Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birding Between Thunderstorms

Cedar Waxwing
A new group named Botanica is working to create a botanical garden in Louisville, on the former site of an automobile impound lot. The cars are gone, and the poison hemlock covers the field. They asked Beckham Bird Club to do a bird census today, so several club members met this morning, tromping through the mud and puddles from last night's thunderstorm. Rob is one of my favorite birding leaders because he knows the song and call of every bird in the field guide. It's always a good chance for me to brush up on my bird songs. We must have found about 30 Cedar Waxwings throughout the morning.
Yellow Warbler
Indigo Bunting
Yellow Warblers and Indigo Buntings were present in good numbers too, calling from the brush and trees every few yards it seemed.
Least Flycatcher
Baltimore Oriole
 We had to work a little harder to finally see this Flycatcher and the Oriole. All morning we were surprised by the lack of other expected warblers. Chickadees, Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice, normally abundant birds at any time, must have been feeding somewhere else today.
I've been hearing the eerie echoing call of the Veery several days this week in my backyard, but have been unable to find it. The only other time I've ever heard one was at Magee Marsh in Ohio a couple years ago. They are members of the Thrush family, and resemble young Robins, but the song is distinctive. They migrate through Kentucky on the way to breeding territory in southern Canada, and I've never seen one locally. Today, I went out with my phone app, trying to call one in so I could prove it was actually here. After I gave up and came back inside, the darn little thing sat on the fence and sang for me. The photos are a little fuzzy, since I had to take them through a slightly dirty window. If I kept a yard list, this would definitely be a new addition!

PS - some birding friends say this is really a Gray-cheeked Thrush, which is a life bird for us!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Birds and Pollywogs at Bernheim

It's Derby Day in Louisville, and the city celebrates the horse race for two weeks before it actually happens. I used to go to the track when trust department customers from the bank where I worked invited me, but haven't been for years and don't miss it a bit. It's something that's fun to do - once or twice. Does that mean I'm getting old?
Today we went to Pollywogs at Bernheim Forest with my daughter and two grandchildren. The boy is a veteran of this program for pre-schoolers, but it was the first time for our granddaughter. They talked about rainbows and made crafts with all the colors of the rainbow. Miss Whitney does a wonderful job with these very young children.
I've learned to pack a picnic lunch and camera for the day. The cell phone takes good photos of the kids in action, but I need a better lens for any birds or flowers I might find. The silo area just below the education building, is a great place for birding. In fact, you could do a Big Sit and come up with a decent list in a short time. Getting close enough for photos is more of a challenge though. One of the first birds I heard was a Baltimore Oriole, way up in the sycamores where I couldn't find him. Down in the woods, a Wood Peewee called, and out in the meadow several Field Sparrows called from the grass. Flickers nest above the picnic tables too.
The Purple Martin houses attract large numbers of Martins, while a nearby Bluebird box has a closed-circuit camera showing the chicks, who will be ready to fly any time now.
At the observation room in the education building, the neighboring birds come to chow down at the feeders....

...while the gardens bloom profusely. I'm glad to find little tree seedlings invading their gardens just like we have at home.