Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Changes at Hasty

Lifer Mourning Warbler!
We spent last weekend up at Hasty and spring had brought new colors to our place. Everything had greened up and there were many trees, bushes and wildflowers in bloom. I brought along my copy of Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota and spent a good deal of time figuring out just what we have growing up there. I was particularly interested in the brush growing along the slope down to the creek just below our balcony. We would like to clear it just a bit to give us a better view of the creek and the critters down there but I really want to be careful to leave the plants that produce fruit for the wildlife. I know we have lots of beaked hazelnut bushes. They grow wherever there is a break in the canopy. Some of them can go. Using the book I was able to identify several choke cherry trees, june berry bushes, and two kinds of dogwood. These are all terrific fruit producers and I've seen the birds go after them in earlier seasons. We also have quite a few pretty spruce and balsam trees growing on the south-facing slope. If we thin a bit they'll have more room to grow. As I identify plants that I want to keep, I've been marking them with a spool of red plastic ribbon. We'll most likely wait to start thinning the brush in the fall after the nesting season is long over. Thanks go out to Deb at Sand Creek Almanac for suggesting this wonderful book.
Saturday we had an exciting visitor- Richard from At The Water made the long drive up from his home to see our place and give us advice on finishing the upstairs to turn it into our cabin. Richard is an amazingly multi-talented man has kindly offered his expertise in carpentry and electrical wiring! His visit on Saturday gave us an opportunity to get ideas and make some decisions on the placement of interior walls and a kitchen. Most of these decisions need to be firmed up before the wiring can be done. We had a great day, though chilly and very windy. In addition to driving all that way to help us out, Richard brought us a most thoughtful gift: a framed photo that I took from the balcony and posted on this blog last year! It will be the first picture that I hang up there and I'll be sure to post a photo of it. Thank you Richard.
Sunday morning dawned warmer and quite cloudy. I woke early (6am), made a pot of coffee and quietly slid open the patio door on the balcony. Armed with a big cup of strong coffee and my binoculars I stepped outside to be met by a morning chorus like no other: The warblers were here! Ovenbirds, Common Yellowthroats, Black and Whites.
There were Chestnut-sided Warblers everywhere!
Our building/campsite is surrounded on three sides by the creek and I could hear the
of Golden-winged Warblers on all three sides (no pix this time). I saw Blackpolls, American Redstarts, Nashville and Palm Warblers. I kept hearing a louder song, not familiar. I put on jeans, long sleeves and hiking shoes, grabbed my camera and took off to find the singer. I got as close as I could to the song, settled in and waited. There were two birds singing that song, one on either side of a small clearing. There it was- a Mourning Warbler!! LIFER!! Two males sang dueling songs. I took tons of pictures, none of them great because of the gray skies, but good enough to verify my id. I posted a photo two years ago of a fledgling that I couldn't identify. Hap in New Hope thought it was probably a Mourning Warbler but I didn't count it on my life list because I couldn't make the id myself.
It was a very birdy day even without the warblers. Purple Finches and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fought for time at the feeders.

These Purple Finch ladies were bickering.

This little Chipping Sparrow sat still just long enough for a quick snapshot. Song Sparrows, Hermit Thrushes and Veeries sang along the creek. White-throated Sparrows skulked around mostly hidden in the thick hazelnut bushes. A brilliant flash of red in a treetop across the creek- a Scarlet Tanager is new for my Hasty yard list.

My first decent (sort of) photo of a Kingfisher.

Sunday was the birdiest day I've ever had at Hasty Brook.


We'll be buying lumber, light fixtures and wiring supplies for our next trip up north. With Richard's help and advice we will be making great progress in turning our "upstairs" into a comfy cabin/loft. As soon as it's finished we'll be able to open the doors and invite you all up to the Hasty Brook Birder's B&B!!