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Book of Days


Filtering by Tag: redstart

June 2: Nesting

Kristen Lindquist

We spent all morning on the Friendship V whale-watching boat out of Bar Harbor on a pelagic birding trip as part of the Acadia Birding Festival. We cruised way out into the Gulf of Maine past four different islands with lighthouses on them, including Petit Manan, which is part of the Maine Coastal Islands NWR. The island was a chaotic mass of terns and gulls in the air and on the rocks, screeching and crying shrilly, and in the water, flotillas of puffins, razorbills, guillemots, and murres. How the interns who live on the island don't go insane from that constant noise is a mystery, but the sheer dynamic swirl of life out on these nesting islands is awe-inspiring--especially when you consider that these birds are creating life on virtually bare rock, their nests just tiny hollows along a bleak shore.
Gulls near Egg Rock
After a hot shower and lunch, I had to rush off to guide my afternoon field trip at Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor. While the flowers seemed a little ahead of last year, with many of the azaleas and rhodos gone by, there were still breathtaking patches of blooming beauty--a fire-red azalea that looked like it was flickering, a virtual burning bush; apple trees still laden with white blossoms; these allium poking up amid ferns:
Allium with ferns, Thuya Garden
Rhododendrons, Thuya Garden
What moved me the most, though, were not the stunning flowers and the Japanese aesthetic of Asticou, nor the mix of cultivated and wild at Thuya, which is tucked into a forested hillside, fenced in like the Secret Garden. It was a female redstart on a nest right near a trail, the little warbler startling off it every time someone walked by, chipping nearby with obvious agitation. Why would she choose that spot? Was she drawn to a view of the flowers? Will her eggs survive all the disruptions? Is she any better off than a tern laying her eggs on bare earth, at the mercy of the gulls?
Can you see the redstart nest (sans bird) in the center of this bush?
Startled off her nest,
the redstart chirps in distress--
so precious, each egg.

May 10: Appetizer

Kristen Lindquist

Thanks to being completely slammed by pollen allergies this spring, I've had a slow start with my birding season. As we head into the peak of spring migration and birders are seeing more than a dozen warblers an outing, my high point to date has been the ten minutes before work this morning. During a brief tour of my back yard, I enjoyed a little bird sampler of things to come: a great blue heron sailed through and landed in the river, five different warblers sang amid the leaves, a male downy woodpecker flew into a tree right next to me, and goldfinches mewed from the birch tree in the driveway.

Given that the air was a raw 40 degrees and I was running late to work, I wasn't intending to devote any time to birding this morning. But as I was getting ready to leave, I could hear the song of a redstart out back. I had to heed the call. So I grabbed my binocs just to get a quick look at this striking black and red little bird. Before I could successfully locate him, a parula sang, then a black-throated green warbler and a black-and-white warbler. I thought I had him in my neighbor's oak tree, but that bird turned out to be a Nashville warbler. Finally I picked him out in a nearby arborvitae. I'm sure there were other warblers back there, too, but alas, duty called.

Happy to have experienced that old thrill of a birding a warbler wave, small as it was, I left for work regretful that I didn't have more time to bird. As I walked into the office, I heard my first great-crested flycatcher of the season calling down by the river. This good start to my work day whetted my appetite for what I hope will become a gourmet banquet of birds in the month ahead.

Redstart sang to me
of sunny, bird-filled mornings,
fanned his pretty tail.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons