The little titmouse family is now complete. The baby titmouse has fledged and they have left the bird box. We missed the actual moment they left the box, but have a few pictures of the baby bird as it was rapidly developing. It was incredible how fast the feathers grew on the baby bird!
I have added a couple of pictures from our feeders of mother birds feeding their young. Bluebirds and Downy Woodpeckers.
Gail and I spent some time walking around Miller Park and the Reynolda House grounds this weekend. We had heard through the Forsyth Birds email list that a Little Blue Heron had been spotted in Miller Park. We went on the hunt and found an even better one just when we were about to give up. It’s not a great picture as he was far away, the light was low, and he kept moving away from us.
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron:
Similarly, this Red Shouldered Hawk was really far away, but it’s cool to see them in the wild.
Turtles on a log:
A male and a female Eastern Towhee:
And a lovely female Bluebird:
Looking for birds is a great excuse to just be outdoors. I’m glad Gail and I share this kind of geeky interest. Now I’m tuning in more and more to the beautiful plant life in this part of the country. I’ll share some of that later.
Birding enthusiasts came from all over the country, and a few from abroad. It was the same with the guides, who were experts from all corners. It’s an annual birding event of the first order. It meets at the New River Gorge because of its unique geography on the Appalachian Plateau. The New River Gorge National River offers a wide variety of habitats in its 53 miles of river and steep V-shaped gorge. Riparian areas between forest and stream, mixed hardwood forests, old fields, and high cliffs provide for an array of birds nesting or living year-round within the borders of the National River. This area in southern West Virginia is at the heart of the upland, hardwood forests that are a crucial stopover habitat for the continued survival of several neo-tropical migratory species, including several Warbler species, and the Scarlet Tanager.
I was limited to two cold, overcast days because of my work schedule. Bummer. Gail had the chance to spend an extra, even colder day, 29 degrees at the crack of dawn, which is the typical starting time for these events. But even so, our group spotted 40 different species on each of the two days I was there. This is less than half of the usual. Photography was also less than ideal, though I will share at least a few of my pictures of the Yellow Throated Warbler that was my favorite bird of this trip.
Here is part of our birding group at the New River Gorge, with the famous New River Gorge Bridge in the background:
The New River:
Railroads parallel the edge of the river, dating back to the time of active coal mining that started over 100 years ago. Coal mining has long since been “tapped out” in this area, which is now a protected National River.
The Yellow Throated Warbler:
We spent a few days this past week up in West Virginia’s New River Gorge. We were there for a birding trip, which is held during the week when many species stop during their Spring migration. It is particularly attractive for birding purposes as there are so many habitats along the length and depth of the gorge. There were birders in attendance from all over the country. Unfortunately, it was a cold and overcast few days, and I’m sure it limited the number of species we saw. It certainly limited the enjoyment of being outdoors. But that’s why God made sweaters, coats and gloves! I’m grateful for the interesting birds we did see, and for the rain holding off to the evenings and nights. At least we stayed dry!
Here is a picture of the famous New River Gorge Bridge. You can see a bit of the river if you look closely.
And from the bottom of the gorge:
We checked inside the bird box again today and were lucky to find the mother titmouse away, giving us full view of 4 eggs. They lay one a day for 4-6 days, so she may not be done yet.
Then she came back to protect her eggs. She was tapping loudly on the side of the bird box, telling us to scram!