Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Made a Little Bird Wish

Art and I made a day trip up to Hasty Brook on Sunday to do some drywall mudding (Art) and birding (me!). It was a cloudy, overcast day but I was really wishing to see my First Of Year Turkey Vulture. When I went out on the balcony to fill the feeders, I noticed that the thistle socks were still about one fourth full. I assumed that my Redpolls had left for their northern home but later a handful of the pretty winter finches attacked the thistle.

I watched the regular visitors on the feeders and mentioned to Art that I would really love to see an Evening Grosbeak in the yard. Over the winter, our good neighbor Mark had mentioned that another neighbor had had Evening Grosbeaks visiting his feeders. I had meant to stop there for a look but never got around to it. Was it too much to wish to add Evening Grosbeaks to my Hasty Brook yardlist?

They came! I was sitting by the patio door with my bins, scanning the trees when I saw two larger birds across the creek. One flew to the maple on our side of the rushing creek and I didn't need binoculars any more to know that Evening Grosbeaks were at my Hasty Brook!

My jaw dropped and I begged Art to grab my camera. I was so close to the bird (5 feet) and didn't want to move and scare it off. Just look at those wings!

A bit later the second Grosbeak flew up the the feeder on the railing. They were chomping through the oiler shells like tin snips on butter! The last time I saw Evening Grosbeaks was a few years ago with Ruthie in the Sax-Zim bog. They used to be so common when I was a girl. I remember enormous flocks of them descending on my Dad's feeders, cleaning them out in very little time. I hope they come back again. THAT was amazing.

While the huge numbers of Redpolls were gone north, the trees were full of gorgeous Purple Finches.

At one point there were ten on the railing, ten on the feeders, and at least another forty in the trees nearby. Against the gloomy sky, these finches looked like they'd been dipped in raspberry jello. Lovely color, lovely song.

I took a walk toward the creek. The creek was running higher than we'd ever seen it. That sound was what had drawn me to the place the first time we looked at the land. I watched from the top of the hill overlooking the creek and saw the ground below was hopping with Juncos and Fox Sparrows. Movement in the treetops caught my eyes. It seemed early, but I was pretty sure it was a pair of Yellow-rumped warblers! I fired off a bunch of shots, but the sky was so gray, it was impossible to tell much about the birds in the photos. I didn't have any way to edit the photos with me. Rats.

Later, as I was trying to get a few last photos of the Redpolls in the maple, this little guy popped up, right at eye level, nicely exposed----

Yellow-rumped Warbler! How odd to see both a summer warbler and a winter bird like a Redpoll sitting in the same tree. I've always known Hasty Brook was a special place.

It was nearing time to and still no Turkey Vultures so walked up the clearing to our mound by the road and looked up and down the road. To the south- two Turkey Vultures flying right up the road toward me! They flew right over my head, tipping their wings in greeting and floated off. Coming from the north, a Bald Eagle. I stood, counting my blessings and heard the yodeling calls of Sandhill Cranes. I suspected they were gathering in the field a half mile to the west of us. Glancing up, I was thrilled to see two of them flying toward that field.

What a wonderful day, but it was time to go. bad weather was coming from the south so we packed up and left. While stopped for pop in the next town I watched 20+ Turkey Vultures riding the south wind ahead of the storm. about 20 miles later Art spotted a kettle of TUVUs tipping in the wind. I pulled the car over and we got out to watch AT LEAST another 70 Turkey Vultures float low in the bumpy wind, headed north.

People thought we were nuts.

I was happy.


I had an amazing yard list for a cold, gloomy day in April.

Common Redpoll

Pine Siskin

Black-capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Song Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Purple Finch

Evening Grosbeak

American Crow

Common Raven

American Robin

Ruffed Grouse

Red-winged Blackbird

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Sandhill Crane

Bald Eagle

Turkey Vulture

American Kestrel

Wood Duck

Canada Goose


Wild Turkey


Ashley Ashbee said...

Thanks for writing about your enthusiasm and passion. It's exciting to see this gorgeous pictures; it must have been even doubly exciting to see these in real life.

Also, I think a couple bird watching together is terribly romantic.

Ruth said...

What a great list! I have yet to see an Evening Grosbeak. I have never heard of a recent sighting in our area and they have been scarce everywhere in Ontario the past 2 years. All those Purple Finches too... Great photos!

Ruth Hiebert said...

Wow! What a special blessing to see al these birds in ashore time.

troutbirder said...

Wow! Double wow!! My outing yesterday at Myre/Big Island S.P. brought a highlight of Hermit Thrushes and 2 Ruby Crowned Kinglets.

Anonymous said...

What a trip that was, in more ways than one! We have evening grosbeaks in the woods, but don' see them often. Lots of vultures, though.

You and your husband have made a perfect birdwatching retreat. Are you kids interested in birds, yet?

Hilke Breder said...

A marvellous post, Lynne! Your photos look like paintings, just wonderful. I read somewhere that the numbers of Evening Grosbeaks have declined markedly over the last decades. I remember when living in Springfield, MA, my balcony and feeder was taken over by a large flock. That was around 1980. Back then I didn't know how lucky I was and that I would never see those numbers again.

Montanagirl said...

What a fantastic day for you! So many different birds. Your photos are very good.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

I say...Not Fair. I'm relegated to watching Cowbirds and Chipmunks and you get all this in one short trip. Again I say...NOT FAIR !!!

Louise said...

You certainly did have a wonderful day! What a splendid parade of birds to see before your eyes. I loved reading your blog today. It was so full of joy and enthusiasm.

Janice K said...

Your pictures are all so nice and sharp...and what a nice assortment of the. That is quite a line-up of finches!

Heather said...

Lynne, that is incredible about the Evening Grosbeak. You are a lucky girl to have that experience. Thanks for stopping by my New River post and saying howdy. See you in 12 days!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne - a great bird list, and awesome photos of the evening grosbeaks. How fortunate you are to have them around. I haven't seen them for years and years..

Kelly said...

...wow! Grosbeaks and Redpolls at the same time...and a huge flock of Purple Finches. Your Hasty Brook is a special place...I might be a touch jealous!! :-)
Glad the vultures came in to wish you a safe trip home...

Q said...

Oh my goodness so many amazing birds! Hasty Brook is a magical place.....I have yet to see an Evening Grosbeak....gorgeous....
I have been thinking of you lately.
Glad to know all is well in your neck of the woods.

Sarah Knight said...

Lovely shots!

Chelsey said...

Great shots. I included the post in the latest I and the Bird. http://goo.gl/fb/Dd6lo

dguzman said...

I was beginning to think Evening Grosbeaks were extinct - I don't know of anyone who's seen one (in PA) for the past several years! Obviously, it's time for a trip to Hasty Brook!

RuthieJ said...

Beautiful photos Lynne!
Hasty Brook is paradise in so many ways!

JRandSue said...

Stunnig collection,fantastic images.

Kay Baughman said...

a wonderful list! I love the feeder pics--like visiting there myself.

Erica said...

Great list and lovely shots!

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Cassy said...

Great shots! The birds are so cure and lovely.

Cassy from Guitar Made Easy

Robin R Robinson said...

Your bird photos are great. I, too envy the Evening Grossbeaks. I haven not seen any in almost two decades, sadly. I'd pee myself if I saw one today! And your Purple finches are lovely. Nice blog.