Field ornithology day 3 - forests

Today I arrived at the Burroughs trailhead around 7:15. Luke was already there, and two other people in our class, Taylor and Grace, arrived shortly after me. They said they could use some help, so we all teamed up and spent the day together. The weather was cool, around 50° F, and it got cooler as we climbed - but on our way back down I would guess it had warmed up to at least 60°. It was a clear, blue day - not a cloud in the sky, with the occasional light breeze. All in all, a beautiful day to be out in the woods.

Things started well in the parking lot, where I heard a Dark-eyed Junco, a Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blues and Greens, and a Scarlet Tanager. But once we headed up into the woods it was surprisingly quiet. Just the Black-throated Blues and Greens (a lot of them), Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Ovenbirds. The relative quiet did have a plus side, though, which was that it made things a little less overwhelming for those of us who were trying to learn the songs of the birds we were hearing. About half a mile up we flushed a few Blue Jays from the trail. A little further along we heard what I assumed was a Red-eyed Vireo, but when we got eyes on it we saw not one but two Blue-headed Vireos! I am always so happy to see these beautiful birds, and it was a good reminder that identifying vireos by song will always be a tricky endeavor.

Further up the trail, Dark-eyed Juncoes flitted from branch to branch. A Black-and-white Warbler also made an appearance. At this point we were starting to climb up out of the pure deciduous forest and into the more mixed-woods type habitat. We heard Red-breasted Nuthatches "yank"ing in the distance, then saw one on a tree. Patches of snow started to appear, as did more Yellow-rumped Warblers (whose songs, I will note, continue to confuse the heck out of me). The snow became more regular, and the forest started to consist mostly of spruce and fir with a few birches mixed in. A Winter Wren sang from the deep woods off the trail.

Then we got into Blackpoll Warbler territory, a bird which I have heard described as "nature's hearing test." It lived up to its name for sure. The snow now covered the ground and radiated cool air up at us (or I guess it would be more correct to say that it cooled the air settling down around us). I didn't get a glimpse of the Blackpoll on our way up, but did see hear and then see a few Golden-crowned Kinglets flitting through the fir branches. Beautiful birds.

At this point I donned my microspikes (I was the only one to bring them along, which left me feeling a little guilty as the others slid around on the icy trail). We had been going for about two hours and things were getting steep. Things were also getting remarkably quiet. Apart from the occasional distant raven, we didn't hear a thing for a good ten or fifteen minutes at a time. After a while like this, we got to the clearing where the Burroughs trail meets the Long Trail. It was around 10:00. Here we stopped, ate a snack, and soaked up the gracious, warming sun. A Turkey Vulture floated by overhead, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler showed off for me from a few feet away. I would have loved to get up to the summit, but we were feeling time-constrained in terms of getting back home for the 1:00 check-in. So we turned around and headed back down, back into the cool shade of the woods.

Things were relatively uneventful, with a few Blackpoll Warblers singing in the distance, until I heard a saw movement and a glimpse of yellow in some thick balsam fir. And with something resembling divine grace, a male Magnolia Warbler flitted right into an opening and sat there showing off for a good thirty seconds. It was the highlight of my day. I was also pleased to learn that I did in fact recognize his song, which is one of the ones I've been studying on my own.

A little further down, the Blackpoll Warblers started to sound particularly close, and I played a song to see if I could call one in. Indeed, in one came with aplomb. I had never seen a Blackpoll Warbler in the field before, so this was a real treat. We continued to slide our way down into the mixed woods, where conditions eased up enough to allow me to doff the microspikes. I heard an interesting sound around now, which I didn't realize until checking with Alan was actually a Brown Creeper. It didn't quite have the full "trees, trees, beautiful trees" sound to it, but listening back to it I can hear the Brown Creeper-ness of it.

That about wraps up the day's bird observations, but I will note that the forest floor down in the deciduous woods was just strewn with Trout Lily, Spring Beauty, and Trillium in bloom. A beautiful sight! we made it back to the cars just on time, and for a final treat a Pileated Woodpecker flew right in front of my car as I drove on Hinesburg Hollow Road back to my home in Shelburne. Overall, things were surprisingly quiet in the woods today, but I still saw some good stuff!

Posted by sam_blair sam_blair, May 21, 2020 00:33

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

American Brown Creeper Certhia americana

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 20, 2020

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