Saturday, June 16, 2012

Birding in June-it Sure Feels like it

Ah, the good ole days of June, warm temps, long days, cold drinks and the migration high suddenly comes to an end while visions of late July into October migration visions start to appear. Suddenly thoughts of warblers turn fuzzy replaced by shorebirds, Common Nighthawks, Raptors and of course sparrow's, who could forget sparrows, especially if its a Lincoln's!

So with expectations set low, off I went to do some birding nearby and hit my blocks to see if I could pick up any new species as I find that helps to keep things exciting as you all know my obsession with lists and numbers. The Turkey Vultures would already be up and getting ready to start their day in their favorite location which is on the power lines just down the street from my house.
I'd also pick up a new bird in this one block which would be the Chestnut-sided Warbler which was nice as this is the section closest to home so it's nice to know these warblers are breeding nearby.
Over near the small pond, I'd be happy to see this juvenile Great-blue Heron which is always nice as they aren't as skittish as the adults yet and always look so sharp in their brand spanking new plumage.
I'd have to make a quick stop to the dump to drop off my recyclables and decided to make a stop at a small section of some powerlines nearby that I've never paid much attention to. I'd be glad I did as no sooner was I out of my car that I would hear TWO Willow Flycatchers. This is exciting solely because it's a new bird for any of my blocks and I believe the entire town of Millbury (need to check my eBird records). I've developed a fondness for flycatchers this year so it was nice to hear and hope they are permanent breeders as its nice to have them in town.
There would also be this immature female Baltimore Oriole who appeared to still be making begging calls right alongside her brother who was nearby.  A Red-tailed Hawk decided to add to the bird chorus as I heard its call from above and would know before I looked up he was being mobbed because he sounded royally pissed. I'd look up to see and Eastern Kingbird right on its back riding the hawk like he was the mechanical horse from Urban Cowboy.

Soon others wanted in on the fun as the hawk tried to fly away from the aerial assault as fast as it could. After a while I'd make my way across the street and spot the hawk again perched on a powerline still voicing its protest over the recent violation.
What I found most fascinating about this Red-tailed was the virtual absence of a belly band that I could see.
I'd try and make my way slowly closer to it for a better look but it wanted to part of me either so off it went
I had to LOL when I saw this picture as it looks like a moth. Poor thing, not only did it get bullied by a bunch of small songbirds, but now unflattering pictures of it are all over the Internet!

Next would be Cross Street in hopes for a Bald Eagle as I've always been lucky there and was also curious to see how the Common Ravens were doing.  I'd decide to go a different route this time and be somewhat lost in thought when I'd snap back to reality due to a sound that was reminiscent of a cuckoo. I'd stop dead in my tracks and cup my ears in the area I thought it was coming from and head that way, only to realize it was another direction so would have to repeat the process all over again. This would really spike my interest as I remember having the same issue when I got the Yellow-billed in that I could never pinpoint its location.  I knew for certain it wasn't a Yellow as I've memorized all their whispers and calls so whipped out my Sibley's Droid bird guide to listen to the Black-billed. By the time I did all that the noise would disappear. Sigh, don't know what it was but it didn't sound like an amphibian to me as it sounded to hollow (almost as if it were calling into a tin can which is how I think both species of cuckoos sound. For all I know it's a raven call I'm not familiar with so will have to geek out at Xeno Canto when I get the chance and listen to their variations. All was not lost as I did get this Coops though but no eagle-Sigh
I'd decide to do some walking and do about 4 miles and be heading back when I would spot two of the  Common Ravens calling and chasing after one another. I'd be psyched to see one land nearby so out came my camera for some pictures.

  Here it is posing so proud for the camera.  I'd soon see it had something near its feet and it appeared to be food. Aha, that's why they were chasing one another I'd think.
Picking it up to give it a try

Hmmmm. Wondering how to eat it, readjust it some and then what does it do, why it drops it of course.  I can see the raven looking down at the ground at it and then proceeds to lift up its foot to see if there are any crumbs left behind. I of course found this  funny and did what I always do when sneaking looks at a bird when its absorbed in something and does something I find amusing and that is snort!
Which in turn would cause the raven to flee. A common trait amongst many birds today it seems.

After that I'd decide to call it a day, go home, do some cooking and hang out in my yard. All would be quiet but did hear a scuffle across the street between a couple of American Crows and one of the local Northern Mockingbirds.

The culprit posing nicely for the camera.

The accomplice who appears to have the same food in its bill as the raven earlier in the day (must be a corvid thing).

The Northern Mockingbird getting ready to once again pounce on those evil nest robbers!

Off one flees to escape the mobbing with molted plumage no less.

And off the other would go but this clever corvid was smart enough not to drop its prize but bring it with him. This is why I love corvids, such funny and intelligent birds.

The Red Squirrel hiding in my Hemlock Tree who's developed a strong liking to the mullberries right alongside the Baltimore Orioles who just arrived a couple days ago as they like them really ripe so they must be to their liking now.

And now the best cat hiding flusher in all of the town.  My son's friends bike that's not just a bike but a motorized bike with a motor so loud my house cats fight over each other to duck for cover out of fear of it. He'd come to pay a visit and I'd see the neighbors orange cat duck for its porch as the other neighbors pugs ran under the picnic table.  I'd have my share of flushers too as both birds and squirrels fled as he headed up the drive way.  It's so loud we know when he's coming for a visit when he's a quarter of a mile away from us  so can only imagine the trauma inflicted of any living creature within his path.
Smoking the engine as that's what guys like to do!

And speaking of smoke and birds of course, this is what I spent my day on. Smoked chicken with more of my cornbread, southern coleslaw, German potato salad and a carmelized onion chutney.  It felt so good to be smoking food again but was disappointed in how it came out so need to tweak my method again.

And of course what's barbecue without beer!  Go on, guess which one I drank first!

But of course!  How could I not!  HA. While I liked it, it was a little on the bitter side but would buy it again, just for the bottle. HA

And dessert would be my first ripened wild blackberries of the year straight from the vine and into my mouth.  Can't wait to make them into jams and syrups.  It certainly does feel like June.

Take care all.

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