No, this isn't a continuation of my rant about being able to spy on my blog visitors, as I'm sure you're happy to hear. Rather it's my promised weekly birding update, although a disappointing week it turned out to be. We made a trip down to Crowder's Mountain State Park yesterday in a vain attempt to catch some exercise and some winter bird activity in one fell swoop, but the colder than expected air and a crankier than expected toddler made it more of a race to get back to the car than a leisurely walk in the woods. I'm pretty sure we saw a small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos flitting about in the trees near the small lake, but with Lily wailing at full voice they did not stick around for long. My observation was against a brightly lit but cloudy sky, making it difficult not only to take photographs but also to stare for extended periods through binoculars. I decided not to add the Junco to my list, because I wanted to be absolutely sure. That location is most assuredly better suited to birding during migratory periods anyway, so we'll make another trip down there in March or April to see what there is to be seen.
On a positive note, I captured some shots of an unexpected visitor at the feeders this weekend, one that I've never heard of even being a feeder bird. It seems as though now that I've positively identified the Yellow-rumped Warbler on my Big Year list, they're making themselves visible to me more and more often. The one I ID'ed earlier this month at the nature trail was the first one I'd ever seen, and since then I'd seen two or three more in the same location and quite a few on the Mallard Creek Greenway when we went there last week. Then yesterday as I was watching the throngs of American Goldfinches devour their lunch of thistle seed from my feeders I spotted a flash of yellow on the ground below them. It was gone before I could retrieve the binoculars, but a half hour later she had returned and this time was nosing about in the sunflower seeds I'm offering in the tray feeder. She posed on the feeder just long enough for me to grab the camera and capture her visit for posterity, before first taking off to the top of the willow tree and then leaving out of sight. I don't know if warblers are common feeder birds, but it was a treat to see this curious female visit on an otherwise disappointing birding day. Later, to end the day on another positive note, the female Northern Cardinal that has been a daily visitor to the feeder spent at least ten minutes just perched atop the willow as I prepared dinner next to the window. I am certain she sensed my disappointment with the morning's hike and bestowed her presence outside that window as a token gesture. It was certainly appreciated.