Sunday, September 30, 2012

Birding more of Westborough

Alan and I decided to head back to Westborough today after seeing Tim S's reporting of a Dickcissel near Chauncey so of course I look at his eBird checklist and would find out not only did he get that bird, but the Sora as well!!  I'd send an email to him asking for more information and he'd email me back and find out he had the Sora in a different area than Alan's ever gotten it and the Dickcissel was closer to Big Chauncey so off we went hoping to get both!

Picture of the reported Dickcissel Tim would find yesterday at Big Chauncey.  Link here:  Dickcissel

Anyhow Alan and I would make a quick stop at a place were you can get a good look at the reservoir in hopes for some dabbling ducks and the place would again be bare, but did see a Red-tailed Hawk, a juvenile Bald Eagle and the Mute Swan's that appeared to be everywhere but not as bad as last year thankfully.

We'd then head on over to Little Chauncey and to the area Tim had the Sora it in hopes we could flush it just as he did the day prior.  Alan would be at one side and I the other as we slowly bush whacked through weeds so tall I couldn't see over them more often than not but really wanted that bird so didn't mind much and just hoped I could see it fly and ID to finally get it on my list for the year!  But luck wouldn't be on our side sadly as we never did flush the Sora, but did manage to pick up another dozen Swamp Sparrows in the process!!  While making our way back to the car we'd see Nickilas who just got back from Big Chauncey where he did indeed find the Dickcissel so off we went to find it.

The three of us would head to the sumac it was spotted and I'd be in awe of the place considering I'd never birded here before so was taken aback somewhat by not only the birds, the beauty as well including the corn fields above.  Despite the rain that was coming down steadily by now, we'd still see birds in and around this area with most of them being Swamp or Savannah Sparrows with no Dickcissel of course.

Soybean fields near the area of the sumac that Dickcissel seems to be at most often.  We'd linger around here for a bit and do some pishing but we'd never hear or see the bird which put me in a mood as gray as the skies.  We'd head back the other way in search for some Rusty Blackbirds and other birds along the way.

We'd come to an area with lots of birds including Purple Finch, Yellow-rumped Warblers, both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers as well as a Pied-billed Grebe Alan would find and we'd also be thrilled when Nickilas would spot the Marsh Wren Tim had yesterday in some cat tails nearby.  While the look was brief it was good and my gray mood would dissipate as I watched the funny, little bird peek it's wee little head out of cover and into view before if flew across the path much to our dismay.  We'd hear the call of a bird that sounded a lot like a Marsh Wren so move up a little further and to the left in hopes of finding it again but all we'd see were the Swampies as well as quite a few woodpeckers that seemed fond of a small tree nearby that appears to have seen better days with all the peck marks littered throughout it so it seems to be a favorite hangout of some sort!

We'd get closer to the singing bird and be happy to see if fly into some low cover and I'd get my bins on it and announce I was on the bird, but something didn't sit right as the bird singing the song didn't look like a Marsh Wren but rather a Swamp Sparrow which Alan and Nickilas saw and heard too which made me happy as I thought I was imagining things.  All of us would be dumbfounded by this considering it's something we'd never witnessed before so of course me being the song geek that I am was very excited by this freak event so whipped out my camera for some hopeful audio!!!!

And as you can hear, I'm swooning pretty hard as I'm downright giddy over the find.  You'd think I had Andre' Bocelli serenading me with Italian love songs but nope, the male who captivated my heart would turn out to most likely be a juvenile Swamp Sparrow singing away in a shrub nearby which is more my type anyways!  ;-)

I'd get home of course and head right to Xeno Canto to geek out and investigate and come to find out this is indeed a song these birds do, with it being most common in juveniles and it's their Plastic song.

If you click on the link to the song above you will see a description of where the audio was recorded and found the following comment to be funny and wondered if the Marsh Wrens chased away the bird thinking it was something else.  ;-)

Remarks by recordist
Bird seen. Male giving a rudimentary song whilst foraging in various marsh vegetation before being chased off by 2 Marsh Wrens

And now for the Marsh Wrens.  If you look at the sonogram you'll notice the songs are not alike in the pitch and frequency, but it certainly fools the ears when you're out there trying to re find a Marsh Wren and then hear that so it's nice to learn something new and geeky!!

Alan and I would try one more time for the Dickcissel as we refused to admit defeat just yet as we trudged back to the Sumac with numb fingers from being out in the raw cold for so long and of course we'd strike out yet again and while I was disappointed- I couldn't think of a better way to spend the morning as not only did I find a new place to bird, but learned a little something more to store in the old memory bank for the next time.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for!!  Another exciting episode of this day in history!  September 30th will go down as a day  in Worcester County birding history as of day of rarities including the following:

9/30/00;  BAIRD'S SANDPIPER- Quinapoxet Reservoir, Holden- Mark and Sheila (SWOON)

9/30/01;  Dickcissel:  Westborough WMA, Westborough, Mark and Sheila

9/30/07; Gray-cheeked Thrush- Auburn Bird Banding, Colleen Morin

9/30/01; The very popular Tufted Duck-West Lake Waushacum, Sterling, by our very much loved and missed Fran McMenemy

In looking into the first week of October one day in particular may turn out to turn up some rarities as well with October 3rd beating all other days so get out there and bird if you can. ;-)

10/3/4; Connecticut Warbler-Quabbin Reservoir, Mark and Sheila

10/3/4; Gray-cheeked Thrush-Auburn Bird Banding-Colleen Morin

10/3/9; Orange-crowned Warbler-Westminster, Tom

10/3/9; Red-necked Phalarope-Quabbin Reservoir, Richard Sp

10/3/99; WESTERN KINGBIRD-Bolton Flats-Mark and Sheila  (SWOON)

Take care all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Birding Westborough

Alan and I decided to spend the morning birding Westborough in hopes for some early puddle ducks and sparrows and warblers of course!  Signs of fall would not only be in the air, but the foliage as well.  We'd set up shop and see a few Wood Ducks and then some bobbing ducks nearby who turned out to be Mallards as usual.  I'd do some scanning with my binoculars while Alan had his scope and then I'd see a bird of interest near the Mallards again and all I could see was the shape of its head and I thought it was a very odd looking Merganser.  I would then see it's body which looked Mallard like and was all confused.  Alan would get his scope on it and this is what we'd see.

A drake Mallard with wet feathers that formed a peek giving him the merganser vibe at first blush.  It did add some excitement to an otherwise slow spot though!  We'd make another stop in Northborough that's been known for good dabbling ducks but would see nothing of interest there either so after a Dunkin's stop we decided to hit the model airplane field in Westborough for passerines as it was obvious ducks were no where around.

Bird activity and sound seemed rather slow at first but it wouldn't take long to hear a ticked off Northern Mockingbird doing it's alarm call which would be followed by 3 other mockingbirds as the whole place erupted in bird chatter, flight and some downright nasty bar room brawls.  We'd have Savannah Sparrows fighting Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows fighting Song Sparrows and other birds that were so quick chasing after one another we'd never manage to get an ID.  No sitting bird was safe as a Savannah dive bombed one of the Mockingbirds and another an Eastern Phoebe perched on a tree minding its own business.  I've seen aggressive warblers before and am used to fiesty Chipping Sparrows who squabble more than they eat, but seeing the Savannah Sparrows behaving as they did would be a first for me.  I do have to admit it was funny seeing the Mockingbird attack though and would realize why they were all sounding the alarm!

One of the culprits looking oh so coy!  Sparrows would be everywhere and I'd be thrilled to get my FOY juvenile White-crowned Sparrow as well as a good look at a Lincoln's, but not good enough for a photo.  I'd also get a FOS White-throated Sparrow which is always nice.  Warbler activity wouldn't be bad either and we'd see Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warblers as well as a Palm.  This spot has now replaced Kristoff as my favorite place for sparrows as it's all located on a small amount of land which makes it easier to keep track of them all so was glad we stopped there!!

Our next stop would be Little Chauncy in hopes for my much needed Sora.  As soon as we got out of the car, we'd hear the squabble calls of Swamp Sparrows nearby with a couple of butterbutts thrown in for good measure.

And it would be then I'd be stricken with just how good looking this often over looked sparrow really is.  In fact, I'd realize that with the others as well and think it's because the sparrows have really started to click with me this year so instead of spending all my quick glances trying to ID them, I know what they are so can just appreciate them which makes birding so much easier and rewarding.  All that work last year after I mis ID's my Savannah certainly paid off as I studied these birds more than any other so it paid off in the end.  I should also note these sparrows too would be brawling amongst one another too and seemed to spend more time fighting than eating which kind of defeats the purpose of refueling don't ya think?

And another lousy photo I thought was funny as I was trying to focus on the Swamp Sparrow.  I'd blow up this picture and would see the Downy in better focus and I wouldn't even realize he was nearby until I saw this (we did hear and see it earlier though).

Our final stop would be All Faith's Cemetery in Worcester in hopes for the American Wigeon who've been coming here faithfully for well over over a decade now.  There'd be no Wigeon or any other duck for that matter except for a lone Mallard that almost appeared eerie in a way considering how appealing this is for ducks normally.  Alan and I are wondering if it's due to the weed control they are doing here and Alan would make a good point in that with the weeds gone, maybe food supply is down so all ducks are going elsewhere?  In looking at my records using Rick's Site the wigeon should be here by now so not sure what to make of it but hope they make an appearance soon as well as a Northern Pintail of course!

Since duck activity was non existent, we decided to head to the area that's a sparrow haven and wouldn't be disappointed as the place would be busy and this time with the Chipping Sparrows fighting.  It would be here that I'd once again see new beauty in my common sparrows as I'd notice the very white wing bars on this VERY handsome Chipping Sparrow who appears to still be in breeding plumage as well as an American Goldfinch nearby.  Another thing of interest would be a Blue Jay who seemed to be attracted to one branch with some berries in particular.  He'd fly at it straight on and put his body against it and appeared to be trying to gleam insects or something which was fascinating considering how large and clumsy these birds are so it failed miserably but neither Alan nor I had ever seen anything quite like it so it was notable.

I'll be interested to see any other reportings today of sparrow activity as we were overwhelmed with them at times so it appears as if migration is in full swing!!

As a side note, I've been using some of Rick's data to do some forecasting similar to what one can do with eBird which has been a very enjoyable task as I'm going all the way back to 1998.  It's a learning experience to say the least and makes me realize just how green I still am in birding when I see familiar faces posting bird finds in 1999 and they still are today.

So with that I figured I'd share some of it with you as well and do a  little "this day in history if you will".

It would be on 09.29.02 (10 years ago today) that would be a good day for Snow Goose Migration as not only would one birder spot it, but three to be exact with Fran reporting 95 at the Wachusett Reservoir, Peter reporting 67 at Bolton Flats and Tom trumping them both with an impressive 153 at Wompanoag MAS in Gardner.  Alan and I were sure to keep both our ears and eyes open today hoping for an anniversary repeat but alas, all that would be around were the Canada's.  That's not to say all is lost though as they'll be migrating through all of October as evidenced by Bart's sighting of them at Barre Falls on October 28th, 2002 where he had 160 for the record!

Take care all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

St Philips Cemetery Grafton

I decided to do a little birding after work today and head to St. Philips in hopes for early puddle ducks and anything else of interest.  Being late afternoon, bird activity would be quiet except for the small flock of Blue Jays who all seem to have found their voice after their silent summer as they've been squacking since this past Sunday and today would be no different.  I'd make my way to the area that gives you the best view of the wet lands and be happy to see a small flock of Green-winged Teal in the general area the Mallards were in.

Lousy photo but what else is new.  I'd search for a hopeful Gadwall as well as a stray and early Coot but no such luck.  I'd be in the same general area when I'd suddenly see a small raptor with some white on its back land on a tree fairly far away.  I'd get my bins on it and the first thing I'd think was Merlin as I've had them here before and it just gave me that feeling.

Still frustrated by my lousy binocular view I decided to take some record shots including the one above as I was really interested in the white (molting??) I was seeing near its wing and that white made me doubt my gut feeling of Merlin .

Taking off to the other side of the wetlands!  But before it did so it flew with pistol like wing strokes real low to the waters so knew right then in there it was no Coops which was the only other bird I thought it could be with that banded tail with the white at the tip.

It would do it's low flight again for me and then land once again but this time closer to allow me a better look.

To confirm what I knew when I first saw it as I trusted my gut which I've found has really worked for me this year so try and remember it when ever I get out there and bird (that and don't make every bird you see in question into a rare bird out of range and out of habitat of course!!  ;0) ).  It would be then I'd realize that while it's slower than I'd like, I've done a lot of growing in my birding the past couple of years. I'd fondly remember this bird here in 2009 and 2010 and both times I'd struggle with the ID despite getting better looks and pictures than I did today.  I was so unsure of myself I'd spend hours pouring over field guides and emailing photos to others for opinions that if often took the fun out of birding so I'd go through periods where I gave up as it would be too overwhelming.  Now I'm a lot easier on myself and am trying to spend less time chasing birds and more time studying birds.  That's not to say I don't chase, but now when I get a FOY it's no longer a check and onto the next, but an opportunity to study as much as I can of it to remember next time I see it.  It also means going to St Philips and not being disappointed when I don't pick up a new bird for the year as it allows me the opportunity to study the birds I know as I always pick up something I didn't seem to realize before.  Today it would be the fast, low flight of the Merlin as well as the buffy tail edge of the Green-winged Teal which you can see in my photos.  That's something I'll remember next time I run into a group of teal when I'm doing the process of elimination between a Green-winged and Blue-winged as the Blue-winged lack it.  If you look at your Sibley's that's a stated field mark of the Green-winged but never seemed to notice it before until I saw it with my own two eyes.

Take care all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Forbush Bird Club Trip-Bolton Flats

I attended the Forbush Bird Club Bolton Flats field trip today which would once again be led by Kevin.  There were already many people in the parking lot when Alan and I arrived which was nice as it meant more eyes and hence more spotted birds!

Soon enough our fearless leader would start the trip and be equipped with all the bird club leader essentials including binoculars, scope and note book for list keeping of course and as you can see Kevin is once again updating it as you'll see the notebook on the left of him next to his scope!

Bird activity would be fairly quiet at first but then we'd come to a pocket nearby with many of the regulars sparrows including the Song and Swamp of course but it wouldn't take long for Kevin to spot my beloved Lincoln's but wouldn't you know I'd never see it much to my disappointment.

The dozens of American Pipits would still be out in full force so we'd set up shop with the scopes to get looks at them as well as anything else that would be out there.

And where there's Pipit's there's raptors including my much needed Northern Harrier that Nick spotted which made me very happy as it would complete my probable raptor list for the year which hasn't happened since my first official full year of birding in 2009 when I got every probable raptor in Worcester County (except for the Golden Eagle as that's just too hard to get and you have to be in the right place at the right time which I can't seem to find!).  Other raptors would follow suit including an American Kestrel, Merlin, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk and a nice look at a Red-shouldered Hawk Alan would find who was kind enough to T up for a nice scope view.

American Kestrel teed up on the nest box which was nice as it gave me the opportunity to watch it flick its tail which I'd never noticed this bird do and had no idea this is one of their common trails so it was good to learn something new.

We'd continue along the way and Kevin would spot a bird I'd be lucky enough to get on and we'd be thrilled to see it was a Northern Waterthrush.  The bird wouldn't stay visible long for everyone to get a look at it of course, but the look was good even if it only lasted seconds which seems to go hand in hand with fall migration birding!

And what would a Bolton Flats fall trip be without sparrows!  We'd hear the various chip notes of different species coming from the nearby shrubbery which would give me a chance to brush up on my rusty skills as well as acquire new ones.  The first chip note to remember of course as its most common in most instances is the always familiar Song Sparrow (not its chimp note), but rather the one below.

This is the common flight and interaction call of the Song Sparrow that is very high pitched and sounds as if the bird is saying sseeeet or rather seet.

We'd hear plenty of these birds of course as well as a few Savannah Sparrows like the one below.  Please pardon the lousy picture(s), but I find the quality of my photos always go down hill during migration periods as I prefer my binoculars to my camera so pictures are often an afterthought.

Can't say I didn't warn you.  :-p.  The picture above really shows just how short this sparrows tail is as you can barely see it!

This would also be the fist time for me to really focus on this birds call and the first thing that I'd notice is that while it's high pitched like the Song Sparrow and very similar, it sounded shorter and dropped at that end.

And I'd be very happy to see my ears were right as you can see in the sonogram below where it drops the last two notes.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't include the Swamp Sparrow who is often the main sparrow seen and/or heard whenever once hears sparrows at Bolton Flats from spring into fall.

Notice how buzzy and almost insect like it sounds which you can see in the sonogram as well.  Kevin would also introduce me to another song the Swamp Sparrow does when agitated which I would hear for the first time and it would sound similar to this.time and it would
Note all that chatter isn't coming from only the Swamp Sparrows and I can hear Song Sparrows in there as well and don't have the mental capacity to distinguish the others at this time, but it may make for some fun analysis to do in the dead of winter!  ;-)

Anyhow, back to topic.  We'd see many of the other regular passerines but it wouldn't take long for Kevin to notice a small flock of Purple Finch's and I'd be very happy to see they were female considering I don't see them that often so it gave me the chance to get a good look at them to imprint in my mind.

And while the photo isn't that great it still shows this birds field marks including the heavy triangular bill, the short-notched tail and the bold white eyebrow to name a few.

Soon enough it would be time to head back again and Kevin would spot another Lincoln's and this time I'd see it dart into some thicker cover and be happy to finally get on the bird even though it was far from a decent look after being spoiled last year.  I'd still be happy though as it would be a FOY for me, but will be out more just to swoon over one of my favorite birds of all time.

We'd make our way back to the parking area and be very happy to see the Monarch Butterfly above which would prove to be my best photo of the day as it was sitting still and in the open!  The other bird of note near the parking lot would be one lone Ruby-throated Hummingbird Scott would find.

We'd make our way across the always busy Route 117 to see what was around and see many of the regulars with the highlight being a Nashville Warbler who was decent enough to do us the honors of staying put long enough for us to see and ID it!

Our final stop would be Pine Hill Road in Lancaster where we walked the very familiar landscape but instead of boiling like I'm used to whenever I walk this road, it was perfect temperature wise and there'd be plenty of pockets of birds here and there to keep us busy including a Vesper Sparrow that's still around as well as my FOY Palm Warbler!

So all in all a great way to spend a Sunday and we couldn't as for better weather (except for the winds of course!).  It was nice to get out there with others and pick up three FOY's while at it which is always welcome!

Take care all.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Behavioral Birding-The Fascinating Life of Birds

Alan and I would do some birding this late morning and afternoon with the first stop being Town Farm Road in Sutton in hopes for the Red-shouldered Hawk he had in close view a couple days prior.  The sun would be out and I'd be reminded why fall is my favorite season as it would be a picture perfect autumn day.  We'd first walk along the tree edge in hopes for some sparrows or warblers feeding on or near the many weeds nearby.

After that we'd make our way along the Mid State Trail and head to an open area to look for my Northern Harrier which we'd never get but I did hear a chip note nearby and it wouldn't take long for us to see the bird.

Which would be this very handsome and cooperative Black-throated Blue above who looked just as handsome today as it does in May.

We'd make our way back toward the corn fields and be greeted yet again with the many American Crows nearby taking advantage of the cooperative weather as well as the left over corn I'm guessing.  It wouldn't take long for me to see a crow fly from a tree with what appeared to be an accipiter close behind.  I'd get my binoculars on it and it would be a Cooper's giving it chase.  I'd lose both of them as they flew out of view but soon enough both would return and Alan would get on them as well as the chase pursued.   What would be most fascinating about the whole experience was there were other crows nearby who remained in the trees during the chase and wouldn't come to the aid of the crow being harassed and even more odd, they'd be silent.  Now if there's one thing corvids are known for (with crows in particular), is their fondness of mobbing hawks and owls (just ask any Red-tailed!).  The chase would continue for a few minutes and the crow appeared to get away unscathed.  I'm guessing the ballsy crows aren't as brazen when it come to Cooper's so instead of choosing the chase, the chose to freeze instead!

After that excitement was over we'd look to the sky and be happy to see two Sharp-shinned Hawks above.

At first they appeared to be harmonious with one another but it wouldn't take long to see one sharpie dive bomb the other!!  Now I've seen sharpies dive bomb other raptors but never a fight between two of them so it was a treat to see.  Love these spunky birds!

After that it would be a quick trip to the Westborough WMA in hopes for my much needed Northern Harrier.  We'd strike again of course so head up the path some in search for passerines and all would be quiet with it being mid day and all.

Our last stop would be The Swedish Cemetery in Auburn in search for my beloved Lincoln's Sparrow as Alan's has had killer looks of them there before so off we went.

We'd hear bird activity as soon as we stepped out of the car including a song neither of us could pin point as it was all over the place.  We'd see many Chipping Sparrows chasing one another, Song Sparrows, a House Wren and others including the bird below.

Which would be my first ever official ass shot of a Mourning Dove!  Crazy to see it like this though, especially the tail.  While we were making our way along the path we'd continue to hear the bird with the odd song which would be driving the both of us crazy by now.  So much so I'd decide to take out the camera in hopes for some audio.

Like I said, all over the place as you can hear!!  The little bugger would finally sit still long enough for a look and a photo and this is who it would be.

This very handsome Song Sparrow still looking awful dapper plumage wise in its set of brand new feathers!

Belting into song again!  Every year a juvenile Song Sparrow does this to me and every year I fall for it but love it none the less.  If your'e a bird song geek like myself and looking for some good case studies to learn from, juvenile Song Sparrows are a good candidate.  Donald Kroodsma, in his book The Singing Life of Birds dedicated an entire section to this juvenile bird and conducted an in depth study which in the end shed more light on their song patterns to prove the theory that young Song Sparrows learned how to sing by other neighboring Song Sparrows nearby and each neighborhood may have its own variation which is fascinating when you stop to think of it!  While the sparrow above has a long way to go to perfect its song, it was still beautiful to hear in its primitive form.

We'd make our way back toward the car when a van would pull up and park nearby.  The passenger would get out we exchanged pleasantries and the first thing he'd ask is "are you bird watchers" (I guess the bins gave us away yet again!!).  Alan would reply yes as I shook my head in agreement as this would be the second time today we'd be asked this so should be used to it by now.  Still funny how the general population thinks of us birders and find that many are curious and genuinely interested in learning about our hobby (like the first man we encountered who talked our ear off about his own bird finds) and others who look at as if we're some sort of freaks like the car full of gawkers at the Barre Falls Hawk Watch site last week who drove by making pigeon like coos in our direction as we were looking for Broad-wings!  There'd be no coos or Broad-wings today but the curious stares do remain!

So while I didn't pick up an FOY birds today it was still great to get out there and watch the birds interact with one another.  These are the moments when one learns most about birds in my opinion and its both fascinating and a privilege to experience first hand.  How many of us remember the exact time and place we get our FOY's every year as they all seem to blend together in the end.  I can guarantee you I'll never forget seeing a Crow being chased by a Coops or the two Sharpies brawling mid air as it's something I'll carry in my mind forever.

Take care all.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weekday Birding

I had yesterday off and decided to spend the morning and early afternoon birding despite the persistent winds that could potentially keep passerine activity down.  I'd start off at Gate 28 at the Wachusett Reservoir which was great for warblers during spring migration so was curious what would be around now.  It would still be chilly and bird chatter would be minimal much to my dismay.

There would be a few insects out despite the cool temps including the one above so I took that as a good sign!  I'd spend about 15 minutes there and give up as everything was fairly quiet bird wise except for a few Northern Cardinals, Common Yellowthroats and some very vocal Blue Jays.  I'd also get two White-breasted Nuthatches and one lone Red-breasted Nuthatch calling from the pine trees nearby.

I'd then head out to Sterling Peat hoping to pick up a Lincoln's Sparrow and Palm Warbler and I'd get neither but it would be birdy none the less with many Song Sparrows out, a couple Eastern Phoebe's, another flock of noisy Blue Jays and the other regulars but nothing out of the ordinary.

The most depressing thing would be looking at the mud flats and seeing only two Killdeer and one lone Least Sandpiper that I watched for a while with the reality of knowing my Worcester county shorebird list will probably not grow much this year and I won't even get a lousy Black-bellied Plover or Dunlin!  ;-)

Since I was in the area I decided to head to Kristoff Pig Farm as that's a GREAT place to bird for fall migration (a little later in the season though).  I'd be very happy to see the neighbor's dog is sill alive and kicking as we got to be great friends last year so was thrilled to see him come over and greet me just like old times!

I'd make my way up the path and the place would be silent which I found shocking considering that this path up toward the main area of Kristoff is often alive with bird chatter and movement even in the fall.  I'd make the best of things though and find pockets of warblers here and there including quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers which gave me hope for the Palm considering both are usually late migrators.

I'd also pick up a couple of Magnolia Warblers including the one above.  While the bird isn't as bright as in the spring, I'd be happy to see that black streaking these birds are known for as the others I've seen thus far this fall have had a very faint streaking so this was a plumage treat!

 I decided to check out some of the open areas in hopes for a Northern Harrier when suddenly I spotted a very large raptor headed my way overhead.  The sky was still gray which meant tracking it was challenging as I tried to look for field marks that just wouldn't be there.  I'd soon realize one of the reasons why it was so challenging is because the bird was gray (hmmm perhaps a gray ghost??!!).  I'd watch it come my way and it wasn't giving me any Harrier feel but rather a Red-tailed and then i'd soon see this gray large raptor with black along its eye and realize I had another Northern Goshawk!!  This would be the closest I've ever seen one fly overhead and I'd watch it fly past me with confident, powerful wing beats and I'd be so transfixed I didn't even think about taking a photo until it was almost too late as it headed toward the tree line!

Bon voyage my handsome friend, till we meet again!!

And away he goes. Despite how crappy this photo is, it's still pretty interesting to look at as you can still see the pointed wings at the end as well as the slight droop many of these birds have when gliding which reminds me a lot of the Red-tailed Hawks.

I'd make one last stop on my way home to a local spot I found a couple of years ago trail running and love it considering it's one of the best local places nearby for displaying Woodcock so be curious to see what was around as it looks as if it has the potential to be a sparrow haven!

The whole place has a lot of brambles and tons of goldenrod with water nearby so was hoping it would already be birdy.

And once again I wouldn't see much but was happy to see this Common Yellowthroat as it won't be long now that they'll be gone till next spring.

It wouldn't take me long to come across this either which really pissed me off.  Seriously animal behavior fascinates me which is why birding is so fulfilling as I want to understand it better but for the life of me I can't understand my fellow man sometimes.  Some people have no regard for the environment and treat it as if it were nothing more than their own garbage dump.  No wonder I enjoy birds more than I do people sometimes.........

I'd head home but make a stop at Goretti's due to the fact I was starving and I'd be craving my mother's specialty something fierce.  She wasn't much of a cook which is why I learned to cook at such a young age, but there's one thing she made that I crave once a year and that is Shake and Bake Chicken with salad and bread and butter so I picked up all the ingredients and have myself my childhood favorite.

It would be cool enough outside to curl up on the couch with dinner in tow and watch a couple of movies including one of my favorite, Radio Days.  It's one of those movies I can see once a year and not tire of it.  So all in all a great way to spend the day but hoping for more luck this weekend.

Take care all


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