Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Drought is Over

Our annual trip to Potter County proved to be the hottest and most humid that I can remember. Our camp neighbors told us that they had more rainy days than clear ones in June. The weather didn't dampen our family fun. Our hikes up to the slate quarry were just a tad soggy. The dogs managed to find a porcupine. Luckily the critter scampered up a tree before the dogs caught up to him. That could have been a prickly incident for sure.

Porcupine
Those giant claws allow the porcupine to get up that tree and hang on.
Porcupine
The "drought" in the title doesn't pertain to the weather. It refers to my inability to find Mourning Warblers. They are rare migrants through our area and I haven't been skillful enough to find one on their breeding territory . . . until now! I took a drive up on Nelson Run Road to see if I could find suitable nesting habitat. The field guides say that they prefer dense scrubby habitat. That sounds alot like clear cut logging areas. The loggers put up electric fences to protect the saplings from deer. I pulled up to one and bingo.  I heard a "churree, churree" coming from the scrub just along the fence. To my amazement, this guy popped up.

Mourning Warbler
Mourning warblers are very large for warblers. The ID is based on the gray hood and head with the black patch on the base of the bib.

Mourning Warbler
I was thrilled but couldn't stay much longer or risk being late for dinner. Connie and I returned the next day on our motorcycles to see if the bird would oblige us with another appearance. No luck on our first attempt but we did find one farther down the fence line.

Mourning Warbler
I played the song on my iPhone for a bit to attract him. Some people frown on using a tape to attract the bird. I made the call to play the tape due to 2 factors: First, I'm pretty confident that other birders hadn't been here using tapes before us so the bird wasn't tired of hearing the tape. Second, I only used it for a few minutes and let the resident bird "win" the territory fight that he thought he was in. In other words, the warbler assumes that the tape is another male trying to cut in on his action. Once the tape stops, the resident male assumes that he won the contest and drove the other bird away. Oh, and thirdly, we won't be back to disturb the bird again.

Mourning Warbler
It was a special encounter that we will remember for a long time.
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