Thursday, June 12, 2008

Atlassing and lifebirds!

What a busy week it's been! I've barely had enough time to read and comment on other blogs, much less post much on this one. However, I had a great time atlassing this past Sunday with my pal Roana and wanted to tell you about it.

Sadly, I have no pictures of my TWO LIFEBIRDS that I got that day. I think some kind of funk comes over me when I'm in the field sometimes, and I just forget that I have a camera. I'm so busy looking at the bird that I forget to take a photo of it. This happened a lot this weekend, which is a real shame because the views I got of both birds were spectacular!

First, I finally got to hear a black-billed cuckoo's soft "coo coo, coo coo" coming from a tree. I didn't see the bird, so I'm not counting it as a lifer. You know what a hard-ass I am. Still, it was so cool to hear a cuckoo saying "cuckoo," you know?

Second, for my first lifer, I saw an entire family of Louisiana Waterthrushes! They were up the hill from a creek, and I got to see one of the adults do quite the little tail maneuver. They move their tails up and up in what is quite honestly a silly and cute little dance--but hey, the chicks must dig it! I was no more than ten feet from this bird, and I STILL didn't think to get a picture. Can you believe it?

I also FINALLY got to see a Hairy Woodpecker, and the size difference from a downy was so freakin' obvious that I realized that I'd never seen one before that day. I thought I had, but I hadn't -- so this one doesn't really count, because I'd already counted it!

Finally, for my second lifer, I got a great look at a Veery. Might've been a female, because it wasn't singing at all, but it was still great to see this beautiful singer.

Overall, we got 51 species in two different blocks in Mifflin County. One of the blocks is mostly Amish farmland with some great woodsy areas, while the other is in Poe Paddy State Park. Both yielded various habitats and some great looks at birds--not to mention one spot where we found cicadas covering EVERYTHING.

Cicadas were all over the weeds and plants, the trees and powerlines, the signs and the fences. I believe most were part of the 17-year cyclical group, which was really neat. When I was a kid, we used to get cicadas every year, from little green ones to big old black and red ones. We would catch them and then tie some thread around their thorax area and fly 'em around like they were on a leash! (sorry!) These guys on Sunday must've just hatched because they were just sitting around, dark with glowing-orange-red eyes and wings. They didn't even try to evade capture. Still, I had no thread with me....

Here's my list, then, of what we found:
Canada Goose
Mallard (a female on her nest!)
Turkey Vulture
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon (including an entire flock of snow-white ones)
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Pewee (they were everywhere! yay! I love them.)
Acadian Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo (these guys were everywhere too)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Hermit Thrush (got a great look at one of these, as he was pecking around in the leaf litter)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Euro Starling
Northern Parula (so beautiful)
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler (one of my faves)
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler (my favorite warbler)
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Worm-eating Warbler
Ovenbird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (I thought all of these had gone north, but they breed here in the higher elevations)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (love 'em!)
Indigo Bunting (sigh)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common (oh so common) Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird (not too many, which was good)
Baltimore Oriole

We had a great time, and then we had the world-famous French toast at the Honeycreek Inn in Reedsville. If you're ever on Hwy 322 between Lewistown and State College, go there. Get the French toast. Prepare for heaven in your mouth!

26 comments:

FranIAm said...

That is so great. You know how I lurv to read about your birdy life - it makes me very happy.

In fact I just thought of you as I listened to Julie Zickenfoose as she talked about rabbits!

Although while no fan of the cicadas, I am not crazy about putting them on leashes!!

DCup said...

Wow! Sent me to the bedroom to get the bird book to see which is bigger - the downey or the hairy woodpecker.

I think the biggest bird thrill I've had yet was seeing a flock of cedar waxwings a couple of years ago. I love their masks and their color!

Matty Boy said...

Nice work, dg. Get that camera clicking next time.

If you ever get out to the S.F. Bay Area, there are some very nice birding locations. Even a walk around Lake Merritt in the middle of downtown Oakland can get you some good birding.

ehunter said...

That's cool about the family of Louisiana water thrushes.

You probably got to enjoy them more without the distraction of camera; at least, that's what I tell myself in similar situations.

Looks like you have some good sightings in your bird list.

John said...

Congratulations on the lifers. I think the only time I have had black-billed cuckoo was during the big periodical cicada eruption in DC a few years ago. I could barely hear its coo-coo over the cicada calls.

dguzman said...

Fran--Oh, did you hear Zick on NPR? I love her commentaries! And I agree that putting cicadas on little thread leashes was not one of my brighter nature moments....

DCup--Glad to see you booking it on the birds! I have yet to see a really big flock; I think I've seen maybe three together. I love them too!

Matty Boy--believe me, I would love to go west and see all your different birds! It would be like beginning to bird all over again!

EHunter--it's really great living out in the country, because we have so many different habitats around there, so we get a wide variety of birds.

John--the cicadas must bring the cuckoos out, because they're everywhere! I even heard the coo-coo last night and again this morning, back behind my house toward the more densely tree-covered areas. Cool!

Rabbits' Guy said...

At's a dandy list!

This blog is really weird ... last I read you killed a squirrel. I go away for a bit and come back you are leashing and flyng cicadas. If I ever take a real vacation I can hardly imagine what will have happened!!!

Oh but that french toast sounds good ... it is pretty amazing what world famous french toast is to normal french toast!

Susan Gets Native said...

Gee, I don't know, D. I don't think you OWN a camera anymore.
Evidence, girl. EV-I-DENCE.

And you were a poor deprived child...walking cicadas on leashes. I can't wait to tell my girls that a friend of mine leashed cicadas. You will become legend in the preschool set around here.

Earl Cootie said...

What you said to Matty Boy, but in reverse. So many different birds you have over there. Yes, it would be like starting anew.

Mary said...

My Lord, Delia! You saw more birds in one day that I see in a year! Great shots! (just kidding). I've never seen a Hairy. I will, eventually.

You always make me laugh. I love your honesty, especially when you fess up on cicada torture.

Hey, I've been out of my mind, too. I miss visiting you often.

dguzman said...

Rabbits' Guy--boy, when you put it that way, out of context, I sound like a cruel animal-hater! Or as Mary calls me, "cicada torturer." Eek!

Susan--it's terrible. I need to go on the same routes sometime with my camera and just sit and watch and snap pics. Oh boy, the girls will make ME their hero!

Earl--yes, it would be neat, though!

Mary--I wouldn't call it "torture," exactly -- it's just "extreme questioning techniques," according to the government!

Owlman said...

Camera: "A lightproof box fitted with a lens though which the image of an object is recorded on a material sensetive to light". The definition doesn't mention that you need to point it at the object and press the button.....ROFL

Awesome bird list - wow. Great job with the lifers.

Owlman said...

Hope you don't mind the special mention http://owlbox.blogspot.com/2008/06/blue-birds-deja-vous.html I was just kidding around ;-)

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