It rained for at least 2 and a half days straight, and we sure did need it. But when the sun came out late Sunday morning I was ecstatic to get outside and bird the neighborhood. It was cool and clear and beautiful. (Below, this redbud tree in the late morning light took my breath away on Chester Forest.) After I stepped out of my house I spent a few minutes standing in my front yard and and identifying all the birds that were singing. A few weeks ago birds started to sing for the 2012 breeding season. Birds sing the most early in the morning, but there is also commonly a surge of singing after a rainstorm passes. That's what I was listening to in my driveway. And all of a sudden, mixed in with the Northern Cardinals, White-winged Doves, and Carolina Wrens, I heard a crazy, exotic, tropical-sounding rising call. It only sounded once, and I looked around for the source and could find anything. It wasn't until about an hour later that I realized what it was: a Wilson's Snipe! These birds are common winter residents on our creek, but I'm guessing this one was on its way north and waited out the rain in someone's yard. After the rain passed it felt the urge to sing and then continued its migration. You can listen to its crazy sounding song here. (The second half of the sound clip is what I heard.)
Walking down Stillforest didn't yield any surprises. The yards were full of American Robins. For the first time this year I heard the begging call of Carolina Chickadees. Some have already nested and produced their first brood. I observed one individual begging and getting fed by another. Our neighborhood hosts both Great-tailed Grackles and Common Gracklesw in the spring and summer, offering good opportunities to learn how to distinguish between these two similar members of the blackbird family. I got my best photo yet of a male Great-tailed Grackle foraging in someone's front yard:
I made my way down Meadowheath to the footbridge on Lake Creek Trail and met Barry Noret. He had seen White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Bluebird, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on the trail, all early north-bound migrants. An occasional Purple Martin flew over us as we made are way up the trail. We were fortunate to find four out of 5 of our winter-or-year-round-resident species of woodpeckers. And I got my best photo yet of this female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. You can see the holes it was tending in the tree. One of them is dripping sap.
Early spring is a fun time of year to see birds. Most winter species are still here, year-round residents have already started breeding, and some summer-resident and north-bound migrant species are starting to show up. And the weather can be absolutely wonderful. Here are the two lists I recorded on Sunday: one of the birds from my house to Lake Creek Trail, and the other on Lake Creek Trail.