Archive for September, 2006

The Move South is On

Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day here in Vermont. We had a front blow through late Monday night, and yesterday was a day when migration south seemed to be in the air. Saw several more flocks of geese heading south, 3 different raptors, can’t say which since I have not yet learned how to best ID hawks and at least 15-20 monarch butterflies heading south.

Colder temperatures are definitely on the way.


Signs of Fall are Everywhere!

With a new cold front that has blown through, there are signs everywhere that cold weather will soon be taking over. The first sign this morning, other than the blustery cool breeze we were experiencing, was a male American Goldfinch in mid-molt. He was about half the brilliant yellow and half-dull gray - a little haggard.

Also saw, and heard, my first undulatinig “V” formation of Canada geese making their way south - and actually going in that direction.

Lastly, on Monday I saw my first wooly catepillars crossing the road that I drive to the store on. Didn’t get a chance to see which color was thicker, so I guess I’ll have to wait to see what winter brings.


A bit quiet at the feeder

Nothing really that unusual to report at our feeders lately. We did have a hawk cause a bit of a raucous that caused a mourning dove to fatally crash to the ground.

Lots of sparrows, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, and the reliable hairy woodpecker continue to show up. We haven’t seen the northern cardinals that had been so regular show up for the past few days. They may have moved on, and hopefully someone else is enjoying the male as much as we did. He was quite the showoff.

I plan on heading over to Putney Mountain on Tuesday to take part in the hawk watch. I have not participated in one of these before and the weather may not be too conducive on that day, at least according to the forecast, but it will be a nice chance to get outdoors for the day.



How much joy can one bird bring?

For birdwatchers, and those who keep life lists, the past 6 weeks have been very exciting. Where two birds in very different locations have brought a lot of joy to many, many birders.

First there was the sighting of a Western Reef Heron in Maine. Only the second time seen in North America. And while there was some very interesting and complete taxonomic debate on the bird, for most who went to see the bird, it was a thrill. Postings on birdwatching sites were updated almost by the hour so those travelling could keep up with where the bird was.

The second bird is still thrilling Vermont birdwatchers, where a Norther Wheatear has been putting on quite a show. It seems to keeping its range to a causeway in Colchester Vermont and posing for some extraordinary photos. Here’s a couple I think are the best.

People often ask why I am so interested in wild birds? Most often it’s the thrill of seeing something wild for the first time that gets kind of addicting. Ask anyone who has ever seen the rose-breasted grosbeak for the first time in person.


The trouble with Hairy(s)

One of the great treats we get to see at our bird feeders (or suet feeders when we put them out) is the less common Hairy Woodpecker. Much larger than the Downy Woodpecker, they’re quite a sight to see when they visit our feeders.

Lately, in spite of his size, and we can tell it’s a he by his brilliant red patch on the back of his head, this particular Hairy woodpecker has been feeding out of our tube feeder, even though there is a much easier way to eat via our platform feeder not 10 feet away.

What makes this a bit annoying is that we use a blend in our tube feeder, much of which a woodpecker wouldn’t find appealing. So he takes to using his bill to throw everything he doesn’t like on to the ground. The mourning doves and various types of sparrows seem to LOVE this, as do our resident chipmunks.

It can be entertaining to watch, it’s just that more trips are needed to fill the feeder. We’ll have to see if he keeps this up, or maybe use a more specialized feeder and fill it with more attractive woodpecker food to redirect his energy.

In any event, he’s great to have around - even if he is a bit messy.