Thursday, February 2, 2012

If its Thursday, I Must be Birding #2

There are birds that are just too good to pass up, and then again there are birds you will probably see, but I for one hate famous last words like: “ I’ll just wait until ... ...and I’ll get it then”. Saying that is the kiss of death. Its not that I am superstitious { I’m not, because being superstitious is bad luck } Its just that nothing in life is that certain.

Having succeeded in getting a target bird and a bonus bird on Tuesday, my agenda for Thursday was lessened by no longer needing the Northern Shrike. Good thing too, its not always the easiest bird to track down. Now I can focus on two birds that are always a pleasure to see: Yellow-throated Warbler and Harris’ Sparrow.

Both birds have been nearby in Connecticut, but until there was more than one reason to take a longish ride my chasing juices did not get pumping. I would have gone if either was a life bird, but a year bird? Two birds makes it much more appealing. {Reasonable?}

And a co-conspirator helps too. Long rides are made for listening to music or for conversation. I have converted Bob Hayes, AKA Captain Surley the dive-master, into Captain Bob the birder. He still has a lot of holes in his life-list, so he gets an actual lifer, while I get a vicarious lifer.

We met dark and early and set off for our first target the Yellow-throated Warbler. This is the type of bird that anyone, birder or not, reflexively blurts out wow!

We made good time because of favorable traffic conditions, and an easy location to get to. I set up my camera next to a tree a ways from the feeder, and we waited for the bird. There were none around when we arrived, or maybe our arrival scared them off. Soon though, one by one birds came in. The Black-capped Chickadees led the way and others followed.

With my eyes on the feeder, Bob called out “there it is” as he saw it fly into the tree right above us. It then obligingly went to the feeder and put on quite the show.

Yellow-throated Warbler
When sated, we went on our way to our next target, a Harris’ Sparrow. On the way, I spied an albino Turkey Vulture! I yelled for Bob to stop, and he pulled over to the side of the highway. Unfortunately, I could not get him on it through he trees, nor could I get a photo.

We kept an eye out, but could not relocate it as we made our way, and on arrival we saw another birder parked at the destination. It turned out to be none other than Mike Perko, whose wife Annie is the original discoverer of this gem.

Mike has been keeping vigil on the bird and putting down seed to ensure that as many birders as possible who want to see the bird will have the opportunity. He directed us to where the seeds were and predicted how the bird would come in.

While waiting for the bird, I walked around a bit and had a nice flock of Eastern Bluebirds, and a few Am. Tree Sparrows amongst the more common stuff. Looking into the field behind us I spotted an adult Bald Eagle. There are everywhere lately or so it seems. Yay! DDT didn’t do them in, and more importantly conservation works!!

As predicted, Mike saw the bird fly into one of the small trees by the wall, and then made its way from the wall to the seed pile. Gorgeous bird, best example of this species I have ever seen - definitely worth the trip.

Harris' Sparrow
The trip back to Queens was uneventful, and after I got back to my car my phone told me I had a message. Eric Miller was inquiring if I wanted to bird some, and so I met him at Kissena instead of heading home. We tried to relocate the Orange-crowned Warblers he had had, but no dice.

We did relocate a Great-horned Owl, and looked for his leucistic White-throated Sparrow with Andrew Baksh who had also joined us. Comparing notes, I was gratified that both Eric and Andrew were keen to help me with my effort to make this a big year [ of sorts ]

I want to try for as many species as possible, not limit it to NY, and not go too crazy. In addition to the mornings activities, I added Pheasant, Winter Wren, Swamp Sparrow, and the owl, to name a few.

As the light was fading, we watched as a large flock of mostly Grackles massed in the trees before heading down to roost in the Phragmites. Earlier, Andrew had picked out a Rusty Blackbird, another year bird for me! The birds were a bit nervous, and for good reason.: a Coopers Hawk was trying to pick up dinner. Eventually, a lone bird was nabbed by the Coop, and as we were walking out Andrew spotted the GHO again in a tree. What a day!

Great-horned Owl

1 comment:

Richard Fried said...

I'm jealous of the Harris's Sparrow which would be a lifer for me.
Great birding, but if you're doing a Big Year you gotta go crazy ;-)