Sunday, February 11, 2007

Visit to Blue Hills- February 11th

Our last two trips to Blue Hills revolved around birding. We chose our hikes based upon areas we thought would be good for birding- low-lying fields and wetlands. We took it slow, listening for birds and stopping for long periods of time to locate birds and line up shots.

This trip was a different story-- the focus of our trip today was strictly hiking. We spent time on the Skyline Trail, as well as Green woodland loops and the orange Massachuseuk Trail. The Skyline is probably the most popular trail so we saw lots of other hikers today, including an organized group.

It felt good to be doing a strenuous hike again. We went up Tucker Hill on a few different occasions, and our pace was certainly much faster than it had been when we were birding.

Who would have guessed that we'd get our best bird picture to date!

My boyfriend takes the credit for this one:

We were making our way along the Green loop when I spotted him just as we turned a corner. He was sitting on top of a fallen tree right along the path. I couldn't believe how close he was to us and that he didn't fly away when I stopped.

I told my boyfriend to freeze and got my camera out. I had taken it with me in hopes of getting a great opportunity like this, but kept it in its case clipped to my belt since birding wasn't the priority today. I took a few from my angle but I had a side-view and there were some sticks blocking my shot. He had much better luck since he was looking at it dead-on and also since he's a lot more daring when it comes to taking pictures and pushing the limits of my camera. He wasn't afraid to zoom in and managed to get this one that came out crystal clear.

At the time we thought it was something new to us since it appeared all-grey in color and had a black forehead. It wasn't until we got home that I was able to figure out that it was a Tufted Titmouse. That's what I love about birding-- it allows me to see common birds that I've seen a million times at birdfeeders in a completely different light. A prime example is the Mourning Dove from a few weeks back. When we spotted him in that tree he seemed much larger and to have a much longer tail than any of the Mourning Doves I've seen at feeders or on utility lines. It gave me a new appreciation for something common due to the amount of time I spent trying to identify it when we got home.

Today's Titmouse was the same. I never noticed the black forehead or the dark-grey feathers along the edge of their wings. This bird's crest was very small and muted, I suspect because he was huddled up trying to keep warm. Which also explains why I couldn't see the tell-tale orange flanks.

For the sole sighting of the day this was a good one!