Saturday, September 25, 2017
Saturday, September 25th turned out to be a beautiful day. It was warm, but with a cooling breeze. It was perfect weather to sit out under the gazebo and drink some good wine. But first, we had to go birding. (After all, that was our excuse for being there.)
When we arrived at the Galloping Goose Vineyards and Winery at 8:00am, employees were already out picking grapes. Large blue tubs of golden fruit sat along the rows close to the parking lot.
Diane Hale, the owner, called last year to invite the club to bird there. We pretty much had the run of the place. There were eight of us.
The small pond near the house held some promise as the supposed gathering place for up to four Green Herons at a time. So, we headed in that direction. Before reaching our destination, we heard a Pileated Woodpecker calling. Other species seen or heard included Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, American Crow, American Robin, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Mourning Dove, and American Goldfinch.
Along the way, we also added the local bird dog to our group. (Bill was thrilled.) Her name was Brittany. At seventeen years of age (That’s equivalent to 92 human years.), she was moving pretty well. Better than some of our members!
The pond looked like a mirror, reflecting the beautiful scenery around it. There were no herons though, green or otherwise. Although, while we were standing there, a Great Blue Heron did fly over the vineyards, grunting as it went. Some wires hanging over the pond held two Eastern Phoebes. Bob heard a Common Yellowthroat somewhere nearby and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet played cat and mouse with us for a while until most people had good views of the bird.
Working our way around the pond and up into the woods, we added Gray Catbird, Chipping Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Downy Woodpecker.
In a short time, we came out into a large meadow. A “Blasting” sign gave us pause for a moment until we realized that it had been placed there as a joke. (Or so we thought.) It hadn’t discouraged the butterflies. They were everywhere. Most of these were Meadow Fritillaries, a species that you do not see as often.
Scanning the tree line on the far edge of the field, Bob spotted an American Kestrel sitting in the top of a pine. Other birds closer to us included Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Cedar Waxwing. Some Turkey Vultures passed over from time to time. We watched carefully for any hawks.
Circling back to the parking lot, we worked our way past a tent being set up to host a wedding and along a stream. There were Song and Chipping Sparrows in the vegetation near the water that seemed less inclined to make our acquaintance. In another open meadow there was a Red Fox that we decided to avoid. It just didn’t look healthy.
Doubling back, we walked up another hill that overlooked the vineyard and just stood around waiting for whatever might fly over. While a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks never showed up, Dave Hudgins did spot an Osprey. House Finches chattered in the trees nearby.
At around 11:30am, we all trooped down the hill again. Diane saw us coming and suggested that we relax in the gazebo while she fetched some bottles of wine for us to taste. The next hour was nothing but pure bliss. We got to taste both whites and reds with names like Saval Blanc, Restless Babe, Flirting Heart Cabernet, and Petit Verdot.
Some of the vintages were named for race horses that the Hales had raised. Diane explained where the vineyards name had come from. While we did see one Canada Goose fly over, that name had nothing to do with birds. “Goose” was the name of a favorite horse who was always poking its nose into places where it shouldn’t.
Diane invited the club back again. Hopefully, this will become an annual event.