Sunday, September 09, 2007
Wetland regulars and migrants
So that's what it looks like at 6:30 in the morning.
The alarm clock went off at 6am this morning to wake me for my first field trip to several area wetlands with some State College Birding Club members. I was a little tired after a late night of calculus limits and derivatives, but I got up.
I met a lot of new people from the club, as well as some people who've come out the marsh behind my house, so that was nice. I didn't take my scope, but several people had Swarovskis and Kowas, so I did get some close-ups of some of the birds we saw.
For those of you near Central PA, we visited several spots on the lake at Bald Eagle State Park, which looks to be a great site both for birding and camping, plus Lower Greens Run and the Julian wetlands. One place in the park, the Frog Pond, was amazing; I've never seen that many frogs in one place! And for some reason, the little minnows (? they were small fish) were jumping out of the water and straight into the air; they looked like little fingers sticking up repeatedly, making little splashes. I'd never seen that before; it was really funny to watch.
It was a rather foggy and then steamy humid morning, and bird activity was pretty low. However, we did manage to see some notable migrants as well as the usual suspects:
Wood duck--in eclipse plumage, so I still haven't seen one of these in full glory, sadly; still, it was my first steady long look at a wood duck, so I'm finally adding it to my list--a lifer. Even in eclipse, the eye-ring was distinctive.
Common loon--not common up here, and another lifer! We watched him dive repeatedly for food right near the stone wall at Sayer's Dam near Howard, PA.
Double-crested cormorant--another lifer that we watched diving for fish.
Great blue heron
Solitary sandpiper--my first real look at one of these migrants; lifer!
Yellowlegs--couldn't tell whether it was lesser or greater, with only one in sight. Still--yet another lifer!
Belted kingfisher--these were everywhere!
Northern harrier--saw a few of these, another lifer! We saw several raptors this morning.
Cooper's hawk--a young one, who for some reason decided to try to nail a wood duck and made several passes at him before giving up.
Osprey--we got to see one of these perched not far from us, over the lake and looking for food.
Bald eagle--a mated pair! the male actually caught a fish as we watched; it was like watching Wild Kingdom!
Rose-breasted grosbeak (female)
Bluejay, Mourning dove, American crow, American robin, and Gray catbird--not too notable.
Not at all bad for a humid morning in September! We'd hoped to see some migrating warblers, but that didn't happen. I'm okay with that, especially in light of the facts that (1) I'll be at Cape May soon, and (2) my fall warbler ID skills are, well, pathetic.
What a Great Egret!
A really poor shot of a perched osprey.
It was neat to take a field trip with so many new people; in normal life, I'm not too big on meeting new people, but when you know you've already got one big thing in common, it's easy to make quick friends on a birding trip. I thought several times that I should print up little business cards for my bloggy; then I could hand them out on trips like these. Then, not only would they see my blog but they'd have links to follow to the great birding blogs of Birdchick, Julie Zickefoose and Bill Thompson III, Laura H in NJ, and other Flock members. Does anyone else print up little cards for their blog? Is this an okay thing to do, or would I be seen as a weirdo?