Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ohmigosh It's Happened! A Blue Grosbeak on the Tuolumne River Trail!

Sometimes there are just eerie little things about birdwatching. I'd think it was almost supernatural, but I think it has more to do with subconscious observations that rise to the conscious level. It's this: sometimes I'll think about a bird, and it will appear. I know the other day it happened because I heard the bird's song. I have a lot of trouble with hearing certain pitches so I am not able to depend on songs as a way to find and identify birds (it helps a lot to have Mrs. Geotripper along; she hears them, I see them!). So I heard a distinctive song in the thickets and I compared it to the song for a Black-headed Grosbeak on my phone, and the bird suddenly appeared, wanting to know what bird had invaded its territory.

The other time it was about playing the odds. It's spring, and flycatcher species are arriving in the region, so I'm paying more attention to the particular trees and branches where I've seen them in years past, and thus I discovered an Olive-sided Flycatcher on the trail a day or two ago.

But today was strange because I've never seen a Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) on the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail. Not once in the four years that I've been watching for them. I've seen them eight miles upstream at Robert's Ferry, and I've seen them ten miles downstream, but no closer than that. It stands to reason that they would come through the area, but I've just not had the ability to pick them out up until now.
So I was walking the trail this morning. It was pleasantly cool and the air was fresh and clean following yesterday's storm. I saw a bunch of interesting birds that I don't see all that often, including a Hooded Oriole, a White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Green Heron. I was getting to the end of the trail, and I stopped and thought to myself that I still haven't seen the wily Blue Grosbeak. And there it was! It was just 30-40 feet away, and it held still long enough for a couple of decent shots. I have a feeling that I saw it out of the corner of my eye, saw the blueness, and thus began thinking about grosbeaks. Or maybe it was just ESP....

The Blue Grosbeak is a tropical migrant that spends winters in Central America and Mexico. They come north to breed, and our valley is near the northern edge of their range (although their range is expanding). It is one of the prettiest birds I've ever come across, and it was such a thrill to finally see one in my "backyard".

No comments:

Post a Comment