Sunday, April 30, 2006

Appalachian Trail: Shartlesville to Eckville, PA

Friday April 28, 2006: Encounter with a Tom

On making my way to Jenn's house for the first of three AT hikes, I slowed on Tilden road to look at two Wild Turkey hens that had crossed the road (right to left). As I slowed the car, a huge tom attacked my car from the right. Apparently, I was cutting him off from the hens and he was none too happy about it! He puffed out his feathers, spread his tail and waggled his waddle all the while gobbling quite loudly. I put the car in reverse to try to back away so he could cross the road, but he ran alongside the car and continued to attack it. He stretched his neck so that he could look into the car and continued gobbling. I put the car in drive and tried to drive past him, but he then ran in front of the car and stood his ground pecking at the bumper. Finally, he gave up and strutted back into the field, gobbling all the way. He was not giving up, he was walking away and I knew who the winner was!

The remainder of the day was comparatively uneventful, but yielded a few good birds anyway. We hiked from Eckville to Windsor Furnace and the weather was perfect: sunny, warm, not a cloud in the sky, with a very gentle breeze. We saw a few gorgeous Red-winged Blackbirds in the fields beyond Hawk Mountain, as well as Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, and Black and White Warbler. Three woodpecker species made themselves heard: Downy, Flicker and Pileated. The best looks for the day came from the Turkey and Black vultures gliding just below our vantage point at the Pinnacle. They were so close we could see their eyeballs. Well, we could see the feet on the Black vultures anyway no lifers for me, but several for Jenn.

Saturday April 29, 2006: Black and White Warbler Day

This was the best birding day of the weekend. We saw a total of 24 species between our hike from Shartelsville to Port Clinton and Jenn's backyard that evening. The day was overall a little cooler and breezier than Friday. We kept our jackets (and pant legs) on for most of the day. By far the best birds of the day were the Black and White Warblers. We must have heard 15 or 20 different birds as he hiked along the trail. Many allowed us good looks at them, especially at Auburn lookout where we spent close to two hours sunning ourselves and looking down on the black and whites (yours truly managed a short nap and got a bit sunburned- ouch!). Other birds on the trail include Turkey vulture, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Ovenbird, Eastern Towhee, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Wild Turkey, Downy Woodpecker, Mockingbird, Goldfinch, Cardinal, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, and American Robin. There were 2 birds of note at Jenn’s house. First was the Killdeer pair whose male displayed every time anyone got close to the side of the house. It was a great broken wing display (I'd heard about it, but never seen it before then). The other was a Northern Flicker who sat in Jenn's yard eating ants. The sun was starting to set and the light made the color of his red cap simply pop off his head.

Sunday April 30, 2006: Port Clinton to Winsdor Furnace

Although today's hike was the shortest of the weekend, we both felt it was the most difficult, partly because neither of us had hiked that section before and partly because we were really tired from the previous two hikes. It was also quite rocky, as is most of the AT in Berks. The weather was just a bit warmer than yesterday, but for whatever reason, there were many fewer birds today. There were two really good ones as we crossed Rt 61 and began the steep incline. The first was a Blue-gray gnatcatcher in the trees just over the overpass. He seemed to be passing through. He didn't pish and quickly worked his way from tree to tree around the mountainside. The other bird was a Wood Thrush that we saw very near the top of the ascent. He was very quite and was flushed by someone’s golden retriever. Other than those two, we heard only Black and white warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers and saw more Turkey vultures.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Birds on the Run

While running along the trails near the Reading Museum, Kim and I saw a magnificent specimen of Red-tailed Hawk. He had a gorgeous rust colored tail that he displayed as he flew to a tree top carrying a large stick. As we continued along the trails behind Wyomissing toward Lancaster Avenue, we heard quite a few other species, including Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Chickadee sp., Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Blue Jay, House Finch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Am. Goldfinch, and White-throated Sparrow.