Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week Day Birding-All About Balance

I did a little local birding before and after work this week despite it being another vow I made earlier this year not to do as that would be considered “chasing”, but figured I’d already broken that vow so what’s another? Plus, I’ll admit, I still haven’t gotten the Black Duck nor Brown Creeper which has been gnawing at me since Sunday. Why this bothers me I don’t know with neither being migrants but it just goes with my obsessive/compulsive personality when it comes to certain things including birds I guess. Because of this, I spent Monday (before and after work) looking for the duck, Tuesday (before and after work), looking for the creeper and this morning looking for the creeper while trying to relocate the Red-shouldered Hawk (will get to that later).

Monday would be the Millbury bike path for the duck and of course, no ducks, not even a lousy Mallard. I'd get a Double-crested Cormorant though (FOY!! Woo Hoo). Besides that, not much else except for one of the three Great-blue Herons. One was so close, that I decided to get out my camera, despite lousy weather conditions as you can see in the picture. I had to LOL when I saw it as it looks like an angel or something. Kicking myself for not getting better focus on the bird as that would have been a cool shot!

After work would be Brierly Pond for the Great Egret Mike had posted on Rick’s site. That would be a strike out so decided to hit St Philips for a Black Duck and once again a “no go”. I did manage this crappy shot of a Wood Duck though.

Tuesday morning would be a quick look at the bike path for the duck and the cemetery for the creeper (‘no go”) and then I’d head out after work for the Brown Creeper at Martha Deering. It would be disappointingly quiet when I arrived, but soon found a small pocket of birds and would get my bins on one I thought had the potential to be a Blue-headed Vireo only to have it disappear. I'd also have about 10 mosquitoes on me and I’d regret not bringing bug spray because there was no way I was going to be able to bird without it. Panic swept through as I looked at the time realizing this would cut into time to bird (and find that creeper) so instead of going home, I hit CVS which is closer. I think I took the corner into CVS on two wheels as time was of the essence. I ran in there and shouted out “where’s the bug spray”. The clerk looks at me a tad startled and tells me the end cap of aisle 7 so off I go. I pay for it and while I’m walking/running to my car, I’m spraying myself to save a few precious moments of prime birding time once I get back to Deering. It’s all about balance, you know?

Anyhow, I wasn’t able to relocate the pocket of birds so went to a place I usually get a Brown Creeper, but it was devoid of any sign of life so decided to venture further into the brushy area to see what else I could find. I’d go to an area where I could hear a Black-capped Chickadee, when suddenly a half dozen or so Blue Jays would make their mobbing call. Now Blue Jays are always noisy, but I’ve been birding long enough to realize when the call sounds different and I pay attention to it due to my love of raptors so Blue Jays and American Crows are my friends as they can be some of the best birding partners one can have. A few seconds later I would hear the piercing sound of a Red-shouldered Hawk. I’d stop and try and decipher the sound as Blue Jays can do pretty good imitation of the RS, but it sounded too loud for any Blue Jay. It wouldn’t take long to see the Red-shouldered get flushed from the area and land on another branch which gave me time to get my bins on it for confirmation. I’d put down the bins and fumble with my camera hoping for a picture only to have it fly to another branch where it would land only for a second before leaving the scene all together. Grrrrrrr, I’d think. Seconds later the Blue Jays would be at it again and another hawk would come from the same tree the RS was on originally, but this one would fly in the opposite direction.. While I didn’t get the Brown Creeper, seeing the Red-shouldered Hawk clearly made up for it. I’d stick around for a while longer and would hear a Blue-winged Warbler doing a half assed version of it’s song and two Eastern Towhee’s like the lousy shot above which is of the female.

I’d have a bad case of insomnia Tuesday night so laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, planning my next move for the lousy duck and creeper. Thoughts soon went back to the Red-shouldered while half asleep and suddenly I’d remember what they say about mutual habitats between hawks and owls. Hmmmm, “what is it again-Great Horned Owl and Red-tailed Hawk and Barred Owls and Red-shouldered Hawks”? I’d open my eyes remembering the Barred Owl I’d gotten at Martha Deering twice and then it would click. "Hmmmm, wonder if that hawk was just passing through or maybe setting up house there". “Was that Red-shouldered an adult” I’d wonder……..”I wish I could have gotten another look at the other hawk as what else can it be besides another Red-shouldered”….I’d get out my Hawk bird guide and do some googling to kill a ½ hour before exhaustion would set in and I could finally get the sleep I was fighting earlier. Plus I needed to be up before dawn to search for the creeper and the Red-shouldered which will now be my new mission in between balancing everything else of course!

So I was back at Martha Deering this morning, this time well covered in bug spray in hopes for the hawk, the creeper or better yet both. It was nice and quiet and the soft earth smelled damp against my feet and I had forgotten how much I love being in the woods before the world wakes up. Considering I only had 45 minutes or so, I couldn’t do as much as I wanted and was tempted to go into work really late as I wasn’t having any success, but had a meeting so gave up after my 45 minutes and went to work reeking of bug spray. Funny because while at work I was preparing my morning cup of tea and my co-worker mentioned I smelled like bug spray and then asked why I was late coming in. I just smiled and rushed into my office explaining I had a meeting to dial in for which was true. ;-).

I just finished a huge project at work which meant work would be pretty slow today as I stared at my inbox hoping for some kind of request to come it to make the day end faster. That would never happen so I decided to do something very rare for me lately and that is take a real lunch, which means getting out of my office. Hmmmm…I wonder if those two Black Ducks are still at Notre Dame…….Well there’s only one way to find out and that is to head on over there I’d think. I’d get there and the crew would be out mowing the lawn and already using the leaf blower so the peace I was craving was obviously not going to happen and the birds seemed pretty disturbed by it too as I wouldn’t see any when I first walked in. The first thing I’d do is look for the Black Ducks, but all that would be there were the Mallards of course. I gave up on that and decided to look for passerines and except for a Blackpoll, Catbird, Blue Jays and the regulars, there was nothing else there.

I’d strike out so went to the area sparrows are known to like. I’d do some pishing when suddenly a bird would fly to a tree and allow me to get a quick look at it and my heart would stop as the first thing I’d notice is the pretty streaking it had. Hmmmmmmmm…..Could it be a Lincoln’s Sparrow, I’d wonder? Better get my camera out for this one as I’d never seen one before and need a picture to study. I’d turn on my camera and beg the little sparrow to stick around for a record shot and it would. It’s funny when I’m taking pictures under this kind of pressure because I’m never really focusing on the bird per say, but rather keeping the bird looking object in focus long enough for me to get a half decent shot, so I generally don’t notice its field marks until I’m reviewing the photos.

Love how it's staring at me and the expression. Almost like “are you done yet”. Anyhow, I’d look at it when I got back to the office and now looks like a Song Sparrow much to my disappointment, but the opportunity did give me a nice review on what the Song Sparrow looks like compared to a Lincoln’s Sparrow as well as remind me of how pretty the very common Song Sparrow can be in good light.

UPDATE: Got an FB message from someone asking if I had ruled this out as a Savannah yet and it's funny because I'd be looking at my Sibley's last night and wondering the same thing, but ruled it out because I didn't see any yellow in the lure's. With that said, I'll be looking at this pic on my Droid and comparing it with my Sibley's and sparrow bird guide on the train into Boston this morning to see if I can see it as I really need that bird. I so suck at sparrows but this bird didn't give me the Song Sparrow impression at first glance and maybe there's a reason

Speaking of good light, check out this photo of the two Chipping Sparrows and notice how different the one on the right looks compared to the one on the left. It’s almost like you are looking at two different birds if you just look at the colors and not the size on composition of them. Amazing what sun and shade can do to your perception of a bird.

Take are all.

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