Monday, April 4, 2011
Urban birding triumphs!
Yesterday morning, as I sat drinking my tea and listening to the wind gusting over the roof, I wondered if the day even warranted a birding jaunt. The weather report called for a high wind advisory with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. What kind of birds would venture out in that? Especially since, in expiation of my long car trip of the day before I'd sworn to do Green Birding or no birding at all---would it be worth it?
Birding tip of the day: it is always worth it. OK, except in a hurricane or if there is a tornado warning, or similar...or if you live in a post-Apocalyptic world and are beset upon by mutants and zombies...then it might not be so worth your while to bird. Other than that, what are you waiting for?
I have had really good luck birding around town the past month or so (as with anything else in life, the more I look, the more I see), and yesterday was no different. I walked a couple blocks down to the Constitution Trail (which looks very different than when I saw it in winter, as seen in previous posts "Snow Day" and "Living on the Edge", hard to believe it is spring already and yet it seemed such a long time coming). The dark-eyed juncos are still in residence, but the early spring migrants -- turkey vulture, eastern phoebe, red-winged blackbird -- are showing up. Plus, even though only the palest green buds have appeared on the bushes, the early spring flowers (crocuses, daffodils) are blooming.
I walked down to Ewing Park (already packed with dog-walkers), and stumbled across some nice surprises: winter wrens (so adorable!) and my first yellow-rumped warbler of the season. Also, more brown creepers, an American woodcock, an eastern towhee, sapsuckers galore, hermit thrushes and a flicker. To think that this bounty of surprises will continue for another six weeks or so!
Friday after dinner I took a walk to nearby Tipton Park, camera in hand. I was walking quickly to beat the twilight (the brief episode of sunshine didn't last long at all), and just as I arrived, the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Bad for photos...but there were still some good birds.
On the way to the park, I got another sighting of a brown creeper...but a bit of a challenge getting a photo, though. Here it's a little out of focus:
And here---oops, where's the head?
Although they're called "creepers," they really do scoot along.
Coots have been hanging out in every pond in town for the last month or so.
They're so obvious and plentiful at this time of year that I've been trying to educate everyone I know on how to recognize the American coot. I knew I'd achieved some small success when a co-worker who'd received the "Coots 101 lecture" told me that while he was fishing at White Oak Park over the weekend, he saw some! Hooray for coots!
Here they were mixed in with a few pied-billed grebes. My light was almost gone by this point, but you can still tell the difference in shapes.
Although the sunshine was fading fast, at least it went out in style.
This urban park is very popular with red-winged blackbirds (and how I miss them when they go)...I managed to get a few shots of one before the light completely faded on me.
After I took a few shots, he decided he'd had enough and flew away.
I really wasn't sure what his comfort zone would be; it's not like they're shy birds.
For those who are wondering about the "urban-ness" of this park, from one angle it's a bunch of upper middle class McMansions:
And from another, uggh, just a busy road. Why do modern cities have to be so hideous? Although I can forgive a multitude of sins if there are birds...and Tipton Park was deliberately designed, on the edge of suburbia, for the birds.
This morning was once again gray, cloudy, and chilly, but I took a quick walk around my Work Place pond, and saw more yellow-rumped warblers, more coots and grebes, plus my first blue winged teal and tree swallows for the county this year. I am definitely an unwilling urbanite, but at least there are birds...and I'm so grateful I've learned to look for them.