Field ornithology day 4 - good birding spot #1

Today my partner Kayli and I arrived at Woodside Natural Area around 7:00 am. Stepping out of the car, it was quickly apparent that we were in for another beautiful day. The sky was clear blue, with an occasional light breeze, and the temperature was hovering around 58° F. By the time we left, around 11:00, it was up to 77°.

We met Luke by the parking area and started into the woods. Right away the bird song was almost overwhelming. I picked out a House Wren, a Goldfinch, a Common Yellowthroat, and many American Redstarts right off the bat, but there were more that got past me. As it turns out (after consulting with Alan about a recording of a particularly difficult redstart song) I also heard a Yellow-throated Vireo, although I didn't recognize it in the moment. Robins, Cardinals, and Song Sparrows rounded out the chorus.

We took a left where the trail branches and heads up above the swamp. As we walked over the boardwalk there we heard a Warbling Vireo at the same time as we saw two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, which led to some confusion until we sorted things out. Then a Red-bellied Woodpecker called, a sound which I mistook for the "reeeep" of the Great Crested Flycatcher. That too, though, was sorted out with time, and I think I can remember that the Red-bellied's call is harsher and less whistled than that of the Great Crested. Around this time we also saw the first of many Veery's, although we didn't hear any singing until the very end of our time birding this area. A few Cedar Waxwings flew around what may have been a blossoming apple (it was certainly a blossoming something).

Up top, we were walking and listening with relatively little to show for it when I saw a flash of yellow and lifted my binoculars. There in front of me was a Magnolia Warbler - the second in two days, although the habitat of today's spotting was about as different from the high elevation spruce-fir forest of yesterday as could be. In fact, I was quite surprised to see this warbler in this spot, but there's no arguing with the clear-as-day evidence of your own eyes! Maybe they are migrating through right now and can be found just about anywhere?

Further along the trail we starting hearing and seeing the abundant Red-winged Blackbirds of the marshy area below, while a Least Flycatcher "che-lek"ed from the woods to our left. A few Gray Catbirds chased each other around, and, I should note, American Redstarts were just everywhere in sight. In fact, they were everywhere within hearing range, too. Those songs continued to confuse me after four hours listening to them. Just highly variable and quite similar to others like the Chestnut-sided.

Speaking of Chestnut-sided Warblers, we saw and heard one right around this time. I was pleased that I called it correctly by song given all of the confusing redstarts that were singing all around it. As we walked through the mature woods on that side of the marsh an Indigo Bunting flew up to the top of a tree, a lovely surprise as always. We stopped at the faithful bench above the marsh, where we started to see and hear Grackles as well as two pigeons (aka Rock Doves) which confused me momentarily because I didn't expect to find them here.

As we continued on, the trail started to lead us down into the marsh (an old oxbow, perhaps?) and across it towards the river. There we glassed the bank and saw a Spotted Sandpiper. Walking along the edge of the marsh, now down at its level, we started to see Yellow Warblers galore. Then a Baltimore Oriole sang and flew to a high, exposed perch. A little further along, two males would fly right in front of our faces, so close they made me start.

Around this time we started hearing the distinctive "teakettle, teakettle" of the Carolina Wren. I haven't seen or heard one of these in a while, so had trouble remembering what bird that classic mnemonic goes with. Luke figured it out with the help of the Google machine. Another fun sighting around this area was a Black-capped Chickadee pulling down from a cattail, likely to be put to use in nest construction. I worked for Audubon VT for the last two summers and did nest box surveys for part of one summer, so I could visualize the nest that little chickadee was building quite clearly.

We stepped in closer to the marsh and paused for a while, and after five or so minutes of normal background song heard (unmistakably, this time) a Great Crested Flycatcher. Then two of them flew near us, showing off their orange and yellow coloring to great effect for Kayli, who had never seen one before. After that we kept walking the path, and ended up near the river again in the little field. There we spotted a Belted Kingfisher out on a perch over the river. Then we walked back up the trail to our cars, pausing to observe a cluster of birders observing what may have been a female Scarlet Tanager (but then again, it could have been a female Yellow Warbler just as easily for all I know).

I thought that would maybe be the end of our birding day, but Luke mentioned that another trail starts a little further up the road and runs to the St. Mike's compost pile. So we headed up there to see what we might see. One thing we saw was a wild John Benner, a Rubenstein student who we had also seen at Geprag's on Tuesday. Actually, that was about all we saw. But we heard a Wood Thrush, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, a few Blackburnian Warblers (way too high to catch a glimpse of, although my neck will testify to the fact that we tried), and some American Crows. Oh - and we caught a glimpse of another Magnolia Warbler, a male, making two for today! They must be well into their migration to be hanging out so far from their familiar habitat. That sums things up pretty nicely. A good day overall, although it wasn't dripping with spring migrants the way I might have hoped. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Posted by sam_blair sam_blair, May 21, 2020 19:35

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Veery Catharus fuscescens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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No photos or sounds

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Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Description

Singing in background, can just hear over the American Redstart singing nearer to the microphone.

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No photos or sounds

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Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

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American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe

Observer

sam_blair

Date

May 21, 2020

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