Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rochester Happenings

I've had an awesome opportunity these past few days to grab a few great lifers while in SE Minnesota visiting family. My cousins live nestled up against a forested area, and also within walking distance from a local hotspot named Quarry Hill Park. Almost immediately upon arrival, I grabbed my cousin, Pete, and headed out the door to the Quarry. We stopped to pick up their neighbors dog, Zoe, who would join us for our walk. Early on, I realized that trying to use autofocus on my camera within a dense forest would be futile, but as my manual focus skills are lacking, I continued to use the autofocus until I couldn't stand it anymore. My only lifer for that day would be a Canada Warbler, which was nice as it hadn't been documented in the Quarry yet. It was that day that I realized how much my warbler song IDing skills had deteriorated from a couple of months before. Granted, I had only learned the more common western warblers, but even that would have been immensely helpful for future outings. The next day, May 25th, was my other cousins graduation party, at which I was enlisted to help all around and wasn't able to escape the craziness until the remaining half hour of the party. Again, it was me and my cousin, and also a local friend. That day I snatched up two lifers: Brown-headed Cowbird and Swainson's Thrush. I talked to Pete about how I wanted to grab as many midwestern warblers as I could, and that we'd need to do more serious birding than just walking. He agreed, and the next day I saw many more lifers than the day previous. The new birds were the following: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, American Redstart, and Song Sparrow. I had been hearing stories of the birds seen at their house and was really hoping to see them. They had seen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummers, and Baltimore Orioles recently, but the only one that I ever caught a glimpse of was the Indigo Bunting, but even that I'm only 90% sure that it was actually a INBU. Everyone else but me had seen the RTHU, as I was (unsuccessfully) trying to local some warblers in their backyard. On Tuesday, we left Zoe behind, as she was a little loud and distracting. This was by far the most exciting day as we started out early in the morning in order to get the birds at peak hour. The first birds for the morning were a pair of nesting Eastern Bluebirds found just off the beaten path. Around that time I also saw a Red-eyed Vireo. The next few birds weren't found until the very end of the trip, and were pretty unexpected. I pulled Pete along to the nature center to see if I could snag the Ruby-throated Hummer at the feeders down there. While I didn't get it, I did talk to a worker about the possibility of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker. He mentioned that I wouldn't have a ton of luck finding the Pileated in the Quarry, as they were more of a rarity in the local sense. As we headed back home, slightly disappointed, I saw something unfamiliar, so I carefully chased it down until I could get a good look at it. It ended up being a Gray Catbird, lifer #75. While chasing, I heard something very weird and oddly familiar, so I looked up and saw a flash of red and black, and immediately knew that I had seen a Pileated Woodpecker. I sprinted over to an opening in the trees to nab a terrible but adequate picture of one of the two Pileated Woodpeckers that we saw. Both Pete and I were very excited about this sighting, even though he had already seen a Pileated before. In retrospect, he might have been more excited for me than he was about the woodpecker, but whichever way it was, it was exciting. I thought that'd be the only birds seen for that portion of the trip, but after looking at my photos from a little walk around their property, I found one that was almost completely dark. Using my amazing photo editing skills, I saw that underneath the blackness was a Hooded Warbler. A Hooded Warbled?! Yes, to my utter amazement, I had seen a Hooded Warbler, out of range.
Also to note but not terribly exciting was the Red-bellied Woodpecker that I saw within 5 minutes of arriving to my grandparents in Omaha, NE on May 23rd.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

The Quarry. Isn't it beautiful?

White-tailed deer

Unidentified bird. Some Empidonax sp.?

Swainson's Thrush

Mallard pair

Better photo of the Swainson's Thrush

Singing Male Northern Cardinal

Canadian Toad

Northern Leopard Frog

Mallard male

Group of males

Odonata sp.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Red-eyed Vireo

Eastern Bluebird with nesting material.

Flying in to the nest.

Field Sparrow

American Redstart

Pileated Woodpecker

Gray Catbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Hooded Warbler!

Good birding to you all!

No comments:

Post a Comment