Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday Birding

I'd decide to do some mid afternoon birding today and figured while this is typically the time birds are quiet all would be out and about as stir crazy as I after the awful weather the past 24+ hours so waged my bets with my first stop being the South Main Powerlines where I'd be greeted by quite a few bird including the Gray Catbird above.  Killer photo for me considering my quality of photos goes drastically down hill during migration as all the "target birds" are far too quick for me and my pathetic camera.  The sun at this point would be hidden by thin cloud cover which is my favorite way to take photos.  Not an insect expert but it appears as if our friend the catbird may have caught a wasp!

And this charming little bird would even grace me with a tail view!

I'd start along the trail and this is what I'd see after all the heavy rain we've had so was glad I wore my rain boots which allowed me to just tuck my pants into the boots and trudge on.

Wild flowers that were sleeping last time I was here were now wide awake making for a nice feast for the eyes after all the gray.  Dragonflies would be out too including this Eight Spotted Skimmer (correction:  Common White Tail-Thanks Mark!).

But one of the main reasons I wanted to venture out is to listen for birds and tinker with my new hobby recording them!  :-p.  I'd finally get to whip out the Droid as I wanted to record a Song Sparrow low in some vegetation doing it's high pitched contact call to another Song Sparrow nearby.  You'll probably need to turn up your volume high to hear it as my Droid isn't good for quality audio but I want you to listen to this bird and the chip note "Chet".  Okay, ready.....Now tell me when your'e done.
First of all, check out the nifty sonogram my Song Sparrow created.  Notice how many of the chip notes appear evenly spaced.  How cool is that!  Now back to the "chet" call note which differs from the classic "chimp" call note.  Paul Driver from Bird Calls and Songs has a better recording of a Song Sparrow doing this call and according to him it is believed to be a note only the females do.  So now you know!  Just think of the possibilities this has in the dead of summer when your'e looking for things to do an now you can sex Song Sparrows!!!  No need to thank me really there isn't!

I'd make my way to the trail that always has a little water on it and my ears could pick up on rushing water as I approached it and this is what I'd see.

A full blown stream!  I'd contemplate crossing it as I've been through worse (think Bolton Flats with Alan with water almost to my hips with currants that forced us to hold onto trees at times, no I'm not kidding-but we wanted a Blue-winged Teal for the year list!), but then I'd think of the potential reward inr doing so which would be the usuals and recording would probably be out the of the question with the heavy Saturday afternoon traffic coming from Route 146 so I'd turn around and head for the solitude of Brierly.

And be so glad I did and decided to go off the usual trails hoping I could flush one of the Barred Owls as I'm on a mission to confirm their general location as I want to take my son and his girl friend there in an attempt for them to get a half way decent look at one.  The weather would start getting really nice at this point and the further I went into the woods the better I felt.  There'd be some minor flooding here too with puddles to my ankles and I'd walk through them with the same enthusiasm I used to do when jumping puddles as child.  The smell of the wet, live earth was wonderful and I'd drink it all in as well as the woodland chorus of birds singing for me and with each one my senses would come alive.

First would be the Red-eyed Vireo.  He'd be so loud I was convinced he was right above me and after some searching I'd finally find him.  I'd do no pishing, just listening and after some patience I'd see the little bird.

So naturally out would come the Droid to record him!

I'd stand there listening and recording with my ears being super sensitive to every note escaping the bird and notice notes I'd never really paid much attention to in the past and would make a mental note to myself to listen to the other RE Vireos along the way to see if they sounded any different and while many had the same "canned song", a couple had different variations which was a welcome find.

I'd do the same ear task with an Eastern Wood-pewee where there'd be no pishing just stopping, listening and trying to match my eyes to the singing bird and after some patience I'd find him too.

Calling away in a duet with another pewee some distance away.  I'd continue along my way and would finally flush one of the Barred Owls and despite trying to relocate it, I never did but it's nice to know it's still in the same general area as last.  But my biggest treat in this area was yet to come as I'd hear a Hairy Woodpecker nearby with what sounded like begging young nearby.  I'd do my ear exercise again and find their location and took about 15 minutes of audio of them and chose only one to share with you all as I don't want to inundate you with bird songs and believe me I could do it!

Another one where you may need to turn up the volume some but you will hear the faint begging calls of the young as well as the communication calls of the adult.  Toward the end you'll hear the classic song of the adult Hairy which gets those fledglings really going!!

A distant photo of what I believe to be one of the fledglings.  I'd spend another 10 minutes or so here with just my binoculars transfixed in their world.  I've always thought of birding as a gift and something I'm glad I found but wish it were earlier than my 40's so trying to make up for it now and it would be here I'd realize there's still so much for me to learn.  All the chasing, listing and running around for the migrants leaves me no mind set or time to just observe and watching this family of Hairy Woodpeckers felt like an honor.  Something so private and intimate as the bond between parent and child and here I was on a Saturday afternoon drinking it all in while others were doing yard work or shopping at the mall, stressed to the max and rushing around.  Yes birding is a gift indeed.

I'd make my way out of the woods and come across more fledglings including some Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees.  I would also come across the flock of begging young that would be so low I couldn't ID them but I'd see yet again another B&W Warbler so guessing it's their fledglings.

There neighbor the Blue-winged Warbler is still around of course and decided to grace me with a fanned tail view which is always nice!

And now for my mystery call which I at first thought was a group of recently fledged Black-capped Chickadees so posted my question on Xeno Canto.  The link brings you right to my question and you will see I already have an answer by another favorite blogger of mine in the world of bird vocalizations Ear Birding.  This is why I love Xeno-Canto so much because not only do these folks love to talk bird talk, but are super helpful too.  And now for the mystery call.

You will hear what sounds a lot like a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher but don't trust my ears as I've been fooled by Black-capped Chickadees doing something similar and with all the juves if I don't see them I don't call them. Will be going back in the next few days to see if I can locate them again as I'd LOVE to have breeding Blue-gray Gnatcatchers as Brierly so cross your fingers for me!

Take care all.

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