Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Week Birding Journal

Here is a summary of the places that I visited and some of the birds that I saw during Christmas Week.

Tuesday 12/25/07-Wangunk Meadows, Portland- I took a short walk in the meadows on Christmas Day. It was a cold, sunny morning and the river was smooth as glass. I wanted to see if the Bald Eagles had returned to this area. I walked slowly along the icy path but felt that sudden jolt as my feet slipped out from under me. I hate that feeling of complete loss of control. I stopped and scanned the shoreline. Two eagles were perched in a tree on the Cromwell side of The Connecticut River. One of them looked to be a male that had not yet completely developed the white head and tail . Next to him was an adult female. She was noticeably larger with a solid white head and tail. Other birds that caught my interest were a Brown Creeper, Eastern Bluebirds, Belted Kingfisher, Merlin, and 3 Ring-necked Pheasants. I also counted 6 Northern Flickers which are considered to be less common in the winter. Apparently, there is no shortage of them in Portland.

Wednesday 12/27/07-Mansfield/Storrs area-I wanted to explore this region because it is considered to be a good birding area but doesn't seem to quite draw the attention that other parts of the state do. My hope was that I might find a flock of Red Crossbills or Pine Grosbeaks. Instead, I spent most of the morning driving around and getting lost. When I arrived at Mansfield Dam, I excitedly jumped out of my truck to get a better look at some ducks that were swimming in open water below the dam. Unfortunately, I locked my keys in the truck with the engine running. This normally wouldn't be a problem because I keep a spare key in my wallet for occasions such as these, but for some unknown reason, I had left my wallet along with my cell phone in the truck, too. I had that sickly feeling come over me as I realized the predicament I had gotten myself in to. To my relief, I noticed the window was open about half an inch. It was just enough for me to pry the lock open using one of the aluminum supports from the bed truck cover. I broke the plastic rain guards above the door to accomplish the feat but was more than happy to make that sacrifice. The ducks turned out to be Mallards after all that.

After that, I took a drive along Horse Barn Hill Road. There were 48 Horned Lark picking though the dirt in one of the farm fields but I didn't see any Longspurs or Snow Buntings in the flock.

My last stop was a nice spot along the Fenton River. By that time, it was almost noon and not many birds were around.I did see a Hermit thrush and some Eastern Bluebirds there. I'm looking forward to going back in the spring. There was no sign of Crossbills or Grosbeaks. I somehow ripped the cuff of my pants when I took my hiking boots off. It was just one of those days.



Thursday-12/27/07-Norfolk, CT-Pine Grosbeaks-I already wrote about this in my previous post. It was definitely the highlight of the week birding wise. Here is one more photo of a Pine Grosbeak. I know that it is not an adult male. From what I've read, immature males and adult females can be hard to tell apart, so I can't be sure of the sex of this bird. If anyone has some insight on this, please feel free to give me an opinion.

Friday 12/28/07-Selden Creek Preserve-Lyme, CT-I got the idea for visiting this place from a newspaper article that I read from The Hartford Courant. Peter Marteka writes an excellent column on Fridays called Nature's Path. He often writes about scenic natural areas in Connecticut that aren't always well known by the general public. He recently wrote about a beautiful scenic area called Selden Creek Preserve. It sounded like the kind of place that I would like to visit even if it didn't turn out to be a good birding spot. Upon further investigation, I discovered that this site was listed in a book called Finding Birds In Connecticut as a place worth visiting in the winter. It was a little bit tricky to find but definitely worth the visit. Two Brown Creepers, 2 Common Ravens, and a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were among the birds that I saw here. I also saw a large flocks of birds that were eating some sort of seed pods in the tops of the trees. There was probably close to 100 of these finch-like birds, but they were so high up in the trees, that it was difficult for me to identify what they were. After using the process of elimination, I decided they might be Common Redpolls. Since I'd never seen a Common Redpoll before, I wanted to be careful to make a positive identification. I noticed that they were heavily streaked, had short stubby yellowish bills, and had black near their face. Some of them had a rosy-colored breast. I was pretty sure of their identity but it was almost an hour before one of them finally gave me a clear view of it's signature red cap. I'm afraid that I'm getting a little spoiled with lifers this month. Oh well, I turned 42 today and it's been 1 year since I started my blog so why not celebrate? Common Redpoll-another lifer!
Saturday-12/29/07-I didn't do any birding today, but did clean all of my bird feeders and birdbath. Congratulations to The New England Patriots for a perfect 16-0 regular season record!


Sunday-12/30/07-I took a ride over to Hurd Park in East Hampton. There weren't a whole lot of birds to be seen today but it was nice to work off some of that holiday food with a long leisurely walk. The gate to the park was locked so it was nice to be able to use the entrance road as a walking trail. There were Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpeckers,White-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Tufted Titmice, American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, American Crows and, of course, the ever sociable Black-capped Chickadees.

As I walked down one of the woodland paths that led me to the river, I was thinking about two young men from my hometown who had passed away this week. They were both in their forties. I guess there are some things in life that you just don't have any control over.

There were a few Common Mergansers in the river and some Greater-Black-backed Gulls flying overhead. As far as gulls go, they are probably one of my favorites. They are very large and look pretty impressive to me when they're in flight.

On my way out, I had a short chat with a gentleman who was taking his Boston Terrier for a walk. He told me that he often sees owls at this park and suggested that I visit here very early in the morning. Thanks-I think I might just do that.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's A Lifer! Pine Grosbeaks In Norfolk, CT

I took a ride out to the northwest corner of Connecticut this morning hoping to find a Pine Grosbeak. They are the largest of the winter finches, and not particularly wary around people. Although they are normally found in boreal forests, they are irruptive this year and some have recently found their way into parts of Connecticut. I arrived in Norfolk at 9am after a 1-1/2 hour drive. I parked where I had a view of several crab apple trees, where the grosbeaks had been previously reported, but after a half hour of waiting, there was no sign of them. Just after 9:30 am, I started to hear some suspicious sounding finch-like calls. I looked in the bare trees across the street and saw some plump reddish birds, along with some grayish ones, perched near the top. "That has to be them!" I thought to myself. Actually, I might have even said that out loud.

I went across the street and watched in amazement as a whole flock of
Pine Grosbeaks were in the midst of gorging themselves with crab apples. This was my first time ever seeing these beautiful birds. I counted as many as 17 at a time but I think that there were probably a few more than that. There were several adult males (like the one seen above). Apparently, immature males and females look very similar. They both have a grayish-olive tone with some yellow features. This is the second irruptive finch species that I've been able to find in Connecticut this winter (Red Crossbill being the other). What a nice way to spend a rainy morning!

A few Cedar Waxwings also joined in on the feast. I was hoping that I might find a Bohemian Waxwing mixed in with them but I didn't spot any within the few seconds that they stayed. Pine Grosbeaks don't seem particularly neat in the way they go about eating. There was fruit residue all over their bills and they also left a mess of skins and fruit pulp on the ground. Apparently, they are eating the seeds within the fruit and not the actual fruit itself. Thanks to Corey of 10,000 Birds for bringing this to my attention. Several trees in the area had already been completely stripped of fruit. I had already left to go back home when I realized that I forgot to take some video footage, so I went back to take this short video of a male Pine Grosbeak having its breakfast.
video

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007 Salmon River Christmas Bird Count


I participated in the annual Salmon River Christmas Bird Count Sunday, which had been rescheduled from the previous Sunday due to inclement weather. I teamed up with Joanne, Barbara, and Mike (above photo) to cover the Portland territory. There was a very light drizzle throughout the day, but it was comfortable, with the temperature in the 40's and minimal wind.
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Joanne is the team captain for the town of Portland during the annual Salmon River CBC. This is the third year that I've taken part in this annual tradition. We started our count near the Portland Reservoir, which was frozen over, along with all of the other ponds in Portland. Mike and I walked up the snowy path to investigate the edge of Meshomasic Forest while Joanne and Barbara searched near the main road.
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For the first fifteen minutes, the area that Mike and I covered seemed practically devoid of birds. Our first breakthrough was a flock of 25 American Robins that passed overhead. We started pishing near a stand of tall pines. You know that it's a s-l-o-w day if I start pishing because I don't particularly enjoy doing this activity in front of others. The Black-capped Chickadees started to move in to investigate, followed by Tufted Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers. Shortly thereafter, we caught a quick glimpse of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. The final species we recorded in this area was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Joanne and Barbara said that their area was fairly slow but they did manage to add a Carolina Wren to the list before we left.
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Other areas we searched included power line crossings, woodland habitat interspersed between houses, open fields , stream banks, a cranberry bog, and a small section of the Connecticut River.
Here are some of the highlights of the day:
  • While we were near the cranberry bog, I heard what sounded like a Red-shouldered Hawk in the distance (kyeer kyeer call). We had fun debating as to whether it was really a hawk or just a Blue Jay imitating it's call. The bird never came within our range so we decided not to count it. We traveled a little further down the road before hearing it call again. By this time, we decided that it must be a hawk because it was too consistent with its call. Mike played the Red-shouldered Hawk call using an Ipod recording. Sure enough, we could hear it respond and move in close to us. We all had a terrific view of a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk, which faced us, perched on a branch . We saw it fly across the road and land on another branch. It was a great team moment! We also saw a Northern Flicker in the same area.

  • While at the Cox Road power lines, I heard the tiny ringing sound of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. It took the four of us about five minutes to track it down, but we all had a great view of the bird as it hovered at the edge of a bush. It gave us a great show of its pretty golden crown. We also spotted some sparrows at this location including American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, and a Field Sparrow.

  • All of us had a great look at a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It displayed a brilliant red color on its throat and head.

I think that we all enjoyed watching the birds more than we did counting them, but we did our part. It is one of the smaller CBC's in Connecticut but I really enjoy the fact that it takes place in my own home town. The total number of species for the entire count (includes people from other towns) was 67. In comparison, the Milford/Stratfordcount which includes part of the shoreline had an unnoficial total of 117 species.

We took a lunch break at Rossini's Restaurant, in the town of East Hampton, and met up with two other birders (Rob and Alberta) who were also involved with the count. It was interesting comparing notes with them about the birds we saw. I will pass on the final results of the count when I receive them.

video

Saturday, I was in East Hartland trying to find some Pine Grosbeaks. I didn't have any luck finding the grosbeaks but I did see a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings and also recorded this video of Wild Turkeys eating something in the snow. This is the first time I've uploaded a video! Unfortunately, you can hear cars in the background, as well as me zooming in and out on the turkeys. If you listen closely, you can also hear the turkeys.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Giuffrida Park And Hartford Audubon CBC

A Red-tailed Hawk perched on top of light a post, along the highway, is a common sight to me, but the view I had of this one was nothing short of stunning. This Red-tail stood out so vividly as I watched it circle overhead against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky. It's interesting how quickly your perspective can change when you see something so familiar in a different light.

I saw this Hermit Thrush while I was at Giuffrida Park in Meriden on Monday morning. It was kind enough to land on a branch and show off his reddish tail before ducking into a brush pile for cover. There was also a Golden-crowned Kinglet nearby which seemed to demand my attention. It was flying from branch to branch at eye level. At one point, it came so close to me that I thought it was going to land on my head. It looked me straight in the eye from a foot away before wandering off into a different section of woods. I also noticed eight Common Mergansers swimming on the opposite shore of the parks reservoir. It's been awhile since I've seen the mergansers and I'm pleased to see that they're back.

One thing I really like about the winter is that the air often seems so clean and crisp . On days like that birds really seem to stand out in such sharp detail. Monday was a day when the trees were covered with ice and the ground was covered by a hard, crusted snow. Large numbers of American Robins were picking at crabapples that could be heard bouncing off the ice as they fell to the ground.
I spent half a day at The Hartford Audubon CBC on Saturday. I saw this American Pipit, along with three others, spending some quality time together on a pile of manure. They were bobbing their tails incessantly as they hopped around searching for bits of food. Pipits are usually hunkered down in farm fields. Watching them play King Of The Mountain made for interesting observation. Probably my favorite sighting on Saturday was that of a Winter Wren . I've heard Winter Wrens singing during the summer but this was the first time that I actually found one on my own.
Nothing is burning in this picture. It's just a steaming pile of mulch reacting to the cold air. I just thought it looked interesting. There was another CBC scheduled for Sunday but it was rescheduled for this upcoming weekend. I'm really looking forward to this one and I'm crossing my fingers that the weather holds up.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Climb Up Mount Chocorua In New Hampshire


It was over 20 years that my sister, Michelle and her boyfriend Wayne, invited me to join them to hike up Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire. I'm always up for any kind of outdoor adventure, so naturally, I said "yes." I did have one concern though. What would it be like to climb an actual mountain? In Connecticut there are several areas of elevation that are referred to as mountains. In reality, almost all of them are less than 1,000 feet in elevation and are really just hills. Vermont and New Hampshire have real mountains. At 3,500 feet, Mount Chocorua is one of the smallest of The White Mountain Chain, although it did have a reputation of being a fairly steep climb. I decided it would be best to take a few practice hikes in Connecticut wearing a backpack so I would be better prepared for the trip.

So the three of us headed up to New Hampshire. Actually, there was a fourth hiker. Wayne's dog, Brutus, also came along. Brutus was a big Rottweiler that had been trained as a guard dog. We found out at rest stops that he had a habit of chasing tractor trailer trucks and didn't seem to understand that there is a limit as to how far you can run when you are tied to a tree with a leash.

After we arrived, I noticed something shortly after we started our ascent up Mount Chocorua. There was no view on the way up. We walked through hardwoods followed by evergreens. All we could see was trees on the way up. I had envisioned a view off into the distance throughout our hike. I recall that we met several other hikers on the way up. One of them pointed out that there were "kinglets" in the pine trees. I had never heard of a kinglet before and was surprised to see how tiny they were.

Somewhere along the way we saw a hawk. I don't remember what kind it was but it didn't matter. Back then, I referred to hawks as small hawks or large hawks. If it seemed that it was to big to be a hawk, I just figured it was some kind of eagle. If a hawk was near a farm area, then it was surely a Chicken Hawk. That was the extent of my identification skills at that time. I really wasn't familiar with many species beyond birds that are commonly seen in the back yard.

As we passed the half way point of the hike, I was getting pretty winded. I used to smoke cigarettes back then and I was feeling it. My back and legs were getting tired, too. My sister seemed to be having an easier time than I was. I thought for certain that I was in better shape than she was.

I was relieved when we finally reached the base of the summit. There was a hiker's cabin that we were to camp in overnight. I recalled that it was anchored to the side of the hill with gigantic chains and wondered why? I started to take some of my gear out of the backpack. I removed my sleeping bag, water and food. As I reached in a little further, I felt something hard towards the bottom wrapped up in a towel. "You have got to be kidding!" I thought to myself. There in the bottom of my backpack were three 10 lb. weights wrapped up in towels! I had put them there when I was doing my practice hikes and never taken them out. No wonder my climb was so tough!

It was late in the afternoon, so we decided to climb the summit in the morning. The cabin that was provided for hikers had a bunch of wooden bunks. Some sort of mice ran back and forth across the beams during the night. At about three o'clock in the morning, we were awakened by Brutus who barking and growling furiously as he repeatedly charged into the wooden door. What was out there that had him so riled up? A bear? Bigfoot? No, it was nothing more than a lost hiker looking for a place to sleep.

I woke up at the crack of dawn, anxious to see what the view would be like from top of Mount Chocorua. There was a winding trail that allowed for a gradual walk to the top. I met two local hikers who had spent the last week up in the mountains. They assured me that the trail was not the way to go. They told me there was a much quicker way and suggested that I follow their lead. They started to climb right up the rocky face of the summit. It looked pretty easy so I followed right behind them. I must have been half way up before getting my first view. Looking off into the distance, I realized how high up we really were. I could see other mountains and clouds below. The two hikers, or should I say climbers, were already at the top chuckling to themselves as tehy watched me struggle. I now realized that I was no longer just hiking.I was actually rock climbing. The thought of clibing back down was too scary so my only option was climbing up. Adrenaline was rushing through my veins. At one point, I had to make a small leap to grab a hold of a metal spike which had been pounded into the rock. It was an experience I will never forget. The two hikers were long gone by the time I finished my climb. When I finally reached the top, it all seemed worth it. I could see mountains in every direction. I now realized why that cabin was chained to the hill. The winds must have been blowing 50 miles an hour.
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Back then I had never even heard of the term "birding", which is why I would like to make a return visit some day. This time, I would bring along my binoculars and leave the weights behind!
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The photo was provided for free courtesy of: Free New Hampshire Pics.com

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Preparing For The Christmas Count

On Sunday morning I decided to visit some areas in Portland, CT to help prepare myself for the upcoming Salmon River Christmas Bird Count. This particular bird count is one of the smaller ones going on in Connecticut this month. I will be counting birds strictly in the town of Portland, although there are other towns included in this Christmas Count. I have lived in Portland for the majority of my life and have been birding here for the last few years. The one thing that I find a little disappointing is that the best birding areas in Portland (Wangunk Meadows and other areas along CT River) are excluded from the count because they are not within the count area which is literally a circle that is drawn on a map which defines the territory within which the birds are to be counted. Portland is not exactly a birding hot spot to begin with, so that makes it a little bit more challenging. A Hermit Thrush or Fox Sparrow, for example, would rank pretty high up on our Portland list. In a way, I like the fact that the expectation for finding uncommon birds in Portland is so low. That makes common birds seem more interesting.
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As I searched through different areas of the town, I came across some familiar areas from the past. So many of the places that used to be beautiful natural areas are now housing developments. They say change is good because it can lead to growth. I believe that to be true, but in the case of houses taking the place of land, I don't appreciate either the change or the growth. I guess that makes me a little hypocritical. I imagine land had to be cleared to build my house. Fortunately, there are some things that do stay the same. The falls in the above photo look the same as they did 30 years ago.
How Has Your Home Town Changed Since You First Moved There?
I won't get into too much detail about the birds that I saw, but I plan on adding a couple of stops along power lines to my list. I noted Eastern Bluebirds, Golden-Crowned Kinglets, and Eastern Towhees in these areas. I saw several hawks along the way, including Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, Northern Harrier, and the Sharp-shinned Hawk, as seen above. I visited The Portland Golf Course and found a nice flock of Cedar Waxwings and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, but later found out that the golf course is outside of the circle as well.

At the end of my scouting trip, I decided to visit the Portland Riverfront Trail which I've avoided lately. There is a nice field near this trail where I've seen the hard to find Brown Thrasher every year. Unfortunately, they decided to cut down many of the trees and tangled thickets that the Brown Thrashers seem to favor. I found this to be a discouraging development and have avoided this area since then. Wouldn't you know I found a Brown Thrasher there Sunday. December is pretty late in the year to find a Brown Thrasher in CT, especially inland. I hope that they still come back to nest because I would miss seeing them each spring. Good luck to everyone who is participating in a bird count this weekend!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Red Crossbills At Hammonasset

Today, I went to Hammonasset in Madison, Connecticut to look for crossbills and hit the jackpot. These birds are just awesome to watch! The top photo shows eleven, but I counted as many as forty at one time. They were feeding in the trees next to the West Beach parking lot but every so often, they would take off together in a fairly tight flock. They seemed to have an undulating flight, often circling the area several times before coming in for a landing. Crossbills have a very distinct tone to their flight call which is fairly loud and easy to hear. I can understand now how people who are familiar with this species can identify them when they fly over. Here are two male Red Crossbills. When I first arrived, there was one other birder who was very familiar with this species of bird. He said that they like to eat the seeds within the pine cone but not all pine cones have seeds in them every year. They also seemed to be gleaning food-(insects? sap?) from the bark of deciduous trees.
The female crossbills were a subtle yellowish color with dark wings. The photos weren't perfect but I was happy to get some this time around.
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It's just like I anticipated. Once I saw my first crossbill the other day, I knew there would be more to come. I'm looking forward to seeing more irruptive species but I'm a little tired tired of the word irruptive. It makes it sound like the birds are being spewed out of a volcano or something. This has been a nice way to start the winter. Hopefully there will be more good birds heading our way this winter!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fox Sparrow In The Back Yard Brushpile And My First Red Crossbill!

Brush Pile Fox Sparrow-I've slowly been constructing a brushpile in my backyard. Every time I take a visit to the town dump, I grab a few select branches to add to the pile. The workers at the dump have a quizzical look on their faces when they see me putting brush back into my truck. Some birds find brush piles very appealing including this Fox Sparrow that showed up on Sunday morning. That was a nice surprise! They are very robust looking sparrows. I like to watch them do the jump back and scratch dance when they're trying to rustle up some food. We get the red version of the Fox Sparrow in the east. Here's a link for making a good brushpile.

I took a ride down to East Shore Park (New Haven) Sunday morning hoping to find a Red Crossbill. I didn't have to look very long. As soon as I entered the park, there were three birders standing near a coniferous tree. Two of the birders had binoculars focused on the tree top and the other was holding up a parabolic microphone attached to a stand. They had located the recently reported Red Crossbills. I was able to get an excellent view of the male which was at the very top of a fairly short tree. It was great! I could see the crossed bill so clearly and the bird had a nice bold red coloring. I was so absorbed in viewing it through the binoculars that I lost the opportunity to get a photo. A female was present, as well, but I did not get a very good view of it. I had a quick word with EJ, Nick, and Luke. They had recorded the bird's song in order to be able to determine the origin of its location before they were off to check on more rarities.
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Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, White-throated Sparrows, and Brown Creepers were very active at this location. I was able to get the photo of the Brown Creeper just before it started snowing but the lighting was very poor. The most important thing is that I was finally able to see a Red Crossbill. That was a lifer for me. It also broke a dry spell of not finding any of the irruptive species that everyone has been talking about. Whenever on a fishing trip it's pretty well agreed amongst the fishermen that you have to catch that first fish before you start to have some success. Now that I've seen the crossbill, I'll feel more confident in finding redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, and Boreal Chickadees. I probably won't find all of them, but if I can find two or three of them before winter is over, I'll be happy.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Greater Awareness


It was cold and windy Saturday. Very windy. Windy enough to knock over 40 pound wooden chairs that were set up in my backyard. As soon as I stepped out of my truck at Wadsworth Falls State Park, I was blasted in the face by a cloud of dirt with a little gravel mixed in just to make sure it got my attention. I asked myself, "Is this really going to be worth it?" As I looked up into an increasingly cloudy sky, I saw a Common Raven, four Turkey Vultures, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk all taking advantage of the wind to dip and glide to their hearts content. I was anticipating that most of the other birds would be avoiding the wind today. That seemed like a good idea to me. I'll head into the woods to find out where they're hiding and find a little shelter at the same time. The birds and I were on the same page this morning. It's an important part of life to have a real awareness of what surrounds you. Both man and animal have that ability, but sometimes I think that we as human beings lose sight of this. We use are natural instincts to survive which is necessary. We have the ability to solve problems and achieve goals as well. My question is "Do we make life too complicated for ourselves?" We create droves of red tape, paper works, regulations, and social rules to the point that we sometimes become trapped in our own minds. We have to be on guard as to what we say or do at all times or we will become a victim of our own self imposed rules. Social interaction in society and our workplace can be complicated. Income tax, healthcare, and our legal justice system have become a complicated mess. Having to deal with these things can make us prisoners of our own minds at times. In order to have awareness of ourselves and the environment around us, we need to keep our minds clear of unproductive thoughts. That's tough to do these days. Fortunately, there are still places like the beautiful Wadsworth Park that make it much easier to reach a healthy state of mind. Sorry for the rant, but it's been a challenging week. I guess we all have those sometimes, don't we? The trees pictured above were loaded full of Golden-crowned Kinglets and Dark-eyed Juncos. There were also a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers to round things off.

As I expected, the birds were hiding pretty well. I could hear the trees crackling, knocking, scraping, and creaking as they were being blown in every direction. Nature has its own language. We probably ignore this language much of the time because we are geared as humans to go from Point A to Point B. We move on before we've had the chance to absorb the moment. It seems so natural to listen the trickle of a stream or the sound of the leaves crunching underneath our feet. It feels wonderful to take a slow breath of cool air as it settles deep into our lungs. Look at the waterfall above. There's barely a trickle of water running down now. I wonder how many years it took for the rocks to be etched out to the natural steps that they have become?
The trails at Wadsworth are well worn and easy to follow. They take you past Mountain Laurel groves, streams, old stone walls, tall deciduous and evergreen trees. This park tells a unique story to each person who walks its trails. I can tell you that there is no shortage of woodpeckers in this park. I saw Downy Woodpeckers , Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and even Pileated Woodpeckers. Unfortunately, it turned its back on me when I asked it if I could take a picture. These giant cousins of the Ivory-billed hammer so hard that it almost sounds like someones hitting a tree with a bat. Their call is like something that came straight out of a jungle. These are great birds. We should appreciate them while we can.

Does this Red-bellied Woodpecker look a little lazy to you? Maybe its just taking a break. In addition to the woodpeckers, I also came across a secret society of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice hiding in deep, sheltered area of the woods.

This entire area really is a nice place to take a walk. So was it worth enduring the wind and walking miles of trails through the park? I'm ashamed that I even asked myself that question.