Wednesday, April 8, 2009

a little outing

During yesterday's cloudy afternoon, girl child had a playdate out and boy child had soccer practice in the Long Meadow, so I had a chance to strap on the binoculars and see who was around. I walked one loop around the top of the Long Meadow and made a stop on Nellie's Lawn before the practice was over. I flushed a TON of flickers at the rim of the Vale of Cashmere. When I came out to Nellie's Lawn, I saw a redtail swoop up to the top of the tallest tree and perch just where I have seen it before. I made my way across the lawn to try to spot the nest I've read about, and it finally occurred to me that the hawk might be guarding the nest from afar. I spotted a likely looking evergreen and realized I was looking right at the nest! Someone was even home incubating. I haven't reached the nesting stage of my own pregnancy yet, but it looks pretty comfy.

As I made my way back to the soccer practice, I spotted four or five unfamiliar sparrows in small trees. They were quite obliging and I got to see a lot of their field marks, particularly their striking masks. When I had a chance to check my guide, I became fairly certain that they were chipping sparrows. I think the road to sparrow knowledge will be a long and repetitive one for me. It takes several real-life sightings for a single species to etch its home in my memory in any sort of permanent way. But at other times I find that all the paging idly through the field guide that I used to do on the train actually gave me a knowledge I didn't know I had and access to facts I had no idea I owned. I haven't checked my master list but I think the chipping sparrow is a new bird for me. Hopefully its features find a home in my brain and someday I'll think of it as an old friend.

I was able to leave work early from the soccer practice when the dad showed up, so I seized the waning daylight and walked home through the park. I'm sure I took a meandering route, drunk on the combination of chilly air and springtime vistas. I started to think about what old friends I might be seeing again soon, particularly black-crowned night herons. Well, it was sooner than I thought, for as I rounded Wellhouse Drive toward the western lakeshore, I spotted three of them close together in the reeds. It seemed like they'd soon have a good meal, as I saw several fish-splashes near their perch.

Here's my list for that day:

northern flicker
red-tailed hawk and nest
golden-crowned kinglet
white-throated sparrow
northern cardinal
American robin
European starling
tufted titmouse
northern waterthrush
red-winged blackbird
Canada goose
eastern phoebe
mute swan
mourning dove
white-breasted nuthatch
downy woodpecker
ruddy duck
northern shoveler
American coot
black-crowned night heron
chipping sparrow


Monica said...

Chipping sparrows are delightful. I saw my first in the Vale on Monday.

cvpepper11 said...

I know that this was quite the experience. The sparrows come is such active groups!

*I Donated To Cornell Ornithlogy!*