Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How I celebrated International Migratory Bird Day

This past Saturday was International Migratory Bird Day, and Dave and I celebrated by participating in a Migratory Bird Walk at Lake Hope State Park. This is the third year we have gone on the walk. It's a usually a small affair, with about 20-30 folks in attendance. We meet at a specific point and spend 3 hours birding at different locations throughout the park.

The fella with the guide book sticking out of his pocket is park naturalist Dave Sapienza, our guide for the bird walk.

The grassy area shown in this photo was basically a big area of murk and mud (we've had a LOT of rain lately), and there was no avoiding getting your shoes soaked and your shoes and pants (at the least) covered in mud. The cool thing about birders: we either come prepared or expecting such things, so no one complained at all about the mess - we all just smiled, laughed and trogged on through.

Before we even got to the meeting point, we drove past a family of Canada Geese. Dave kindly offered to stop the car so I could get out and take pictures.

Mama Goose, Papa Goose, and 6 baby geese

"Okay kids, make sure you look both ways before you cross the lake..."

Once we got to the meeting place, I was surprised to see lots of Red-wing Blackbirds just walking around in the grass, pecking for bugs. Like this guy:

I'm not sure what Dave said to this guy when he got out of the truck, but I don't think it made the bird very happy because he got all tough and showed us his shoulder patches. I was really excited when I saw this photo on my computer screen, because I don't have very many photos of birds displaying like this, or calling like this.

I didn't actually take very many photos of the birds because they were just too far away to make it worthwhile. The only other bird close enough for a good photo op was a pair of nesting Tree Swallows that were working a nest box together.

Here's a list of all the birds seen/heard during our 3-hour walk:
  1. Canada Goose
  2. Red-winged Blackbird
  3. Grey Catbird
  4. Eastern Towhee
  5. Eastern Kingbird (LIFER)
  6. Tree Swallow
  7. Brown-headed Cowbird
  8. Baltimore Oriole
  9. Great Blue Heron
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Yellow Warbler
  12. Pileated Woodpecker (heard only)
  13. Northern Cardinal
  14. American Goldfinch
  15. Ovenbird (heard only)
  16. Great Crested Flycatcher
  17. Hooded Warbler (heard only)
  18. Carolina Wren (heard only)
  19. White-eyed Vireo
  20. American Crow
  21. Brown Thrasher
  22. Scarlet Tanager (heard only)
  23. Song Sparrow (heard only)
  24. Common Grackle
  25. Northern Flicker
  26. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  27. Common Yellowthroat
  28. American Robin
  29. Chipping Sparrow
  30. Eastern Phoebe
  31. Blue Jay
  32. Barn Swallow
  33. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  34. Red-eyed Vireo (heard only)
  35. American Redstart
  36. Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (heard only)
  37. Yellow-throated Warbler (heard only)
  38. White-breasted Nuthatch
  39. Hairy Woodpecker
  40. Black Vulture
  41. Blue-winged Warbler
  42. Prairie Warbler (heard only)
  43. Yellow-breasted Chat
  44. Wood Duck
  45. Osprey (LIFER)
  46. Prothonotary Warbler (heard only)
  47. Indigo Bunting (heard only)
Please note that many of the "heard only" species were brought to my/our attention by the naturalist. While I knew quite a few of them by ear, several of them (like just about all the warblers) are still not stored in my memory banks.

Items of note:
  • We got very good looks at the Great Crested Flycatcher, who seemed to follow us everywhere. The Brown Thrasher also presented itself for some good looks. This is unusual compared to the previous 2 years.
  • Presenting its song over and over and over was the Yellow Warbler ("sweet-sweet-sweeter than sweet"); it did not come out into plain view too much, though.
  • Last year we got a great look at the Prothonotary Warbler, but we did not get to see it this year (only heard it).
  • Missing completely from this year's count were the Northern Parula Warbler and the Cerulean Warbler, and any species of hawk (we usually at least see a Red-tailed).
  • New with this year's list: Wood Duck, Osprey and Eastern Kingbird.
While the birds are the focal point of any bird walk, seeing the birders doing their thing and enjoying themselves is nice, too.

My #1 Birding Buddy


Ginnymo said...

Love your photos of the geese and babies. And that Red Winged Black Bird is beautiful!!! I never did see any yet this year and probably won't now. I never saw one with it's wings open like that. Beautiful colors! Looks like you all had a good day!

Monika said...

Congrats on the lifers! That's a nice list for 3 hours of birding. It would have contained a whopping 10 lifers for me! How different our avian friends are on different sides of the country. I love the swallow photos.

Kelly said...

...looks like a great day, mud and all! You had a very big day. It's so exciting when the just keep showing up. The swallow photos are gorgeous as well as the epaulets on the red-wing. We had a bumper crop of Northern Parulas on the Little Miami River trail...who know why. Love all the detail in this post!

Meg said...

Ah, it's so great for me to read your posts because you can name the birds that I can only trust are all around me in our woods this time of year. I sat in the woods and listened to birdsong the other day and it made me so grateful. For birds, that is.

We stumbled across a field sparrow nest a few days ago--I had no idea they nested on the ground like that. Now I'm worried about them, of course, because they are in the path of the new barn. I'll make sure they stay protected until the babies are fledged, though.

And Jack-in-the-pulpits are one of my favorite flowers. Nice pics!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

I have not been to Lake Hope for years. I need to go for a visit to see if there are any changes there. The red winged black birds use to be everywhere up in northern Ohio, they must be moving south over the years. I love the picture of the Tree Swallow. I have never saw one. They are very pretty. Are the male and females colored the same? Great shots Heather! The last flowers pictures on my blog were Rhododendron blooms.

Heather said...

Ginny - It was a good day, indeed. Seeing those little geese babies was quite a treat, to be sure.

Monika - Thanks, it was nice to finally see the Kingbird. The naturalist told us they don't come around the park very often, so that made it even better!

Kelly - That's cool that you got to see lots of Parulas along the bike trail. I need to get down to our own bike path along the Hocking River... I always see some interesting birds along there. It's a good place to spot Cedar Waxwings!

Meg - Wish I could be there with you, pointing out who's singing in your woods! That's too bad about the Field Sparrows being right in your path. But I know you'll keep them safe! I always wonder how on earth birds who nest on the ground like that ever have success breeding their young!

Lona - Lake Hope is a great spot. So many different habitat areas, and the lake is lots of fun to kayak on. Last year we were able to get within 5 feet of a heron and we all just sat around together for a while.
About the Tree Swallows, all the field guides say that the male and female are the same color, but one of the birds in this pair seemed to be less brilliant than the other, and I would assume that to be the female. It could have just been the way the light hit her, though.