Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bittersweet Birding

We joined the Beckham Bird Club for another birding adventure this morning at Nettleroth Bird Sanctuary in Cherokee Park. Beargrass Creek winds through the park, flooding the roads when it rains, and attracting a wide variety of birds. We shared the park with bikers, skaters, and dog walkers. The roads are one-way now, so you don't have to dodge traffic in both directions. Watch out for those bikers though, they like to speed!

We counted 45 species today in about three hours of birding. The loudly singing Tennessee Warbler was a new one for me. Our leaders saw some Bay-Breasted Warblers and a Red Eyed Vireo. I heard the Vireo (as always) along with a shy Wood Thrush. One leader and I did actually see a Parula, which others missed - a first for me! I think I'm starting to overcome my Fear of Warblers, after some successes with them this year. A Great Crested Flycatcher called "WHEEP" as we walked along, and I learned the difference between an Acadian Flycatcher and a Phoebe. Small flocks of Cedar Waxwings played in the branches. This pair pushed each other from side to side, while another Waxwing seemed to be the referee for the game.

The walk was bittersweet because it led through the park and right up to the house formerly owned by Dick's parents. Although Dick did not grow up in this house, we still had many happy hours and memories of it. When we visited for a weekend before we got married, Dad would get some extra trail horses at Rock Creek Riding Club, and we rode through the park to tie up at a hitching post right in the yard. After breakfast, we headed back to the barn with the horses. How many people do you know with a hitching post and Cherokee Park in their back yard?

Our children loved going to Grandmommy's house by the park. Once our daughter's tricycle got out of control going down the steep drive, but her long-legged uncle saved her from severe injury at the bottom. Dad always kept the yard mowed, even though parts of it belonged to the Park. The big Ginko tree is still there, but some of the others have died. Now, much has grown up, and young trees are being planted to move the process along. It is appropriate for the Nettleroth Bird Sanctuary to be their back yard, since I became fascinated watching the birds that came to Mom's feeders. It is sweet to remember all the good times, and bitter to acknowledge that this part of our lives is gone forever.

It's much more fun to go birding in the whole park than just the viewing it through the window. Indigo Buntings came to show off their iridescent blue feathers, which some of our group had never seen before. An American Redstart in full breeding plumage displayed his fine colors, fanning his tail to show off. We found the "mossy" looking nest of a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher. Initially, we thought it was empty, but closer examination showed the mother's tail sticking out at the top. The final bird on the list was a Red Shouldered Hawk, and the sun shone right through the translucent "window" of his wings. I learned that there is a Red Shouldered Hawk's nest not too far from my house, but was unable to find it on the way home. I'll have to get our birder friends to show me.

At the Falls on Saturday, the river was completely out of its banks again, so no hiking was possible along the river, but there was plenty of activity in the woods. A mama Red Bellied Woodpecker must have been laying eggs inside her nest hole, because her mate was having absolute fits outside the tree. He called, jumped from limb to limb, and poked his head in the hole repeatedly. The light was wonderful, and I couldn't resist taking lots of photos. I call it "New Dad in the Waiting Room."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes I did love growing up and going into the woods "jungle" that was Grandmommie's house. Glad that you had an enjoyable morning even if it brought up some old memories.