I rose at 6:15 and met the Early Birders at Five Rivers this morning. They meet weekly during the prime migration months, and I’ve been telling myself to participate for years (but there’s that whole 6:15 AM business…). So I roused myself and headed out into the misty rosy-fingered dawn. The group was mixed, every level of expertise from backyard birders like me to ornithologists who could spot an eye-ring at 100 paces.
We start out over bagels and coffee in the visitor center, ticking off the feeder birds, then move out into a variety of habitats for 2 hours of walking very slowly. Every chirp and rustle gets careful consideration, and even the ubiquitous Blue Jays and Chickadees are observed respectfully.
Confusing Fall Warblers continue to confuse me. The sky was overcast, the mixed flocks of little birds were fast-moving and waaay up in the treetops, and if on the off chance I did get a good look, it turned out to be a Chickadee. The advice was to check out any flock of mostly BCCs this time of year — warblers often buddy up with them. And it’s true — I carefully scanned the swamp maple in my yard and found a few little mystery birds mixed in. The moral of the story being, Fall warblers = hard work. Work harder, Naomi!
After the official walk was over, I roamed around the grounds for another hour. A red dragonfly landed on my arm and ate a gnat! Very cool, watching it turn the bug around with its mandibles and drop the little wings when it was done.
On the way home a raptor rocketed in front of my car. All I could get was a general impression of light belly/long tail/agility and speed.
Blue Jay, American Crow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrow. Downy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse, Gray Catbird, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Great Blue Heron, Wood Duck, Canada Goose, Mallard, Solitary Sandpiper, Song Sparrow, Belted Kingfisher, Purple Finch, Pileated Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Red-tailed Hawk, European Starling, Rock Pigeon, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, American Kestrel, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-throated Sparrow.
Also maybe a Mallard/Black Duck hybrid — a female with a purple speculum with white bands on either side.
35 definite species*, 2 new to this list, and undoubtedly I could add more with some work.
I’m rather proud of the Solitary Sandpiper. It flew in to one of the little ponds and disappeared behind sedges. I kept watching that area while the rest of the group was admiring a really flashy male Wood Duck, and finally it worked its way into the clear. Careful scoping showed it had an eye-ring, not an eyebrow, so the ID was made. But I saw it first!
*I’m not adding the rooster we heard in the distance.