Field ornithology day 1 - water birds

Today I birded from about 6:45 in the morning until around 11:00. Luke Beeson and I paddled my canoe around the perimeter of Shelburne Pond. The weather was cool (and cooler over the water), around 55° F with light wind. There was 100% cloud cover with some occasional very light sprinkles.

Luke and I put in at the boat launch at around 6:45. Right away we saw and heard Gray Catbirds, a House Wren, Red-winged Blackbirds, a Song Sparrow, a Northern Cardinal, an American Robin, and some Yellow Warblers. Classic birds of a suburban-wetland eco-tone, in my mind. Two Mallards swam away from the launch when we put the canoe in the water. In the distance, from the deeper forest to our northwest, a Black-throated Green Warbler sang its characteristic "see-see-see-soo-see." A Caspian Tern flew overhead and dove for fish, prompting a spirited discussion on the Caspian vs. Common tern id debate. Caspian won over in the end for the way its bill was held as if it was weighing down the whole head, the lack of a black tip to the bill, and size.

As we started to paddle, it quickly became apparent that the day would be blessed with an abundance of Common Yellowthroats - they were everywhere, flitting through the foliage near the water's edge. We paddled close along the edge of the lake, startling a pair of Canada Geese who flew away honkingly. Then we startled another pair of birds who prompted considerably more excitement than the geese - two Black-crowned Night-Herons, who flew right over our heads and away across the lake.

Further towards the wetlands on the eastern side of the lake, we became aware of the chipping of Swamp Sparrows and the hurried, hunched over movements of a little Northern Waterthrush right at the water's edge. Good thing Luke was there - I don't quite know what I was thinking, but my first association when I saw it was Song Sparrow! In my defense I didn't get a good look at it at first, but I realize now that its movement (and habitat) is distinctive on its own. Another bird we saw a lot of was the Double-crested Cormorant. We frequently saw them lined up on logs sunning their wings. Eastern Kingbirds also made an appearance, living up to their reputation for feistiness as two fought each another in the air.

Moving up along the coves on the eastern side of the lake, we saw an Eastern Phoebe on a branch above one of the cliff faces, heard Black-and-white Warblers in the woods, and encountered the first of many Spotted Sandpipers, with their distinctive fluttering wingbeats and incessant butt-bobbing. We also saw a Common Grackle. Over the lake, Barn and Bank Swallows coursed low.

Now I have to make a case for our unidentified accipiters as two Northern Goshawks! They were just gray all over, with rectangular tails - and why would two male northern harriers be flying over a lake together?? Goshawks, on the other hand, like to hunt over open spaces like lakes, or so I read in my Sibley. Just saying... They were certainly no Red-tailed Hawks. Wish you had been there to see it, Alan.

The birds of the forest continued to sing and call loud enough for us to hear on the lake as we approached the northern end - Mourning Doves, Common Ravens, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and American Goldfinches all made an appearance (vocally, at least). A Belted Kingfisher flew overhead. And then, at the cattail marsh at the far end of the lake we heard the first of the day's Marsh Wrens singing! I was pleased that I had recalled the song from the last time I heard it, a few years ago.

Moving west now, we heard Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays in the scrubby woods. Then we saw a few male American Redstarts flitting through the trees. And then, in what was perhaps the highlight of the day, a little yellow blob high up in an aspen over the water proved to be a Wilson's Warbler - the first I've ever seen, and what a sighting this was! Clear as day. In the background, from a perch high up in a tree, a Brown Thrasher provided accompaniment.

The last leg of our paddle, down the western side of the lake, led us past a beaver dam where the beaver had apparently gone crazy and started chewing every massive cedar in sight - bad forestry, as Luke said (although I'm inclined to think that beavers are always good foresters, just by virtue of their beaveriness). The birds were starting to quite down at this point, but we heard a Hermit Thrush singing and saw a few Veery's at the water's edge. A Turkey Vulture soared overhead. We returned to shore quite content with our sightings, but on the way to pick up a sandwich at the mill one last surprise awaited us - a female Northern Harrier coursing low over a hay field, which nearly led me to drive off the road in excitement. Overall, a beautiful day among the birds of the water and land.

Posted by sam_blair sam_blair, May 19, 2020 00:59

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Wilson's Warbler Cardellina pusilla

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Veery Catharus fuscescens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Accipiters Genus Accipiter

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 18, 2020

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