04/22/11 – Vassar Farm Hike on Earth Day

Yellow-rumped Warbler

In what I can only call an Earth Day Special, I went to Vassar Farm to continue my search of spring time birds.  For the first time this year, I finally feel like spring is here.

I managed to photograph several brightly colored birds today, as they were everywhere.  The photograph of this yellow-rumped warbler is the first one I’ve taken in over two years, and he greeted me with a beautiful close-up.

And this was only five minutes into my hike.

The front pond was absolutely packed with little birds flying about and singing.  There were lots of those yellow-rumped warblers everywhere, so I observed them for a bit since it was a first of season sighting for me.  They didn’t seem to mind me too much, as they came in close on several occasions.  Every now and then I would see ruby-crowned kinglets too, who also came in close to inspect me.  It felt like the birds knew I was coming today, and in some instances, I felt like they were showing off and posing!

Yellow Warbler

Then, I saw a flash of yellow go by.  He landed on a branch across the front pond, so I walked over as close as I could and snapped this photo.  It was a yellow warbler, near back to back first of season sightings!

I saw a total of 2 yellow warblers at the front pond, who were outnumbered by the 10 yellow-rumped warblers and 8 ruby-crowned kinglets I counted there.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I saw my first green heron of the season!  He flew right out in the open and struck a pose.  A second one appeared shortly after.  While all of this was happening, barn swallows and possibly another type of swallow were flying around the pond too.  They never landed, and it was impossible to get a shot of them flying with their speed and agility.

After all the excitement, I decided to make my way through the fields towards the eco ponds.  There were a few eastern bluebirds, a red-shouldered hawk that came right at me, and the american kestrels were both out too.  One was sitting on a branch, while the other was hovering in the sky.  At the eco ponds, I got another look at the palm warblers.

Palm Warbler

There were many more palm warblers today than the last time.  I counted about 7 at the eco ponds this time around.  The surprising part to this hike was despite the extremely overcast day, I managed to get stellar warbler shots.  Earth Day strikes again!

After watching the palm warblers, I headed to the trail behind the field station and made my way back to the parking lot.  Through those woods is where I photographed the hermit thrush.  I also saw a few tufted titmice, an eastern towhee, and a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers.

Once I was out of the woods, I found another group of palm warblers!  I counted another 8 more, bringing my total up to 15 palm warblers for the day.  There were also a group of cowbirds and robins near the community gardens.  It was a calming end to an exciting day.  The peak of migration is nearly upon us, and with an extra year of camera experience, I’m ready for it!

Full Sighting / Sound List:

  1. Mallard
  2. Green Heron (first of season sighting)
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Red-shouldered Hawk
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. American Kestrel
  7. Mourning Dove
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Northern Flicker
  11. Pileated Woodpecker (heard only)
  12. Eastern Phoebe
  13. Blue Jay
  14. American Crow
  15. Barn Swallow
  16. Tufted Titmouse
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch (heard only)
  18. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Hermit Thrush (First sighting for me! #111)
  21. American Robin
  22. Northern Mockingbird
  23. European Starling
  24. Yellow Warbler (first of season sighting)
  25. Yellow-rumped Warbler (first of season sighting)
  26. Palm Warbler
  27. Eastern Towhee
  28. Field Sparrow (heard only)
  29. Song Sparrow
  30. White-throated Sparrow
  31. Northern Cardinal
  32. Red-winged Blackbird
  33. Common Grackle
  34. Brown-headed Cowbird
  35. American Goldfinch
  36. House Sparrow

Non-avian Sightings:

  • Red squirrel
  • Gray Squirrel
  • Groundhog
  • Muskrat
  • Eastern Chipmunk
  • Eastern Cottontail
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