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Oh Mason, I came there to look for some birdies…and you had them today…

November 5, 2007

The avifauna at my local patch, Mason Farm, has turned wintery since the last time I visited. Warbler stocks are way down (sell, sell!!) and have become decidedly monospecific, woodpeckers and wrens are rising (buy, buy!!!), and White-throated Sparrows are singing that lovely song of winter, Neeeeed tooo pee, pee, pee, pee, pee, pee….. ahh, sweet sweet music to my ears.

Continuing with my recent series of “Birding with Family”, I went out this morning with my mother-in-law who just so happens to be a birder. In case you’re wondering, this turn of events was completely coincidental. I had never before met my now mother-in-law before I met my wife, never had gone birding with her, it was just a fortuitous happenstance of the sort I imagine many would envy. I always have a eager birding partner when doing family stuff, and we always have a topic of conversation to fall back on. Odd, though, that my wife is not a birder at all, though she dutifully and without complaining too much plays the part of the birding widow, something I thank my lucky stars for at least.

Alright, alright, I can hear the screaming, dear reader(s). “Off-topic”, they cry! Back on track then. It was a slowish morning. Even though the sparrows were singing, the rest of the birds were absent or quiet. I heard what I thought was a Purple Finch just out of the car but couldn’t find what would have been a year bird for me. Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers abounded however, and they were responsive to a little pishing even if the mystery finch wasn’t. We ran into a couple folks from the Chapel Hill Bird Club and walked most of the way with them, but initially more eyes did not equal more birds. Most exciting early was this big ol’ dead rat snake with only the head eaten, we couldn’t figure out what would have done the deed though scat nearby made me think Bobcat. I’d seen a Bobcat in that very place earlier this year so could be…

A couple Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers livened things up a bit, including the first adult bird I’d seen this year, and a first of the season Hermit Thrush skulked away refusing good looks to anybody. There was, though, a gorgeous Eastern Bluebird pair that seemed to glow in the crisp, low autumn light. Picture to the left. I call this one Eastern Bluebird on Sweetgum #51. The 51 isn’t particularly important. Could it be that it’s the number of my favorite baseball player Willie McGee? Could it be for my favorite secret government installation? Who knows, artists are weird.

On the last stretch we ran into a small flock of songbirds containing a nice Pine Warbler and Chipping Sparrows along with the usual stuff. And then we had to get going. Not a spectacular morning, but not a bad one either. Mason Farm never fails to give something to write about, and it’s a good thing too, cause otherwise I’d be screwed.

  1. Jochen permalink
    November 6, 2007 7:14 am

    My guess is that #51 stands for picture #51, the last of a desperate series to get a decent picture on which the bird isn’t looking away, the eye is bright and not closed, no camera shake etc.
    Like Wren commented on my Downy Woodpecker post:
    “Bird 50, Jochen 1.
    Sounds about right!”

  2. Greg permalink
    November 6, 2007 10:51 pm

    Great bluebird photo!

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