Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Post-storm Migrants and Box Turtle

After the storm last night I was anxious to see what migrating songbirds I could find this morning. I got out to the T&C parking lot at the end of Meadowheath by about 7:30 AM and snapped this picture. Then I crossed the smaller creek to bird the flood plain property. It was kind of tough birding, with lots of fleeting glimpses and some birds only heard. But I did see some new birds for the season brought in by the storm. The first was a beautiful male Painted Bunting. A few of these live in the NASWC area all summer long but it's easiest to see them now and during fall migration. Another first-of-season bird was an Eastern Wood-Pewee that caught and swallowed a butterfly right above me. I saw more kinds of vireos in one neighborhood outing than I ever have before, including White-eyed, Blue-headed, Warbling, and Red-eyed. And I saw or heard at least 4 Yellow-breasted Chats including one especially great view of this skulker. I totaled 41 species. Not bad for a half-mile stroll through the woods!

I was driving north on Broadmeade at around 9:00 AM on my way to work when I saw a turtle on the road. The creek is full of Red-eared Sliders and other water turtles, but this was a land turtle. I pulled over to check it out and move it off the road. I decided to take it to the creek and put it down near there where there's more open land and fewer fences. It was moving its legs around while I carried it but it got shy when I took this picture. It's an Ornate Box Turtle that occurs in the central United States. Land turtles have gotten very rare in the last 30 or 40 years, so it was a thrill to find this one right in our neighborhood. I just read the males have red eyes, so I guess it's a "he"!

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