Sunday, April 3, 2011

A beautiful Spring Day at Home

I have been living outside of Chapel Hill, NC on a large tract of land since June 2000. The total acreage is 230 acres, and we have 4-5 miles of walking trails. We also have a major stream--Morgan Creek--plus a secondary stream called Tilley's Branch. There are 2 ponds and some seasonal drainages. Most of the land is covered in hard woods with some pine mixed in. Except for 2004 when were living in Italy, and last year when I was doing my big year, every other spring since 2001 I have regularly birded our land beginning in late March and continuing into mid May. As a result I have a pretty good idea of how the spring migration progresses here, plus when our summer breeding birds return.

As I mentioned in my last post, we have year round resident barred owls, but rarely have I heard or seen great horned owls. But last week we heard a great horned owl calling at dusk one evening, and then the next day I saw one being mobbed by some crows. I could not get a photo, so instead I have posted above a picture of a great horned that I took last year in AZ. Three days ago from about 5-6 in the afternoon I heard 2 great horned owls behind my house conversing. I have my fingers crossed that maybe it is a pair trying to set up an breeding territory.

This morning and Friday morning I took my usual spring bird walk to see what was about. Today was sunny and in the 50's. I heard or saw the first of the year blue-gray gnatcatcher and northern parula. A pair of wood ducks flushed off of Morgan Creek. There were 2 Louisiana waterthrushes staking out their territory. I heard red-bellied, hairy and pileated woodpeckers. A lingering ruby-crowned kinglet, hermit thrush, brown creeper and winter wren all showed up. Pine warblers were singing along with loads of tufted titmice and Carolina chickadees. I flushed a red shouldered hawk (bottom photo above). Black and turkey vultures circled in the sky. Lots of robins were moving thru the woods. Eastern towhee and blue jay also made an appearance. Downy woodpeckers, mourning doves, brown-headed cowbirds, chipping sparrows, goldfinches, slate colored juncos and house finches were at the feeders. A Carolina wren called over and over from under the porch.

Changing gears, over the past 2 days 2 rare Mexican warblers have been found in the US, and reported on Narba. The first was a golden crowned warbler that was seen in a park in Corpus Christi, TX. The second was a crescent-chested warbler that was found at Arivaca Cienega south of Tucson, AZ. I have seen both of these vagrant warblers in the past but neither made an appearance in 2010 during my big year.

I will continue my routine of birding my property to track the spring migration here. Stay tuned!

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