Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wildacres Birds (and moths)

It can be hard to focus on a pottery workshop when the birds are calling right outside your door day and night. I had to apologize to Terry for slipping off for some surreptitious birding on several occasions.

By far, the most common birds I saw or heard during my week at Wildacres were Chipping Sparrows. Their trilling calls woke me at 6am every day, and the begging cries of the young ones followed me all around the mountain top all day long.
I never managed a decent photo of an adult, as they were all busy flitting around catching moths for their starving offspring. However, this juvenile posed nicely for me. He was on the top of a retaining wall while I was on the stairs below, so that we ended up at eye level, which made for some nice angles.
"Are you my mother?"

While walking down the road from the entrance to the retreat, I heard a trilling call that I nearly passed off as yet another Chipping Sparrow, when something about the quality of the song caused me to stop and look for the singer.
A Dark-eyed Junco! While I have certainly seen my fair share of winter juncos in Ohio, I have never heard them sing on territory. Luckily, this fellow was right at my eye level and in no hurry to leave. I was able to shoot a dozen or so pictures, with all sorts of camera settings, till I got just the right one.

Probably the second most common birds were the Red-eyed Vireos. They were everywhere, singing incessantly, and remaining invisible most of the time. This one, the one I initially called a Philly Vireo based on his song, was the only cooperative guy I found. Lighting was tough in the dark canopy, but I think you can tell what he is.

Practically from day one, I heard a song that I thought I should know. "Indigo Bunting" kept popping up as the answer, but I couldn't figure out what one would be doing in such heavily wooded habitat at 3300 feet. When I discovered the horse pasture below the firepit, I began to think I might be right. Using the iPod, I called it in.
OK, you and I both know this picture sucks. The thing is, at first he landed on a fencepost so close to me I could practically touch him. It startled me so that I missed my best photo op. After that, he knew the iPod wasn't a real bird, so he kept on the move, just out of camera range, looking for his imagined rival. I had to really push this photo to get it at all.

Moths were everywhere, indoors and out, and more varieties than I could possibly imagine. A few I knew:

Luna Moth
Rosy Maple Moth
Polyphemus Moth
my old friend,
Tulip-tree Beauty Moth

but many more, I could not recognize.

"patterned porch-step moth""dark lampshade moth"
"white studio-door moth"
"tan floor mat moth""funky lodge-hall moth"

Edit, June 24:
Thanks to Hap from New Hope, we have a name for the funky moth from the wall of the lodge hallway: It's a Spotted Apatelodes - Apatelodes torrefacta.

And, just so the other half of the Lep family doesn't get jealous, here's a Pipevine Swallowtail, one of the few butterflies I saw that week. (edit: corrected ID, thanks to Hap)

My birding Trip List for the week (Now, you just knew there would be a list, didn't you?)

American Robin
Northern Cardinal
Chipping Sparrow
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
American Crow (I tried to turn a couple into ravens, but no joy)

Indigo Bunting
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Hooded Warbler (missed a great pic of this one)
Red-eyed Vireo

Wild Turkey
American Goldfinch
Eastern Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Phoebe

Carolina Chickadee
Mourning Dove

and the "heard onlys"
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Wood Thrush
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (I'm pretty sure about this one)


dguzman said...

Nice! That Indigo Bunting must be smarter than the birds I call in, because usually the birdJam keeps 'em coming forever!

Sooooo many times, I've been so startled by a bird who comes right up to me (in perfect light, of course, and sitting on a post or some other appropriately natural perch) that I've been unable to raise my camera in time. Still, I try to keep those shots in my mind, even if I can't share them with you guys.

Love those crazy moths! I'll email you a moth ID guide I downloaded (for free) off the web. Maybe that will help!

Lisa said...

Do you remember when we were kids, there was a story about a kid who kept a butterfly/moth collection, and he caught some weird thing that eventually got free from its pin and the kid was NEVER SEEN AGAIN????? I think that's what's on the lodge wall. CREEPY!

(WF says its name is CROCCUM.)

Rene said...

OMG, those moths are gorgeous! I do love the dark-eyed junos, too. We have them here, not in massive numbers, but I hear them from time to time. Loud little guys!