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…..