Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Quick Walk Up The Hill

It’s bad enough in the winter when you go to work in the dark and get home in the dark, but it’s ridiculous when that happens to you in the summer. I’ve had a rough time this past week getting home before it was too dark to take photos. Last night the sun had set on the house, but I figured I could catch the last of the illumination if I headed up The Hill. The Hill is one of the places I go to have a quick look around when I have a few free minutes. I’ve been watching the progress of the growth in the field that was mowed last winter. Things are really looking nice and I think I ought to walk through there this weekend and get a closer look.

The fence row on the east side of the field is showing quite a few dead trees. Many of the dead are Sassafras, a species that tends to grow rapidly and die early. New shoots are constantly growing to replace what is lost. This is a wonderful area for watching foraging woodpeckers.

The sun has disappeared, leaving 88 degrees and a lot of humidity. Dew is already thick on the grass and a hazy fog is developing. I feel a sweaty weekend coming on.

As I headed back toward the house, I spotted a group of agitated birds moving along the edge of the field. In the center of the group was a bright blue bird with brownish shoulder patches. I’ve seen Blue Grosbeaks here before, but never at this time of year. When I took these shots, I knew it was too dark to get any clarity. I just hoped I could manage to get a shot that documented what I saw.

These photos are clear enough to validate the sighting of Blue Grosbeaks and would support a notation in my field notes stating that on July 23, 2010 approximately ten minutes after sunset I saw a pair of Blue Grosbeaks with what appeared to be four fledglings slightly smaller in size than the adult birds.

This is where the sighting occurred. The birds were around that clump of walnut sprouts to the right of the photo and moved out toward the center of the field at my approach. Over the weekend I’ll search further for the birds and take in a look in those walnuts for a recently used nest. I’ll have to put out of my mind the 72 billion chiggers that are in that field waiting for me.


  1. Steve, just curious, what part of Ohio are you in specifically (like what county, if you don't mind my asking)? I've never seen a Blue Grosbeak, although I've heard repeatedly that they are in Ohio if you keep an eye out. I'm hoping to add them to my life list once I move to Georgia.

  2. What a beauty he the blue....good you got that walk in....very nice
    Have a good weekend!!

  3. Despite the failing light the Blue Grosbeak stands out well against the meadow colours. It was definitely worth a late pm visit Steve.
    P.S. I don't envy you with those humidity levels.

  4. How lucky to see and to document, too.

  5. Rebecca – I’m located in northern Adams County near the Serpent Mound. I’ve been seeing Blue Grosbeaks in this area for about ten years. The greatest concentration of nesting Blue Grosbeaks in Adams County is on some of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve land located east of West Union.

    grammie g – I know how you like blue. My weekend’s going fine so far. I took a walk this morning when the temperature was a cool 86 degrees. After that I did some work in the yard during the 95 degree afternoon. I should have skipped the yard work.

    Hi, Frank. It doesn’t look like the humidity levels are going to get better any time soon. Thunderstorms are predicted for the next several days and temperatures will remain high. I hope your drought situation is improving.

    BTG, thanks for visiting. I guess I timed things just right. I looked all over today and couldn’t find any sign of the birds.

  6. Steve, the Blue Grosbeaks are beautiful! Perhaps especially in the waning light! Whenever I see a blue bird, and it isn't often enough, I am always consumed with such an overpowering sense of awe. How lucky you are to have them nesting on your property! Did you find a nest? ~karen

  7. Wow, what a beautiful bird! It was so worth the late walk! As for the chiggers, uh, well, perhaps a hazmat suit will work.... :\

  8. Karen - I looked, but didn't find a nest. It's more likely they would have nested in the shrub row at the edge of the field rather than a little clump in the center of the field. I didn't see the birds again either.

    Lois - It may sound strange, but the best chigger repellent I've found is Purell hand sanitizer. Purell covered areas usually remain chigger bite free. During the summer, I may be the most germ free person around.