Saturday, May 6, 2006

Two hours at Nolde Forest (or Swarming with Wood Thrushes)

I spent a few hours this morning at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center. It’s one of my favorite places to bird (as I’ve probably said before) and I wasn’t disappointed today. As soon as I left the car I was greeted by a symphony of Wood Thrush song. In fact, as I would later realize, the place was crawling with Wood Thrushes this morning. If you ever wanted a good look at a Wood Thrush, now is the time to go! There are also plenty of Ovenbirds to go around.

As I ascended the hill toward the mansion, I encountered an Acadian flycatcher on one side of the trail and a Louisiana Waterthrush on the other side. I got a peek at the flycatcher before he flew away, but never got to actually see the waterthrush. Other birds of mention along the trail were: Red-bellied woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Chickadee sp., Carolina Wren, Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Parula, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, and American Goldfinch.

Once again, the best place to bird in the whole forest turned out to be at the mansion where I can sit on the stone pillars and watch the shrubs and fountains. I usually have to wait quietly for a few minutes, but I am almost always rewarded. Today, it was a Veery who ventured into the garden first. He made short hops from shrub to shrub and pecked at the salvia lying by the fountain-side. He took a few sips of water, fluttered his wings and took off. A few minutes later I simultaneously heard chips and saw movement in the rhododendrons behind the fountain. Short chipping and flashes of blue were the only signs of activity at first, but then I saw 8-10 Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting downward one at a time into the pool. Just when I thought they were all “butter butts”, a gorgeous Black-throated Blue Warbler male popped out onto a branch. He was quickly followed by a female and they allowed me to enjoy them for several minutes before heading off. It was right around this time that I heard the cry of a Pileated Woodpecker in the trees above me. Didn’t get to see him, but I know he was there.

My return trip to the car was relatively uneventful. The waterthrush continued to taunt me by singing very close, but not allowing me to view him. As I rounded the corner almost at the edge of the parking lot, I saw a flash of orange and black being chased by some brown blur. Must have been a Baltimore Oriole – nothing else is that black and vivid orange. Two last more birds before I hit the road were House Wren and Common Yellowthroat. All in all a very nice way to spend 2 hours.

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