Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nerdy Birdy: Charlotte Four Mile Creek

Ms. Ivey had done some research on the internet for cool birds as a surprise for my brief visit. She found a post about a pair of Prothanotary Warblers that were supposedly nesting on the Four Mile Creek greenway. The path was partly concrete by the road but then branched off into the woods. Most of the mile or so that we walked was on the boardwalk surrounded by green in every direction. Ahhhh we just don’t have green like THIS in lala land!



Our target bird, the warbler, loves to nest in wooded swamps. The habitat was perfect for these birds and although we were hopeful of finding the bird we were also daunted by finding such a tiny little thing over so much distance.


Using what I have learned from other birders recently we would periodically play the warblers recorded call on my iPhone. We would pause and listen for a return call, be disappointed when we heard only the constant chatter of other birds, and then we would marshal our hope and continue on.


Of course along the way we spotted a few other species of birds. I loved the pairs of Northern Cardinals I got to see. I know the Cardinal is a pretty common bird here, but they are rare where I am from. I love their bright red color against the green backdrop of the forest. Such a pretty bird.



Birding in such dense forest isn’t easy but it is always more fun with a buddy. Ms. Ivey has a good birding eye and spotted many of the birds we saw today. The Tufted Titmouse, a bird we do not have in California, was oh so elusive the entire walk. Although there are many of them, although you can hear them calling constantly, they are very difficult to photo. Sadly my best photo has a stick running right across his body. Still working on the Kodak shot of this bird.


I did hear the Red Bellied Woodpecker often but finding this bugger is difficult. He usually only calls when he is flying far away from you and he loves to be high up in the trees. Ms. Ivey spotted this guy not too far from the path, which you could not get off of being surrounded by water. Trying to take photos on a narrow pathway with joggers and bikers and dog walkers whizzing by wasn’t easy. In fact, since this bird is usually so shy, with all the people traffic on the walkway I was pretty happy to get a photo of this bird at all.


Another little elusive guy Ms. Ivey pointed out was a Brown Headed Nuthatch. These guys are TINY and they are super sneaky camouflaged. They don’t often call and they move pretty secretively. I managed to get one photo of the bird in the sun. The rest sadly came out slightly blurry. The limitations of technology of a camera. Thankfully I did get the one photo.


We had played the warbler call every fifteen minutes and after a while I stopped telling Ms. Ivey when I was going to push play on the recorder. She would get super excited after the first few notes only to be disappointed when I informed her that it was only the recording. Then I pushed play and I got a reply. Like the boy calling wolf Ms. Ivey didn’t believe me at first, but then we saw him. A male Prothanotary Warbler had come to investigate, his bright blinding yellow contrasting beautifully with the green. This was the first time I have ever gotten to see this warbler, it was a new bird to cross off my Nerdy Birdy List!



I was so happy he stayed right around the boardwalk for quite some time, however I wasn’t so happy with his fast erratic movements. At first I was so excited at seeing him, and so worried he would fly away quickly that I started trying to move my camera from place to place to get a photo. After I got a few ok shots and I calmed down a bit I managed to get so many great photos of this beautiful bird. Best gift ever Ms. Ivey!



We ended up spending about 45 minutes with this bird, watching him feed, talking and pointing him out to people passing by, and basically just being so darn happy we had found the needle in the haystack. THIS feeling, of finding a new bird and experiencing the wonder of watching him in his natural environment is PRECIOUS. We were on cloud nine when we said goodbye to our little friend and headed back to the car.



paul peggy zeus said...

North Carolina is so green! We really enjoyed it ourselves, even the frog is green! LOVE that little warbler! Great find Ms. Ivy! What a wonderful friend you are.

Jennifer Arens said...

That was a great post! So happy technology drew the bird in!

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