The 13th Annual Feathers Over Freeport, which we are proud to sponsor, took place as usual on the last weekend of April of 2023. As part of the event, we have Morning Birdwalks each day.
On Saturday the 29th, festivities at Bradbury Mountain State Park begin with the birdwalk. The slow progress of spring was evident with the relatively few birds singing in the woods for the date. Nonetheless, we had ample opportunity to practice our trillers with PINE WARBLER vs. CHIPPING SPARROW; a pair of Pine Warblers were particularly well seen. The ethereal song of a WINTER WREN eminated from the shadows, and we heard the songs of several resident species.
A WOOD DUCK flew by, a PILEATED WOODPECKER'S call rang in the distance, and we spent plenty of time studying and enjoying EASTERN PHOEBES. We practiced HAIRY vs DOWNY WOODPECKER and both RED-BREASTED and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. A trio of PURPLE FINCHES fed silently on aspen buds for prolonged views. Warblers, however, were limited to two PALM WARBLERS feeding high in a tree and an unseen YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER that called as it flew over.
But the star of show today was a pair of "trap-lining" YELLOW-BELLIED SAPUCKERS that we enjoyed repeately and for as long as we desired as they worked a series of tap wells. The racing stripes were evident in flight, and we noted the differences between the male and female.
On Sunday, the events took place at Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, but so did the precip. Steady rain began overnight and fell throughout the day. Yet four hardy souls venutured out to meet me for the morning birdwalk. We heard little other than drips in the woods, but the OSPREYS, disturbed by a BALD EAGLE, more than made up for it. They were not happy, and constantly voiced their displeasure.
Scanning offshore, we saw plenty of local COMMON EIDERS, but also a single immature male SURF SCOTER, and a total of about 30 LONG-TAILED DUCKS waiting out the weather to make their way north to the high Arctic.
We checked out plants, identified some trees, and found a RED-BACKED SALAMANDER under a log. But today's bird of the day honors goes to a ridiculously confiding HERMIT THRUSH pair that we first saw in the trail. We followed them as they worked their way through the leaf little and some brush piles; we even had one bird in the scope for a while as it called from a fallen limb. Rounding a corner, we found them again, and they - now unconcerned - came within about 20 feet of us. I think they took pity on us and put on a show...that, or they knew we were too waterlogged by this point to move quickly and be a threat!