Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sun in Virgo Sauntering

Ah, Virgo. If you weren't sure if fall was upon us yet, you can be sure now. Virgo is the sign of harvest and is associated with the Corn Maiden (time to start making corn dollies soon!). No, the weather today was not autumn weather, I was still sweating. But I am now seeing leaves falling on the ground, Virginia creeper turning red, and all of my favorite birding spots (that I visited today) were eerily quiet today. I wonder if the birding world has a name for the inevitable sadness that washes over the temperate-climate birders when many of the migrants have left the area, leaving a marked silence upon the landscape.

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My first stop was Ash Drive/Warren County Bikeway by Glen Lake. This was the busy breeding ground for Red-winged Blackbirds in spring and housed a few warbler species, and a Great Blue Heron was a frequent visitor. Today I saw and/or heard these:

- Blue Jay (3)
- American Crow (1)
- Gray Catbird (11 - though it seemed like there were plenty more hiding in the bushes!)
- Northern Cardinal (1)
- American Goldfinch (17 unknown, 2 adult males! Holy moly. These two people who kept crossing my path kept making sure they talked about these goldfinches while passing me and noting in earshot that there wasn't any thistle. Sometimes, people weird me out.)
- Swallow sp. (2 - couldn't tell if they were Tree or Barn)
- Black-capped Chickadee (2)
- Ring-billed Gull (2 flew over - 1 was an obvious juvenile - I have never seen gulls here!)
- American Robin (4)
- Eastern Wood-Pewee (1)
- Red-eyed Vireo (1 lonely one making an alarm call)
- notable Pileated Woodpecker holes, fairly fresh ones

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Next stop was lovely Delegan Pond off Scout Road in Wilton/Ganvesvoort at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve. This spot also tends to have herons. They were notably absent today. I was also pleased that there wasn't a single person around there for once! I walked along the little shore there, and between 15-20 frogs hidden in the grass popped off into the water near my feet. One was a green frog and it's likely the rest were too. There were also plenty of blue & black dragonflies, possibly some sort of skimmer (maybe Libellula luctuosa). The pond was so quiet:

- Northern Cardinal (got to watch an adult male for awhile, a cardinal nearby called to him)
- American Goldfinch (1)
- Belted Kingfisher (2 - got to see one close-up! Kingfishers have this annoying habit of constantly turning their backs to you, so you cannot sex them)
- Gray Catbird (1 - I don't usually hear any here)

Off across the road I wandered, back to Camp Saratoga. I walked a ways along the blue trail, where I would normally hear Song Sparrows and Eastern Towhees and likely spot a Brown Creeper. All absent today.

- Black-capped Chickadee (6)
- American Goldfinch (6)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (1)
- Woodpecker sp. (unseen and only heard it tapping wood)
- American Robin (1 - it was eating cherries!)

I reached the 'big field' not far from the campsite (I like to call it Towhee Meadow - the reason being obvious). Usually there's Towhees, Field Sparrows and Song Sparrows. Today it was so disappointingly silent, except for a few:

- Black-capped Chickadee (1)
- American Crow (2)
I was bummed out here. At least I got to see a yellow sulfur and a monarch enjoying the few blooming butterfly weeds here! I love those pretty little orange flowers.

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Really bummed and missing the birds, I decided to drag myself to the Old Gick Farm. At least the landscape would cheer me up. Old Gick is mostly open, save for a few trees scattered throughout. I love this sort of habitat, as it tends to be full of goldenrod (and it was). I wasn't expecting what I would come across! A large, widely spread mixed flock! I almost couldn't keep up with all of the birds flitting all over the place and making alarm calls nonstop.

- Downy Woodpecker (1)
- Northern Cardinal (1)
- Blue Jay (1)
- Eastern Wood-Pewee (2 - both following me around and calling, how I love them)
- American Goldfinch (4 unknown, 1 adult male)
- Chipping Sparrow (2)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (2 - calling to each other and following each other)
- Black-capped Chickadee (10!)
- American Crow (1)
- Eastern Bluebird (5 immatures!!! They flitted around, sat in low perches and stared at me, made sad little quiet warbles at me and to each other, and were generally super-cute. Some has no rusty coloring on the breast, others had a small patch. I did not expect to see them at all!)

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To conclude, what I notice is that these lists are now becoming full of what I call "winter birds," those you see plenty of when there's about 3 feet of snow on the ground, it's so quiet outside that it sounds like the entire world died, and the cold pains your fingers and ears. The cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays.

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