Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scouting Trip

Almost two weeks ago on a beautiful Friday I headed up to the Northwest part of the state to do a little scouting for a bird field trip I'm helping lead next month for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collection 2012 meeting.  I met CAS conservation biologist Twan Leenders at Mohawk Mountain State Forest, our first potential stop.  There is a small Black Spruce Bog located in the forest with a small boardwalk.  When I got out of the car the first thing I noticed was a chorus of Chestnut-sided Warblers up and down the forest road. 

This area has a great variety of plants, it's a mix of upland forest, some cleared early successional habitat, and the spruce bog.  There were many High Bush Blueberry plants and lots of them in flower.  One Ruby-throated Hummingbird was enjoying their inflorescence.  This female hummingbird was taking a rest before flying to another flower and inserting her bill into the flowers to drink some nectar.  As we walked along there was a good variety of birds, many of which will stay around and nest.  Some birds seen or heard, Black-and-White Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Canada Warbler (a lifer for me), Blackburnian Warbler, Veery, Ovenbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Common Raven, Red-shouldered Hawk, Rufous-sided Towhee, and Red-eyed Vireo.

This Rufous-sided Towhee was hanging out in the edge habitat of a cleared area.  Vegetation in was all low and shrubby, perfect for these sparrow relatives.  I love their 'tow-hee' song and there was more than one.  This male sat out on the edge of a branch to show off for a few minutes. 

Not an extraordinary bird but still one of my favorites!  The ever adorable Black-capped Chickadee made an appearance in the spruce bog.  There were two birds moving around in the underbrush both seeming to be as curious of me as I was of them.  While watching the two, one began loudly begging to the other although to my amature eyes, they both seemed adults.  Possibly courting behavior?

Our last stop was not really a part of our scouting... it was really to try for another life bird!  And I was successful!  Thanks to Twan's knowledge of the area and great ears, we were able to chase down this Cerulean Warbler on River Road.  Cornell's allaboutbirds website says this of the Cerulean Warbler "Cerulean Warbler is one of the species of highest concern in the eastern United States because of a small total population size and significant declines throughout its range. Under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Listed on the Audubon Watchlist".   

This spot produced many good birds and was teeming with life in general.  American Redstart, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Veery, Blackburnian Warbler, Warbling Vireo, and Indigo Bunting, among others.  A fantastic day in the field, with a great companion, and many birds to add to my year list for my competition.  I need to get outside more often!