Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rainy Days

It has been raining nonstop for two days now, and this is not a complaint. We had some extremely hot summery days last month and I'm grateful to not be sweating out of every pore. The problem is the birding...I just lose my desire to wander the trails for birds in the rain, even after spending some days this summer in total downpours and even a thunderstorm looking for yellowthroats.

I did manage to get out with J. earlier this week and we had an absolute blast. Birding alone is great fun, birding with a great fun is the best. We spent the hours joking - corny jokes and dark humor are our favorites. We weren't even seriously birding, just driving down Towpath Road (there are many Towpath Roads around here, if you need directions to this one, leave a comment!) at maybe 10 mph peering out the windows and chatting. It wasn't too "bird-y" of course, breeding seasons are finishing up or done. My favorite sightings for the evening were a pudgy fledgling American robin in the road and a green heron perched in a tree - my first green heron through my new binoculars, and I got amazing views! The robin cracked me up as he had two tufts just above his or her eyes, so just looked silly. I was concerned with the bird being on the road but it bounced off into the grass nearby.

Also notable was the great blue heron wading in the creek that runs along Towpath Road. This is not at all an unusual sight here, but they are always welcome during a birding trip. There were plenty of American goldfinches all along the road and pockets of black-capped chickadees, but otherwise it was mostly quiet. We left Towpath and drove along a bunch of quiet country roads which was relaxing but didn't offer much. My excitement came when we stopped alongside a brushy area and I heard faint raspy chips - a common yellowthroat! We could see the bushes shaking wherever the bird was moving along, but it never popped up into view for an entire ten minutes.

Speaking of yellowthroats (oh how I miss them now that I've worked with them), a male was my first bird on a short walk at Ash Drive by Glen Lake late last week. Again, I was alerted to his presence by the raspy chips, much to my delight, but I couldn't find him on the other side of a thick bush. He sang, and then gave a flight song, but had apparently stayed out of view the entire time. A few friends thought I would be sick of those guys once I finished the field job, but I just feel a deeper connection with yellowthroats now that I've watched nearly 30 of them do what yellowthroats do all summer. The chip notes are so familiar to me that it reminds me of not needing to look at a friend to know who it is when he or she speaks.

I'm likely headed out for the first time on Saturday to Rutland Audubon's monthly walk - I have met a few people from there and they are extremely nice and the marsh is one of my favorite spots. Makes me wish the week was over already!

I've also woken up to a Carolina wren every single morning (between 6:30 and 9:00) for a month now since I've been back to the HF house. HF house is in a run-down suburban location, so it's not a great place for birding at all. The most we get are chimney swifts (which I adore), black-capped chickadees, a northern cardinal pair, a pair of downy woodpeckers and their one or two fledglings, tons of house sparrows, and sometimes a white-breasted nuthatch. The Carolina wren is a treat, and there never used to be one here. I'm not even sure this one will stay for the winter, but last winter I noticed one in the dead of winter up the hill from here! When I first came back in mid-July, the Carolina wren just sang his car alarm song. In the past week I've noticed he's now singing variations of that song and also making the purring trill call they are known for. Why the change in song, I'm not sure, although I assume it is the same individual. I've even caught him singing on the other side of the house around 7 PM. While I would love him to stick around all winter, I would understand if he left until spring!

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