Thursday, September 6, 2007

Summer Vacation, Fall Migration

This morning I decided to play hooky, and headed out to Huntington Central Park. There, fall migration was on in full force: warblers were everywhere. I spotted my first Townsend's and Black-throated Grays of the season, along with several Wilson's Warblers and endless flocks of Orange-crowned Warblers and Common Yellowthroats.

I returned to the fig tree by the island, where Glenn and I had spent some time over the weekend, and it was even birdier than before. About half a dozen Black-headed Grosbeaks, most immature, were flitting in and out, pecking away at ripe figs. Western Tanagers, Bullock's Orioles, House Finches, and a Nuttall's Woodpecker also darted in and out.

On this outing, I also experimented with the little point-and-shoot camera Glenn got me for Christmas: I don't think I'll ever want or need a lens the size of a shoulder-mounted missile launcher, but I do want to be able to get simple documentary shots of birds I see when Glenn is not around. And today I did! Well, sort of:

There are two Black-headed Grosbeaks in this tree! No, really!

Not far away from the fig tree, a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a bare branch in the middle of the island—contemplating, perhaps, a snack of fattened grosbeak with fig relish? In any case, the birds in the fig tree didn't seen terribly worried.

A few other birders were in the area, and one of them—a friendly older gentleman—showed me a Nutmeg Mannikin nest. It was a large flattish ball of woven grass, with an opening at its bottom. We didn't see any birds coming in or out, but he said he had seen some there earlier in the week.

I didn't see a huge number of birds, but this was the most fun day of birding I've had in a while. When I finally left the park around 1:00, I had that totally great, mellow feeling—kind of like the feeling you get when leaving a spa after a long massage.

Warblers as therapy—you heard it here first.

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