Monday, May 17, 2010
The pine warbler incident at Mount Magazine
Today Greenturtle and I went further into the Ozarks to try a spot of birding there. My goal was the rufuous crowned sparrow and the brown-headed nuthatch, although both are really long-shots. The sparrow is a secretive little bastard that likes to creep around in the brush, and I'm not sure the nuthatch is even there now. I'll spare you the suspense and say right off that I did not find either one--nor the rock wren, which the bird checklist for Mount Magazine State Park claims is possible.
When we started it was quite foggy. The fog was so thick that I could barely see the pileated woodpecker in my mother-in-law's backyard -- but I did see it, and thought it boded well for my day of birding.
By our first stop at Cove Lake about ten miles from Mount Magazine State Park, the fog was already burning off. The lake was beautiful. First off I saw a singing Carolina wren -- such sweet birds, and then a fish crow (life bird!), identifying it by its call. The hike was pleasant, the scenery interesting and the slope more of a challenge than I've had in a while, living in the flatlands as I do. But it was hard to see birds. I could hear them singing all around, but between the height of the trees and the thickness of the foliage, good luck seeing them.
When we reached the top of the slope, I heard buzzy songs from all around me in the tops of the pine trees. But I couldn't see the bird. Greenturtle kept infuriating me by seeing them, claiming they were RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME, and at one point even pushing my head in that direction and using the "f" word at the obviousness of these birds. By the time I saw them, they were already flying off. Harsh words exchanged between Greenturtle and myself. I couldn't even get that excited about the scarlet tanager I did see because of how I kept dipping out on my mystery buzzy birds.
After I'd given up, I heard the call a bit later and actually spotted a couple.
"Did you see them?" asked Greenturtle, and when I said I had: "Thank God!" Then he asked, "So, do you know what they are? Have you seen them before?" "Yes...they're pine warblers." His sentiment seemed to be...pine warblers in the pines, no shit! In my defense, I had never heard them sing before.
However, relations between us were restored, since much can be forgiven once one has seen one's bird, and we finished the trail and proceeded to Mount Magazine State Park,which was beautiful. Didn't see much...several flocks of waxwings, a lot of indigo buntings, an eastern bluebird; but the views did make up for the lack of bird sightings. Lunch at the lodge was quite nice too.