Monday, June 29, 2015

Prattsville NY, Summer Solstice

On the first weekend of Summer, our friend Gary drove us up to his family's summer house in Prattsville NY, Catskills. It's a lovely place that I've blogged about before.

On the way up, we stopped for lunch at the original Bread Alone shop in Boiceville. Ten minutes looking at the scrubby woods at the edge of the parking lot yielded a Vesper Sparrow along with Carolina Wrens, Common Yellowthroats, and Catbirds.

We arrived in Prattsville with plenty of light left on the longest day of the year. I went for a stroll around the area. As last year, the highlight were the Bobolinks nesting in the hayfields at the nearby crossroads.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bobolink, Prattsville NY

There were more than last summer, so I guess they must have done well. For the first time I heard the males singing. The males stayed out of sight until I was walking along teh edge of the field, then they rose up, one or two at a time, giving a wild song like someone tuning an old-fashioned radio. I imagine they were agitated by having a large mammal near the nest site and were trying to draw me away. Before I arrived, a couple of cars went past, and those didn't bother the birds at all.

This was also the first time I got a good look at Bobolink females. They're quite good-looking birds as well, though much more understated than the males.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bobolink, Prattsville NY

Both sexes look a little haggard--feathers ruffled, tails a bit ragged.

I went down the road a little. I heard a hoarse deep screaming call in the distance, and then nearer by came an answer--a Raven, who took off from a tree, flying toward the other call.

Something else called nearby like a police whistle. As I peered into the woods to find it, a Turkey Vulture flew in above me and landed briefly in a treetop.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Turkey Vulture, Prattsville NY
here's the world-famous vulture...

Back at the house, we heard Common Yellowthroats, Song Sparrows, and Chestnut-sided Warblers in the yard, and an Indigo Bunting perched on a wire. In the distance we heard a corvid party--the Ravens, along with crows and Blue Jays calling continuously for a half hour.

On Saturday night came a soaking rain. It finally let up a bit after 7 on Sunday morning, and I went off through the fields. I got good and soaked from the tall, wet grasses, too.

Birdsong was everywhere. Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee. Catbirds sang loudly from deep within the brush. Farther away, a Prairie Warbler sang its rising buzzy song.

Later in the morning, Gary and I walked up the road partway up Bearpen Mountain. Singing Indigo Buntings were everywhere.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Indigo Bunting singing, Prattsville NY

A large number of crows were conversing, not too distant but out of sight. We did spot some Wild Turkeys, though.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Wild Turkeys, Prattsville NY

When we headed back to the house, the Bobolinks were out again.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bobolink, Prattsville NY

A bit more rain came in after lunch, and by the time it was over it was time to leave. While packing the car, we heard a loud banging from the old barn.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Prattsville NY
The Sapsucker Is In

I didn't manage to get a picture of it, but this natty Sapsucker was banging the tin roof of the barn, which resonated nicely. It made a hell of a racket, that is to say, demonstrating to all potential rivals that the resident Sapsucker was on his territory and not to be messed around with.

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