More Air Traffic
This evening I spent a couple of hours watching the airspace over my backyard, hoping something interesting would happen. Maybe I have boundless patience, or just a high tolerance for boredom, because most of the time I was staring at an empty sky - oh, there was the occasional flurry of Chimney Swifts, a Purple Martin or two, a few starlings hurrying to roost...you get the picture. But my backyard is sort of like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you are going to get. During times of bad weather I sometimes get unusual birds blown my way, and because I'm situated near waterways there's always the possibility of wading birds or waterfowl passing over.
Unfortunately, my view is limited by tall trees on all sides. My best vantage point is by the back gate, where I can watch the sky over the pond and scan the opening above my backyard and my neighbor's lot. Even there my field of view is constricted. What I really need is a tower 100' tall so I can look down on the treetops and off to the horizon. Maybe someday...
Soon after I started my watch this evening a Mississippi Kite made a quick pass overhead. Later one flew in and perched atop a tree in a neighbor's yard. I often see kites flying over, and suspect them of breeding locally, but this was the first time I've seen one perch, so I went and got Michelle. She came out in time to see it move to the top of a nearby pine where we were able to ogle it for a while through binoculars. A short time later it dropped from its perch to catch a cicada in mid-air. I could hear the insect buzzing loudly as it carried it away.
The evening flight of wading birds was a total bust, but a few noteworthy sightings punctuated the tedium. At one point a Pileated Woodpecker was noisily making its way through the pines across the pond, and a bit later I was surprised when a Barred Owl flew over the pond in broad daylight. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk has been hanging around the neighborhood, and made a brief appearance this evening (a mob of Blue Jays hastened its departure). I recently saw it catch a rodent - probably one of our many Fox Squirrels - on a neighbor's front lawn.
Other recent sightings...a Brown Snake down by the garage was a new addition to my herps list, and yesterday's Hooded Warbler was only the second or third record for my yard.