Bomber day in the woods. We saw a dead frog and a dead turtle. Multiple little insect varieties and some eggs which I will raise as my own. They are in a Gatorade bottle next to an open window to keep the water cooler than room temperature (updates will follow). A great blue heron flew over head as well as some black birds and a hawk. Also Sean ate it in the river. "
...This is a brilliant depiction. Best of luck rearing the kiddos. I will add:
hop-hornbeam was in there, with yellowish/crackly bark. Lots of silver maples in the puddly areas, and a sugar maple. Lots of black cherry trees. A few aspens with "sunscreen" bark.
2 river otters, a small crayfish, 2 pre-flight dragonflies.
The 10 most notable birds:
- Coopers hawk - Looked like a broadwing hawk or even a merlin (falcon) at first sight, but had a longer, more triangle shaped tail with more horizontal bars then the broadwing, and had straighter wings and a slower soaring flight pattern than a merlin.
- Common loon pair - sits low to the water (them solid bones) with a giant, fish-gobbling head.
- horned grebe - tiny diving bird with a fuzzy head. They often are seen (in my personal experience) where loons are floating.
- Belted kingfisher - KA-KA-KA-KA-KA-KA...
- goldfinches - 'potatochip"
- song sparrows
- downy woodpecker (NEIGH!)
- flicker (HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA...)
- red-bellied woodpecker (bwbwuuraack!)
- GHB - in flight, looks like pterodactyl but isn't, trust me...
At around 9:35 yesterday morning, the natural history class gathered in Fox Park under an amazing clear sky and a light wind. Instead of going into the level of detail as I did over the winter (there were quite frankly less details to be had over the winter) I will try to summarize the two most significant findings .
- Porcupines are everywhere. It turns out these giant walking pinecones are leaving traces of themselves all over the place (though the chances of seeing one are still quite slim). In the winter, they climb up hemlock trees and nibble. Everything. They sort of just sit up there and eat the tree, trying to move as little as possible and thus will everything within reach. These foliage holes in hemlock trees are a dead giveaway of this activity, and will often have dangling branches with rodent-esque chop marks. I have seen a stands of hemlocks with large amounts of debris underneath at Fox Park, which is extremely indicative of a porcupine's munching habits.
- The magnolia warblers have arrived. These are magnificent little birds. Famous for their "necklace with pendants", these warblers have officially arrived, and in full getup. A pair of them were calling to each other (which I did not get right away- they have a few calls) then chasing each other through the forest. What fun!
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.....
Again, Just getting through the small backlog of sit spots. All by ear, many with a visual confirmation at some point.
- Mourning Dove 1
- Eastern Phoebe 2
- Blue Jay 4
- American Crow 3
- Black-capped Chickadee 3
- Tufted Titmouse 4
- White-breasted Nuthatch 1
- Carolina Wren 1
- American Robin 5
- Northern Mockingbird 1
- Chipping Sparrow 7
- Dark-eyed Junco 3
- Song Sparrow 3
- Northern Cardinal 2
- Common Grackle 18
- American Goldfinch 2
- House Sparrow 4
Again, I am just recounting the notes I took with eBird. Other living things and systems are to come! Hurrah!
Just a quick sit spot walk through. Every bird was found be ear first, or only by ear. They are singing! Wah hoo!
- Blue jay
- Carolina wren
- House finch
- tufted titmouse
- Downy woodpecker
- Canada goose
- Brown creeper
- Mourning dove
- Hairy woodpecker
- Chipping sparrow
...Getting through a sit spot backlog. Please excuse the short post!