Saturday, August 18, 2012

Barre Birding.....Kind of....

I'd get up early this morning and head out to the Barre Landfill yet again, in hopes for the Black Vultures that continue to be my nemesis ( believe on purpose ;-) ).   Of course it doesn't help when Alan sends me one of his emails while I'm at at work a couple of weeks ago and not only gets one, but also pretty decent pictures of it no less.  I'd be at work all happy for him but frustrated considering we were there the day prior and struck out.   We'd be at Sterling Peat last weekend and I'd have Alan's scope on a Lesser Yellowlegs watching it feed while listening to Bart talk about some of his recent birding finds and of course my ears would perk up once I heard the Barre BV's and he'd happily tell us not only did he get one, but really good looks of it no less as it was in the same spot Alan had his!!  So off I went to the "lucky spot" to see if either of their luck would rub off on me and I'd finally get my long anticipated life bird the Black Vulture.

I'd drive up to the spot and be very happy to see quite a few vultures perched up in the dead trees and really thought today would be my lucky day!  I'd open my bag, grab my camera for records shots and then my binoculars and be mortified to realize the bins weren't in the bag.  I'd look under car seats and the glove compartment in a frenzy realizing I forgot them at home which is a nightmare to birders, especially when one is birding for a bird one has never seen before!  I'd get out of my car and reassure myself that all was not lost because I still had my camera which wasn't so bad considering I spent almost the first year birding binocular free using only my camera so it would be just like old times!  :-p

Of course the cloudy skies would make it even more challenging and add the recent rain which always makes plumage on birds look darker so knew I was in for some serious "holistic birding".

So the first thing I'd do is take a quick scan of the vultures hoping for an odd ball with a dark face and smaller, stockier body compared to the very familiar Turkey Vultures.  I'd see one vulture with a dark face and spend some time looking at it but it didn't give me the Black Vulture vibe but still kept my eyes on it as what did I know considering I've never seen a BV before so what ever vibes I'd have were based purely on pictures.  Soon enough the bird would fly to another tree and confirm my suspicion which would be a juvenile Turkey Vulture.

I'd continue along the line and laugh at a couple of them as they'd open their wings when I got to them in an attempt to make it easier for me I believe. ;-)

Lousy picture of what I believe is another juvenile Turkey Vulture due to the lack of a vivid red head.

So once again I'd strike out on the BV's but for all I know they could have been nearby and I was unable to see them considering I didn't have my bins!

So then it was onto Plan B which was the Mid State Trail in Barre (the one off Coldbrook road), that leads to Rutland to get in a little much needed hiking and my hopeful Northern Goshawk as I had one about 2 miles into the Midstate a couple years back and was hoping for the same luck again.

I'd do the customary thing whenever one goes down Coldbrook Road which is to roll down all windows and drive slow in hopes of seeing or hearing something and I'd be struck at the lack of bird song, especially compared to a couple of months ago.  I was fortunate enough to come across a couple of deer though!

I'd also realize just how long of a road Coldbrook is and don't think I ever noticed it before because I'm always making so many stops in between for warblers and other passerines which breaks up the length of the trip.  I'd finally make it to Midstate and realize my trail shoes were back at home with the bins and all I had were a pair of rain boots on my feet.  It would start raining again at this point and the thought of hiking 4 miles (round trip) in rain boots didn't sound at all appealing to me so decided to head back home considering luck wasn't at all on my side with not only no binoculars but no appropriate shoes.

So off I went home to download my photos onto the computer to see how they came out.  It would be then I'd remember Alan sent me some of his pictures of his BV's. so figured I'd get those out to and do some of my own "holistic birding" in the comforts of home with a hot cup of tea!

Picture by Alan Marble

First my favorite photo as not only is the photo a closeup to allow you to see the color differences between the TV on the left and the BV on the right, but also the difference in tail size as well.  Also notice the white in the wingtips of the BV that are usually not visible on one that is perched which makes this picture even  cooler!

Picture by Alan Marble

Another nice shot which allows you to see the difference in the shapes of the two birds as well.  Notice how much more compact and stocky the BV (on the right) is to the TV (to the left).  Also notice the almost triangle tail of the BV.

Photo by Alan Marble

So while I didn't get my nemesis yet again, I at least got in some Vulture 101 which will better prepare me for the next time and I'll be sure to bring my binoculars too which would help!

Take care all.

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