Monday, June 08, 2009

Owling and more

After recent lulls along the New Hampshire coast I've been repeatedly taking trips up to the White Mountains, inland, and to the few Pine Barrens in the state. I'm pretty much sold that this is the area to be in New Hampshire right now.

I spent Friday in some random locations looking at salt marshes and attempting to find my friend Jessie some life birds including a Cerulean Warbler. While we did not see a CERW we did encounter some 14 life birds for her including Grasshopper, Vesper, and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

I added Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow to my year list at one of my research/birding sites. These little guys seem to be everywhere right now! We also picked out a probable nest for the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows.

Friday evening Jessie and I were treated to a mocking by 4 Virginia Rails before picking up Eastern Screech-owl for my year list. We had 3+ owls calling and 2 nearly took off our heads. An hour later we were in Concord where we met up with Jason to look for Northern Saw-whet Owls. While we fell short in that regard we added Whip-poor-will to our "almost killed by" list and to her life list.

Saturday I headed out in search of birds in the south-eastern part of the state. A slow morning led to a quick stop at the bookstore where I picked up a field guide to butterflies. I was warned that come summer I'd be looking at other things when the birding died down. And so I am.

In true "rare species loving fashion" I then headed back to concord to the Karner Blue Butterfly sanctuary. After locating Karner Blue #211 I spent some time looking at birds ranging from Common Nighthawk, Vesper's Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, and Pine Warbler. After a quick break for dinner I decided rather than drive home at a reasonable hour I'd attempt for the Saw-whet that was reported another time.

I headed out to the spot, watched the sun set and then began the search. My search turned up more Whip-poor-will's, 2 skunks, bull frogs, spring peepers, green frogs, etc. but no NSWO's. I headed home once again discouraged.

The following morning I decided to visit the famous MIKI's in Newmarket and spend a little more time looking at butterflies. Keeping true to my random style I ran into Jason and decided to head up north to Ossipee to check out the pine barrens. After seeing a few butterflies a call from Ben took us away to Church Bog along the Kangamangus Highway.

Goal species here included Olive-sided Flycatcher (for me) and Northern Waterthrush (for Jason). While we failed to see either of these species I was treated to a beautiful showing of Ledum groenlandicum (Labrador Tea) in flower and plenty of Sphagnum spp. to jump all over.

After scaring the boys with my love of plants we got back to looking at birds. The highlight were the Palm Warblers we stumbled into (first picked out by me I'm proud to say). Study of the birds confirmed our immediate suspicion that if these birds are around in June they must be nesting. Palm Warblers did not historically nest here so it was a rather exciting find (and a year bird for Ben who was in California when they moved through).

After dinner, Jason and I got back to looking for birds. The target bird again was Northern Saw-whet Owl... and again we fell short. The highlight of the night was the Barred Owl that came in to my whistling for Saw-whets. I suppose he wanted a snack but I guess I'm a little too big for his stomach.

I've learned a number of things this past weekend including the fact that I should probably keep a tent and a sleeping bag in my car at all points in time in order to encourage random road and owling trips.


dAwN said...

I would absolutely love to see the cerulean warbler...Ive heard it but not seen.
The grasshopper sparrow is another I would love to see..
looks like you know the best spots.

Its nice that you look down as well as up...lots of plants and butterflies to learn...I think I should get a butterfly book as well..

I think a tent and sleeping bag in the car at all times is a great idea..
sounds like you have a nice birdie life!

Lowie said...

There's a good chance I could show you a CERW in NH but not where we're going on... unless there's time... hmmm.

I can make Grasshopper Sparrow possible too... and that's pretty much en-route.

I know a lot of my plants - just started going on the butterflies. The butterfly book I have linked is probably the best.

A tent and a sleeping bag is as close to an RV as I have! And yes - I love my birdie life.