Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Another Little Jewel
On Sunday I had reached a point in my ongoing deck construction that required an additional trip to the hardware store. Since it was Sunday and the hardware store was 20 miles away, the deck was going to have to wait. I was hanging around the house trying to figure out what to do when I decided to do a little birding and take Addie for a walk. Actually, thinking back on it I believe that Laura actually kicked me out of the house. I am still not quite sure how she did it but she somehow got me to think it was my idea to go for the walk.
The end result was that Addie and I headed down to the river. As I was driving to the area we usually go for a walk I realized I couldn't remember the last time I had just gone birding. It was long overdue.
It was a good day to get back from my birding sabbatical. There were fall migrants all over the place including frantic flocks of American Robins everywhere I looked. There were also migrating sparrows including my first-of-the-fall Harris's Sparrow. These handsome birds are always a treat to see and I think they are even more striking in their non-breeding plumage.
Most of the migrant sparrows I saw were either White-throated Sparrows (like the one above) or White-crowned Sparrows.
As I was walking through the brush this migrant flew over from the nearby Missouri River. Common Loons look so ungainly when they fly but they are really pretty powerful fliers.
Shortly after the loon passed by this Peregrine Falcon came at me from the same direction. I managed to get this shot as he headed back towards the river after passing nearly directly over me. Judging from the very full crop, it looks like he had just finished a meal.
The bushes were also crawling with warblers. Most of them were Yellow-rumped Warblers of the Myrtle variety.
There were a few Orange-crowned Warblers in the mix as well.
Then this guy popped out of the wild rose. Certainly not anything I was suspecting but I immediately knew what it was despite having never seen one before (too many hours looking at my field guides over the years I guess).
I pished a couple of times and the bird came a bit closer. Pishing is a birder term for making noises that sound just like repeatedly whispering the word really loudly and drawing out the "sh" part, not a misspelling of what might happen to a person when they get excited; although given the rarity of this species in Montana you might be forgiven for thinking I did the latter.
Then this young male Golden-winged Warbler perched right out in the open for me for a few shots.
How could you mistake this bird for anything else?
This is the fourth recorded observation of this species for Montana. Dad has one of the other three observations from his backyard last spring so Dad and I have half the records of this species in MT. It certainly makes me wonder what other species recently moved through the area unobserved, particularly given my observation of the Black-throated Blue Warbler earlier. That bird also showed up in my parents yard and they had another Black-throated Blue that appeared to be a different individual later in the week in their yard.
Dad was in the vicinity but by the time he got there we couldn't relocate the bird. Then a Sharp-shinned Hawk chased a screaming Northern Flicker through the trees and most of the birds scattered. It was a great little walk and a wonderful way to get back into the swing of things. Another life bird and another bird I hadn't observed in MT before. Thanks for kicking me out of the house Laura.
Posted by John Carlson at 6:56 PM