Friday, July 20, 2012

Looking down, rather than up

In the heat of summer when birds seem to be hidden from view, I find myself birding by ear, perhaps while looking down.  Here at West Campus where I stopped my car to listen for birds in the woods I took a few photos of hardy flowers at my feet.

Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota
In the woods at this same spot the American Robins were making a ruckus, and for the same reason as in my previous post - the Red-tailed Hawks were about.  This time it sounded like a young raptor calling to a parent, as the cries were quiet different one from the other, and came from different treetops.
In between the persistent cries of the robins and several cardinals as well, I heard one distinctive little "metallic" chip note.  When we birders describe a note as being metallic, we're referring to a sound as metal being struck by metal.  One of our common, but less frequent, summer residents which makes a sound like this is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  I stood patiently waiting and watching - and also pishing - and it eventually came into view.  The cool thing is that it was a young male!  Pretty well along into acquiring its black and white adult coloring, with a chevron of rosy pink on the breast, it still had streaks of brown on the flanks and belly.

With limited time to stand and watch, I moved on.  Looking down the path I noticed a small brown shape at the edge of the chainlink fence - a young White-tailed deer, still wearing the spotted coat of a fawn.  It watched me cautiously while continually flicking flies off its ears.  As I advanced it stayed and watched, then trotted away a few meters, stayed and watched again, trotted away again.  While I stood pishing for birds, the fawn actually moved nearer and when I took an action that often brings the birds in closer, it had the opposite effect on the young deer.  I crouched - and the fawn bolted away - perhaps I suddenly appeared four-legged rather than two.

West Campus bird list for the week of July 16-20, 2012:

Red-tailed Hawk
Herring Gull and Killdeer
Mourning Dove and Rock Pigeon
Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay and Common Grackle
American Robin and European Starling
Cedar Waxwing and Barn Swallow
Song Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow
American Goldfinch and House Wren
Northern Cardinal and Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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