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Monday, May 15, 2023

Edgar Allan Warbler Fallout


Swamp Sparrow, giving me a good look

I have always wanted to experience a warbler fallout, when multiple species of migrating warblers land to forage together before moving on to wherever they will nest. I am sure I will never get to Texas to enjoy the big ones, where thousands of birds "fall out" after crossing the Gulf of Mexico during northward migration...

However, yesterday the boss and I stumbled upon a mini one and it was downright awesome.

We had gone to Cline Road Marsh, his Mother's Day gift to me, and just what I wanted too. One size fits all birders and you just never know....

I have been hoping to find a Sora there or a Least Bittern...or any bittern for that matter...as other birders have, but that didn't happen. However it is an utterly magical place, near people for sure, but full of wild right to the brim. The Virginia Rails started cackling before I was even out of the car!

Gray Catbirds A'courting

After I had spent as much time as I wished wandering up and down the gravel road between the waters admiring and attempting to photograph an elusive little Marsh Wren and all the other good denizens of the place, the boss drove me around the loop road toward the west side of the marsh.

The first hint of anything exiting was a Magnolia Warbler singing in the brush. Although I see them most years down here in our home county I had never seen them in the county to the north. Then came a Black-and-white. A few yards down the road a Northern Waterthrush was screaming its heart out over and over, another Maggie, a Nashville.

Barn Swallow

And then Merlin picked up a life bird for me. Well, actually two of them, counter singing.

Canada Warblers! 

I kinda saw one once, a fraction of a second glimpse of just the bright yellow breast and the necklace of darkness. I didn't count it. However, I counted the new ones as I had half a dozen good, clear recordings to show that they were really there. Also heard a call of a Black-throated Green, but only once and Merlin didn't pick it up so I didn't count it.

I could have stayed all day, but I hate to make the boss suffer in the car while I play like that.

However, it was about the best Mother's Day gift I could ask for...I had told him, please don't buy me anything, just take me birding!

Female Red-winged Blackbird

And now we come to the Poe-esque part of the story.

What the heck is up with these ridiculous ravens anyhow?!? Ralph said he saw them on the house steeple the other day. Thus when I heard a faint croak and saw a tiny Downy Woodpecker frozen in terror, clinging to the suet feeder, I went outside to look.

Sure enough, there they were, glaring down at the yard like dark demons of the underworld.

I cussed them roundly and they flew off, dragging a trail of grackles behind them. Devil monsters! What do they want with our yard anyhow? 

Give me a good warbler any day!

Excuse the shaky end to the video below. I thought to delete it, but decided not to.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Quoth Me at the Ravens


Nevermore.....please, nevermore.

I was sitting right here in this very chair, yesterday morning pretty early. I hadn't done a bird list yet, and I make at least one every day to keep my streak going...currently at 2320 days and counting. A Common Raven called above, so I started a list with it and added the House Wren that was singing on the porch, and a Song Sparrow from the yard as well.

As I started to rise to go outside and collect a proper list the raven flew right past the big window with three crows in hot pursuit.

By the time I got outdoors camera in hand, it was streaking around the yard trailing crows and grackles like a bride with a really weird train on her gown. Macabre indeed.

Soon the big bird landed on the heifer barn roof, promptly joined by another of its ilk. We have observed that ravens are colonizing silo ladders for nest platforms and we have both an old tile silo near that barn, plus the slide chute for the haymow, which would make a great platform. I believe that one of those things was the lure for these birds.

The neighbors though were full of hate. They bombed. They screamed. They were as brave as little flying tigers, bopping the ravens on their heads, eliciting screeches of outrage. Soon the second bird flew away and was seen no more.

The first one was a toughie though. It stayed even when I walked right over to take photos and video. The crows had to call for reinforcements and came back more than tripled in numbers. 

After a dedicated onslaught of crow after crow after crow, stooping, pecking, and biting, with a few furious grackles thrown in, the raven finally tossed in the towel and took off south. I was pretty relieved.

Although I haven't seen any reports of ravens harming livestock here in the East, they are a scourge out West. I won't tell you what they do to newborn lambs and calves, but it is awful. Look it up....And we have lotsa baby lambies.

Much to my dismay, there was a raven up in the orchard yesterday afternoon...still beleaguered but stubborn. Below is a video I took of some of the action yesterday. Crank up the volume to get an idea of how upset the locals were. Excuse the traffic noise. It's a constant misery here but it is what it is.

Monday, May 08, 2023

Magic in Woods and Water


Pileated Woodpecker

According to the calendar the first day of Spring came late last month. Here in the real world though, it was yesterday. They just don't make weather like that any more. First thing in the morning we went to the boat launch at Schoharie Crossing SHS. Before I even had my binoculars hooked to my harness we saw Lesser Yellowlegs right in front of the car. By the time the visit was over I was able to photograph five of them, the two Greater Yellowlegs with them, three Spotted Sandpipers, and saw, but did not capture, a Solitary Sandpiper. I was even able to record the calls of the Lesser crew. That was the first time in at least two years that we had encountered them, although we see Greater all the time. 

Five Lesser and one Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Contrast in size if you happen to catch them together

The elusive Lesser Yellowlegs

Then we went to Yankee Hill Lock, where there were scads of good birds, although very few warblers yet. There was a mighty banging right next to the bike path, but for the longest time I couldn't find the woodpecker source of the racket. Turns out I was peering up into the tops of the trees, while the bird was working over a log on the ground. Talk about mysterious!

Along the way

Next the boss shanghaied me off to McFadden's Plow Days. I did not expect to spend the whole visit grinning from ear-to-ear, but I did. All those fine farm men running that amazing machinery, plowing and fitting the ground so beautifully! I have a lot of video and photos to edit and upload....soon, I promise...very soon.

Late in the evening we ran up to Cline Road Marsh, hoping to catch up with a friend there. We missed communication somewhere along the road, but the birds were eager to come right out and meet up. Ralph just barely (quick sidestep) missed being not-photo bombed by a bunch of noisy Branta Canadensis, and the rails came right out in the road to peer at me with nervous eyes. It was the perfect ending to one of the best days I've had in ages.

Virginia Rail

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sparkly Horse Rescue...Lonely No More


Lost at sea on an empty black futon, a sparkly purple pony was sad and alone.

Who would save him from sailing the barren carpet seas, unhugged and unloved, just a solitary pony in a friendless, icy world?

But lo, on the horizon, a heroine arose. Small Bailey Rae, intrepid rescuer of lonely ponies has come to save the day. A hug. Some loving. Perusal of the fish tank with much enthusiasm ensues.

From then and hence, a loving pair of arms always holds him close.

**Pony designed and created by Becky for Bailey Rae especially. To say that he was a big hit is to put it mildly.