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Date:         Sun, 9 May 2004 21:45:38 EDT
Reply-To:     Pshrink@AOL.COM
Sender:       Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:         Virginia Wood <Pshrink@AOL.COM>
Subject:      Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, 5/9/04
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

I thought about setting out at 2:30 a.m. from my home in Marietta in order to get night birds, being inspired by Tim Keyes's schedule for Pine Log this morning, and be in place for the Dawn Chorus, but I really lack the fortitude. I left at 5:30 a.m.instead, when the Dawn Chorus was already beginning at my house! Besides allowing me six hours' sleep, this had the added benefit of my being able to cross the Chattahoochee River at I-75 just as the sun was coming up over the bluffs. Wow.

It was 8 when I got to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, so I couldn't visit the Visitor's Center for directions to the active Red-Cockaded Woodpecker clusters unless I wanted to hang around for an hour. However, I did have my handy-dandy map from last year, marked by the ranger at that time, so set out to check various clusters and hope for the best. I turned in across Round Oak - Juliette Road from the Little Rock Wildlife Drive and made the loop that runs around behind Allison Lake to the back side of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (walking) Trail. Pretty much followed the directions in Birding Georgia, pp. 100-102). He explains it a heckuva lot better than I do.

Of the clusters I checked, that was the only one that was active today, and there was only one nest with nestlings -- it is a natural cavity next to the road near where the benches are, so close to the road you don't even need a scope to watch the comings and goings. And it's so quiet up there that you can hear the babies fussing even from the good distance down the road where I took care to park.

It was a beautiful day, the storms having held off until I got home, and there were birds everywhere (except pond 2A, where there were only two American Crows and two Tree Swallows).

At the Pond 2A cluster, there was an amazing flurry of woodpecker activity of various sorts -- Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers (who seemed to be having either sex or some sort of disagreement -- difficult to tell), and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Maybe that cluster will have nesting activity soon.

39 species seen:

GREAT BLUE HERON BLACK VULTURE (52 of them at the Ocmulgee in Juliette) TURKEY VULTURE RED-SHOULDERED HAWK WILD TURKEY (actually at Rum Creek) MOURNING DOVE heard only CHIMNEY SWIFT RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (heard) RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER near the RCWO cluster closest to Pond 2A DOWNY WOODPECKER ditto RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER -- lifer!! Been trying for this one for three years. PILEATED WOODPECKER EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER TREE SWALLOW BARN SWALLOW (at the Ocmulgee crossing in Juliette) NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (actually on the road to Juliette, not in the NWR) EASTERN BLUEBIRD (just outside the boundary on Barron Russell Rd) AMERICAN ROBIN (also really on the paved road) BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER CAROLINA CHICKADEE TUFTED TITMOUSE BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH, in family groups all over the NWR BLUE JAY -- one, heard only AMERICAN CROW -- two, amusingly, sharing a snack that looked suspiciously like a fisherman's sandwich. They were perched in the top of a tree across the dike from Pond 2A, chatting amiably as they ate, each with one foot on the meal. EUROPEAN STARLING YELLOW-THROATED VIREO YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER PINE WARBLER PRAIRIE WARBLER AMERICAN REDSTART LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH-- lifer!! YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT SUMMER TANAGER pairs everywhere, including one female in a burned-out area stealing meals from spider webs at the bases of trees. One tasty morsel she copped was nearly as big as she was, and I watched her wrestle it to the ground in order to render it edible... EASTERN TOWHEE CHIPPING SPARROW, some feeding young one lone INDIGO BUNTING, male COMMON GRACKLE AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, male, carrying thistle down for nesting material

Not seen:

Bachman's or Field Sparrows, Hooded or Kentucky Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Red-eyed or Blue-headed Vireos, Cuckoos of any sort, Cliff Swallows, Orchard Orioles, or Anne Stewart's eyepiece.

Ginny Wood Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia DL 20 F2

In the field: 404-414-8086

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