an IPhone. He had called me while I was at work to tell me a Red-tailed Hawk was in my yard so of course I got excited. What's it doing? I ask. Eating a Starling. HA!! I then try and explain to him why it is most likely a Cooper's Hawk vs. a Red-tailed, etc, but have to hang up as my boss is calling and low and behold, my son's first bird picture ever! Not too bad for an Iphone! I came home after work and it was still there so it should be interesting to see if the coops is a regular in my yard. Funny I see her in the neighborhood all the time and she flies by my house, but this is the fist time I have seen her directly in my yard all winter. The European Starlings discovered my suet for the first time last week so I am guessing the starling is the food of choice for the Coops. Will make sure suet is out at feeders all times going forward. ;-)

Take care all


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Nothing like working hard for the Bird count.I need that kind of discipline.

Samuel said...

Good sightings!

NCmountainwoman said...

My legs are aching just reading about the run in the snow! Talk about multi-tasking...


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