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Birding (plus) log, May 2016

May has come and gone, and with it the bulk of bird migrations. Most of our summer residents are settling in for their summer routines. The orioles are just about done using our feeders, the robin is back under our deck, and we've gained a song sparrow amongst our yard residents.
This year's migration month (or two) was an odd one. We had an early warming trend followed by the abrupt return of cold, and through it all a dearth of rain. The migration was slow and we never had birds arriving in the large masses that hobbyists call "bird falls". Instead they trickled in and we had to look harder and farther to find them. 
This is only the second year that Calvin and I Have followed the migration. We saw several birds that were completely new to us (a hobbyist would refer to these as life birds), and we experienced a welcoming into the local bird culture through the county Audubon Society (we attended their guided hikes and assisted with their annual spring migration count), and through strangers that became less strange and less aloof the more we saw them on regular trails throughout the month. It became normal to stop and visit with people whose names we did not know, but whose routes and methods had become familiar to us, like the gentleman with the enormous camera I coveted, the husband and wife team that aggressively shushed birds from the brush, and the young man who hiked every afternoon following school.
This new-found camaraderie was warm and welcoming and provided us with the education and tools to find some of the birds that were new to us, but it was also a competitive and overwhelming at times. For every then helpful birders there was at least one who was jealous and guarded, not willing to share sighting location for fear someone would rival their observation numbers. And then there was the day that, on our usual early morning science hike, we ran into a birder we'd seen regularly who pointed out a pair of Common Nighthawks resting on a tree out in the open, a rare easy sighting. We enjoyed them and went on our merry way. When we left the small park an hour later the usually quiet parking lot was so full we could barely move. He has posted the sighting on a group list and within the hour tens of rabid birders had swarmed the park to see the hawks. We were not unhappy to be leaving at that point.
And now the season has slowed to a crawl. The migrators are gone, and with the leaves out the birds are harder to see, but we plan to continue our birding through all seasons for the first time this year. 

Eastern Phoebe (summer resident)

Yellow-throated Vireo (summer resident)

Cooper's Hawk (resident)

Eastern Kingbird (summer resident)

Yellow Warbler (summer resident)

Painted Turtle

Blackburnian Warbler (migrator)

Blue-headed Vireo (migrator)

Magnolia Warbler (migrator)

Philadelphia Vireo (migrator)

Green Frog


Palm Warbler (migrator)

Cerulean Warbler (summer resident)

Blue-winged Warbler (summer resident)

Northern Parula (migrator)

Pine Warbler (migrator)

Carolina Wren (resident)

Northern Mockingbird (my first look, and not a great picture except for the doofy robin photobomb)

Chestnut-sided Warbler (migrator and sometimes summer resident)

Common Nighthawk (summer resident)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (summer resident)

Swainson's Thrush (migrator)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (summer resident)

Warbling Vireo (summer resident)

Canada Goose (ubiquitous resident)

Wood Thrush (summer resident)

Turkey Vulture (ubiquitous resident)

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