Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This & That-April

I have been doing some birding here and there with a lot of it being "birding by ear" during my morning trail runs. I get out there just before dawn and the trails are alive with bird song and some of the songs are ones I didn't hear last year while running because I picked up running the trails late last June well after spring migration so this is a whole new experience for me and one I welcome because it is still so dark outside it forces you to totally concentrate on the bird song around you vs. getting looks at them which in my opinion is one of the best ways to become a better birder because you have more range with your ears than your eyes so the better you know the songs and calls of certain birds, the better your chances are of identifying more.

Anyhow, I got out bright and early and wanted to try a new place because I really want to get some owls while out there so am going to places where there is some potential. I would hit a trail I discovered this past winter and one of the first bird songs I would hear would be that of a Hermit Thrush. Common sense would be put on the back burner as I made my way through the woods in the dark with just my head lamp using my ears as my guide to the bird. I would get close enough for video but it was far too dark outside so I went on my way and just as the sun started to shine above the hill, I would hear a peenting American Woodcock mixed in with Eastern Towhees, American Robins and Field Sparrows. A wonderful experience and one I am looking forward to developing more as migration starts to take fold. And seriously talk about multi tasking. Getting your exercise and birding at the same time, you can't beat that!

Anyhow, I emailed Alan to let him know the location of the thrush and wouldn't you know not only does he hear it, but the darn bird was on the ground posing nicely for him so he could get a good look. I would read this while stuck at work so wouldn't be able to get out there again until this evening when I would go back there hoping for an Eastern Screech-owl which I would never get, but I did get to finally see the Hermit Thrush above. First of the year bird for me and a welcome sound as one of the most magical sounds in the woods in summer is the sound of the thrushes I think.
I have been getting further use of my binoculars at work lately as I have gotten some pretty cool things last fall during migration so figured it can't hurt to sneak peeks here and there. I would be sneaking a peek at the right time today as one of the Peregrine Falcons decided to fly by my window for a little late afternoon snack (probably to share w/ the nesting misses no doubt! ;-)).
The Rock Pigeons were in a state of panic as the Peregrine played a little game of chase with a few of them.
Love this shot as it really shows the fanned tail and how it makes the Peregrine look small and the fact that the wings are projecting downward which is something you don't see that often. It doesn't take away from the overall pointed wings though.

Now here is the classic Peregrine profile with the long tail and pointed wings. This is just to show you some of the mental anguish I endure when the Peregrine is hunting outside of my office window, this is what it looks like from my office view. There he is going past, as I hold my breath hoping he is using those super sharp eyes of his so he doesn't crash into the many windows on our building.

I did some birding w/ Alan last evening as we are both on the hunt for our elusive Screech Owl (all though we just started trying this week). Anyhow, we made a stop at Gate 40 and I would hear bird song from above and see the birds above that I thought were Common Ravens at first due to how they sounded. Come to find out they are indeed American Crows but they were doing their rattle or comb call while in the air which messed me up as I hadn't heard that one since last year!
And check out this crazy shot of one and how the sun is reflecting on the wing.
We would be scanning that waters and were lucky enough to get our first Red-necked Grebe of the year in Worcester County that Alan spotted. There were two of them and you could see one just coming into breeding plumage with some red just starting to appear on its neck. What was cool about this was being able to distinguish it from the Horned Grebe due to bill size. Something I am still learning as birding the waters for long range birds via the scope is still really new to me, but I could definitely see the difference in bill size in this instance which is pretty darn cool! We wold also see the very handsome Common Loon already in his breeding plumage as you can see above.
We would make our way to another gate hoping for a screech owl. The sun would just start to set as a Towhee called and American Robins bickered amongst themselves as they were just settling in for a good nights sleep. We would hear one lone American Woodcock peenting and then take to the air. He wasn't going to display in this area so his flight wasn't as high as he literally went past us just a little above eye level which gave me the best look yet of this bird.
We would never get a screech owl here either, but it is still a perfect way to spend an evening as I am totally loving birding in the dark now. :-p This Eastern Towhee would roost for the night nearby which allowed me a chance to get a photo despite lack of light.

Take care all

1 comment:

Felicia said...

I love the glowing eye of that Towhee; it really does make him look special! And birds are great to watch and listen to just before sunset. Sounds like a great day out!


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