Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bog Meadow Brook Trail

On Saturday I visited the Wilton Wildlife Preserve at 10 AM - 12 PM for a guided wetland walk at Neilman Parcel. It was awesome. I can't quite ever remembering visiting forested vernal pools before that, and I was quite impressed. Even with all the information I've learned over the years, I still learned new info, and got nice refreshers on wetland ecology. I didn't quite get to bird - I noticed birding is nearly impossible during a guided hike if that's not the goal. I did note hearing the call of some sort of thrush - this excites me, as I love the weird trills they make in their calls (my favorite is the Veery with the descending spiral call). Also, a nature nut with one of the most fantastic beards I've ever seen kept trying to quiz me. When we finished the walk, a Tufted Titmouse overhead was loudly calling. He asked me if I knew what it was, and I confidently called out the species. Victory!

After the guided hike, I drove about 15-20 minutes south to the Bog Meadow Brook trail just near the Wilton Mall. I've only visited it once before, and decided to walk the entire length. On an 85 degree F day with being out of shape and having already walked probably 2 miles, I quickly found out this was a terrible idea. I wound up extremely exhausted, very sweaty, and with a bad headache, barely able to walk by the time I was done. Oops. Also, I was quite overloaded - I've been finding that marshy ponds can be like birding on extreme hard mode if you're unfamiliar with that type of habitat.

I split up my walk into two parts. The first is by a large marshy pond, the second through more forested wetland habitat (with small streams and a much smaller marshy pond at one section).

Part 1:
10 Black-capped Chickadees
14 Red-winged Blackbirds
4 Pine Warblers (calling)
2 American Crows
2 Mallards (both M)
2 American Goldfinches
2 Common Grackles - very close, great views through the binoculars!
1 Canada Goose - hidden in the reeds, also came out to swim with the Mallards
2 Eastern Phoebes

TO BE IDENTIFIED:
- F Red-winged Blackbird? Was sitting near a male. Lg, sharp dark bill, white wingbars, white supercilium, whitish throat and narrow chest band that went around the sides of the throat, dark cap, dark grayish rump, speckled/streaked chest, long brown line well past eye, dark brown barring near sides but lighter on chest
- 4 Sparrows - distinct song with a central trill - hard to ID at first, most stayed extremely well hidden in the brush and their coloring keeps them hidden - later I caught sight of one and saw the long white supercilium with a touch of yellow near the front of the head (near the bill), gray face, quite streaky overall and a large size
- Unbelievably difficult bird to ID. 3 Flycatcher or Warblers, quite small size (smaller than a M Amer Goldfinch in comparison - possibly same size as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher), dull olive yellow overall, very dull underparts that didn't contrast (no difference in color between belly and undertail coverts), 2 very white wing bars, dull whitish eye ring, long primary projection, wings almost gray, brighter yellow just under wing, scalding was insect-like, a quick few clicks
- 2 solid chocolate-brown (except for maybe mildly streaky wings), Grackle-sized birds hiding in the bushes, difficult to see due to constant movement, with seemingly raised head feathers in alarm

Part 2:
15 Red-winged Blackbirds
29 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Downy Woodpecker
8 American Goldfinches
2 Pine Warblers
2 American Crows
5 of those sparrows
2 Northern Cardinals

BONUS: a chipmunk and a young garter snake
NOT BONUS: I found out after returning home that I had acquired two deer ticks from the Neilman Parcel walk (I had found one crawling on my shirt while there). I've since been very sore where they were - they were removed about 5 hours after picking them up. I do not like the idea of having yet another bout of Lyme Disease, but so far, so good.

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Today, Sunday April 26, I just hung around at the West Fort Ann home and did some garden work. I didn't do any serious birding, but the surrounding area was very busy all day. The robins are out in full-force and were noisy all day. There were the occasional callings of a Phoebe, a Pine Warbler, some Blue Jays, American Crows, and those unidentified hawks (too far away for binoculars). Many chickadees at the feeders, a chipping sparrow, and the nuthatch at the back feeder. Two turkey vultures flew overhead at some point, majestically, quietly soaring by. I swore I heard two calls of "Oh Sweet Canada Canada Canada" which was odd as I swear that's out of season, but I'll do some research.

Bonus: A M&F pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out the nest boxes in the yard! I couldn't believe my eyes. I hope they find a desirable nesting site here and keep returning, as they are absolutely welcome here.

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