I was stuck with my hoe over at the park on Saturday while my buddies headed into the woods looking for the early migrant warblers. While it was not overt, I could detect a certain perverse pleasure in their tone as they stopped by to make their reports. 'Hey Ward, Olive-sided Flycatcher on the far side by the beaver pond; a Worm-eating Warbler chased off a Black & White; a half dozen redstarts in the willows.'
The next day when I could go birding things had slowed to a few regulars like redstart and yellow and the first migrant Blue-winged of the fall season. The next day I trumped these so called friends with a Mississippi Kite on my before work walk. Take that! We don't always have good day in August but as look as their is more August there is hope.
Bob, all I can say is that the birding Gods are capricious Gods. We take great care not to offend them.
There was a sign of the season I falled to mention. The walk around the park yielded 4 groups of roughly 15 Orchard Orioles. They were concentrating on the Black Locusts. The next morning I found a flock of 40 or so Baltimore Orioles also feeding in locusts and this time a got a clue why. Some sort of leaf bundling caterpiller was infesting the locusts and the orioles were all over them. Back to the other oriole - this is major migration time for Orchard Orioles and these kinds of feeding flocks are usually found in weedy fields.
Ward I had to laugh when I read your first statement, or should I say, I "mis-read" your first statement!!
2nd, I was going to pass on commenting because all I have seen around here are the 20 million juvenile House Finch, along with 20 Goldfinch and a few Rufous Hummingbirds imbetween...however, this morning's walk yielded what sounded like a Pacific-slope Flycatcher and White-crowned Sparrows are becoming more common. Then when I got home, the first Western Tanager was flitting through the mountain ash and then later appeared at the birdbaths. Yeah, yeah, no warblers yet and nothing in comparison to what you have over there but August is a cruel month typically over here. Hopefully this weekend, I can take a trip to Eastern Washington(more cleaning at the in laws) and get some time looking at shorebirds at the Potholes, it can be interesting this time of the year if the ponds are drying up. I think I missed my window of opportunity for the Grasshopper Sparrows again, where the heck did July go anyway!
Well, I don't think the Grasshoppers don't stay put over here. My book suggests they leave in July? And worse, the areas where they like to nest are quickly disappearing, which is depressing. All that land and we can't leave some for wildlife?
Well, perhaps Grasshopper Sparrows in the west have different habits. Around here they get a bit harder to find because singing slows down, but we see migrants more in the September thru October time frame and very few of them. In NJ Grasshopper Sparrows along with a whole guild of grassland birds are considered threatened or endangered. The strongholds for Grasshopper tend to be at military airports. I used to do surveys at McGuire AFB and if I remember the numbers right 100 pairs or more would be tallied. The grass around the runways was a dry somewhat thin grass. At other sites you find the in thicker greener grass, rich hayfields.
My problem is that my Quest bird list is longer than both of my arms!! Black-throated Sparrow, Swallow-tail Kite, Indigo Bunting, even the simple things like Veery and Franklin's Gull and Forster's Tern, are not on my list... But I suppose that is what keeps me going.
It stands to reason that near the airport, the grassy fields would not be disturbed; there would not be any farmers trying to plow the land. The Columbia Plateau, where Grasshoppers nest actually showed a small increase in the population, compared to the national decline of this species. And some feel that they are often missed on surveys because their high pitched call would be lost on someone hard of hearing like me lol!
I think I told this story before. This fellow I had never heard from gives me a call saying he wants to report a Black-throated Sparrow. In my mind I went "right, and I have Storks nesting on my chimney." On spec I took a ride to his house the next morning before work and there with a flock of House Sparrows was a lovely Black-throated Sparrow. So come on Ruth, they breed in your state and for me their range is a thousand plus miles way. Yes I know Washington State is huge, at least by Rhode Island standards.
If memory serves for the record, when you told that story before you said, "Yeah sure and I have a Road-runner dressed in a sexy red dress running around my bakc yard"
For whatever reason, a few Black-throated sparrows nest near Vantage, WA. I don't think it's because Washington is so big(it isn't) It has more to do with that there are something like 9 distinctly different ecoretions, Steppe-shrub and East Cascades being a huge part. And they are such a beautiful sparrow, I have made DH divert off of I-90 many many times, to look for them just to the right side of the Columbia River here, but have never gotten the timing right. It needs to be around June or July when they breed or you can't hear them. There are tons of people who use this park(that you can't see in this picture) for camping, especially when there's a concert at the Gorge, so I haven't had the right opportunity yet. But one of these days, something's gonna change...
Such is life, while I work friends are reporting Chestnut-side, Black & White, Canada, Blue-winged, Prairie, N Waterthrush, Redstart etc. Here we go and by this weekend winds will turn east and the early flights will stop. I am thrilled they are having a good time.
Well Ward, I took a few days and went to Eastern Washington and as I was afraid of, no Grasshopper Sparrows, I even tried the spot where there have been Black-throated Sparrows, but the time of day was all wrong! Last Sunday morning however, we did go through the Moses Coulee and early enough that the sagebrushes were alive with sparrows - Sage Sparrow and more Lark Sparrows but I did not see Brewer's this time. As we kept following this old country road we came to Jameson Lake and I found more Sage Thrasher's, Say's Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird and another annoying lbj that wouldn't let me get my binoculars on! Coming out of that area, I stopped at this rocky cliff and yes, you guessed it, Canyon Wrens, singing their heads off. I couldn't get a decent shot, they stayed in the shadows, but I recorded their song and as I was playing it back, bingo, down they came off the cliffs, 15 feet of me as DH was picking through rocks trying to find 3 to bring home LOL! Still no picture, but a fun day. As we came through Steven's Pass coming home the next day, we stopped on a whim to see the wildflowers and found early huckleberries, enough to freeze and some to make cobbler out of, one of my childhood favs that my grandmother used to make! Naturally, when I got home, Wilson's Warblers and Western Tanagers were complaining at the empty birdbaths and turned off waterfall feature...
So fall is just starting to heat up, DH's brother is coming in from Hawaii so there won't be time for birds for a few days until he's gone...
Eventually you will succeed. I guess you need to get your husband up at 2 am so that you arrive at dawn. Good luck with that.
This past weekend wasn't exactly stellar for me either. Around here we are in trouble if we are seeing "Empty chickadee flocks and Naked chickadee flocks or just a bunch of Flocking Chickadees". This past weekend the only joiners were some Warbling Vireos and gnatcatchers (a bit of exaggeration since between us we saw 6 or 7 of the common warblers). So you might say under dressed flocks rather than stark naked. We walked around both days reminding ourselves that almost all August days are like this if we care to remember. But who wants to remember that, the rare days with Golden-wings and Mournings keep coming to mind or those days with 15 species of warblers the last week in August and Empidonax Flycatchers seemingly everywhere. Maybe it will be next week? Maybe it is time to retire and get into reality TV full time?
I saw the first warbler of the fall season this morning. It's always difficult to identify the warblers because they never stop moving and their visits are usually very brief. This one had prominent yellow on the rump and underside of the tail as well as on the throat and breast, but the belly was white. Any eye ring was slight and there were no obvious wing bars. I think it must have been a common yellowthroat.
I've been seeing warblers in my yard for several years now, but nearly all have been the yellow and gray-colored ones like the yellow, common yellowthroat, yellow-rumped, nashville, etc. I'd like to see a few of the others with black, blue, and orange/red/rust colors as well as distinct striping. No doubt some of them just won't be making any visits to urban/suburban yards.
Geez Ward, by now I would expect you would be rubbing my nose in Warblers and neo=tropical migrants LOL! Over here the weather is starting to change, it's a good sign though we needed rain and i hope the mountains got a good soaking too!
Dan, fall is a really fun time because many of the birds you see, particularly Warblers(my favorite birds!) are either in fall colors or juvenile plummage. It is confusing, but nothing more fun than spotting and trying to track and identify them. If I lived where you and Ward lived, I would be living only for this time of the year!Very very envious!
My take this morning was a young Magnolia Warbler and a redstart. On Monday a friend found a rare one for the park, a Prothonotary Warbler. They are easy enough to find in their wood swamp habitat during the breeding season but migrants are tough. I considered taking Friday or Tuesday off to extend the the long weekend but it looks like the winds will be wrong. It is going to have to pick up quite a bit before I can really rub it in Ruth. Dan, my advice is find a wooded park near you with good tree and shrub cover and check it now and then during migration. If I had to rely on my yard for warblers I would be in for a tough time. Even after 30 years in my home some of the regular warblers have eluded me there.
For what it's worth, Ruth, I'd gladly trade you a bunch of Prothonotaries and Magnolias for a Hermit. Or even a Townsend's. I have the latter from California, but Hermit is still a bird I need, period.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Kevin, I recall from an earlier conversation with Ruth that she doesn't have a Hermit Warbler to trade. It was something about tiny birds and 200 foot trees. The species is a sore point with me although I have seen it in several western states. Years ago I found one here in NJ and there was no one around to back me up. Maybe they need to lump all the different "B-T Green relatives into one superspecies.
LOL Ward, yeah, they are self portraits! It is very odd to me, for you see, Olive-sided Flycatcher, while not common, must breed somewhere in the neighborhood because I can hear them from spring into late July and August. And by the way, speaking of confusing and condensing species, that sparrow patch I was telling you about near my in-laws? There are also Sage Sparrows, technially, the AOU announced the split into either Sagebrush Sparrow or (Artemisiospiza Nevadensis) and Bell's Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli) all these changes... This weekend, I hope to check out that Eastern Washington sparrow spot one more time along with some stops along Highway 2 and Steven's Pass. Things should start picking up.
Kevin, as usual, Ward is right - I can deliver Townsend's Warblers anytime during the winter, you could probably handfeed them here, although I don't believe in doing any such thing. But the painful truth is, I think I have heard a Hermit Warbler, but cannot claim one on my lifelist. We simply could not locate the bird, it was that thick in the canopy. I've looked at Mt. St. Helens, all the way through to Mt. Adams and near Trout Lake, WA with no luck. Their range is declining, many people blame the Townsend's Warbler for this, almost like the Barred Owl and Northern Spotted Owl. I keep meaning to try the Capital Forest near Olympia, but have yet to get there during the spring migration. Another problem people have is that they will see what they think is a Hermit, but it will turn out to be a hybrid cross-very confusing! But you can send me all the Magnolia and Prothonotary Warblers you can muster up LOL!
Ruth, you will be glad to know you didn't miss anything over the weekend. Yesterday it was 80 degrees and humid at first light, we swam around the park for a few hours and then high-tailed it with nothing to speak of.
Saturday was a bit better: 1 Worm-eating Warbler, 1 Blue-winged Warbler, 1 Magnolia Warbler, 1 N Parula, 1 Yellow, 1 Yellowthroat, 2 Black & White,1 N Waterthrush, 1 Ovenbird, 2 Redstart, 1 Nashville. The best bird was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
The weather looks about to turn for the better and I planned to take a couple of days off to check things out. Now one of the other agents has come down with pink eye and I don't want to leave the other one on her own. I will be pissed if this is the early fall migration of the decade.
The leading part of a NW front passed over this morning sometime over night. I only had an hour and it is 15 minutes each way to where I wanted to bird. What fun, lot of migrant moving through the trees at first light and they all weren't vireos: 4 Redstart, 3 Chestnut-sided, 5 Black-throated Green, 6 Blackburnian, 1 Tennessee, 1 Nashville, 1 Canada, 4 Magnolia, 1 Com. Yellowthroat, 3 Black & White. There were many more we couldn't quite get on. My friends had another couple of hours to bird and will certainly find lots more birds. It is the kind of day that can yield 20 plus species of warblers. Now I just need to forgive them for having the time.
Pink eye? Heck Ward, that's contagious isn't it? You had better close down the office for the remainder of the week!! I feel for you, at least you have the possibility of a fallout. It's still pretty dead here. We took a short trip to the mountains again, got a lot more huckleberries, but even birds around there were far and few between. Evening Grosbeak, Yellow-rumps, your fav, the Blue Grouse, er, I mean either Dusky or Sooty. Considering the bounty of berries, I was expecting more. By this time of year, I feel I should be seeing lots of Swainson's Thrush, and I have not seen or heard. I did hear the call of a Townsend's Solitaire the other morning. Waxwings have devoured every single one of my blue elderberries, and worse, in our dry spell, I think my tree is dying!!! It's all drooping and dropping leaves. Earlier this winter, I had pruned it back, I'm so bummed.
By the way, remember I told you about DH's Uncle Jim turning 100? He was finally featured on the Today Show, and watching the clip, there was a woman from New Jersey, Adele Schwartz? Longshot, but is this your relative by change?
Nice Dan, I haven't seen one yet this fall and around here they are usually scarce. There has been a steady but light movement of warblers here for the past week or so - if I tallied it up about 20 species or so but none in my yard. Keep a sharp eye out the next couple of weeks usually have the most variety of the fall season.
My friends and I were joking the other morning about how we picture fall migration in our minds and what actually happens on the ground. In our minds we peer into a clearing in the woods and a dozen species pop out in full view providing killer looks. Reality is very different. A 20 twenty warbler species day will be mostly composed of fragments of warblers, a flash of tail feather, a flank, a brief glimpse of a face pattern. And most birds never do get past being shadows flying from tree to tree or shapes moving deep in the trees. Some of us think it is mostly attributable to facalties failing with age - weak eye and ears, and weaker minds. Others think we simply lack the abundance of birds we once had several decades ago. Personally I think both camps are correct.
In order to save Ruth any more suffering I won't mention what bird fragments we saw and just say it was horrible, you would have hated of minute of it.
You know Ward, I thought I felt the old knife being shoved in my back LOL! What a good friend you are, NOT sharing the 20 species of warblers with us, trying to make me feel better! Now this little emoticon is trying to box your ears
I was going to come here and say that today, while clearcutting the almost2 months worth of neighbor's stupid blackberries, I found the first few Hermit Thrushes. With all my elderberries gone and dead, I notice that all the Washington Hawthorne berries are gone, plus a surprising number of twinberries are gone as well. If you saw how thick the stands of twinberries are, you too would be surprised that many berries could be missing. The next thing I know, Lincoln's sparrow will show up. I was gone all day Sunday but upon returning that evening, noticed the Japanese Maple seeds were devoured, piles of shredded leaves on the ground, it had to be the return of the Evening Grosbeaks! What else have I been missing back there while I've been too busy to do anything like yardwork!
Most of us burn out when it comes to yard work by now. I like to think I am setting a low standard so my neighbor's yards will shine. It is also time to let my crabgrass go to seed for the winter sparrows. Beside, leaf raking comes soon enough and I need to rest up.
Back when we used to have regular flocks of E Grosbeaks I kind of remember them feeding on Box Elder seeds - maple relative. I wish they would come eat all the Norway Maples seeds.
It has gotten hot and the wind has been wrong for days. A few birds are moving or maybe sticking for a while. Yesterday a few Magnolia, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, and Redstart and a scattering of Veery. I didn't have time for a walk and fortunately they were next to the parking lot.
As an aside, it was Evening Grosbeaks that first drew me into birding in a big way back in the 1970's. Several times in the late 60's and 70's, there were big waves of Evening Grosbeaks moving down south, and a friend's mother, who fed huge numbers of birds, had a large flock (maybe 50-75 at a time) at her house. Later, in the mid-80's, there were just a couple who showed up at my parents' bird feeder for a few days one winter. Otherwise, I haven't seen them since. Sigh.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I miss them too. Around here their numbers started to decline in the 1980s and I can no longer remember when I saw the last one. Not that I would be able to feed them these days at the modern price of sunflower seed. My dad fed the birds and in the 1960s they arrived like clockwork. The long story here in the east is that Evening Grosbeaks moved into eastern Canada and NE US in the 1930s from the west (don't remember exact dates)had their hayday and have been declining in the east for around 30 years to their current very low numbers. It has gotten so bad that the last winter type grosbeak I've seen in NJ was a Pine.
It is profoundly rare here too, one I never expected to bump into. One of these days I'll tell about how I had my lifer in Ca.
We have a good cold front (nw winds) coming through and it is happening on the weekend. It didn't come through early enough since I only found a tardy Yellow and a Chestnut-sided this morning. We'll see how it is, in these latter days nothing is guaranteed.
WArd, I just spend over $50.00 getting birdseed over the weekend!!! I'm glad the Evening Grosbeak are only eating the maple seeds at this rate because at the moment the Band-tailed Pigeons are still showing up as well as a few Black-headed Grosbeak, plus the unnecessary House Finch and Goldfinch! Since when did sunflower seeds get this expensive anyways???
Oh, RE:Pine Grosbeaks? Please do tell, I suppose you were sitting along poolside with a margarita or a beer and one flew down to join you LOL!!! .'Cmon, we wanna hear it!
No, I was at a base camp we had set up in the Sierra's in Desolation Wilderness above Lake Tahoe about 1973. I had fallen asleep while reading a book. When a woke up a Pine Grosbeak was sitting on my toe. For the next several days a family group would come into camp. If I was still they would land on me and investigate me, including perching on my nose and peeking in my shirt pocket. I recall putting out some of our oatmeal and they liked that.
You westerners will laugh at my big bird of the weekend - Common Raven. I've birding my site for 25 years and it was my first there and only the third overall. Over the long weekend we had a moderate to light movement of migrants and we had to work a bit for what we found. Oh for the old days when migrants were much much more common. This morning I had only a few minutes and I wish I didn't see what I saw - a bunch of Yellow-rumped Warblers, the first of the year and they mark the beginning of the end. As the next 4 weeks pass more and more warblers will slip into their yellow-rumped outfits until that is pretty much all there is.
LOL Ward, that sounds more like a Gray Jay than a Pine Grosbeak!!
Speaking of crows, there's been a mangy one hanging around all summer. It has a partially bald head, kinda like a turkey vulture. The last of the Black-headed Grosbeak have left for the summer, plus I saw my last Rufous Hummingbird September 16th. We had a little excitement this morning, there's been a few Evening Grosbeak hanging around, eating maple seeds and my feeders, along with a million goldfinch and house finch. All of a sudden they all took off, and I later found a pile of grayish feathers, tail feathers look junco-ish, looks like the first Sharp-shinned Hawk of the fall has arrived. I should also mention, couple of Yellow-rumps here and there, nothing very exciting.
Well, it's almost time to start a Winter thread! The Rufous Hummingbirds left September 16th, really a disappointing fall migration over here. Now, I had almost no time to go out in the field looking, too many family issues, so I can only judge by what I saw in my neighborhood. But, no real warbler movement, or even other passerine movement was very slow. Last Black-headed Grosbeak was seen just last week, which is very late. Now I have anywhere from 6-10 Evening Grosbeaks hiding out in the maples and coming to the feeder and using the birdbaths. Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrow are regulars again, I thought I heard a White-throated sparrow, which I have been lucky enough to host for the past 5 years. Other than that, ho hum...[linked image]
On a happier note, due to Labor Day/September rains, the mushroom season has been absolutely terrific! Looks like the blue elderberry crop is currently plentiful, so still some Hermit Thrush and Varied Thrush up in the East Cascades. As I took out a granola bar during my hike, a Gray Jay came into sight, which is strange at the low elevation(2500 ft) I was in.
It has been a decent although not great migration. In the past week and half we've averaged about 15 warbler species a day - less the past couple of days. While there have been kinglets and white-throats and such the main late fall waves doesn't seem to have reached us yet. Those days when you wade through hundreds if not thousands of white-throats while searching for something "other" haven't arrived. Last week the main push of Black-throated Blue Warblers finally arrived and a few Connecticuts made their appearance. Now we have a nor'easter which will likely last a few days. Birders start thinking inland Jaegers and late shorebirds putting down in fields. There won't be many dicky birds until this weather clears and by then most of the warblers aside from Palms and butterbutts will be gone. A good thing about birding is there is always another thing, another season. November isn't far off and November is the best month for rarities. Coastal birders tend to do great but we landlocked types are far less successful. We'll see?
Yellow rumps and Palm-warblers over winter in NJ right Ward? You hadn't made any further notes so I wasn't sure your warbler season was still going or not. I'm still trying to get the last of the veggie garden cleaned up, taking advantage of good weather. Saw the FOF Townsend's Warbler and still a few Yellow-rumps. Hearing the tsk-ing sound of Ruby-crowned Kinglet but they haven't made their appearance yet. Also, the little Pacific Wren has made his appearance at the birdbath. And hearing Varied Thrush.
Both of those warblers try to. Yellow-rumped in pretty large numbers mostly near the coast in association with bayberry and inland with red cedar. Palms are also mainly coastal in winter and probably very few of them survive to breed another season.
Now I need to decide whether I will bother going out this morning. It isn't raining, at least at the moment and it is very still. An E Screech-owl is trilling somewhere outside the back porch, otherwise all is quiet, even the road noise is stilled.
Saturday was slow, a few B-T Blue and a scattering of other warblers and vireos. My buddy Tom spent the morning observing the river. He added a new bird for the park. Behind a flock of Forster's Terns heading up-river to feed came a first year Little Gull. It is tempting to scan the river this morning about the same time he had the bird. Occasionally it is possible to get really really lucky.
I wonder if the impending rain slowed your migration? Don't those warblers line up somewhere like Cape May and wait to get the nerve to cross over? Since I don't really get to experience migration madness like you do, I only see that prior to a big wind storm we occasionally see birds doing strange things. I've seen dozens of kinglets huddling on the ground, for example and I don't mean one or two, I mean close to 50 or so, grounded. And while most birds will wait out a storm, sometimes it won't stop raining so they have to come out. We were over in Eastern Washington Cascades again and I would say half of those elderberries were gone, lots of Varied Thrush and Hermit Thrush were heard. None of my cousins could believe the Varied Thrush made such a noise much less seen one until I pointed them out!
LOL Ward, we do have a special fall festival called Bumbershoot - for those music fans brave enough to attend an outdoor musical fetival. Oh, you meant birds, well, too bad companies like Eddie Bauer can't sell waterproof gortex for the feathered friends! But I guess they make enough money off people like me...
Dan, we are still waiting for the main junco movement. The first scattered individuals dropped in several weeks ago but none of those big flocks yet. When I was a kid regular people called them snowbirds: these days I don't think the average person knows what one is at all.
This morning I had a nice surprise visit, a male and female Purple Finch were at first calling and I couldn't see them. Later this morning, I found them eating the rose hips off of 2 very large rugosas. I've been not filling the seed feeders, trying to discourage this mourning dove from hogging the tray feeder, plus i get tired of having too many house finch, so it was nice to see something different! Also, a nice adult male Anna's Hummingbird has been taking up residence! Pretty soon we'll need to start a winter thread!
Can you say junco junco junco white-throat white-throat white-throat? We have managed to miss Purple Finch entirely at the park this fall. This isn't unusual for us in the fall. When they come they spend most of their time feeding on Japanese Hops seeds. It has been slow, about a week ago there was a rather late gnatcatcher and a photo of a probable Summer Tanager - the photo was less than diagostic but pointed towards Summer. The east's most abundant Tanager Scarlet is extremely unlikely in November. I am suffering from post-migration depression. It is hard to hit the field and search among thousands of junco and white-throats for something strange. Plus all those leaves need bagging for protecting the tender hummer plants.
Quote:I am suffering from post-migration depression. It is hard to hit the field and search among thousands of junco and white-throats for something strange. Plus all those leaves need bagging for protecting the tender hummer plants.
R: Oh brother do I hear you and I don't even experience one millionth of the migration activity that you do in New Jersey!!! And the thought of having to rake and bag all the stupid maple leaves is stressing me out as well because I want it done before Thanksgiving. Gees, I must be getting old or something, I am thinking of cutting down those 3 trees, me, the tree lover!
On a happier note, I went out birding this Saturday up to the Skagit Valley. Saw the Trumpeter Swans, Snow Geese, but searching through one of the parks, we discovered quite a patch of edible mushrooms, the delicacy called the Pine Mushroom hiding in the salal and underbrush of Rhododendron, Fir and Cedar, what a surprise! I'm still picking those rosethorns out of my hands and knees but also had the pleasure of watching two Pacific Wrens do a little show of picking at the mushrooms, 2 feet in front of me. Then, upon further walking, I discovered a tall Western Hemlock that had all kinds of whitewash below it, looked up and saw a Great-horned Owl! No camera because I wasn't expecting to take pictures but what a nice day it was!
Yes, I should have cut down the Norway and Silver Maples when they were young and so was I. Now neither of us are and the tree provide needed summer shade - no central air.
So which mushroom did Alice eat? I had one friend who knew his mushrooms well enough for picking and eating, he is dead and needs replacing and there are some places I won't follow him to, at least not today.
Boy, Trumpeter Swan sounds good. I have only ever seen them from an impossible distance, in summer in Yellowstone when Tundras were out of the question and once around here. A few more have been cropping up around here but are iffy as ticks since they are almost certainly from releases near the Great Lakes. Maybe the day will come when flocks winter here but that is still a way off.
A friend found a N Shrike the other day in one of the old cranberry bogs. In NJ they are irruptive species in the mid Atlantic so maybe this will be a year. It has been a couple of years since I have seen one.
I totally get it about the need for the shade trees Ward, that's one reason my 3 trees are still there! Incidently, I only hunt for 3 mushrooms, morel and pine (matsutake) mushroom, anything else I photograph and learn about from the other pros in the mushroom club, but they stay there in the forest. Oh, also know how to identify white and golden chantrelle, but don't come across them enough to get very many. In my neighborhood the hallucinogenic red with polka dots grows and no one knows what they are but over on Whidby, they are hunted by those crazy enough to eat them, some people are nuts I tell you!
On a happy note, I was thinking about raking those leaves because of what you said, I got as far as going outside but then the Pileated WP decided to make a visit along with my usual Hairy and Downy and Flickers. Then I was excited to see the first fall Fox Sparrow making his appearance, I hear this bird in September in the forests but they usually don't come around here until now and if that wasn't enough, the first of the year White-throated Sparrow shows up with the Fox, now all I need is that Harris Sparrow that is hanging out by Sequim to come my way! And I know you are yawning but considering this fall has been so blah, this is all I've got so far!
Actually, if I lived out your way I would be happy for a few white-throats.
Those funny mushrooms. I remember a guy on Gabriola Island, BC who had a freezer full of those. That was almost 40 years ago. He is probably a retired banker or something these days. Oh the joys of an ill spent youth. I also remember finding Chantrelles while hitching over the Cascades, thinking they looked really tasty but being afraid to sample them. The next day I saw them in Pike Street Market at a cost too dear for a poor natural history buff traveler thin wallet.
Lastly, don't confuse me with a pure bird lister, I ain't. The common pleasures have their own beauty and are reliable. Go juncos.