50 Species Sunday

I’ll admit, I’m not the best birder around. Sure I take it pretty seriously, but in reality I am still fairly new at this and need much more time in the field to hone my skills.  So after deciding on doing some birding on Sunday I set the goal of 50 species for the day.  The next step was deciding on where to spend the majority of my day.  As York County has many great birding locations it was a tough decision.  I finally decided on William H. Kain County Park.  I chose Kain Park because of the possibility of both migrating shorebirds and warblers.  Kain Park encompasses 1,600 acres including two fairly large lakes.  In my opinion the weather was great, 60s and overcast.  Just my experience, but I find the birds are much more active throughout the entire day when it is cloudy.

I started at the Lake Redman boardwalk, built specifically in mind for looking at shorebirds and waterfowl.  The first bird I took notice to on the day was this Great Egret, followed quickly by a Great Blue Heron flying overhead.

Great Egret

After watching the Egret, Heron, Geese with goslings, and 3 different types of swallows I decided to move on from the boardwalk into the wooded area along the lake.  This Carolina Wren was singing away, making sure everything around was aware of its presence.

Carolina Wren

Other than Gray Catbirds (which I saw probably close to 100 individuals) the next most abundant species was the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. I definitely could not complain, because I went to see Warblers, although I was planning on seeing more than the 5 species that I did.  It seemed like everything I put my binoculars or camera on was a Yellow-Rumped. I just couldn’t seem to find any other species.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

One of the few other Warbler species I did find was the Common Yellowthroat.  In the past I have found these tiny little birds extremely hard to find and especially to photograph. I had no issue with that on Sunday. There were many individuals that were more than willing to pose for a few snaps.

Common Yellowthroat

As I made my way around the lake I encountered a flock of 5 Baltimore Orioles.  Not all that special of a sighting, but since these birds wear my favorite color scheme I always enjoy watching them.

Baltimore Oriole

While watching the Orioles I was surprised when a Green Heron landed in a tree not 10 feet from my head.  It did not take long for the Heron to realize what I was and to take off across the lake. However, while watching the Heron the movement of a tiny bird caught my eye.  I’m not going to lie, while watching this tiny bird, I had no idea what I was looking at. So I took a few snaps with my camera, hoping at least one would come out well enough to help my ID the little fellow.  After thumbing through my Sibley’s and looking at few pictures online I finally decided on Warbling Vireo. (If you think it is something else please let me know!)

Warbling Vireo

Making my way back along the trail to the boardwalk, I looked out into the lake and saw this Spotted Sandpiper bobbing up and down on this log.

Spotted Sandpiper

I decided to take trail 5 up the mountain away from the lake to see what I could find deeper in the woods. Some highlights while climbing the mountain were a Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Pheobe, Black-Throated Blue Warbler, and a Hairy Woodpecker.

Eastern Pheobe

Female Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Hairy Woodpecker

When I reached the top of the mountain, there was a small clearing where I stood for a few minutes watching a female American Redstart and Ruby-Crowned Kinglet forage in the leafy brush not 10 yards from me.  During this time I heard a song that I was not familiar with. I turned around to see a very vibrant Indigo Bunting singing away on a limb behind me.  I was able to take a few shots with my camera before he took off.

Indigo Bunting

While making the the trek back down the hill I was able to find more Common Yellowthroats and quite a few Eastern Towhees singing vivaciously.  They were not the only songsters though of this side of the mountain, this White-Eyed Vireo was giving them a run for their money.

White-Eyed Vireo

As I made my way down the rest of the mountain to the boardwalk I was surrounded by more Gray Catbirds, they were literally everywhere I looked.  However, I did find one more highlight wading in the muddy banks of the lake, this Solitary Sandpiper.

Solitary Sandpiper

Overall it was a decent day of birding for me. I left Kain Park with 44 species.  Knowing I set my goal at 50 for the day I went home and sat on the back porch until I reached my goal.  My 50th species of the day was a female Eastern Bluebird who had just layed her first egg in the nest box in the yard.

-Travis

First of May Birding

It is that time of the year that most birders look forward to all winter long, spring migration.  As the calendar reads May, migration is generally in full swing here in Pennsylvania.  As this has been a crazy year so far in regards to the weather, the migration has begun earlier than usual (although many people believe the weather has nothing to do with it).  Many people around the state are reporting First of the Year Birds (FOY) and nesting activity 1-2 weeks earlier than years past.  My records indicate much of the same, I had bluebird eggs a full two weeks earlier than my previous earliest record.

Because of the massive amount of migrating bird reports I have seen over the past two days I decided to take a walk around the family farm today to see what I could find. It seemed as though everybody and their brother were reporting Rose-Breasted Grosbeak sightings all across Pennsylvania, so I was keeping an eye out for them in particular. Although there were no Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks to be found I did have three FOY birds.

The first bird I encountered on my trail was a House Wren, my first FOY of the walk.

House Wren

This little guy was carrying nesting material into one of my Bluebird Boxes I have up around the farm.  I generally discourage House Wrens from nesting in any of my boxes as they can be detrimental to other cavity nesting birds in the area, but I have been fighting with this guy for three years now so I think he deserves a shot at producing some offspring.  Also, it is against Federal Law to destroy a House Wren nest, as it is to interrupt any protected species nesting activity.

Just pass the wren box I took a trail through the woods towards the Little Conewago Creek, which borders the property.  As soon as a stepped into the woods I was surrounded by the calls of the Wood Thrush and Gray Catbird, both FOY birds for me.

Gray Catbird

The song of a Wood Thrush is truly magical and can make one feel as though they are in an enchanted forest. The song involves a high-pitched flute-like whistle that is very distinguishable. Click here to listen.

Wood Thrush

Other than the 3 FOY birds, the trip was fairly disappointing.  I did not see any other migrating species to note, although I did not spend much time looking and was quickly running out of daylight. Also the Great Horned Owl hatchlings have left the nest and were no where to be found.  Here is a pic I digiscoped with my cell phone of the furballs last week.

They are there...trust me!

Here is to hoping for a more productive outing next time I am out looking for birds!

Click here for a complete list of species I saw this evening.

-Travis