Today was spent on a tour called High Country. This trip hits the highest points in this area of West Virginia looking for different birds than can be found at lower elevations. There were two primary target birds on this trip. The first was Bobolink. The other was Golden-winged Warbler.
The Bobolinks are routinely found at a field where the owner delays mowing to allow the species to successfully raise their young. The leaders of the trip told us stories of dozens of Bobolink’s in the field plus large numbers of Eastern Meadowlarks. It sounded good. We arrived at the the site excited to see the birds. The guides led us up to the top of the hill and we found.......NOTHING!!! Not a bird in sight. The morning was unseasonably cold and the wind was whipping. The exposed top of the hill was very cold. The leaders paced around nervously and looked all over. They played calls on iPods. The result.......still NOTHING!!! We decided to give up the fight and head back to the bus.
We drove down the road a short distance and the bus stopped at an area to see what was around. Two of our leaders got out to listen. Suddenly we heard the shout of “Bobolink”. Very quickly 21 people exited the bus. The birds were in a pasture some distance from the bus but we were able to observe them with binoculars and scopes but they were too far for photos. We also got excellent views of Eastern Meadowlark in the same field. Apparently the birds preferred something out of the wind today. The relief on the face of the leaders was palpable. Suddenly Keith, Connie, and Will got together for a group high five and they all visibly relaxed. The trip was saved.
We also spent quite a bit of time on a county road that runs through a MeadWestvaco holding that is used for timber. There was a variety of mature trees, young growth, and clear cut. We tried repeatedly for the Golden-winged Warbler but had no luck. They just weren’t around to be found.
On the trip we had excellent views of a number of other species. The Red-winged Blackbirds were serenading the females in this small wet depression. Their “song” is matched with a furious bit of shaking and flashing of the red and yellow shoulder epaulets.
The Louisiana Waterthrush was a nice find. It responded to a short blast of song from an iPod.
Here is one more. This Black-throated Blue Warbler was at eye level but always seem to be behind some vegetation. Here are some of the better shots.
Although the numbers were down and the weather was cold, everyone had a great time. Tomorrow I’m off to a place called Muddlety.