Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good Morning!

I found this killdeer this morning in a parking lot at Ski Roundtop. Now that skiing is over for the year, the killdeer have moved in. This one looks as though it's eyeing up those stones as a potential nesting site. It wouldn't be the first time these birds have nested in the stones at the edge of this parking lot.
Yesterday, my morning of hawkwatching was a productive one. I saw harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk and red-tailed hawk. It’s a bit early for broadwings, but it won’t be long before they show up.

I’ve become a lazy hawkwatcher. I used to race to Hawk Mountain, a 1.5 hour drive, then race the mile up the hill to the North Lookout. But no matter how much I raced, it was still 2 hours from leaving the cabin until I was officially looking for hawks. Now, I’m lucky if I have 2 hours total on a given day to watch hawks, and I’m not going to spend that driving. So I just go to one of the upper parking lots at Ski Roundtop where I have a good view of the open sky to the south and where the added altitude raises me at least several hundred feet above the valley floor. It’s not the world’s best hawkwatching site, but it can be pretty good and has the advantage of being close.

I had just driven back into the cabin from my hawkwatching when I saw a small bird flitting in the top of one of the beech trees at the end of the driveway. My first thought was that it might be a blue-gray gnatcatcher, an early bug-eating migrant. I raised my binoculars and quickly discovered something else. It was a golden-crowned kinglet instead—another early bug-eating migrant.

I started to walk slowly towards the end of the driveway, hoping for a closer view of this bird. This is a species that I don’t see every year at Roundtop, though they are likely around. These little birds are easy to miss, and since I have to work away from the cabin during the day to keep the roof over my head, I am likely simply not always here when they are.
But yesterday I was home. So as I was walking towards the first bird, I saw another little flit in a tree to my left. Another golden-crowned kinglet! I stopped and started scanning all the trees in this section of the woods, and I found a total of 6 golden-crowned kinglets. It’s likely there were even several more. I can be sure of 6 separate birds, so that’s my official number.
Spring has arrived!


Cathy said...

You had good day of bird watching. I haven't seen a cooper hawk for awhile. I don't blame you for not wanting to drive to hawk mountain. That does take the fun out hawk watching.

ChicagoLady said...

I was out for a walk on Monday evening due to the warm weather, and I saw what looked to be a hawk soaring overhead. I lost it behind some trees, and by the time I got around them, it was gone. I continued walking, but then something caught my eye to the left. There was the hawk, defending it's nesting spot to a squirrel, about halfway up a very large tree in someone's backyard. The hawk finally gave up and flew to another tree to wait for the squirrel to leave. It appeared to be a red-tail, but since I didn't have my binoculars with me (I wasn't expecting to see a hawk that close), and I'm no raptor expert, I can only guess, since that seems to be the most common species around here.

Now that I know a hawk is looking to nest nearby, I will walk that direction more often and take my binoculars.

pablo said...

A killdeer built a nest in the rocks of a busy parking lot where I once worked. It did its injured bird displays to get people to walk away from its nest. In the end, the bird and the stone-colored eggs just grew too popular and the nest was abandoned.


Carolyn H said...

I think a few of the killdeer nests at Roundtop are abandoned for the same reason, though I still see plenty of the little ones each spring.

chicagolady: Neat story about your redtail. It likely was a redtail, as they soar more than most of the other possible suspects.

cathy: Yes, it turned out to be a good day for birds. I don't have any new greenery to look at yet, but there's plenty of new birds.

Carolyn H.