Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Spied on

One red sassafras leaf
Chimney swifts by the hundreds are migrating past Roundtop Mtn. right now.  I saw too many to count, especially given how they flit back and forth, high and low.  Swifts are even more acrobatic than swallows, and during migration at least, they move in larger groups.  The weather this past weekend was not conducive to much migration. Thunderstorm after thunderstorm rolled through, often several a day, each making the temperature hotter and the humidity higher—until the weekend was over, of course.

Today is the kind of day when lots of birds will migrate. Higher pressure, a tailwind from the northwest, cooler air.  Today would be a good day to be on a hawkwatch, and not only to watch hawks. Lots of species will move today.

Even as poor as the weather was, I had several good sightings when I could be outdoors. The first was an adult Bald Eagle, not migrating, as it was headed north on Sunday morning.  Bald Eagles are fairly common these days, especially along the Susquehanna River, but here on the mountain I can easily go several weeks without seeing one.  The second sighting was better. I was sitting outside in my driveway, keeping an eye on my free-ranging chickens after the Cooper’s Hawk scare of last week.  That’s when I spied a bit of flitting yellow in a tree above me. Even when I’m just watching the chickens, I take my binoculars with me.  But even with my binoculars it took a while to see enough of this bird so that I could identify it. I had a yellow-throated vireo, one of those birds I see rarely and then only in migration. After watching it for a minute or so, it finally appeared on a bare twig long enough for me to tell what it was.

The local deer have been out and about frequently this weekend, too.  I was taking this photo of a red sassafras leaf, the only red leaf in the sea of green. When I was done I turned around and found a doe watching me take photos.  She seemed more curious in what I was doing than scared. A day later, I found three deer in my driveway, one a fawn.  I was feeding the chickens and when I finished and turned to go into the cabin, I found the deer at the end of my driveway, completely unimpressed by encountering me.  Naturally, when I’m feeding the chickens, I don’t carry my good camera with me, though I did have the camera on my phone, so I used that.  It makes them seem further away than they really were.

Spying on me


Pablo said...

I saw the first red leaf in my forest last weekend. Hard to believe the hot summer is coming to an end.

Scott said...

Carolyn; You're right! The weather in the wake of the cold front that lowered our humidity brought a whole bunch of interesting birds to my preserve. Birders today reported Blackburnian and Canada Warblers and American Redstarts, plus five Bobolinks. The best, though, was a Sora flushed from the dew-damp native grasslands! (There were several Soras in exactly the same spot last year, too; in fact, we picked up a dead one on one of the trails through the high grasses.)

Kali and I went for a walk just before dusk last evening to see if we cold spot Nighthawks but, alas, there were none. Also completely absent from the sky were Chimney Swifts, which had been abundant last week. I think they've all migrated westward over Roundtop!