We had some interesting bird sightings at Mariton this week. On Tuesday, during the nature walk, a Northern Harrier flew over the meadows. This large hawk is also known as the Marsh Hawk and has a characteristic white patch on its back where the tail meets the body. Its wings are also held arched over its back (more like a Turkey Vulture). During migration nothing should surprise me, but the small brushy meadows at Mariton aren’t exactly where you would expect a Northern Harrier to be hunting. They often glide low over marshes or fields looking for rodents.
One late afternoon, I saw a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets feeding amongst the Rhododendron along the Main Trail. There were a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets feeding with them. I noticed a small bird foraging on the ground. It turned out to be a male Black-throated Blue Warbler. I eventually saw two males. I have been seeing this warbler species quite often for the last month. However, I was surprised that they were still around, and that they were feeding on the ground.
On Wednesday evening it was damp but warm. Maureen and I sat out on the patio as the twilight shaded into night. I had spent the day at Stroud planting trees, and she had visited factories giving flu shots. As we talked about our days, a curious shape appeared on the patio just a few feet away. It was a small dark bird with a curved bill. I was able to sneak back inside to retrieve a bird book without disturbing it. It turns out it was an immature Virginia Rail. It was soon too dark to see anything more than movement as it walked along the stone walls. Just goes to show you that in migration anything is possible.