A Summer Walk in Our Woods

It’s nearly 80 degrees, muggy under a hot sun, mosquitoes everywhere, and trails just soggy with rainwater. It feels like birding in Alabama or Louisiana but I’m hearing Hermit Thrushes and White-throated Sparrows and not worrying about snakes or alligators. We’ve had days of rain, interspersed with sunshine, but the ground is as saturated as I seen in mid-June.

After loading up with insect repellant, I took the dog for a walk this afternoon to do a little mid-day birding. We are loaded with Chestnut-sided Warblers and one was singing away as we headed out. Here’s a guy that hangs out along our driveway.

Distinctive song, easy markings, stays low. My kind of warbler.

Distinctive song, easy markings, stays low. My kind of warbler.

We have several families of Common Yellowthroats living in the brushy areas around our house. This time of year, there is a lot of chipping but few calls. They move fast around the heavy foliage and are hard to photograph. Here’s one with a caterpillar.

You can run but you can't hide, completely.

You can run but you can’t hide, completely.

The mosquitoes attacked in force as we entered the woods – Deep Woods Off kept them from landing but they were hovering about an inch away from eyes, ears, nose etc. I remembered that birds need insects for food so tried to spin it positively, but it was not fun. I could hear Blackburnians way up high in the pines and Hermit Thrushes far off, and then Penny flushed this little guy who sat, hidden by branches, and finally flew off. I took a photo and believe it is a young Ovenbird. There was no call — I did hear several later on — but I’m basing it on the fact that it was on the ground, and then sat on a low branch, like Ovenbirds do — but the lack of striped chest or chestnut crown make me think it is a juvenile. Any thoughts — feel free to comment.

OvenbirdW

Of course, Penny, having been cooped up with rain all day, was ready to rock and roll. The red squirrels were out in force and she felt she had to tree and bark at each one.

Maybe if I stand here and bark you'll come down and play.

Maybe if I stand here and bark you’ll come down and play.

As we came back up toward the house, I spotted the three deer that we’ve had around all year. They have their red summer coats and were glowing in the afternoon sunset, but deep in the foliage, watching us carefully. There may be a fourth one — I’m hoping that there is a fawn among them. They’ll be out and about tomorrow.

Approaching the house from our pines, I noted once again how lush everything is. I thought for a moment about the times when we’ve been on these trails, now squishy with water, when my fingers were too frozen to operate the camera. Seems like a long time off but this is Vermont, hang a month or two.

As we approached the house, one of our resident Purple Finches was singing away from the top of our maple.

As we approached the house, one of our resident Purple Finches was singing away from the top of our maple.

We have several families of Purple Finches that provide us with flashes of color and wonderful music.

We have several families of Purple Finches that provide us with flashes of color and wonderful music.

The dog and I came home thirsty — I was sweating, she was panting. She’d seen a lot of squirrels, I had heard and seen a nice mix of birds. I’ll try to remember these days when I’m on out snowshoes with hand warmers not doing their job, with only chickadees and nuthatches in sight, and wonder why I whined about a little mud and bugs and heat. Good summer birding to you.

 

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