Monday, August 24, 2009
Hood birds are good birds!
This week brought the best and worst of fall: The migrant warblers are finally starting to move through Gainesville, filling the trees and brush with tantalizing little flashes of yellow. But just as all the good birds arrive, so does a new academic year. Today all hell broke loose another year of inquiry and discovery began at UF, which means my weekdays will be filled with wall-to-wall classes and meetings, and my weekends with grading and administration. And of course, during the summer when my schedule is totally flexible, there's NOTHING OUT THERE but House Finches.
Nature is cruel.
My last weekend of summer vacation was a perfect way to segue into fall: On Friday night, I was hanging out wondering where to bird on Saturday, when a friend called and asked if we'd like to join her at San Felasco in the morning. This was a perfect choice: we had been the previous week and seen some tantalizing hints of the fall wonders to come (first of season Yellow-throated Warblers and American Redstarts), and another week of migration and another pair of eyes could only make the birding better.
And it was: after a slow start ("Why did we come here??") we saw flashes of non-leaf-like movement in the trees. A fat brownish bird that we thought was an early Hermit Thrush hopped in front of us for a moment, then darted into the brush. In a nearby tree several small birds flitted promisingly: we raised out bins and found five different warblers: a Northern Parula, a Prothonotory, a Black-and-white, an American Redstart, and a male Hooded—the latter a lifer for Glenn, and the first really bright male for me! Awesome, dramatic-looking birds.
We also saw another interesting yellow bird: this time, not a warbler, but some bigger bird, with faint washes of reddish orange on it. A female something-or-another. Later that evening, another friend IDed it as a female Summer Tanager:
It's great having Glenn out here: now I don't have to come home to an empty house every evening, and I get to relive the thrill of seeing all the East Coast birds for the first time all over again. (And I get infinitely better photos to use here!) One of the most common year-round residents here is also one of the prettiest: the White-eyed Vireo, a fairly new bird for Glenn:
Can't wait to see what else fall migration brings in—if only I get enough time to get out and enjoy it.