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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

June 26 2010 11:30-2pm Humid and Sunny 75' October Mountain, Washington, MA

Though we had a small list of birds, all fairly common, the days walk was as spectacular for landscapes as it was for birds (which, as my grandfather would say, is a hell of a complement!).

The walk was started by us running into a man who said that he was patiently waiting for his son who had gone camping and somebody had stolen his shoes as he slept. As we pulled into the parking lot we scared off a family of strutting Wild Turkey from the grass. A Common Yellowthroat flitted through a tree and the songs of countless birds which were mostly Black-Throated Green Warblers I think - a common and beautiful tourist of the backwoods of Massachusetts.

The first part of the trek was through a conifer forest where birds were cheerfully singing their cares away. We then walked through an amazing fresh water marsh filled with wonders of nature. On one side of the boardwalk there were many young trees who were quickly taking over the marsh and on the other side there was a scrubby meadow (of sorts) and directly to either side of us there were tons of little Sundews eagerly waiting for there next buzzing meal to come to dinner.

We then entered a very healthy forest bustling (as much as plants and fungi can bustle) with life. Though we couldn't see any birds we could hear them lively singing their rich and melodious songs.

Next we came upon a flooded meadow which was now basically a marsh because the beavers had dammed a river which created a flood and then eventually a large pond and a marsh. This was probably the biggest beaver dam that I have ever seen and definitely the closest, it was only about three feet from he boardwalk! Here we stopped for our picnic lunch. The quick and agile form of a Garter Snake darted across the path. We discovered some graceful Eastern Red Spotted Newts which is the adult stage of the Red Eft. The two notable changes from the immature to adult were:

1. it had lost its red body which was now a vivid light green but it kept its namesake red spots and

2. it had decided that it was actually a species of fish and that fish really belong in the water (I believe that the reason that they think that is because a Moose stepped on them and thus caused them instant insanity or maybe it's that some old folks are just wacky).

Some Mallards floated in the pond jealously listening to the Wood Warblers singing in the trees on every side. Then we entered a forest primarily ruled by Aspens and ferns. Here we discovered a Palm and a Yellow Warbler. My brother saw a Chestnut-Sided Warbler but sadly I did not see it. There were some Moose tracks with many other tracks as well but the Moose were the only exciting ones. Our walk came to sudden stop thanks to the Beavers who had gone too far: they had flooded away the boardwalk-there was no other option we had to turn back and that was the end of our beautiful walk!

Monday, September 20, 2010

June 25-27, 2010 Sunny/warm-cloudy/warm Camping in Washington MA

Many wonderful birds greeted us as we stepped out of the car and surveyed our campsite which our grandparents had rented for us and our family to stay in for the weekend! When I say many I mean MANY. We almost instantly found a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and a Purple Finch, two of the common but unusual residents of Washington, MA!

There was a large number of bird species right outside of our front zipper like the resident American Redstarts who were always in the trees by the side of the road or the reliable and common Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Reliable because we had discovered a tree close to our patch of grassy earth that almost always had one on it - the bottom of the tree looked like a crazy man with a dull dill head and drill had attacked it and seeing that he really liked art tried to make it look artistic in the process (what I mean is that the artistic woodpeckers made shallow holes in neat and tidy rows often forming a square formation. The tree was covered with these boxes and stripes).

Since we arrived late in the day the birds weren't in great numbers the bird watching would be better in the early morning and slowly get duller and duller and duller.

Late in the night we heard two Flying Squirrels chattering and then all was quite.

The next few days I was up dark and early (as opposed to "bright and early") listening to the morning chorus. American Goldfinches and warblers flitted over head and American Crows cawed raucously in the distance. Redstarts, Ovenbirds and other unidentified species sang from each and every
direction. A Veery sang and a Purple Finch replied in his frolicking tones. But as it was very dark out so it was hard to make out any defining details which made it almost impossible to identify any birds.

Later in the day we found some nice birds like Eastern Bluebirds who were residing in the field across the street, Warbling and Red-Eyed Vireos and a Flicker. Robins and Tree Swallows, Cedar Waxwings and a Veery, Chipping Sparrows and a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at the bird feeders (eating with goldfinches, Chipping Sparrows and Purple Finch).

I also saw a Black and White Warbler and some Ovenbirds, a Scarlet Tanager and maybe even a Vesper Sparrow which is a bird that I have never seen before (it may have been a immature Chipping Sparrow though).

Many Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers were present, as usual, we even found their nest. It was fun watching the parents and the baby bird(s?) socializing and glaring at us. The unfeathered young would freak out when their parents appeared close by, their shrieks easily drew in their well feathered, handsome (and completely exhausted) parents.

One morning me and my grandfather went for a stroll around the camp-grounds. We had not gone far when my grandfather said "Raven, I hear a Raven". At the very moment he said it we both saw a large, thick-billed corvid came flying over! My grandfather had said that he had heard it croak (the most well known of the Common Ravens large and very hoarse variety of calls). Though I didn't here the croak I did hear a hoarse rolling "hhhhawrrr hhhhawrrr hhhhawrrr" which is another Raven call. So it was very likely that the bird that came flying over was a Common Raven! A lifer for me though I won't mark it on my life list because I am not one hundred percent positive and I didn't get the best of looks.

On another early morning walk I could have sworn that I saw an American Wigeon flying by. It was more likely that it was a Wood Duck or a Green-Winged Teal. Wigeons are winter ducks and are most commonly seen in bays and estuaries (at least that is the case in Providence).

And now for something completely different (trumpets blasting) and here it is: The Wonderful Land of the Bathroom: Moth hunting at it's utmost (why oh why can't we do this with birds?) (dramatic weeping)

We had been so wrapped up with birding that we had never considered wildlife watching in the bathroom but the bathroom ended up being one of the best places to see wildlife in the whole campground. Luna Moths were the most common there: big green wings and plump bodies littering the ground and clinging to the screens and walls. They rarely moved and instead tried to look stunned (they were experts at this enjoyable past time). One large Polyphemus Moth gloomily stared at the immpenatrable glass of the on of the bathrooms clouded dirty windows trapped and unaware of the open doorway to freedom was only three and a half feet away from him. Tons of smaller moths of all shape, size and color turned the bathroom into a brown and yellow rainbow but on closer inspection you would realize that it was really just a dirty old bathroom hosting a large and gloomy colony of moths.

Only a very few could I identify later though, while looking at a website called "The Bug Guide". I decided that one of the more brightly colored moths we had seen (I found it in the shower!) was probably a False Crocus Geometer (see a picture here). I have never seen so many brightly colored moths at the same time. It was such an amazing bathroom experience! And now back into the realm of birds!

Friday, September 3, 2010

RISD Beach, India Point Park & Pierce Field Aug 31-Sept 2 2010

Here's a post I did yesterday on a local bird alert.

Just got back from the Barrington beach owned by RISD. There was a stunning flock of 39 or so Great and Snowy Egrets on the marsh, almost all of which flew of the instant we came into sight. Thier plumage was stunningly white against the dull and muddy colors of the salt marsh. Along with the egrets we had many Lesser(?) Yellowlegs in the marsh and a ton of Semipalmated Plovers and Least Sandpipers. We had a Green and a Great-Blue Heron who both took off with the egrets. Quite a few Double-Crested Cormarants flew over while we were there and roughly five Killdeers, three American Crows and a Saltmarsh Sparrow appeared just as we were leaving. We had the usual species of gulls. There were many Blue Crabs in the marsh; at least thirty. We also found what appears to be an owl feather (most likely a Screech-Owl).

At Providence's India Point Park at around 8pm yesterday we had quite a few large flocks of gulls and seven or so Black-Crowned Night-Herons come flying over (one of the herons landed on the Brown University Boat House roof). These were my first positively identified Night-Herons of the year.

On Tuesday at Pierce Field in East Providence at about 6:30pm a Coopers Hawk flew over and a Red-Tailed Hawk bedded down for the night on cell phone tower. So far its been a good month for birding!