Friday, October 31, 2014

Birdwatching At The Nameless Campground

 This was the view from my lakeside tent site in the Berkshires. There are only 12 total sites at this particular state campsite. I chose it because walk-in only camping is available here during the off-season. I prefer walk-in camping when using a tent so that you can time your arrival with a suitable weather forecast.

The park has become much more popular through word of mouth since I last visited it some years ago so I don't want to reveal its location. I'll just say that it rhymes with peartown.
 Some of the other campers wondered how I was able to get the best tent site (11) which is only one of 2 directly on the pond. I went up on a Friday morning while it was still raining to claim the site. I spent the day birdwatching in between the rain drops and set up my tent in the afternoon after the rain had stopped.
 I walked a few miles along the state forest road searching for interesting habitat.
 I found this solitary Hooded Merganser on the water and had to think twice about what it was. I'm not used to seeing juvenile Hooded Mergansers without any of their tell-tale markings. I also found some adult Hooded Mergansers on my way home.

I find that I enjoy birding a lot while I'm on a camping trip. You're already in the nature mindset and have nothing other to worry about  except for eating and making a campfire! 

Note: One of the things I find helpful when going camping in an unfamiliar place is to use e-bird to find places in the area which have had sightings of species that I would like to see under the "explore data" section. I also e-mail local audubon or bird clubs for information.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Following Roots Back To New Hampshire

A few family members took an October day trip up to a small town in New Hamphire. Gilsum has a population of about 800 and you can tell by looking at this picture of the town mall that the town hasn't changed much over the years.
 We visited a small cemetery and were able to find several relatives dating back to the 1800's buried here with old-fashioned first names like Wendell, Kendell, and Bertha.
 I attended a big family reunion back in the early 70's  that took place on a big farm. The house on that farm is over 200 years old. It has been passed on to family members through the years. It was a thrill to go back and see this historic home which has so much character. It was so interesting to meet our relatives who now own this house and we were able to learn a lot about our family history.They even had a picture of the family tree with our names listed on one of the branches!
 There was a lot of swampy habitat in the area including that shown in the photo above. 
I found a Belted Kingfisher way off in the distance.
The hole in this tree looks like the work of a Pileated Woodpecker. 

There was one of those times when I put birding on the back burner for the day but it was well worth the sacrifice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Just Saw Birders: The Central Park Effect

I just took out a copy of Birders: The Central Park Effect (HBO) from the local library and watched it for the first time.This is the third movie I've seen about birding but the first one which features real birders. It's a documentary that interviews birders while they are birding in central park throughout the movie. The interviewees give their insight about what it is that makes birding so great. It also has fantastic footage of the brilliantly colored migrants as birders zero in on them with their binoculars. 

This movie was a great reminder of what I like so much about birding and almost made me feel as if I were on a field trip in Central Park. What made it more interesting was that I recognized some of the birders in the movie. It has put Central Park on the list of places I need to visit during the spring. Non-birders watching this movie should also gain a greater understanding of what the appeal of birding is all about. 

(I noticed that this DVD can be purchased or rented on some of the popular online retailers).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Savannah Sparrows Hiding In The Cornfields

 I made a visit to my local patch at Wangunk Meadows this weekend to check on the state of the sparrows and other birds. I walked along the river past the fairgrounds to the northern end of Wangunk. Along the way I counted 8 Swamp Sparrows, 12 Eastern Bluebirds, 4 White-throated Sparrows, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles,1 Northern Harrier, 2 Osprey, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, and 1 American kestrel. I saw about 35 species in total. 

 You might not know it by looking at this picture but I counted at least 40 Savannah Sparrows near these cornfields. They were very hard to see on the ground and when I got close they would pop up into the cornfields and disappear.
 I finally managed to catch one at the top of a corn plant looking around.
There were a few warblers too including Black and White Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and several Palm Warblers. Not surprisingly, the majority of the warblers I saw were Yellow-rumped Warblers

When I was in the deepest part of the woods, 2 Alaskan Huskies ran toward me. I pet one of the dogs but the second dog didn't like it. A dog argument broke out and I was standing between 2 alpha males aggressively barking, snarling, and baring teeth. I like dogs but I was a wee bit nervous there for a minute.

Sparrows of the corn, surrounded by birds of prey, and being cornered by angry dogs made the morning feel like an early Halloween birding trip.