Ever been to one of those seminars where, to break the ice, the leader asks participants what cities or states they had to travel from to get there. People often clap when there is someone who came from farthest reaches of the globe. I was thinking about this as our group assembled in the parking lot at the end of Bollinger Mill Road. Going over the possibilities in my head, I figured I would win the distance contest hands down. There were seven of us. I was the only one who drove from north of Manchester. Then Bob Ringler showed up. That made eight. “I just got back from Costa Rica,” he said. So much for my distance record!
Of course Bob didn’t fly home just to do the Bollinger Mill Road bird walk. We were all pretty impressed, however, by the fact that he had probably not even unpacked before joining us on the trail. Dave Harvey led the group.
Walking down towards Liberty Reservoir, we heard or saw Blue Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Parula, and Brown-headed Cowbird. Out over the water, an Osprey was calling. Looking through the trees, we could just see the bird. Bob spotted a Caspian Tern, but that was about it on the water except for some Canada Geese, Mallards, and Double-crested Cormorants.
The trail from the parking lot forks as it nears the water. We went left. Soon we had added White-throated Sparrow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Eastern Towhee, Black-and-white Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Louisiana Waterthrush, Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow Palm Warbler, Hermit Thrush and Red-tailed Hawk to our list. The latter was being actively pursued by a very determined Blue Jay.
On our way back along this same route, we took a little time to examine some of the wild plants, many of which were blooming. There was Skunk Cabbage, Bloodroot, Slender Toothwort, Golden Saxifrage, Spicebush, Blue Violet, Trout Lily, Abortive Buttercup, and Jack-in-the Pulpit. Bob made the difficult identifications for us.
A Belted Kingfisher rattled away just ahead. Passing the trail back to the parking lot, we took what would have originally been the right of the fork. Birding was good here too. We all got pretty good views of a Blue-headed Vireo. Other species included Redwinged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Hairy Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Black Vulture, American Crow, Chipping Sparrow, and White-breasted Nuthatch.
The species we were really looking for here, however, was the Pine Warbler. This spot had always been pretty reliable for producing one of these birds. We all listened carefully. No luck. The birds should have been there. They are one of the first warblers to arrive in the Spring. Jerry Tarbel thought he heard one singing, but the rest of us couldn’t tell. Eventually with a little concentration and some coaxing, we were able to locate the bird that Jerry had heard. And when it finally flew in and sat on a nearby tree, it even brought a friend.
Maybe not worth coming all the way from Costa Rica for, however, the Carroll County Bird Club field trip to the wooded area at the end of Bollinger Mill Road proved to be quite successful nonetheless.