Terrific birds today- on a pleasant bird walk here in Ithaca on May 19th I recorded 43 species! Here is my eBird checklist for those curious.
I’ll let the photos to the talking: welcome to my world! 🙂 !!!!
The field season has officially started in Northern NH!
Male Common Yellowthroat warbler (COYE): This fellow is defending a small territory in a patch of open thicket. These warblers rely on early succession forest- patches of substrate that haven’t really grown in yet- to build cryptic, ground-level nests. They develop complex systems to divert/confuse predators away from their nests.
Female Black-throated Blue Warbler (BTBW): I was lucky to see this female. She is paired with a male who defends a large mature forest territory. They have quite a few BTBW neighbors, which makes for a lot of skirmishes among the males over land. The females are often silent and move very fast…
Male Mourning Warbler (MOWA): This is a rare bird here. Even more amazing, it is defending a territory in our research site- and trying to chase out a male COYE while doing so. The two species “share” resources, which means thy can’t stand each other. 🙂 Each time the male COYE sings near the MOWA, it gets berated and chased away- and vice versa. It appears the COYE isn’t budging either, probably because it hasn’t had this domestic, neighborly problem before.
Guess where I went this morning?
Breaking in the new spot. Additionally, I saw Magnolia, Yellow, and Common Yellowthroat warblers, and heard Black Throated Blue and Green warblers. Veery, Hermit, and Ovenbird thrushes were around, in addition to catbirds.
I scoped out the local “rugby” field this morning. A retired birder-couple told me “188 Species” of birds have been spotted in the last decade (by them) in this mixed-habitat space. Here’s a start…
I have an extremely brief update on my Wolf Pine tree; I did my loop and heard nothing. All I found was an enormous explosion of Beech leaves. Yes, a peeper here and a Phobe’s lone chip call there- but really, as the school year draws to a close, my 29th update on this area seemed to be telling me to just relax and enjoy the scene. So I did.
Walking through the ‘burbs in the dark can be exciting. About an 45 minutes before sunrise, I walked to the base area of Fox park and found these 15 birds. While I didn’t see them, I could certainly hear them!
Well. There comes a time when one remembering the right things at the right time equates to a high-stakes venture in academia.
Below is a gallery of photos taken today, comprised almost entirely out of bark, leaves, and twigs. This is my study guide for the upcoming natural history final exam. It is not near complete; but for a walk through the woods and a significant number of hours behind a camera, computer, and coffee cup, I think it will do for now. Frogs, tracks, and birds are not covered here.
Today, I went lurking about Langdon Woods in search of as many trees as possible. I took over 300 photos of bark, leaves, and twigs, aiming to highlight the growth patterns and key ID features of the trees on the PSU natural history final exam. This went well, and I will be posting these Tree-I-Dee’s as soon as I get through the pictures.
The following photos are the result of chance and some enthusiastic "pishing" I did to draw in the birds, so I would not need to get to off course.
- Redstart Warbler. This is a breeding male in full attire. The Redstart song is often heard through these New Hampshire forests these days. This fellow responded very well to “pish” sounds, and danced over to me to see what the fuss was about.
- Black-and-White Warbler. These Warblers have a weezy, squeaky sound almost identical to a rusty wheel. They act like Nuthatches but "dance" up and down the tree more enthusiastically, which is often a good way to tell which is which.
- Hermit Thrush. These amber-toned thrushes have a beautiful song, but the only thrush singing today was the large Ovenbird population. More characteristic to the forests on the sides of white mountains, they will all sing together about an half an hour before sunrise. The proper thrushes (not including robin) of NH seem to follow an altitude metric: Wood lives at the bottom, Hermit lives in the low hills, Swainson sings in the mossy forest below the krumholz, and Bicknell rules them all, only breeding above four thousand feet. !!!
Without further ado:
This morning, I went birding across the campus starting at sunrise. Below is the species list, and two ID shots- Ruby-crowned kinglet and Yellow warbler.
2 Canada Goose
2 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Eastern Phoebe
2 Blue Jay
2 American Crow
1 Common Raven
3 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Tufted Titmouse
1 House Wren
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 American Robin
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Black-and-white Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Common Grackle
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch
2 House Sparrow
*1 Black-throated Green Warbler, *Yellow-rumped Warbler found later.
Number of Taxa: 26 + 2
Above is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Note the crown is not ruby colored.
Above is a deeply-hued Yellow Warbler. A pure sounding, “Sweet-sweet-sweet, so-so Sweet!”- heard all over the forest an parking lots alike.
This morning at 7am, very few birds were singing. Behind the Rugby field in a solid rain, a small group of people stood with their noses to the sky. This is PSU’s very own Len R. -led class on vertebrate zoology. Now, please note I do not take this class, but I know a thing or two about Len. Len is a bird master; this means vertebrate zoology in the springtime may just equate to an excellent excuse to find and learn about birds and warblers on the premise of a college class. Thank goodness warblers have backbones.
The following list was compiled mostly by Len and another student (who also is not taking the course…).
The louisiana waterthrush, black and white warbler, and a glowing male redstart (all of which are warblers, despite the different naming conventions) really hit this walk out of the park for me.
Today- after an extremely productive 7am trip with the vertebrate zoology class mind you- I nipped over to Langdon Woods in the rain to learn about the the little plants growing around the forest floor at a rapid, hydrated rate. The ones I can remember off the top of my head include:
Bunchberry: a ground covering plant with red berries clustered in a bunch. Edible!
Partridge berry: a tiny plant with a leaf or two red berry on top. not dangerous to eat!
Goldenthread: A little plant with three fan-shaped leaves. the deep orange root has numbing and diuretic properties. Useful! Probably not good nutrition though!
Purple trillium: a flower with an exotic crimson color. It is also called “stinking benjamin” because it has an undesirable odor when in bloom. Nice to look at!
Starflower: A distinctive, flat white flower with 7 blades. the leaves all grow from the same spot in a circle- a phenomenon known also in pine trees as a “whorl”. Pretty!
Indian cucumber: a plant that also grows leaves in a whorl shape, with a varying number of leaves. A prime root tastes and feels like a sweet carrot. Some think they can tell how developed the cucumber is by how many leaves are on the plant, though I do not know this to be true. Very tasty!
Wintergreen: a small thick-leafed plant. The leaves are round and a bit waxy looking, but the point is it is a great consumable. Makes great tea!
Sensitive fern: This is a fairly nondescript fern with one key feature: it leaves its fertile fronds attached to the plant for a while, making them easy to spot. Just look for brown “beaded” fronds sticking straight up – this is a clear indication of sensitive fern. Fun to ID!
Ostrich fern: A big fern with large fiddleheads. Great sauteed!
There are more plants we covered, but these are the ones I can remember the best.
…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.