Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Unexpected Visitors

I had a fantastic visit to the feeders at exactly 4 PM a few afternoons ago. As soon as I exited my car, I heard a fast, repeated, descending breathy trill, one I couldn't place and wasn't sure I'd ever heard before. I searched for the location of the bird, quickly found across the road but not sighted. I waited patiently in the driveway, and the bright orange-y and cinnamon brown tiny ball of feathers darted across my path, loudly but still breathlessly trilling, then landing on the feeders. A fellow bird then began making a call sounding like a hollow wooden stick being tapped against a drinking glass, over and over, before also flying onto the feeders. Running and grabbing my binoculars, I quickly found the upright short tails and exaggerated, huge white superciliums leading right to the back of the head! There was also a pale white throat and buffy belly on these two cute little Carolina wrens. These feeders, as far as anyone knows, have not seen Carolina wrens in the 9 years they have existed. I've seen plenty in the area in general. It's likely they were simply migrating on through. I was delighted to have them for the 10 minutes they lingered. They loved the suet. The male (the one who trills) got on top of the feeder, trilled some more, while his lady made more 'dit' sounds, as they have been described, and the male bobbed up and down repeatedly like an oompa loompa, cracking me up. They were soon off, probably to head a bit more south.

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Today I finally headed over to Moreau Lake State Park, after not having visited for probably two months now. There are huge areas of land quiet of birds, but other spots are prime - the lake itself, the Nature Center, and what I call the Reed Trail that follows the wetland full of phragmites on one side. The lake today held common mergansers - two females and a male following them around; a great blue heron flew overhead, making soft flapping sounds; about a dozen American black ducks were lingering; 32 Canada geese were noisily enjoying the calm waters while about 150 more flew over later on. Most of the park presented black-capped chickadees (the keeper of the forest), blue jays, and white-breasted nuthatches. The Nature Center grounds were caked with dark-eyed juncos, who were happily trilling while foraging on the ground, and a few made strange, hollow, reed-like tew tew tew tew calls. The trees near them had some tufted titmice, who fed with them. Another tufted titmouse was closely followed by a white-breasted nuthatch wherever it went. A male downy woodpecker peeked out at me, making not a sound, compared to the more exuberant red-bellied woodpecker whose calls were a bit too close to a northern flicker to tell them apart without a good view.

I later watched a male pileated woodpecker creeping it's way all over a trunk before quietly flying off, had a snack on some delicious wintergreen berries, and saw about 30 mallards lingering around one of the wetland areas.

It was a beautiful day for some decent birding, but being closely followed the entire way by a strange male human was disturbing.

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