Mariton: Birds Are Where You Find Them
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Carole Mebus.
Our Tuesday walk was a great morning for birds. Right off the bat, we got into a mixed flock with a variety of woodpecker species, including a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Included in the flock were several Eastern Bluebirds, along with Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. We got a pretty good look at two Scarlet Tanagers. Upon reviewing Ed’s photography, we found a scarlet patch on one of the birds that indicated it was a male in its yellow winter plumage.
We had an enjoyable walk to the meadows, but there was very little bird activity. That was until we headed down the Turnpike Trail and we ran into another mixed flock of birds signaled first by the call of Chickadees. We saw a flock of Bluebirds that investigated a dead tree. There were woodpeckers too. Then Marilyn spotted a small warbler flitting about the leaves. We got a couple good looks and determined it was a Black-throated Green Warbler. A pretty good sighting for an October morning.
Ed made the comment: ” In the Fall, birds are where they are.” It sounds flippant, but it is true. One often finds songbirds foraging in groups of several species traveling through the forest or fields in a wave. Safety in numbers and many eyes. Usually I hear the Chickadees first, and then go on alert for what else might be with them. You never know who might be traveling with the group. I have seen Brown Creepers, thrushes, sparrows, Winter Wrens, kinglets, and other species all in one group. They may feed all around you for a few minutes, but they are always traveling, and then they are gone. So, unless you happen to intercept one of these traveling bands, it is really easy to go through a fall morning with very few sightings. Polly Ivenz, who was Mariton’s Program Director for nearly three decades used to say “Birds are where you find them.” So, Carole and I smiled when Ed made his comment.
At the end of the walk we stopped to look at several Eastern Comma butterflies that were feeding on the pawpaws by the parking lot. This is what they look like with wings closed. Below with the wings open. It was an enjoyable walk interspersed with three bursts of activity.