Eight of us went birding in Schenley Park today and saw lots of cool bird behavior.
In the first fifteen minutes we saw an unusual scarlet tanager — bright orange like an oriole instead of scarlet like a tanager. We also had good looks at our Best Bird of the day: a beautiful male rose-breasted grosbeak.
Down the trail we found a tiny sentinel. A male ruby-throated hummingbird perched high on a dead snag watching his domain. We also found an Acadian flycatcher on her nest and an American robin feeding nestlings.
After so much rain the creek and first waterfall were running fast. Last Wednesday’s downpour washed a culvert into the gravel trail that reached right down to the bedrock — a layer of blue-green slate.
In all we saw / heard 29 species. The complete checklist is here.
p.s. I promised daisy fleabane and we did see it. Whew!
Summer arrived before the solstice. It’s time to get outdoors!
Join me for a bird & nature walk in Schenley Park on Sunday, June 24, 8:30a – 10:30a.
Meet at Bartlett Shelter on Bartlett Street near Panther Hollow Road. We’ll look in the meadow for birds and flowers, then explore the woodland trails. I’m sure we’ll see daisy fleabane. It’s blooming now.
Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.
Before you come, visit the Events page in case there are changes or cancellations. The outing will be canceled if there’s lightning.
At this time of year the weevils appear. I found one on black locust leaves in Schenley Park on Friday June 8.
At first, they hang out on plants but they can fly. In a “big year” they spread everywhere, landing on buildings and people and just about anything. By late June people are freaking out. They think they’re ticks.
But you won’t freak out. You’ll know what they are.
This is a yellow poplar weevil (Odontopus calceatus), a vegetarian that feasts on yellow poplars, tuliptrees, sassafras and cucumber magnolia trees. He’s usually kept in check by predatory insects but in “big years” there aren’t enough predators and his population goes wild.
The weevil’s body structure shows why he’s not a tick:
Ticks have 8 legs (they’re related to spiders). Weevils have 6.
Ticks don’t have wings. Weevils have wings under their elytra (wing covers). Though they don’t fly much you may see one raise his wing covers and zoom away.
Ticks do not have snouts. Weevils have snouts like inflexible elephants’ trunks and 2 antennas on the snout.
Ticks never swarm. Weevils swarm in June because they’re mating.
Later in June when the weevils swarm, amaze your friends . “Nope, it’s not a tick.”
No it didn’t rain! Though the clouds lingered we had a great time in Schenley Park on Sunday morning.
The leaves obscured some of the birds but they were very active after Saturday night’s storms. We chased scarlet tanager songs without seeing them, found one of the many wood thrushes we heard in the park and had good looks at these Best Birds:
A pair of eastern phoebes guarded their nest site at the Visitors’ Center. This one watched us walk into the park.
We saw a pair of cedar waxwings beak-touching and courting.
And a male pileated woodpecker attracted our attention by constantly hammering on an enormous hollow tree. Peter Bell found him high up the slope. Best Bird for the outing and Life Bird for Peter!
11:00am: Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch. Meet at the Schenley Plaza tent.
Parking is FREE on Sundays.
Note! The 10-day weather forecast calls for thunderstorms on May 27 but that could change. If it’s storming these outings will be canceled. I don’t do lightning.
Schenley Park Bird and Nature Walk, May 27, 8:30a – 10:30a.
Join me for a bird & nature walk in Schenley Park on Sunday, May 27, 8:30a – 10:30a.
We’ll meet me at the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center to see what’s popping in the park since our birdless walk in April. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks nest in Schenley Park. Will we see one? I hope so!
Click here for more information and in case of cancellation.
… and then …
As soon as the bird walk is over, I’ll adjourn to Schenley Plaza to look for peregrines. (I will start the watch immediately when I get there. The 11a start time insures that peregrine fans will find me even if our bird walk runs late.)
Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch, May 27, 11a – 1p.
When will the Pitt peregrine chicks fly from the Cathedral of Learning? I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll be fun to watch on Memorial Day weekend.
Join me at the Schenley Plaza tent on Sunday May 27 11a – 1p for a Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch. We’ll swap peregrine stories and get close-up looks at the peregrines through my scope.
Click here for a Google map of Schenley Plaza. Don’t forget to check the Events page for last minute updates before you come. Fledge Watch will be canceled if it’s raining or thundering.
p.s. A complete Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch schedule will be posted later this week. This year it’s harder than usual to predict when these birds will fly!
(photo of a rose-breasted grosbeak by Cris Hamilton, photo of Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch 2017 by John English, photo of the Schenley Plaza tent photo by Kate St. John)
Spring has finally sprung! Here are just a few of the new flowers and leaves in western Pennsylvania.
The week began with spectacular saucer magnolia trees, above. Relentless cold temperatures had kept all the buds closed until they simultaneously burst into an aromatic pink display. Today the petals coat our sidewalks.
Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) is an early native wildflower that fades so quickly you have to be on the spot to see it bloom. Thursday morning at Enlow Fork we found the twin leaves open and the buds closed.
By early afternoon the flowers had been open for several hours. How soon they will fade!
Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna) is a later flower with a longer life on the stem. It’s just started blooming at Enlow Fork.
The trees are blooming, too. On Monday redbud (Cercis canadensis) flowers began to appear at Schenley Park …