Thursday, May 30, 2013

Peregrine Falcon Update-May 30-Downtown Worcester-Two Chicks Confirmed!

I'd decide to do a Peregrine Falcon update this morning as I've seen the male perched on the cross to the church every morning I drive into work which is normal behavior when nesting's been successful.  I'd get there before 7am figuring I'd both hear and see more with less traffic and noise.  The female would be on the ledge watching guard looking as fierce as ever.

 With the male on the cross watching guard looking as goofy as ever!

I'd get my bins toward the platform searching for life and it wouldn't take long to find a shadow of interest (you can actually see it in the picture at the bottom of the ledge a little to the right of the shadow of the female).  I'd wait for it to move and sure enough it would which would be my confirmation of one chick!  I'd wait around for a bit hoping to see more shadows but wouldn't so went back to the office to send an email to Bill Davis letting him know I saw one and was hoping for an update by him.

Photo by Emily Eaton-Courtesy of Mass Fish & Wild Life

He'd let me know the Peregrines had two chicks this year (one male and one female) and both were banded by Fish and Wild Life on 5.22.  I'd be thrilled with not only the update but the pictures as well as they were taken by Emily Eaton so it's nice to know she's still involved as I know her love for these birds.  The photo above is of the female chick.

Photo by Emily Eaton-Courtesy of Mass Fish and Wild Life

And this photo above is of the female adult!!!  Come to find out she was able to get rid of her leg band some how and Tom French was able to capture her and get her rebanded!  How he did it is beyond me as I've seen her in action but he did and she is now sporting a brand spanking new leg band courtesy of Tom who is holding her in the picture above.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I don't have to play the guessing game this year but do wonder how come there were only two.  Don't know if egg production lessons the older the Peregrines get as the Mrs is getting up there in age but it does lead me to wonder.

Take care all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Franklin's Gull Bolton Flats May 29, 2013

I'd be at work today and see a new post come in on the Facebook Central Mass Birders Page by Justin of a black headed gull he spotted at Bolton Flats which looked bigger than a Bonaparte's.  It wouldn't take long for an update as Jess had joined him and was able to confirm the gull as a Franklin's.  I'd be lucky that it was close to lunch by then and I'd just complete a project so figured I could get away with taking an extended lunch and just work later than usual to make up for the mid day birding!  I'd get there and see John and Audrey on their way down the path and be happy as it would be more eyes to search for the bird.

It wouldn't take long for John to spot it way out near the green houses napping right near the blue awning pictured above.  While it wouldn't be the best look, I'd be appreciative of John letting me use his scope to see it better than just my bins.

Word had gotten out of the gull by then as other birders arrived including Alan, Paul and Peter where we'd all look at the gull way out and hoping a woman nearby would flush it closer.

And sure enough she would as the gull would fly off and closer to us for better views!

Where it landed closer to the large puddle near the "T" and continued to preen.

Not the best disgicoped photo but does a half way decent job of showing the white spots (that are larger than a Laughing Gull) on the wing tips.

And this shot which isn't as bad that really shows those white "eye arcs" as well as the relatively short bill.   After much gawking of the gull a few of us would make our way toward the parking lot when Paul would let us know Peter had found a sleeping Common Nighthawk so naturally we went back to see if for ourselves.

And this is what we'd see for an added bonus as this would be the first time ever I'd see a nighthawk remaining still.

We'd proceed to head toward our cars and would soon see the Franklin's Gull flying to the right of us near the wetlands of the parking lot where the Bittern can be heard often so naturally watched it to see what it would do.  I'd be fixated on its flight as it barely flapped its wings as it ascended up in the air in an effort to gain altitude it seemed but were hoping that wasn't the case as others have yet to see it so let's cross our fingers.

So yet again another real cool Worcester County bird (iin fact, a lifer) and I believe a county record.  Just goes to show what team work can do as Justin and Jess were able to spot, confirm and communicate a very special bird allowing many others to see it.

Take care all.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekend Birding-Can Someone Tell Mother Nature It's Spring!

I'd wake up Saturday morning and decide to do a little birding before the heavy rain so made a couple stops here and there including Martha Deering were I'd pick up my 1st Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch for the month as well as the local Barred Owl who'd look miserable and wet as he got dive bombed by an American Robin.

Lousy picture of it going away as it had enough of the mobbing but wanted to share it because it's a good example of how I distinguish between a flushed Hawk or Barred Owl when it tail on, going away.  Notice how the owl almost looks hunched back with the wings looking so heavy it weighs him down.  I've never seen this from a hawk as their body always looks strong and balanced enough to support its wings.  Other highlight here would be a couple of singing Pine Warblers and a very vocal Great Crested Flycatcher.  I'd proceed to go home and start on my much neglected cleaning when I'd see a post by Justin on the Facebook Central Mass Birders Page of 8 Short-billed Dowitcher's at Bolton Flats so Alan and I would take off after lunch to try and get them.

The rain would be light but steady at that point with temperatures dropping causing all of the swallows to feed low near the water which allowed us some great looks at them including the best look I've ever gotten of a Bank Swallow before but do have to admit, I felt bad for them as this weather can be lethal for swallows and swifts.  I was worried all weekend about the Chimney Swifts and while I can't confirm they are nesting in my chimney this year, the heat wouldn't go on the entire cold snap so spent most of my time home bundled up in fleece and reading a book with the lowest temp in my house going to 56 degrees this morning.  Brrrrrrrrr..

Anyhow, back to topic.  Alan and I would get there and it wouldn't take long to find the Dowitcher's but we'd be dismayed to see them far out in the back which allowed good scope views- but not for as long as we wanted as they flew off and be hidden by the tall grass that's starting to grow at Bolton.  We'd meet up with Bart who'd be in full rain gear and he'd tell us he was there for almost and hour and didn't see them until we flushed them so that tells you how tough they were to see and the weather certainly didn't help.  Notice the goofy drake Green-winged Teal mixed in with them!

Alan and I would attend the Forbush Bird Club's Upton trip Sunday which would be led by Nick.  We'd all meet up in the parking lot and many would be dressed in full winter gear including hats and gloves and there's just something so wrong with that on Memorial Day Weekend!  Between the wind and cold temps birds were not visible but Nick made the best of things showing us where many of the birds are normally seen during migration and breeding including some Northern Waterthrushes.  While we never did see them, we heard them which was nice as one can never tire of their song.

We'd make our way to the birdiest section of the trip that day and get good views of a couple birds brave enough to show their face including the Great Crested Flycatcher above.  It would be here that the Yellow-billed Cuckoo others spotted would be found and visible.  That is to everyone but me as I couldn't find the bird despite good descriptions from all and the bird being "naked eye".  I'd get on it just as it flew off but what else is new!!  Did hear it to it's Coo   Coo call as it was its Ka Ka Ka Ka KOW which was nice as it's one of my favorite sounds of all.  The other highlight here would be a Virginia Rail doing its "three stooges call" nearby.

Next would be some powerlines nearby where we'd pick up some of our warblers (mostly by ear with the awful wind!) including Yellow, Blue-winged and the many Prairie.  Highlight here would be seeing a Field Sparrow with that appeared to be a green caterpillar in its bill which was so cute!  We'd all still be mighty cold at this point but it was still a nice trip despite the March like conditions.  I'd head home and go straight to the covers the rest of the day and night as my house was cold and couldn't get the chill out of my bones with no heat.  It did give me time just to relax and read though to get ready for more birding Monday.

Which would be showing Matt from Growing with Plants some local spots nearby for decent birding with the South Main powerlines being our first stop.  Matt was really into birding in years past but life and other hobbies put a lot of it on hold but now he's back so off we went to see what we could get.  I'd remember the first time Alan took me here and how in awe I was over the bird variety and I was hoping I could do the same with Matt but have to admit I was a tad nervous after yesterday as I wanted to make sure he got decent looks of many of our colorful breeding birds.  The bird Gods would be me in my favor as the first bird we'd see would be a very strange but still beautiful Indigo Bunting.  I'd see it naked eye and knew it was an Indigo but looked so different to me I'd second guess myself until I got my bins on it as the bird was almost a light blue with some gray in it which is something I'd never seen before.

Another lousy shot as I just wasn't into pictures today but you can vaguely see the gray I'm talking about.  According to my Sibley Guide this is a male Indigo Bunting that appears to still be in transitional plumage so it was nice to learn something new.  We'd just finish looking at a Common Yellowthroat when a new bird appeared and I'd get my bins on it to see it was a 1st year Orchard Oriole!

Which would have me thrilled considering it would be cool bird number two and confirmed why my ears were telling me the oriole I was hearing in the midst of all the bird song sounded different to me.  Such a treat and tells me again the Orchard Oriole numbers are up vs. last year as well as the Cuckoos.  I'd also be happy to show Matt his first ever Prairie Warbler as I remember the "wow" factor that bird had with me when Alan showed me it for the first time as well as a first ever Blue-winged Warbler which made for a very productive stop!

Stop number two would be Brierly Conservation to show Matt some wood warblers as well as others that call this land home.  We'd be happy the Chestnut-sided Warblers were nearby and visible but their usual hyper selves so were satisfied with the brief look we had when one stood still for a quick moment!  I'd be happy to hear the Veery in it's usual location being as visible as ever as it allowed both of us nice, long looks for a much needed break from all of the others.

We'd meet up with Alan, Bob and Diane who'd tell us about a Solitary Sandpiper over near the beaver pond and would see it flying away which wasn't the best look obviously but it was nice just the same to get that bird on my Brierly list as it would be another first.  The other highlight would be a Red-shouldered Hawk somewhat high in the sky and going away so hoping it's the one Alan and I have seen in weeks past as he's gone into hiding and both of us would like it if he set up territory there of course!  We'd make our way to where the Black-and-white Warblers are and one would show us some mercy and land close enough for half way decent looks before flying off .

On our way back to the parking lot, we'd veer off to a side path which can be very birdy so wanted to show it to Matt and it wouldn't take long to get our first active pocket of birds here!

There'd be a very vocal Red-eyed Vireo leading the chorus as well as the nearby Veery, Ovenbird (darn thing wouldn't come close for looks), Scarlet Tanager, American Redstart and after much searching the bird I wanted here most (besides the Canada who wasn't around), which was the Magnolia Warbler.  I'd get on it quick enough to ID and shout to Matt I had a maggie and by the time I explained where it was, off he flew.  I'd really want Matt to see this bird as I remembered how striking it was the first time I saw it at Quabbin Park with Alan but it dove out of view and my ears were telling me away from the path.  After some searching I thought I'd hear it close by again but then the darn American Redstart would sing as well making for much confusion on the ears as they both sang in unison.

We'd finally see it and I even managed some awful photos.  One note is when I had my bins on it I noticed it didn't look as bright yellow underneath than what I'm used to seeing and was thinking it was the lighting but noticed the lack of streaking the bird above appears to have so wondering if what I have above is a female.  Probably wishful thinking on my part as the one I got a real good look at face on was a definite male so if there are two of them than maybe they'll breed here as this is the same general location Dan stopped one for us on the Millbury Forbush Field Trip.

So despite the cold weather, birding was still nice and hoping this is the last of the cold weather.  In looking at the long range forecast I see 90 degree temps for us next weekend and you so know I'll be complaining about that too!

Take care all.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cattle Egret Bolton Flats & Hooded Warbler-No this isn't the Coast!!

I'd be at work today and keep checking in on the Central Mass Birders Facebook Page thinking all would be quiet before the rain until Joe would post of a Hooded Warbler near his yard and then panic would strike as I'd still have a bunch of stuff to get done at work so whipped through it hoping I could find out more about it and leave early to get the bird.  I'd just about be packed up and ready to leave when Alan would call and I presumed it was to tell me about the warbler.

Me:  Hi
Alan:  Hi
Me:  I know all about the bird and on my way
Alan:  No you don't know the whole story
Me:  (confused and flustered).  What do you mean I saw the post about the Hooded Warbler
Alan:  Well there's a Cattle Egret at Bolton Flats

Suddenly I was overwhelmed with two great birds in the area and me still at work and had my heart set on the Hooded, but we're talking Cattle Egret.

Me:  Well I was just on my way to get the Hooded

Alan:  Well which would you rather have the Cattle Egret or the warbler?

I'd stop to contemplate this for a moment as I've never been asked this before so it required thought as it's like asking me if I'd rather have chocolate cheesecake or a hot fudge sundae and naturally I'd want both!

Me:  The Cattle Egret

Alan:  Okay, if you leave work now I can pick you up and we can try for it.  (Alan knew that would be my response of course as I've talked about a Worcester county Cattle Egret the 1st year I started birding)

I'd leave in a hurry talking to myself about how I'm not chasing birds anymore as it's too stressful and wonder if Jim next door heard the whole conversation and thinks I'm even crazier than when I was swooning in his office over the Barred Owl not letting him get any work done.

I'd arrive home in record time and Alan would pick me and Justin up telling us Bart had found it and called and off we went to try for the Cattle Egret.  The entrance to the parking lot would be flooded but Alan being the trooper that he is plowed right through it as we got out of the car to walk the path and I'd be glad I wore boots as they were needed as you can see in the 1st picture!

Soon enough after much scoping we'd find the bird mixed in with the Canada Geese past the flooded field and on dry land.

Not the best record shots as you can see, but the bird was far out so hoping Alan and Justin have better ones.

Another lousy shot but all of us got excellent looks at it through Alan's scope.

Next it would be off to get me the Hooded Warbler as both Justin and Alan got it earlier and I was feeling left out and not holding out much hope the bird would still be there.  We'd be there for a bit when we could both hear a very loud and metallic chip note and I'd get on a warbler where all I could see was a nice colorful yellow on the body and a lot of white at the tail.  "I think I have it, I'd shout to Alan as we both tried to get a better look at it from the tree tops.  I'd see it fly above my head an could clearly see the black at and around its  throat making me very happy and wishing more warblers were this easy to ID in flight as it isn't the case in most instances with flying warblers!  The bird would show me some mercy and land long enough for me to attempt a record shot.

Swoon!!!!  Not the best picture in the world, but I'll take it as it would be life bird number two for me in one day!

Swoon again!  Sigh, and here I was all thinking last night that it would be a quiet few days with the rain and all but should know better with migration still in full swing.

We'd drive back home and I'd be in awe over the two birds I'd just seen considering we're smack dab in Worcester County and not on the coast as this is the stuff you normally see there and not here. Just a nice reminder that we do get our share of cool birds in our county and why I love birding locally as much as I do.

Take care all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

More Spring Migration and the Invasion of the Cuckoos!

Despite having a full time job, I've managed to make the best of things by prioritizing my life which means work, birds and not much else as housework and cooking can wait!!  It would all start on Wednesday when I'd go on Facebook and see the bird radar of the North East showing lots of bird activity over night.  I'd quickly get ready for work and hit Brierly just to see if the radar was right!  No sooner would I get out to the car and hear a Blackpoll in my yard as well as another while driving to Brierly and song would be heavy in the parking lot as soon as I arrived making me very happy.  There'd be a singing Northern Parula, American Redstarts, Magnolia Warblers and Chestnut-sided Warblers and before I knew it an hour had passed and I'd remind myself I had to get to work.  I'd see Alan drive up and now I'm back near the brambles pishing more birds out with him and realized I needed to make an executive decision.  The decision would be to take an emergency half a day as I met all my deadlines the day prior so the half day would be my reward of course!!  It would still be early so I'd leave my boss a voice mail with an Ovenbird calling in the back ground.

There'd be all kinds of great birds as we made our way near the beaver pond including another Canada Warbler as well as the Green Heron I had there about three weeks ago.  It would be funny though as we were trying to pish a Mangolia when we heard this real strange call coming from the pond which was hidden by leaves.  After some patience we'd finally see who the culprit was and it would indeed turn out the be the heron as you can see in the picture above.

We'd also get this bull frog above with spots which was pretty interesting and worthy of a picture.  We'd make our way to the area I flushed the Barred Owl and to my amazement the pond I thought I just discovered turned out to be the back end of the new pond which has brought us all the fabulous birds this year!  So of course we have to trace it to see what else may be lurking and before you know it, I'm bush whacking through brambles and weeds with not only my work pants on but my work shoes!  After more exploring, I'd grudgingly go to work and besides some leaves stuck to my pants and a tick crawling through my hair while on a conference call, I was as presentable as I could be and actually managed to get a lot of work done so thinking I may need to do this more often!

I'd be at work Wednesday and Justin would post on the Facebook Central Mass Birders page about both a Yellow and Black-billed Cuckoo at the Cross Street Powerlines so off I'd go after work hoping for both.  It wouldn't take me long to hear the Black-billed but it was rather soft and sporadic so figured it had skulked more into the woods to get away from the a**hole dirt bikers who'd by flying around and making a ton of racket.  I'd spend some time wondering around and just listen to all of the breeding birds as I'm really into chip notes lately so it allowed me some good study.  Eventually the Black-billed sounded closer and soon enough he'd fly from one end of the road to the other and land in brush and call.  In fact at one point he flew so low he almost clipped my head much to my delight!  I'd call Alan and tell him the bird was not only calling but visible and sure enough the bird would continue to do both when Alan arrived.  It allowed for some close study of this birds behavior and made me feel better after seeing the dead one in downtown Worcester.

I'd wake up early this morning and go back to Cross Street hoping to hear the Yellow-billed and would again strike out on that but the Black-billed was still there and calling away which was the perfect way to start the day.  After work it would be off to Brierly hoping for a Yellow-billed there and I'd get one less than five minutes of arriving!  One thing I've noticed about Cuckoos is it's really hard to pinpoint their location when you are getting them by ear only but the one thing I've learned lately is if you can hear them and they sound far away, chances are they're not and you need to stay in the general location.  My patience would pay off as I'd see it fly across the trail so once again I'd call Alan to let him know we had Millbury Cuckoo number two and to get the Brierly as quickly as possible.  HA

Alan would arrive and we'd both get really good looks at the bird (in fact, one of the best looks I've ever gotten of one).  Wish my camera could have done it justice but what else is new!  The best thing about it is the bird actually did all of it's calls for me including one of my favorite sounds of all time which is their "knocker call"  Earlier on, I'd also hear both Barred Owls doing a duet which would be the first time I'd ever hear that so all in all a perfect way to end my birding for the week as it sounds as if we are about to get dumped with rain!

Last note is the number of Cuckoos not only in Worcester County this year but the entire state.  Will be interesting to see what the final number look like but as of right now it seems to be invasion of the cuckoos!

Take care all.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Downtown Worcester-Peregrine Falcon update and other tidbits

I figured it was time to do a Peregrine Falcon update considering it's been over a month.  I went over to the Peoples United building this morning with hopes I could hear begging chicks but it wouldn't take long for me to realize its easier said than done as portions of the side walks are closed with work being done to open Union Station as the new bus hub June 1st.  Add to that all the noise from traffic and heavy machinery and couldn't hear much.  I did see the male Peregrine Falcon take off from the BOA building and land on the cross for a few seconds and then fly into the area I believe they are nesting and not reappear for the time I was there so taking it as a good sign.  At this point all I can hope for is the chicks to start walking and doing so on the side facing Front Street so I can get looks at them from the 24th floor and I also think I'll be able to hear them there too as I'll be much closer.  I'd make my way back to work when my eyes would notice something on the ground.  I'd get closer and my heart would sink as I realized it was a dead Black-billed Cuckoo.  :-(

I really wanted to examine it more and even thought of picking it up and asking Tufts if they wanted it (imagine the look on my co workers face as I walked past reception!)  I'd decided otherwise as a policeman was giving me the "hairy eyeball" with my bins and camera so took one photo to see if I could see any trauma to the bird and don't so guessing it's a window strike.  I've been thinking of this bird off and on all day and has left me in a funk.   The perils birds face on a daily basis is often forgotten and I've seen dead birds before in downtown Worcester but this one bothers me most as its such a neat and secretive bird and I'm mad it had to die in such an undignified way.  :-(.  The only good thing about dead birds is you can really examine them and I'd be taken aback at how large it seemed as I've only seen a Black-billed once and much of its body was covered by tree branches.

I'd decide to do some birding after work to help get me out of my funk and hit South Main Powerlines in hopes for a Yellow-billed cuckoos as both are moving through and had one here before so was hoping to hear AND see one alive and well.  Bird song would be all around me and I'd pick up my first Wild Turkey in this spot which was nice as I saw it in some brush and it would wait for me to pass by before getting back on the trail and crossing the street.

The Eastern Towhee's would be out in full force and I'd be happy to see my first female of the year looking as classy as ever.

There'd be a battle of the songsters going on as American Robins, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were singing at once making for a nice practice session on the ears.

I'd be able to get directly above a grosbeak before he flew off and while the photo is lousy I love it as it shows what the bird looks like underneath which is just as cool close up as in the air.

I'd walk along the trail and noticed a bird that looked different to me in flight and was lucky enough to see it land in a leafy tree so stopped to see if I could re locate it with my bins.  I'd walk a little closer and suddenly hear the loudest song of an Eastern Wood-peewee I've ever experienced.  I'd walk closer to where the sound was coming from and realize I was heading in the direction of the flying bird.  Suddenly I'd spot my mystery bird and realize it was he who was singing the peewee call right out in the open and out of tree cover!!!  The view in the picture above is how I saw the bird with my bins and even though it was singing I didn't believe it at first as it was the best "tail view" I've ever gotten of this bird and right out in the open.  Love this picture none the less as it shows the "dusky vest" Sibley refers to.

Flying over across the powerlines and out of view but managed a crappy photo where you can see its dark head and a trace of the distinct wingbars I saw really well with the bins.

No sooner would I be walking away from the peewee and I'd see a Baltimore Oriole flying above and landing in a shrub.  I'd want to get on the bird as I thought it was a female by the color as it flew past until I relocated it in the shrub and saw this.

This would really throw me for a loop as I've seen juves like this but it's far too early for them so posted the pics on Facebook to get feedback from others and I'd be given this link which is pretty nifty.  Come to find out female coloration can vary and this is a she!  Swoon, this is why I love birding as you learn something new everyday you get out there.

Take care all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brierly Conservation Area-The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

I'd head back to Brierly today with Alan in hopes for an actual view of a Swainson's Thrush and we'd get there early which would immediately pay off because as soon as we got out of the parking lot we'd be inundated with bird song with warblers being the main chorus.  I'd play my new game of ID the outlier and could have sworn I heard a Blackburnian mixed in with the crew and sure enough we'd get not one but two and great looks of one no less!  I'd also hear what I thought was another Canada Warbler (in a different area then when Dan spotted one) and we'd both be rewarded with a nice view of it so it's nice to know all my warbler song practice is starting to pay off!  We'd reluctantly leave the parking lot but we had places to go and Swainson's to see so off we went toward Mount Ararat where we'd be thrilled to get a Yellow-throated Vireo Alan heard as we made out way up the incline.  The other highlight here would be a very vocal Great-crested Flycatcher calling nearby.

We'd head back to the area I had my Swainson's yesterday as I'd remember it immediately due to a pink bib on the trail which was my bench mark yesterday on the birds approximate voice location and it would be then both Alan and I would see a bird fly from one end of the trail to the other, the bird would be rather still and we'd be shocked to see a bird that looked very much like a Swainson's at first glance.

As you can see in the photo above with those nice buffy spectacles as well as buffy cheek and the brownish gray overall on the back.

Pardon the photos as it was still fairly early so lighting was an issue but let me tell you, we both got killer looks of this bird as it stayed there on the log for close to five minutes paying no attention to either of us!  Swoon, this bird has now replaced the Black Vulture as my bird of the year as I never knew how sweet they are and can't get over how tame, in comparison to both the Hermit and Wood Thrush.  We'd linger around Brierly for a bit and then I'd take off on my own later in the morning and hit South Main powerlines in my annual tradition of checking for a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

I'd make my way down the path and my ears would be overwhelmed with bird song.  The weather was perfect and it would be then I'd realize I was at the spot I've yearned for since this cold, past February when birds were all singing at once and it felt like spring.  A Baltimore Oriole was close by and singing so lovely, I'd be shocked to realize a trace of tears forming in my eyes and quickly brush them away but what can I say,  I love my birds for so many reasons with song being number one (remember it was the Phee Bee song of the Black-capped Chickadee before dawn in my yard that first opened my eyes or rather ears to birds), so I guess that's my soft spot when it comes to our feathered friends.

I'd also spot an Eastern Towhee who'd be dead silent in some lower branches totally unaware of me stalking him which made to stiffle a giggle as he was just being him and so cute as he preened and looked around.

While I never did get my Yellow-billed Cuckoo I did get some really nice looks of many breeding birds including the Prairie Warbler above which is nice as this is one of my favorite warblers of all.

I'd go home for the lunch time lull and decide to lay down for a bit as I got up early and didn't fall asleep until fairly late the night before.  I'd have my windows open and could hear a robin singing nearby as well as the local Northern Mockingbird so I'd close my eyes and just listen to him as he belted out tunes of his neighbors.  Soon enough I'd drift off and be in "la la land" but kept waking up some to check the time as I wanted to get back out before the rain.  I'd have spotty dreams with the last one being my annual "I can't ID this bird" dream I seem to get every year and this one's a doozy like all the others.  I believe it was a bird club event as I'd be on a trail with a bunch of birders and would only know two (Alan and Kevin).  Suddenly I'd spot a bird and shout out to the others as I had no idea what it was as its butt was to me so wanted others on it before it flew off!  I'm lousy in my conscience life of trying to describe locations of birds so it would only ring true in dream land too as no one could spot it so they asked me to describe it.  Suddenly the small little bird would fan its tail like an American Redstart and then turn around and be speechless as this is what I'd see.

That's right folks, the face of the zebra of one of my favorite gums of all when I was a child (Bubs Daddy sour apple was number one).  I'd remain speechless as everyone was waiting for me to describe the bird but couldn't as I was too embarrassed and then the dream ended which woke me up of course and was thrilled to see it was a dream and not the "real deal".  HA  ;-).  Don't' know why I share some of the stuff I do with you really I don't but I guess it's to give you a better glimpse of my mind sometime.

Anyhow, I'd head back to Brierly and would see three Turkey Vultures flying by so take a quick look at them and continue to lock my car when I'd hear an almost grunt type noise coming from their location so of course I look as I've never heard a noise like that coming from a TV before.  And the reason I wouldn't is because it would be a Fish Crow all by itself and doing it's distinct call before landing in a tree nearby.  It seems as if Fish Crow sightings are a lot more frequent for many here in Worcester County this year and I'd be happy to have my second sighting already this spring.

I'd decide to do a little bush whacking in an area Alan and I are convinced is filled with fabulous birds we can't see from the main trail and it wouldn't take long for me to see one of the other pair of Chestnut-sided Warblers I've often wondered about as they were closer to the main trail in years past so it was nice to see they are still in the general area.  The rain would start to fall some so headed for the shelter of the woods as I didn't want to go home just yet.

Bird song would continue to dwindle the further I went into the woods and be replaced by light rain drops falling on leaves as I made my way around the windy mountain bike trails.  Two Ovenbirds would be nearby making contact calls to one another and I'd be in my element as both their faint, rapid chip notes and the sound of rain was nice on the ears after all the bird chatter just a few moments prior.  Soon enough the rain would pick up some and I'd remind myself it wasn't the best time to get lost so make my way back toward the main trail and to my car.

I'd be making my way back past the pond the beavers have made this year when my ears would pick up on something fairly distant but it was distincitive and would be the call of the Black-billed Cuckoo.  I'd stop for a bit as I wanted to hear all three of its coos and after a while and a little moving around I'd hear them all but it wasn't easy.

FYI, for some reason I can't post any of my YouTube videos directly on Blogger this evening so if you really want to listen to some lousy audio of the bird you can do so here Black-billed Cuckoo Millbury .

And lastly a very lousy photo of a bird which is now one of my favorite this year which is the Veery as I find them not at all shy and fascinating to watch long term with a pair of binoculars.  I'd find him on the main path where he'd take two hops and stop to look around (kind of robin like, but not as clumsy).  Anyhow I'd edge up closer to him waiting for it fly off and it paid no attention to me as it turned over leaf litter and even appeared to gobble up some leaves!  I'd finally call out to him to let him know I was coming though and the little bugger would fly right into a shrub nearby which pissed off a female Northern Cardinal so not sure if the Veery flew right into the Cardinals nesting spot but it made for an interesting way to end a fabulous weekend of birding!

Take care all.


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