Friday, March 26, 2010

Birding in February? Well that's kind of what if felt like

I had the day off again today and didn't want to waste it indoors, so off I went with Alan to brave the elements to do some light birding and hit some trails via hiking as I am still having pain behind the knee so have been hesitant to attempt putting on any miles via my running shoes, until the pain subsides a little more. Anyhow, one of the first places we hit was Martha Deering in Millbury, to check to see if the Winter Wren or Pine Warblers were back yet, even though we knew it was a long shot, it was a good excuse to head out there. The place was very quiet and after walking about a mile or so, we were lucky to hear an occasional Black-capped Chickadee or Blue Jay.

Alan wanted to check out a brushy area and I was looking in another direction when suddenly I could see a large bird that I thought was a Red-tailed Hawk at first, take flight and fly a short distance to a nearby tree where it was covered by branches, I was lucky enough to see where it landed to put my binoculars on it and was thrilled to see a Barred Owl staring back at me. Now I had gotten a Barred Owl a couple of weeks ago, but Alan had yet to see one this year, so I attempted to explain its location and there it was staring back at him. I took out my camera to attempt a photo despite the challenges and off it flew to get away from us, even though we were rather far away. The thrill of the experience would be I had never seen a Barred Owl fly before. The wing beats were heavy and labored, yet very powerful as those lovely wings of his bent heavily down to navigate through the trees and far away from view. Awesome sight and so glad we were in the right place at the right time! While we were lucky enough to get the owl, we didn't fare so well in getting either the Winter Wren or a Pine Warbler, but that was to be expected anyhow.
After that, I wanted to show Alan a couple of places I have discovered locally while running trails as he has shown me so many cool spots I wanted to attempt to return the favor. The next stop would be Rayburn and the adjoining power lines that actually criss cross with the other powerlines the local Red-tailed Hawks nested at last year. There were not that many birds there, but you can definitely see the potential with the scrubby over brush and adjoining woods with ample water nearby. Can't wait to get back there to search for Towhees and other various warblers who find that habitat to their liking. One thing we did see though was the nest above which was rather large, messy and made of moss. Will have to investigate further to see what it is as it was twice the size of a Robin's nest.
We made our way to the area where the two power lines meet, and could hear the usual racket of the various backyard birds as they were making their way through their turf. One lone Black-capped Chickadee decided to pay us a visit as it perched nearby to check us out, while I took a few photos of it.
There would also be scores of pussy willows that were well past their prime except for a couple here and there like the one above.
After a while I could hear the lovely call of the White-throated Sparrow and sure enough, one popped out to see what we were up to. Seriously, I cannot get a decent photo of this bird for the life of me no matter what I do. Very frustrating.
I can't say the same for the Northern Mockingbird who is always a ham for my camera. We were driving along when I spotted it so we decided to pull over and low and behold this mocker was crooning away and singing, which was indeed music to the ears on this cold day. Despite the temperatures, all you had to do was hear him sing and you knew warmer weather is very nearby. This bird had a very impressive set of pipes as well as calls as he was spot on doing a Blue Jay and White-breasted Nuthatch imitation which got me thinking that perhaps the mockingbirds songs are somewhat related to the birds they hear most. Example: Both the Blue Jay and nuthatch are year round birds so he has probably heard it most the past few months vs. the Catbird and other birds you would hear it imitate in the summer. Food for thought I guess.

Take care all.


A New England Life said...

Your not kidding it feels like February! Brrr! And yet it doesn't look like February outside. Seems like it should be warmer. Guess tomorrow will so that will be nice.

We have a Mocker but it's not singing, just being aggressive and guarding the suet. LOL! Typical.

As cold as it is I can actually hear a peeper or two outside.

hottestgamesonthemarket said...

What a lovely little bird!


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