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.


ArtfulSub said...

Pics kind of unclear. Might be a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Can't tell if it has a woodpeckerish beak from that photo. Or if it has a red-spot on head.

Rurality said...

Yellow-throated warbler. You turkey. (For having such nice warblers in the winter!)

Rurality said...

Hey I just thought of something. You could have burrowing owls. (You turkey!) Do you have burrowing owls?????

Laura said...

In that picture, without glasses on, I could have sworn Feather was a small black bear roaming through the forest. Do you ever see bears out there, close to home?

And what a treat to see the yellow bellied Little Grey Bird in and amongst the brush. Hope he'll return, with his family!

Floridacracker said...

Too tiny for that. Rurality pegged it. I just needed professional birder/engineer/soapmaker verification.

I have eaten leftover Christmas turkey every day since Christmas Eve ... ending yesterday, so you may have a point.
Thanks for the ID. I thought that's who it was.
Burrowing owls would be possible, but not likely. I think they like it even more open than here. I could set the you know what up next to that round burrow.

We call her our "Bear", she's so fuzzy and big.
There's certainly bear in the area, but I have never come across them.

threecollie said...

We thought yellow throat too, but we were thrown by the way it looks orange under the bill...shadow must be. Alan and I spent a long time looking at online and in field guide yellow birds and finally decided to wait for wiser minds to offer the answer.

Sharon said...

You are so blessed to be able to take a nature walk on your own property :)

SophieMae said...

Nice job capturing the YTW! I was just telling Duller we need to clear some of the side area. We like it, but propspective buyers tend to prefer something that looks as if the work has already been done. The possibility of attracting gophers would be a definite bonus.

I've seen bear tracks, but no bear on our place. DS, OTOH, spotted one crossing through the side yard a couple weeks ago.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Shucks. I was gonna throw in Evening Grosbeak. Wrong again.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the investigation. I am not one of those wiser minds in the warblerworld.

It's why I hate to go anywhere!

Hey! I guess you are well again.
Florida bears are a lot shyer than Smoky Mtn bears.
I've never seen a wild Florida BB and I do get out there a bit.

Well, it might have been ...

Cathy S. said...

5 think I need to get my eyes checked. I thought Feather was a bear, too. Thanks for taking us on a stroll. How many calories did we burn?

Floridacracker said...

Cathy S,
Well, it was pretty leisurely with many stops to sniff and photograph things ... I think the calorie count was pretty low.

kathy a. said...

see, i'm not the only one who thinks your dogs tend to look like bears, at a glance!

thought you were pulling our legs about the gopher, as it does not appear to have fur. we don't get much in the way of armoured wildlife around here.

quite a nice visit to the HQ!

Thunder Dave said...

It took some doing to catch back up, but I'm there now! It looks like you wore the dogs out!

I'll try to get some photos of a real winter wonderland, and our nephew's wedding posted!

pablo said...

the "you know what" eh?

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
While it's true that legs are pulled occasionally at PF, that is a bonafide Gopherus polyphemus in the photo.
It's good to be cautious tho :)

This is wonderland without the winter.
Although temps of 22 are forecast for Wed.

Yes, and so far, I'm the only thing it captured.

Doug Taron said...

Happy New Year. PFHQ is looking good. Every time I see pictures of your property, I wonder about the insect life there. I bet it's pretty impressive. Nice picture of the pooped pooches.

Floridacracker said...

Happy New Year.
It is a pretty buggy place, especially in the summer.