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:
Mallard (a female on her nest!)
Rock Pigeon (including an entire flock of snow-white ones)
Eastern Wood Pewee (they were everywhere! yay! I love them.)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo (these guys were everywhere too)
Hermit Thrush (got a great look at one of these, as he was pecking around in the leaf litter)
Northern Parula (so beautiful)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (one of my faves)
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler (my favorite warbler)
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)
Common (oh so common) Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird (not too many, which was good)
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!