I told you about the rail tunnel/trail area last week, and how I thought it might yield some good birding, right? So I woke up early and went there yesterday morning with a novice birder named Gretchen, and we had a great time exploring the place -- such a great time that I took exactly ZERO photos. So this post will be pure narrative; sorry!
I admit we got there a little late (8am); we should've been there by 6:30 but we had some trouble getting going, what with my allergies/cold thing that is hanging on. Still--the first bird we saw was a lifer for us both: a Hooded Warbler, flitting among the bushes at ground level, so from the elevated path it was a great view--no warbler neck! I was so busy pointing it out to Gretchen, explaining the field marks and handing the binocs back and forth that I just didn't even think to get the camera. This would be the trend for the entire trip.
There were birds everywhere, and the pines around the rail tunnel were filled with Ruby-Crowned Kinglets and Northern Parulas! One RC Kinglet was flashing his little red crown so openly that it was obvious he was out for some serious mating. What a stud.
Here's a list from this area:
Hooded Warbler (Lifer/FOY)
Northern Parula (FOY)
Wood Thrush (FOY)
Hairy Woodpecker (FOY)
Northern Flicker (FOY)
After Gretchen and I left the tunnel trail, we took this road that was deceptively named the Sieglerville-Milheim Pike. Some "pike" -- after about a 100 yards, the pavement ended and it was all winding cinder road for 16 miles! Off-roading in a 2001 Honda Civic is not exactly big fun, but we made it through and had breakfast at the locally (and supposedly world-) famous Honey Creek Inn, which serves some amazingly good French toast. Yum!
En route along the "pike," we caught a Broad-winged Hawk finishing off a small bird (possibly Tufted Titmouse, judging from the feathers) right next to the road. We had time to observe field marks both on the ground and in flight, as he was not eager to leave his kill. I wished Susan could've been there to appreciate the wild hawk action.
Later, we drove to a small woodlot on Indian Road to see whether the Red-headed Woodpecker was still there. Sure enough, he made an appearance within ten minutes of our stopping there, making it three straight years I've seen him there. It was like seeing an old friend.
The day turned a little chilly, but we spent it all outside either birding or just hanging out on the Adirondack chairs and watching the marsh. No doubt about it: spring is really here!
Oooh--this morning, one of the State College Bird Club bigwigs emailed me to ask if I would lead a field trip to this spot on Mother's Day weekend--wow! I don't know what all that entails, other than pointing out the spots where I saw birds last time and just generally being helpful. I hope it's not much more than that, as you know I'm a little shy.