The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 26, 2010


Cheep trills: An avid birder tallies 34 species

I generally think of March as a dead time for birding, so it was especially gratifying this weekend when a couple of forays, taken as much as anything simply to enjoy the unseasonably fine weather, proved to be surprisingly productive for finding birds. A late morning Saturday walk on the Greenough Land was nothing short of magical.

On a bike ride around town on Friday, it really felt like spring. As well as wood frogs calling from a number of places, I heard on Maple Street what I thought was a Pine Warbler singing. I would have been pretty sure of the identification but for two things: it was a couple of weeks early for Pine Warblers, and obviously I was out of practice listening to them having not heard one for six months or so. I thought there was a chance it could be a Junco, since they have been singing lately, but really didn’t think it sounded right for a Junco. So the main focus of my trip back on Saturday was to try and get a look at the triller in question, to try and get a definitive identification.

I ended up with a tally of 34 species, pretty decent for March in a single spot. After walking the Blueberry Trail to the junction with Brook Street, I went on to and around the pond, turning back just where the trail heads into the woods towards the river. Or towards where the river usually is; it now covers all of those trails in the woods. The fields near the horse barn have become a nice duck pond, and along with a couple of dozen Green-winged Teal there was a pair of American Widgeons. There was also a nice flock of Ring-necked Ducks on the (real) pond together with a couple of hooded mergansers, and ten or so wood ducks and a pair of black ducks on the beaver pond near Maple Street.

On my way through the woods I heard a few Golden-crowned Kinglets singing their full song, not just the three-note call - a rare treat in these parts – and also the song of the Brown Creeper, a wonderful melody. At the new bridge over the pond’s inlet stream I heard a wren-like sound and caught a quick glimpse of small bird movement by the edge of the water. Shortly it became a full winter wren song, and at the same time I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk calling from just off to the northeast (though I never did see it), and a kinglet singing. I don’t think that is a threesome that will often be heard together.

Close to the same spot, I heard two Pileated Woodpeckers calling to (or against) each other across the pond, and got beautiful views of one of them. Just once I heard what I thought was my first Phoebe of the spring, but it did not repeat itself to convince me I was not imagining it. Out by the fields was a Bluebird, and near the barn I heard and then saw a male towhee. The final highlight was an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk close to the small Blueberry Trail parking lot. And although I again heard the same trilled song, I still could not get a look at its perpetrator to confirm (or otherwise) my suspicion of Pine Warbler, so in that respect I suppose the whole trip was a failure. I don’t think so. ∆

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