June 16, 2007
With political chores behind me, I finally had some time to help with the Cerulean warbler survey this morning. This project is being conducted jointly by the Audubon Society and the National Park Service. Cerulean warblers have declined in numbers over the past century, and some scientists have recommended that the species be listed as "threatened." Audubon staff member Aimee Weldon is coordinating the project in this part of Virginia.
Following the assigned survey transect, Jacqueline and I hiked along the Appalachian Trail a couple miles north of Swift Run Gap, in the Shenandoah National Park, east of Harrisonburg. Our planned trek was cut short, however, when we encountered a Black bear foraging in the underbrush, about 30 yards ahead of us. It seemed like a full-size adult to me, and showed no fear at all when I made noise in hopes of coaxing it to leave, since it was blocking our advance. After I got a quick video clip (not as good as I wanted), I finally complied with Jacqueline's urgent pleas and retreated. So much for finishing the circuit hike!
As for the survey results, I saw one Cerulean warbler, and heard four more altogether. I didn't see or hear any Kentucky warblers, Canada warblers, or the other bird species which we were asked to search for. Nevertheless, it was a pretty good day of birding, at the peak of breeding season. Today's highlights include [two] first-of-season species.
UPDATE: I have added four species that I had neglected to include yesterday, one of which -- the Veery -- was the first one I had seen in over two years. The song of the Veery is indescribably beautiful; it actually sounds like they are singing through a long plastic tube, such is the unique resonating quality of their larynxes. These members of the trush family are shy and elusive, however, so I was lucky when one responded to my "pishing" lure and perched nearby for a few seconds.
Hummingbirds continue to visit the feeder on our back porch almost every day, so I assume there must be a female raising her young in this neighborhood.