Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Before Noon Treasures

I have realized that every time I have come down with a skull-crushing headache, there's a low pressure system hanging overhead. I guess it's nice to know that I'm that strongly connected to nature, but I'm not liking the squeezing of my brain feeling.

I braved the heat today and got out birding earlier in the morning! I wasn't sure I'd even enjoy it, but I definitely did. I even found out that I've been missing out on quite a few morning species at my favorite spots. I felt like I had won the lottery.

I typically visit Ash Drive/Warren County Bikeway by Glen Lake in the early afternoon. Today I got there at 9:30 AM. This is what I saw:
- Eastern Kingbird (2 - seemed to be a pair that was constantly calling to each other, and one was very much keeping an eye on me)
- American Crow (1 - not heard there before)
- American Robin (3)
- Red-eyed Vireo (2 - not heard there before!)
- American Goldfinch (1 male picking at a thistle, 4 heard)
- Tree Swallow (2)
- Song Sparrow (1 - a regular but it sat right out on a bush in plain view, calling)
- Blue Jay (4 - not seen here before, they tried mobbing me because I was pishing something else!)
- Black-capped Chickadee (3 - believe it or not, not heard here before)
- Gray Catbird (2)
- Yellow Warbler (1 - NOT the male I've seen all summer, looked like a juvenile)
- Barn Swallow (1 - not a regular)
- Common Yellowthroat (1)
- Red-winged Blackbird (1 - I miss them already)
- Cedar Waxwing (2)
- Great Crested Flycatcher (1 - not a regular)
- Eastern Wood-Pewee (1)
- Northern Cardinal (1 - not heard here before!)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (1 - not heard here before!)
- Hairy Woodpecker (1 - not seen here before! It landed on a wooden pole right in front of me and started working on destroying it. I was so happy, I've missed the woodpeckers lately.)
- Mourning Dove (1 - can't remember if I've seen them here before, my memory says no)
- Great Blue Heron (1 - saw earlier this spring being mobbed, today it was restful without the blackbirds around. It waded for a bit, then flew up to a roosting spot in a tree where it stretched out and then sat)
- possible Baltimore Oriole? It landed in a tree right below one of the Kingbirds, mere inches below, and looked up at the kingbird. The kingbird seemed surprised, looked down, and then called feverishly, scaring the "oriole" into the bushes. The bird was quite ugly in color, and I'm guessing it was a juvenile male, but the coloring was totally weird. It was a bit bigger than the kingbird, and had a long tail, brownish-orange at the tip tapering in a gradient to almost white at the body; the upper body and head/face were almost completely brown with some orange mixed in; the black eye was surrounded by a black mask that resembled that of a waxwing; the wings on this weird bird were black and white patterned like that of a goldfinch. Some of that brown seemed to be hints of future black feathers, and I could figure out that the brownish-orange would become future bright orange. I can't even think of another bird it could be. And that would be my first Oriole here.

I couldn't stop there! It was still not too hot and I was so totally pleased with my finds that I headed to the Betar Byway in South Glens Falls. During my walk here it became extremely hot and humid, to the point where NO ONE else was on the byway at all. Ouch. I did meet a few neat people early on, including a backyard birder who was extremely worried about all of her birds suddenly missing (she loved hearing me talk about fall migration and she walked away excited and relieved), and a young girl with her mom who remembered that I had given a bird presentation at Moreau Lake in June! To hear one of the kids recall that and even say they liked it was great. Both mom and daughter talked about how they are always looking for birds and trying to ID them. I was beyond glad.
So here's my feathered friends:
- American Goldfinch (15! They're either currently breeding or just post-breeding, so the #s make sense.)
- Mourning Dove (1)
- Canada Geese (10 together, 1 alone - this was so sad. There's been one there who is not thriving. It is extremely skinny and small, the group won't let it near, and it begs humans for food even while it's carrying grass around. Someone told me it is definitely ill.)
- Yellow Warbler (1 female, 6 unknown - you may recall I previously noticed they were missing from here. So there's still some but the numbers have greatly decreased).
- American Robin (7)
- Mallard (4 females, 4 eclipse males, 3 unknowns as they had their heads under their wings, and 1 male)
- Song Sparrow (7 - more than usual?)
- Northern Cardinal (2 males, 3 unknowns)
- Cedar Waxwing (8)
- Mourning Dove (1)
- Eastern Wood-Pewee (1)
- Common Grackle (1 juvenile - I so badly wanted it to be a Brown-headed Cowbird)
- Northern Mockingbird (never seen here before, and it seemed to be nesting)
- Tree Swallow (3)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (2)
- Gray Catbird (5 - they seem less shy in the morning)
- Black-capped Chickadee (12 - more than usual)
- American Crow (1)
- Red-eyed Vireo (2 - not seen here before, and these two were making themselves visible to me! They were totally on alert. They also wouldn't sit still, so I couldn't even see their red eyes, but I definitely saw their "white eyebrow." Pishing these birds is interesting, each time I pished they would fly out to the CLOSEST branch to me! They were also giving their alarm call repeatedly, which I hear as a quickly descending 'qwaa' sort of like the song of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.)
- Possible House Wren - (very tiny brown bird with no defining mark flitting around, calling "chek chek chek chek" vaguely resembling a nuthatch. Upon listening to audio tonight, I'm not so sure, because the call sounded more of a Marsh Wren.)
- Eastern Kingbird (1)
- Blue Jay (1)
- Veery (1 - buy the SGF Water Works building)
- Great Crested Flycatcher (1)
- House Sparrow (5 males, about 15 others! They were a flock moving through the area, looking for food. I had previously never seen a single House Sparrow here. They were picking up everything off the ground to see what it was, including dried out old gum wads and a feather twice as long as their little bodies.)

There is also an inlet past the SGF Water Works building that sometimes has cool stuff. This time a muskrat was nearby rummaging around in the grass.
- Eastern Phoebe (1 - it was really busy flycatching, which was so neat to watch)
- Song Sparrow (2)
- Mourning Dove (1)
- Great Crested Flycatcher (1)
- Cedar Waxwing (3)
- Gray Catbird (1)
- American Goldfinch (2)
- American Crow (1)

Maybe I can get myself to bird more often in the morning!

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