Monday, April 17, 2006

Birds on the Mountain

Saturday dawned bright, beautiful, warm with thin high clouds and a bit of a breeze from the south. In other words, it was perfect spring migration weather. I finally (finally!) managed to steal a few hours to watch birds around the mountain.

So in the morning, I took Baby Dog, a chair and my binos down to the old snow-making pond where I had a good view of the southern sky and just sat around looking at whatever was around. In the space of less than 2 hours, I saw 30 species of birds and 3 species of butterflies.

The butterflies were a great spangled frittelary (I think! It was only a quick look), lots of cabbage whites, and a good many eastern blue butterflies. It was the first day of trout season, a fact down here that always corresponds to the arrival of this species.

Some interesting bird sightings: in the morning the black vultures were all flying around with their feet hanging down. What's the deal with that? I also saw a red-tailed hawk chasing or harassing a black vulture. That was quite an air show.

I finally saw the eastern towhee I've been hearing for a while now. Chipping sparrows are suddenly here in numbers, and swallows are also more numerous than just a few days ago.

In the early a.m. I heard a barred owl call--unusual for here where I usually hear great horned owls and screech owls.

I saw an osprey pass over low and heading towards the new pond. Later in the day I heard that broadwings were moving around Philadelphia, but didn't see any here. Yet.

I also saw a nice big hairy woodpecker, which I don't see as often as their smaller cousin, the downy. When you see one as well as I saw this one, it makes me realize just how different in size and posture they are from the downy. But at some distance the ID can be trickier. There's also the "bill trick" that's a good way to distinguish between the two species. Perhaps I'll explain that another day.

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