Today, while birding with Caroline around the south end of Bond Lake, I heard a commotion above us that alerted me to the possibility that some birds had found an intruder, a predator worthy of their scolds. So we looked up and saw a snake, a Black Rat snake, I’m guessing.
I have read that an Acadian Flycatcher builds its nest just far out enough on a flimsy limb that a snake cannot eat its eggs or prey on its young, but not so far out on the limb that a wind could destroy its sloppy nest. I have found Acadian Flycatcher nests on a few occasions in the park, always in the American Hornbeams that line the paths. But I have never seen a snake up a tree until today. Because it is a real threat to all nesting birds, when one finds a snake, they call their neighbors and all gather to scold the scaly intruder and chase it off. Today, we caught these glimpses of their concern:
This morning I heard the begging call of a young Barred Owl and spied it perched on a horizontal limb beside one of its parents in the middle of the woods on the east side of the lake. Later this evening, I went back and relocated the owls. I could hear both mom and dad hooting in the distance, mom with her tremolo voice. Then I watched as one of the young owl’s parents landed on a nearby branch with a small snake dangling from its bill. A pair of waterthrushes (sounded like Louisiana Waterthrushes) got quite excited about the owl visit, calling wit-wit-wit all around. When the owls flew off through the woods, the waterthrushes flew after them and left me holding a bag of pure quiet. Then a Northern Waterthrush sang 3 or 4 times at the far end of the creek, and I smiled at the gift.
I found an Acadian Flycatcher’s nest yesterday with a bird on it. The bird was not on it today. I’ve read their nests are quite flimsy. The photo here certainly validates that.
I birded at Howell Woods today with Mike Tove and we got 68 species of birds including 15 species of warbler. The highlights included photographed views of a Swainson’s Warbler, a pair of down-covered Great Horned Owls, and – thanks to a tip by another birder – a Mississippi Kite, which was a real treat to see. Unfortunately, my poor photos do no justice the real beauty of these birds. Despite the breezy and overcast conditions, I really had a great time birding today.
Spring has finally sprung free from winter’s tiring grip, and migration is ramping up. I have seen and heard Louisiana Waterthrushes, Northern Parulas, Palm Warblers, and Prairie Warblers at various places inside the park. Bond Park is not the birdiest spot, but if you visit daily, you’re bound to luck up and find something interesting. Today was one of those days.
I was at peninsula point on the southern part of the Lake Trail when I heard a bird I wasn’t sure about. It had a two-parted song and it took me a bit to categorize it as a “Nashville Warbler” type of song. I located the bird in the top of a blossoming oak as it sang. All yellow underneath and a short tail were the first two thoughts I had. Then it dawned on me that the bird I was looking at was indeed a Nashville Warbler. I recorded a snippet of its song on my digital recorder and took a few unsatisfying but passable shots of the bird. Hopefully I’ll find some more goodies there soon.
I went to see this bird, a species I never dreamed of seeing, let alone seeing one in the state of North Carolina. The first such record was a dead bird found in Chatham County in 1926. A second record occurred in more recent times but was around for only an hour before disappearing, plus it was on a remote island off the coast. But today’s bird, was in Person County, just an hour or so away from the Research Triangle Park.
I got up at 4:40am, left home an hour later, and arrived there by 7am. Another birder showed up about 20 minutes later, then a third birder, along with some locals wondering what all the fuss was about. I was beginning to wonder if this was wasted trip, but then I spotted the bird way out in left field (literally) and yelled, I got it! They couldn’t get to my scope fast enough 🙂
Here are my poor digiscoped shots (only 1 is not cropped). Note the broad, black breast band (compare to 2 breast bands on the Killdeers); the olive-green back (compare to brown back of Killdeers); massive size (about twice that of Killdeer).