Saturday the 14th of April......one 'sunny and warm day'...a perfect invitation setting up our Audubon walk. Upon quick recollection, this made (2) days in a row where nice weather nestled in. One, two...not hard to count nor remember. The scheduled Plant Walk with Michael Stanton, which is Sunday the 15th most likely isn't going to copy-cat this day.
Now this Audubon walk had 15-16 of us strung up and down, captivated in birds and the absorption of sun. Kind of a meandering bunch initially as we found our way up and down the initial pathways near the visitor center. Tree Swallows in flight and finches 'fighting in-flight' for territory...A fly-by of 7 laughing gulls and another of 17 Ibis. A blue-gray gnatcatcher in the parking lot, and with the use of Charles's scope, a willet or two way out beyond the boardwalk.
As we scoped the trees and fields in back of the visitor center, a nice low flying raptor made it's appearance as it skulked thru the trees and then plunked itself down on the picnic table in the Nature Classroom. The raptor had us raptured.
A formidable entrance as well as a presence that unmistakably defined this bird as being transplanted from Hollywood to Jersey. It's entrance was just too grand for the normal run-of-the-mill Jersey raptor as it looked for the red carpet treatment leading to the picnic table. In it's inflight quick-glance mode, the white evident on the upper tail was leading to a Northern Harrier, as Charles voiced. But once landed, it turned it's spots to either a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned.
A bit of a debate ensued at this juncture. Kevin looked at the 'square-notched' tail and equated it to a Cooper's but Charles chimed in questioning that the square-tailed was Sharp-shinned. A quick look into Sibley gave this 'squareness' the edge to being a Sharp-shinned. But wait....it just didn't appear right. Other features started to take root....such as a broader head, the stance, the long tail....the size...the manner in which it skulked in...
In the end, the consensus turned to a Cooper's (this one or that one?) who had a propensity towards a squaretail or perhaps how it simply 'settled' in to place upon landing. Not to mention the obvious Hollywood breeding, a bird unique to itself.
Moving on down the lane..... Kris had this strong desire to see her first Pine Warbler of the season..... and yes, one cooperated with her nicely. A beautiful Pine Warbler in vintage plumage presented itself on a 'cherry tree?"....what you say? A Cherry tree? Ah, that's okay as it eventually moved to a neighboring pine.
From my advantage as I 'banked out' right after Gull Tower....nothing overly notable although Stanton tried to entice birds. But do you know what made the day? Well, two things...... first the 'sun'. What a nice morning for a walk. After a less than glamorous and sunless crappy winter and early spring season, it was nice to just have sun and short sleeves for the most part.
The other thing that made the day was simply 'the company'. An excellent group of 'nice people' is the cornerstone and substance of this Atlantic Audubon Society. Stop and think for a moment. Have you ever heard anyone in this group attempt to take-over and be a prima-donna or insult those of less knowledge and skills? Nada...never. This Audubon bunch simply has 'character' and strength from each individual within....they help, chime in....assist, debate, laugh....walk and talk...and watch. A truly unique collection en masse.