07 January 2008

Birthdays and Birds

I'm short on time tonight, as I'm currently supposed to be peeling the shrimp for the special birthday dinner Mandi's making me . . what a treat. Anyway, I wanted to share a few new bird sightings from this weekend as I promised that would be a Monday affair. Avery, Lily and I went down to the Moss Creek Nature Trail yesterday to check out the winter residents and we were surprised by two new birds. The first, unfortunately, was too quick for my trigger finger and I could not get a pic of it. It stayed in view of my binoculars long enough for me to guess that it was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, but I won't add it to the list until I can confirm it. My view of adding birds to my list is much like the NFL's stance on overturning the ruling on the field . . I've got to have undisputable visual evidence. In this case, I do not. We didn't leave empty handed, though. I was able to capture a few great shots of a Yellow-rumped Warbler flitting about in a tree near the creek. He was very quick and didn't hang around for long, but his markings are unmistakable and I confidently added him to the list. I also added the White-throated Sparrow, which I'd seen there numerous times but not this year. In that same vane, I'm removing the Belted Kingfisher from the list temporarily until I actually lay eyes on one again. I'm accustomed to seeing the same one perched on the wires above the reservoir on our way to the gym every morning, which is why I put him on the initial list. But he's been absent for the first week of the year and I want to keep the list honest.

Today, while Lily and I were whiling away an hour that Mandi had to spend at work, we went to the Edgehill Neighborhood Park down in Charlotte. Lily enjoyed playing on the toys and I took the opportunity to scope the area's old-growth trees for new species. After getting some great photos of two Red-tailed Hawks that were lurking in the nearby trees, we wandered over toward the small stream and heard a pecking from a limb above us. I looked up to find what looked like a Downy Woodpecker, but upon closer inspection turned out to be a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This particular male stayed put as I got up close and snapped some really good shots of him pecking away at his lunch. His bright red chin and distinct tapping pattern made him an easy one to identify.

The rest of the day has been laid back and quiet, just like I like it. Mandi and I had birthday beers and wings at Mac's while Lily played with her cousin Taylor at Grandma's house. The girls and I went to the store to rent a movie for Mandi and I to watch later after the girls go to bed. I was asked today why we weren't spending this birthday in St. John, as we have the last two years, and my only answer was that we just decided not to. I certainly will miss that trip this year, not only for the sun and relaxation but for the unique birds I'd surely be able to add to my Big Year. But a Happy Birthday it was no less, and I'm glad to have had the time to go birding with Lily.


Carolyn said...

I REALLY like the picture of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that you got, good birding day!! And...Happy Brithday to the best brother EVER!!!! Sorry we played telephone tag all day, but I love you very much!!!

Anonymous said...

FYI St. John is available on dates other than your birthday!