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Friday, February 17, 2012

Wow! What a week of Birding

Harris's Sparrow with Cardinal
     Sharon and I had a great week of birding this past week. On Tuesday we headed to Kempton in Berks County just south of Hawk Mountain in search of the Harris's Sparrow. We had brought along a bag of bird seed to add to the pile already there and than just waited. During the 40 minute wait we saw several sparrows and Juncos, along with two Wild Turkeys. Finally a White-crowned Sparrow showed up and than the Harris's Sparrow appeared from nowhere. 
      Afterwards we headed to Hawk Mountain to take a peak at the feeders and added a Black-capped Chickadee to our year list.
      From there we traveled to Hamburg to the Kearchers Pond Park in search of the White Ibis but we had no luck with that guy. So we headed south to Gilbertsville to see the Bullock's Oriole. An adult male Bullock's Oriole was present last winter at this woman's house and amazingly it appeared again this year. We arrived at her home at 12:15PM and at 12:20PM the bird arrived at her suet feeder.
Bullock's Oriole Gilbertsville, PA 
     At Marsh Creek State Park later that day we found a Common Goldeneye and both Common and Red-throated Loons.

     Thursday morning found me at the Exton Mall anticipating the BCDC field trip to Lancaster County led by the All-star Birding Lady, Holly Merker. As we left the parking lot it started to rain, but I thought to myself, some of the best birds are seen on days like this. And the premonition came true. In Lancaster, Holly found a dark phase Rough-legged Hawk sitting on a fence post.
Horses studying Barb Elliot and George Wrangham
As the Rough-legged Hawk was posing at the top of a willow tree, a Red-tailed Hawk came in and landed about five feet away, trying to scare the Rough-legged away but he wouldn't budge. Later, at Groffdale Rd we finally found a decent size flock of Horned Larks and in among them I spotted one lonely Lapland Longspur.
     We then headed back to the Struble Lake area and searched through some other flocks of Horned Larks, but no luck. As we were approaching the Struble Lake parking lot, Hawk-eye Holly says to me, "What's that bird on the top of that tree?". We stop and there it was, a Northern Shrike. So we went and parked the cars and came back to get a better view. We managed to get the bird in the scope for every one to see. It appeared to be a young bird. The mask of the bird was very dull giving the bird a weird look to the facial area.
Northern Shrike Struble Lake (Holly Merker)

     Finally, on Friday Sharon and I headed to Easton, MD to the Pickering Creek Audubon Sanctuary. There was a Virginia Warbler found there a few days ago and confirmed yesterday. We arrived there at 11:30, after a late start from home. It was about a two hour drive. But be warned that your GPS unit will land you at a site about 3 miles away from the sanctuary, so use the website directions. When we arrived there was a large crowd of folks already assembled along the path. Some folks got a quick glimpse of the bird early this morning, but it was not cooperating for the rest of the folks. We stayed for about an hour and then decided to head out for lunch. Upon our return we heard that the warbler was seen about five minutes ago. So I picked a spot along the trail and waited. Within five minutes I heard a chip note that wasn't familiar to me, so I knew this had to be our bird. Trouble was, he wasn't showing himself. So we waited some more, and finally the bird flushed out and flew away from us, heading across the field, but we could still hear the chip notes. Some other birders were on that side of the field and because they were talking so loudly, I think the bird flushed back towards us. Then all of a sudden the bird appeared at the top of a small shrub and in plain site. We could see the bright yellow undertail coverts and the grayish body as it hopped around the shrub.  
Virginia's Warbler (Photo from Internet)

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