Sunday, November 7, 2010

Broad Meadow Brook Sunday

I decided to trail run Broad Meadow Brook this morning and would arrive just as day light started to break. The air would be downright chilly as I got out of the car and would be greeted by bird chatter that seemed to be everywhere. I'd try and focus on one call I was hoping for and that would be the Pine Siskin as I listened to it this morning over and over while getting ready considering I'm rather rusty on it so knew I needed some practice. Alas, I wouldn't get one but did see the regulars including a Northern Mockingbird chasing a male Northern Cardinal, and quite a few White-breasted Nuthatches like the one above.Since the air was so cold, the camera went into my bag and off I went on my trail run to warm up. It would be a little under a mile that I'd start getting hot and off would come a layer and I would hear many American Goldfinches so I'd stop the Garmin and do some pishing hoping a Pine Siskin would be part of the flock but it would once again be a no go.
The Mallards would be around including the handsome drake above back in his usual handsome plumage and there would be a Cooper's Hawk nearby perched in a tree but it would flee before I had the opportunity to get my camera on it.
Talk about a hike! I had to go back that way too!

I'd finally make my way to the powerline trail in a sort of running trance as there was no one around so was in my own little world. The wind would start to pick up as there were no longer trees to shelter me from it and my eyes would water and nose numb as I looked straight ahead and picked up the pace so I could get back into the woods and away from the wind assault. I could hear some bird chatter to the right of me as I mentally told myself what it was and it would be the usual White-throated Sparrows and a little further up would be the Dark-eyed Juncos, but then I'd hear something that would cause me to do an abrupt stop (while running downhill mind you!) as this note call warranted some further investigation!

The Garmin would stop and the camera start as I'd do some pishing to try and get the bird out of hiding. The pishing would be all wrong due to me still being a tad out of breath so I sounded more like I as having an asthma attack vs. being a threatening creature, but the wheezing seemed to do the trick as the little bird in question would fly out of the brush along with the Juncos and make its way to a nearby tree. I was at a serious disadvantage here because my bins were in my car but could pick up on the bird being a good one due to the rust it had which could be seen even in flight. Hmmmmmmm....A Wood Thrush I would think as my eyes scanned for it on the nearby tree. It can't be as surely they have all moved on by now.

I'd get my camera on it, take a picture and look at it with my naked eye and my heart would skip a beat as the first thing I thought of was Fox Sparrow. Performance anxiety would start to rear it's ugly head as the first picture was lousy and I needed a good picture for positive ID as I continued to click and hope the bird decided to stick around some.
And the bird would indeed be kind enough to do me the honors. Sigh, such a great bird and one I've been trying to get for the past two years now but have never been at the right place at the right time until today. Funny in that I had thought about not even doing the powerline trail today but then told myself I had to as I wanted to get over 6 miles and this would help so I guess it paid off in the end. And this is a life bird for me too to boot so it was a great way to start the week. November has been pretty darn good to me considering I'm not twitching for birds and it's only November 7th and I have already gotten 2 lifers! Hoping the streak continues.

Take care all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fish Crows-Price Chopper-Worcester

I did my weekly grocery shopping at Price Chopper today and always park near the back as that's where the gulls are so it gives me something to look forward to as grocery shopping is just down right painful so the birds make it less severe. Anyhow, I would get out of my car and see a crow that was acting funny by which I mean goofy and unlike an American Crow who carry themselves in a more dignified manner. It would be on top of the Wendy's sign trying to shake off its wet plumage from the morning rain and I was struck by how small it was. Hmmmmm, I thought as I entered the grocery store, what a weird looking crow. I would head back to the car with groceries in tow and sure enough there would be a couple of other crows in the area and I glanced at them and started loading up the car. I'd be lost in thought and putting away the groceries when suddenly I could hear one of the crows make a noise that made me stop dead in my tracks and try and find the bird through the call. It wouldn't take me long to find it and then it all started to make sense to me on why the crow I saw a half hour before caught my attention.

I'd immediately whip out my driod and send an email to Alan telling him I had some small crows making funny noises and hoped he was home so he could get over there to confirm as I have no experience with Fish Crows so wouldn't be comfortable enough to make that call on my own.

By the time I got home, put the groceries away and washed the floors, Alan would email be back and tell me he heard them as well, saw the size difference and was able to confirm they were in fact Fish Crows.
I would decide to head back there with my camera for some photos as well as video (and audio) and hope they were still around. Before leaving the house I would pack up a bag with bread and crackers just in case it would be needed of course as I know it's never good to feed the gulls, but desperate times call for desperate measures and this would be one of them!

Anyhow, I got there and threw out some white bread and flocks of Ring-billed Gulls swarmed me hoping for a piece for themselves. My cheeks would start to turn crimson as shoppers couldn't help but notice the spectacle or the noise, but I have gotten used to this by now and besides, I wanted to get a better look at those Fish Crows!
Soon enough, one would come over to investigate and two more would follow.
The first time our eyes meet. Sigh, such a cute little bird and not at all like the American Crows in that they are not at all shy. This one was only a few feet away from me at times.
No those are not bread crumbs you see near its bill, it's dandruff. Tee Hee

Anyhow, to not disappoint, I did get some video as you will see below.

The first one is good in that it shows you the size difference between the Fish Crows and the Ring-billed Gulls. Please disregard the baby talk you hear as I just can't help myself when it comes to birds. In fact, I believe this is why some come as close as they do, seriously!

The second one is where you can vaguely hear one at the end. OMG, I was so losing patience at this point as I had been there well over 1/2 an hour and was running out of goodies and it would be lunch hour which would mean Wendy's next door would be packed so I was the center of attention for everyone going through the drive through for lunch and I was getting rather tired of the stares and dirty looks! HA.

Anyhow, I thought I'd share as it's not that often we get Fish Crows here in Worcester County! If you are interested in seeing them for yourself they are at the Price Chopper in Worcester right off of Route 20. If you google "Price Chopper, Worcester, Fair", you should get exact directions to make it a little easier to find. They seem to like it most over at Wendy's and the Trailer Park so just keep you eyes AND most importantly you ears open!

Take care all.


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