Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Birds at the Marina

Yesterday morning I walked through the site of the former Red's Marina in Highland Park. All of the marina buildings are now gone, and so are the boats. The site is now overgrown and in the midst of natural succession. Unfortunately a lot of the plants taking root there are invasive. Mugwort is especially conspicuous in the open areas at the site. There are a lot of native plants, though, enough to make the site attractive to birds passing through.

When I walked through the site yesterday, a lot sparrows were working an area that had been full of blooming goldenrod and boneset a month or so ago. There were Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows, of course, but also a handful of Swamp Sparrows. A Winter Wren chattered from the shrubs on one side of the site. When I looked in the other direction, a big flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets was working its way through the lower branches of the trees along the river. I reported 8 to eBird, but there could easily have been a lot more than that. Two Belted Kingfishers flying in tandem popped up over the shrub line, flew low over my head, and continued flying down the river. I assume these were a pair, but I did not get a good look at their chest markings.

The recently-released movie, The Big Year, highlights the competitive side of birding, in a particularly extreme form. A North American big year takes skill, but also the time and money to chase birds around the country. My typical experience of birding is a lot more like the paragraph above: appreciation of common birds, with an occasional rarity mixed in. I think that is probably true for a lot of other birders as well.