Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cold, Wet and Windy

At 8:30 a.m. Friday Dee was snug in bed at home. I was trying to bird in Bear Creek Park. I say "trying". There were plenty of birds around but it was so cold that I couldn't hold my binoculars steady enough to ID them. Plus a steady light rain made both my binoculars and my glasses difficult to see through. It was miserable! I don't know how people manage to bird in places like the UK where this kind of weather is more common than not.

After an hour, the only birds I had managed to ID were a Northern Flicker, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Black and Turkey Vultures and American Goldfinches. 

Northern Flicker
The rain eased up a little and I was able to add several more species: Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler,. Ruby-crownd Kinglet and Carolina Chickadee. However, there was no sign of the three species I was looking for and which everyone had recently been seeing in the park : Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper and Pine Siskin.

At 10:00 I decided to give up and head home. Then three things happened at once. I stopped to admire a fly-over by a Crested Caracara. The rain stopped. I spotted Jim Hinson parking his car ahead of me on Sullins Way. Jim's a great local birder and so I parked, too, and walked over to chat.
He wanted to know what I'd been seeing. I told him what I hadn't been seeing: Pine Siskin, Golden-crowned KInlet and Brown Creeper. He was incredulous that I had managed to miss out on these species. "Come on and I'll show you them," he said. 

We walked a few yards and looked for Pine Siskins among a flock of dozens of American Goldfinches. It took 15 minutes of waiting and playing recorded calls but, sure enough, a couple of Pine Siskins joined the finches.

"Now let's go see the others," Jim said, and we walked over to what he thought looked like a good spot. He play a Brown Creeper call and a couple of minutes later a Creeper appeared and wandered up a nearby tree trunk. What beautiful little birds they are!

We stayed put and Jim played Golden-crowned Kinglet calls. Within seconds a Kinglet flew in above our heads. Then another joined it.

So within 30 minutes Jim had shown me my three target species.

It was time for me to head home. I thanked Jim and left him scouring the undergrowth for Eastern Towhee. The latter would be a very unusual bird for the area but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he found one. 

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