Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another 1st of the Year Bird & Getting Lost in the Woods

I did some local birding around the area today with one of the first places being the Millbury Cemetery. As soon as I arrived I could hear the unmistakable call of the Eastern Phoebe so I got out of my car to attempt to pinpoint the exact location of the call so I could get a much wanted look and picture of it. After a couple of minutes I would find it in a tree mixed in with some Blue Jays. First of the year bird for me and a sure sign that it is indeed spring.
After that it was onto Worcester and Notre Dame Cemetery to see if I could see the Savannah Sparrow again as well as the reported Gadwall that was spotted there a few days ago. I parked in the area where the river meets the wetlands and was overwhelmed with the number of Red-winged Blackbirds that were calling from almost every direction including the one above.
The Song Sparrows also continued to join in on the chorus as I listened to them all singing their songs while I drank my morning coffee.
While I was watching the Song Sparrow, something flew in to the tree right next to it that caught my eye. I had my bins on it for a while hoping it would show it's face some as the bird appeared almost sparrow like and the size of a blackbird.
It finally flashed me its face long enough for me to get a picture and based upon what I see, it appears as if its a female Red-winged Blackbird that decided to tag along with the guys!
The Common Grackles were also abundant here and one was kind enough to land in a nearby location while I was in my car getting ready to leave. I rolled down my window and was able to get my first decent picture of the year of this bird and I am convinced it's because I was in my car which served as a bird blind of sorts.
My theory would be proven yet again as I sat there taking pictures of the grackle. I could see two Wood Ducks flying in the sky above when suddenly they both land in the tree right next to the Grackle!! I sat there for a moment and just stared at the two of them as this was the closest I have ever gotten to Wood Ducks and the first time I had ever gotten a really good look at them in a tree. Finally I turn on my camera and take some pictures of the female who is oblivious of the fact that I am fairly close to her taking pictures.
So there you have it folks. If you want to get close to Wood Ducks, stay in your car and see what happens! ;-)
After that it was back to Millbury. I stopped at Brierly Pond on my way to the Brierly woods and who do I see, but good old Cottontail as the locals call it. Once again it survived another cold New England winters as you can see in the photo above.
And what may we have here, but perhaps a new arrival in the hodge podge of waterfowl that call Brierly Pond there home year round. Hmmmmmmm..........Perhaps a potential couple here. Hey, anything can happen as evidenced by this past summer!! Another chapter in the Brierly soap opera I'm sure. ;-). Not sure if you can have a Mallard x Pekin Hybrid though?
I finally decide to head to Brierly woods for some light hiking as I am taking a few days off from running due to pain that has gotten worse in the back of my leg where my knee is. I have been doing some reading on this and from what I understand this is not a good place to feel pain as a sprain here can take weeks to heel so I am giving it much needed rest hoping it isn't sprained, just over used some. Anyhow, the plan was to do a light three mile hike just to get outside and hopefully get the Ruffed Grouse who lives here. One of the 1st birds I would see would be a Tufted Titmouse who was part of a flock of them. This one in particular took a strong liking to a cavity in a tree that I thought was very interesting.

I decided to explore some of the side trails as this is always where I find the Grouse who will always fly out of nowhere and scare the daylights out of me so I was hoping for a repeat today. I walked for a very long time and was surprised to see that I had gotten past two miles without even paying much attention to where I was going. The Spring Peepers were out, the birds were singing and the sun shone bright as I lost track of time so decided it was time to head back as after all, I was supposed to be resting my legs.

I make my way back around a loop trying to remember the way back to the main path and suddenly realize that I was lost. I would keep coming across the same dead tree with an old wreath on it because the paths are so loopy that they form circles for the mountain bikers and I couldn't get out of them. I would think I finally got out of it, only to see the same wreath again and after about the 4th time of doing this, I had to swallow my pride and cut across the woods to a house where there was a man raking leaves in his yard. He looks at me as I make my way toward him from the woods and I wave at him sheepishly as if I've known him all my life as he looks at me confused. Hi I say, um......... I kind of got myself lost in the woods and I am wondering if you wouldn't mind if I cut through your yard so I can see where I am......... He isn't at all surprised by this and tells me I am more than welcome to as he can understand how people can get lost in there as his wife has done it before. We chit chat for a while and as I am leaving he proceeds to tell me that I am the first walker who has ever asked to cut through his yard. He has had his share of mountain bikers in the same predicament, but never a walker. I smile as I walk away with crimson cheeks and am grateful to see pavement and Lake Singletery as I make my way back to my vehicle. Seriously, those woods are a maze at times! Oh, and to add insult to injury, I would never see the the darned Ruffed Grouse, and wasn't even able to get a lousy Wild Turkey despite being in those woods for well over 5 miles!
As I get closer to my car, I would see a very busy Black-capped Chickadee doing the same thing the Tufted Titmouse was doing a couple of hours before and suddenly the trauma of getting lost in the woods was soon forgotten as I was yet again reminded of what is yet to come.

Take care all.


Kelly said... made me laugh. Glad you were able to find your way out! Hope the paint behind your knee improves quickly. I'm still fighting a torn plantar ligament in my foot, and it's driving me nuts. Pain in the leg and foot really is no fun while birding. It definitely slows me down.

Renee said...

I'm so excited that you saw/heard a Pheobe! Hopefully that means mine is are on their way back home! :)

I'm still fighting with illnesses and now allergies. Grrrr. As for getting lost, I'm glad I read about it here and not heard it on the news! :)

Kay said...

I enjoyed your photos--it's like a walk in the woods (without getting lost!).
I just found your blog, enjoyed it, and will return.

Susan W. said...

Great story! I especially love the wood ducks in the tree. I could swear I've seen that mallard and that white duck together somewhere else - but can't imagine where!


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