Monday, July 4, 2011
Small town birds
Mostly I am glad to have moved from bustling Bloomington, IL, to the much smaller and sleepier town of Clinton, about a half hour's drive to the south. There are many advantages to relocating in a much smaller town in a more rural county: less traffic, more affordable homes, the proximity of super-birdy Clinton Lake.
But everything in life has a trade off. Overall, I think that Greenturtle and I made a good decision. For the price we paid for our house, in Bloomington, all we could have gotten was a fixer-upper in the 'hood. No, thanks! And I love walking my dogs along the quiet streets.... I so enjoy the peace and quiet here. I'm from a small town, as much as I'm from anywhere (I'm a Navy brat who continued a peripatetic lifestyle after college, but mostly I've chosen small to medium sized towns), so little Clinton feels just right.
But what about the birds? This is the part that I didn't really expect. For some reason, I would have expected a smaller town to have MORE birds. Luckily, I am closer to several birdy spots out of town than I was in Bloomington, but to see birds in town, I think that Bloomington (the larger city), actually has the advantage.
Score one for Urban Birding. Although actual Nature (parks and preserves) comes in ahead of birding in the Medium Sized Burg, the city is actually birdier than the small town. It shouldn't surprise me, really. And yet it does.
So far, my highest hopes for a Birding Hot Spot lies with the local cemetery, a mere few blocks from my house. I'm sure a lot more can be seen in migration, but today's round-up included:
WHITE BREASTED NUTHATCH
BROWN THRASHER (heard)
TURKEY VULTURE (one flying overhead)
OK, partly it's the time of year. At least the scenery was interesting.
And there's an area dedicated to Civil War soldiers, which is kinda cool.
But overall, the variety of bird species is seriously lacking. For which, I think the reason is: habitat.
Case in point: Bloomington is chock full of ponds. There is Tipton Park (whose reedy expanses lure in red-winged blackbirds and song sparrows), Angler's Pond (currently Canada goose central, with a good chance of seeing green and great blue herons), White Oak Park, the State Farm ponds. A couple of nice creeks round it all out. Thus attracting: Canada goose, mallard, wood ducks, not to mention all the migrating ducks, grebes and coots, herons (including, though not yet seen by me, black-crowned night), and any other species attracted by a nice expanse of water. If Clinton (the town proper, not the Lake with the same name) has a decent sized pond, I've yet to find it.
How about woods? Clinton has the cemetery, which has some trees. But Bloomington has a couple of nice, tree-filled spaces, like Ewing Park. As far as fields go, they are about even.... I've found dickcissels, meadowlarks, and barn swallows in both. And the kingbird prize goes to...Clinton! I've yet to see a kingbird in the Bloomington city limits.
Overall, I would say that the most common summer bird in both just might be the American robin.
The weirdest thing? I rarely see crows here in Clinton. They're all over Bloomington. I thought crows lived everywhere. I wonder what the difference is? I'm sure, as I spend a few more seasons here...and improve my yard...I'll see notice more. In the meantime: cemeteries are good places to see birds, but cities are even better.