I was in and out of Fox park today as well as yesterday, so I will not put a time.  The sun was hot (77F), the skies were clear, and the birds were singing.  Loudly.  I did a sit spot yesterday, which kind of rolled into today- there was not a peep yesterday.  I do not have the foggiest idea why; regardless, it was soggy and drizzly, and  I did not make any great achievements worth writing home about.  I did, however, find this extremely large and incredibly dead American Toad.  Observe it in all its massiveness.  This fellow was around 6 (6!) inches long.  Key things to note about a toad:

  • the bizarre patterns with no discernible regularity.  This one has leopard print pants and a camo shirt.  This seems to have to do with where it lives; forest floors where yummy worms and grubs reside are where these toads make their homes.
  • The poisons in the bumps behind the eyes are “not weak”.  Toads have toxic glands, excreting “bufotoxins” (bufo really just means toad) which are a sort of steroid chemically mangled with strange and hard-to-synthesise-in-the-lab compounds.  The toxins in this American (and “eastern”) toad are “weak” because they should only kill your small dog if eaten.  🙂   The even larger South American cousin however (Cane toad) can not only grow to have a 9 inch long body, but simply licking it will kill most humans.  As a result, they are not commonly eaten in the wild, so toads are generally not endangered.

Catching up to today:

I will cut right to the chase:  This is a Blue-headed Vireo, and the worst picture I could possibly take.   Indeed, I took it by accident while looking through my lens to verify this bird was “too far away to identify”.   Only on my way back did I realize what I had captured.  I thought at first it was a nashville warbler- so, in my confusion, I stood for over an hour baking in the sun in the field where I took this picture.  I did not see it again.   BUT:  I heard it.  A slow and clear, “see-boo?? I-See-you!!  Want-tea-too??” (or something to that effect), emanating from the middle of the trees.   This, coupled with the eye ring, fuzzy blue-grey head, wing bars, and buff yellow throat and body, I can say with much certainty this really is a blue-headed vireo.  Huzzah!

I believe there are real wood warblers here, now.  I hear the odd “zeeZEE” and “BeeZoo” and “ze,zee,ZEE”, but no clear songs yet.  These are warbler sounds, but not songs.  Today was a 23 species day, all at Fox Park.  Things should get pretty interesting this week…..

-Jess