There are some farm fields not far from Jennifer’s house which have nice tree and brush lines and are a favorite place to bird while allowing the dog to roam to her heart’s content. We spent an hour there the evening before leaving for Vermont and it was a nice productive outing.
I nearly always hear and see Red-bellied Woodpeckers which are pretty special since they hardly ever frequent my Vermont haunts — and sure enough, there were at least three squawking and pecking away. Penny works ahead of me up the windrows of plants and weeds and for a while, all I saw were wings and tails of small brown birds. They were Song Sparrows and a whole host of Dark-eyed Juncos.
Heading up the second open field, two raptors suddenly soared overhead pretty low. I got the bins on them and then tried to frame them in the camera as they circled, often blocked by trees. At first I thought they were Red-tails but there was no red on either tail — and I’m pretty certain that they were Rough-legged Hawks. ( a birder friend, Sue McGrath wrote that they appear to be Red-tails, and I defer to her expertise.) Here’s one of them:
We walked up to the fields on top, enjoying the fall afternoon but not seeing much, but returning, I noticed a couple of birds high in a tree down at the end of the field. The light was awful — I could not figure out what they were as we descended. I got closer and closer, with the dog cruising here and there, figuring that they would get scared off. Finally, almost right below them, I got to a place where the sun was behind me and sure enough, they were a couple of Rusty Blackbirds.
The truck was parked by an abandoned landfill which often has a lot of birds around it. As we approached, I saw some Tufted Titmice foraging in the leaves but then noted some flashes of blue — brighter than the Titmice. About six Eastern Bluebirds were feeding and being relatively uncooperative for long-range photos. The one I zeroed in on was doing all sorts of grooming but finally slowed down enough for this shot:
I had logged my sightings into Birdlog as we went along and so I submitted the report as I got back to the truck. Just as the report swooshed off, I heard a Pileated Woodpecker – a nice ending to a nice outing.