On a Saturday afternoon, with only 1 day left in a “Birdathon” (a competition to find as many bird species as possible in a 3-week period), what’s a girl to do after returning home from spending 3 ½ hours wandering around a wetland looking for birds?
You guessed it–go look for more birds. Never mind that it’s the afternoon and not exactly prime birding. Never mind that I’d just spend all morning walking around straining my neck. Never mind that I had a dog that needed to go for a walk.
There was still a good chance of picking up a species or two in the afternoon, I would drive to the trailhead to reduce the walking, and Tisen would just have to go birding with me to get his walk in.
The only question was where to go. Since I hadn’t been up to Stringer’s Ridge during yet and I knew there were Cooper’s Hawks nesting up there last year and I didn’t have Cooper’s hawks on my list yet, I thought Stringer’s Ridge was a good place to go. Besides, if anyone is likely to be up and active during the middle of the afternoon, it’s a Cooper’s hawk.
Tisen and I gathered up our respective equipment–binoculars, birding book, and camera in my case; Pink Elephant in his–and made our way to the car after a brief potty break for Tisen.
Stringer’s Ridge is close enough to walk to from our place, although it’s probably a good mile away and part of that mile is up a steep climb. I was happy I’d decided to drive as we made our way through the neighborhood and up to the parking lot, my back was already aching from the wetland walk.
We parked in the empty lot and I enjoyed being able to let Tisen walk off-lead for a change with no one else around. Tisen was pretty happy about getting to explore, too. One problem with birding with Tisen is that he doesn’t really do a great job flushing birds for me. He tends to scare them off in the opposite direction. I found myself contemplating whether I should try to train him like a hunting dog to circle around and flush the birds towards me. I decided it probably wasn’t worth the effort.
There weren’t many birds for him to scare away that day. The occasional drumming of a distant woodpecker reached our ears and the ubiquitous Carolina Wren seemed to be following us along the path, but no Cooper’s Hawks were to be found. Thankfully, as we made our way along a loop trail that gave us a nice walk through the woods that was probably less than 2 miles long, I heard a Wood Thrush singing its glorious, wistful song. If you’ve never heard a Wood Thrush, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. You can play its flute-like song here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Wood_Thrush/id