Sunday, December 30, 2007
Winter Warbler Walk Without Whining
I had whined just a little in past posts and commentary that my woods were too silent this winter. Maybe I was rushing things, but the twittery, rustley, bustley of oaks alive with migrating LGB's seemed to be missing.
Their absence was more fretful when you couple it with recent reports of declining American bird species. So I whined and fretted a bit ... where were my birds?
I got some relief yesterday when I stepped out and the woods seemed alive with flying bits and pieces.
Do I have to open a bird book or are you guys going to save me the trouble?
The warblers are still mostly Little Grey Birds to me as they flit from branch to branch and tree to tree. I "psshhhed" this guy in close enough for a heavily cropped picture, but most of my warbler shots tend to be of a dark LGB, at a distance, with a bright sky behind.
I may have to just climb up there with them and sit still.
I mentioned the edgey semi-open nature of the PFHQ ten acres in my M&Migrant Menu post, so I thought I'd share a pic to illustrate what I meant. After spending a lot of megapixels fruitlessly trying to shoot the many visiting warblerascals, Feather and I took a walk.
She pointed out this glade as a good spot to represent the open edges that run like ribbons through PFHQ. I realize it probably just looks like a mishmash of green, but every plant there from the grass to the palm makes seeds or berries used by wildlife.
Nowhere on PFHQ is there any dense forest. Instead there are forested clumps which usually consist of some very mature large oaks surrounded by their admiring younger offspring. The woods cattle that grazed this property until we bought it, set in motion this fragmented forest and we continue it to this day, although some areas have grown up a bit since 1986.
If I allowed or encouraged the forest to "close up" I would lose things like the gopher colony that counts PFHQ as it's home base. The plants they eat need sun and gophers need open areas or at least edge, to survive.
Sometimes I do my Leonides thing with the machete to keep areas open. I did this recently to rejuvenate (I hope) a stand of chinkapin that had become completely shaded by young oaks.
Other times, we do very small controlled burns of areas that are close enough to reach with long lengths of connected hoses.
This gopher was out enjoying the warm sunshine and doing a little excavation. Look at that rich dark Florida soil she's brought up.
Another burrow, very different from the gophers half dome style. This one is in a semiopen area with young planted pines. There's a cottontail that dashes across this area from time to time. I think this is it's home.
When we got back to our home, Feather was pooped from leading the walk and felt a need to take a snooze.
Flounder, who was suspiciously absent on the warbler walk, listened to Feather's recounting of the adventure until he too grew sleepy and decided a power nap might be a good idea.