The Idle Period of Birding – The Trail

Although it has been a little over a month since my last post, I can assure you that my passion for birds (or writing) has not decreased at all.  My lame excuses are – my parents have been busy with work around the house, and the weather has been awful lately on the weekends (but I have had time for a birding trip during this time, although that is for another post).  The truth is, on the few days that were suitable for birdwatching (but I didn’t have anyone to take me birding), I have been in my backyard, not completely idle in the bird world.  I have been making a trail.

In the very back of our property, there is a narrow strip of woods where the birds are often abundant.  I have decided to clear a rustic path through those woods so I can see what birds my yard really can produce (“really” meaning not just at my feeders).  I am very excited because come migration and breeding season, I believe there will be a plethora of species to be found.

My interest in the birding opportunities that my yard presents started one fall day at around dinnertime.  We were eating outside when I noticed “flitting” in the tops of some of our trees.  I grabbed my binoculars (unfortunately I didn’t have a scope) and went to the back (where the tree with activity was).  I knew that I was dealing with Warblers, and, since I couldn’t tell what species they were, I just could hope that they came down to a lower level in the trees.  My hope paid off.

Discouraged, I headed back to the table to agitated parents saying “We were in the middle of a meal.  Why did you leave?”.   I said “Well, I thought I saw some birds that I had never seen before.”  Then, before they could reply, I was up out of my seat, and off to the back once again.

I slowly approached the back, careful not to scare my targets.  Then, a small bird darted across my field of view.  It landed and stayed put long enough for me to put a name to it.  It was a Blackpoll Warbler.  Excited at my discovery, I got a good final look at the Blackpoll and headed back to the dinner table.

I was now at the table, a wide grin stretching across my face.  But instead of looking at me and lecturing me once again about leaving the dinner table, my parents had their binoculars and were staring through them at a looming Birch Tree situated next to our patio.  I found what they were looking at, got a look at it through my binoculars.  I identified it as a Northern Parula.

Now, I know that the majority of you are probably thinking “Umm… wow *sarcasm*!  A Blackpoll and a Parula.  Incredible sighting!”  Don’t get me wrong, these species are beautiful birds, but seeing them in our area at that time of year is not rare to any extent.  The thing that makes this sighting exciting, though, is the fact that I have never seen a Warbler in our yard (with the exception of a Yellow-Rumped a few years back), let alone two in one day!  So, I can conclude from this that there are, in fact, Warblers in our yard, and it has merely been a case of me not being in the right place at the right time to see them!

So now I am very excited for migration this season so I can view, in my own backyard, many of the birds that I would usually travel many miles to see.  Just one more note – I had said that I was excited for breeding season at “The Trail”.  This is because there are many woodpecker cavities that I have noticed Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers all investigating, so I have a feeling that we’re going to have some nesting action!

Good birding!

This is the main part of my trail.

The Mayapple, one of the few native wildflowers growing along the trail.

One of the sections of my trail. Not yet a bird magnet, but Im hoping that come migration, it will be.

Another section of my trail.

Falling trees are a hazard of my trail, thanks to Poison Ivy, English Ivy, and Wild Grape. They have killed many of the trees along my trail (which is what makes it a prime area for Woodpecker watching).

Another section of my trail.

This is the main part of my trail (the clearest). I am not aiming to thin out the invasive groundcover species (most of the bushes in this shot) all right away because, for instance, the berries of the Japanese Multi Flora Rose is a favorite for species like Northern Mockingbird. Also, if the woods has limited ground cover, then I may just be working against myself - making the trail less desirable for birds instead of being able to view loads of them.

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