A quick note on this post today. If you're eating breakfast, lunch, etc, wait until after your done. There's a fascinating nature pic in this post, but I personally wouldn't want to be eating and reading at the same time on this photo journey. You've been warned:) So let's begin this birding adventure......
|Beth explores the Alpine Garden|
|Pic courtesy of Wikipedia|
Luckily, the Gray-cheeked Thrush was far north up into Canada and Alaska on their breeding grounds. The Bicknell's, however, breed in the highest mountains of the Northeast like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and a place called Canada. It's range is very limited and therefore the bird is listed as Vulnerable. During the winter months, it lives in the higher altitudes of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
|A windy top!|
But this experience, for me, was frustrating for so many reasons. This isn't a place I'd recommend for birders. As the Mt. Washington Auto Road suggests, it's for people who like to drive to the top and back down again. The noise pollution interfered with my ability to listen to the very tricky call of the Bicknell's. Because this was a one time event, we had to locate the bird early and before other motorists arrived.
|Blackpoll Warbler....Life bird!!! Field note: Orange legs and feet|
|Dark-eyed Junco around the alpine level|
Along the way, we heard so many wonderful birds calling but we couldn't stop. The 3.5 marker first. Then bird. Target birding is tricky business and can be frustrating at times. Also frustrating? Motor vehicles and very few pull offs in the wrong spots! If we tried to stop, there would be a car or motorcycle right behind us. The forest was beautiful and the vista was incredible. We eventually reached the marker and pulled over. Immediately we were able to hear the thrushes calling. It was around 8 AM. But the question was, "Was it a Swainson's or Bicknell's calling?" I had Veery and Hermit Thrushes nailed at this point. We were too high for the Wood Thrush so I could eliminate that call.
But the other two? Eventually after their repetitive calling, we could hear the frequency difference. Plus the Swainson's has a call that goes up. BUT THE CARS AND PEOPLE!!! Random people would stop and say, "Seeing anything good?" My anger and frustration began to rise. Kathie, who is all things patient and good, took over and spoke with the drivers and their running cars. This bird was an expensive gamble and I wanted to make sure we were hearing it.
|I'd like to stick this somewhere|
All of this drama for one bird. It really is a beautiful mountain with some epic landscape, but I will never go on this road again. If someone wants to go hiking, I'm up for it. The motorists and talkative, fast paced hikers along the trails really make the birding tough. By the time you get your eye on a bird, somebody is rumbling by and there goes the bird. For the hikers reading this post, this is an absolute MUST! YES! Great accommodations for you! New England was epic, but I can say that I will NEVER return to the Auto Road of Mt. Washington. Everything else that followed was fun and exciting. The Bicknell's Thrush definitely lives up to its' title.....A Birder's Bird.
|Hikers stop here for a steep climb up at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Really nice place with showers, etc for the hiking crowd. This is at the base of Mt. Washington.....a very different experience than the Auto Road.|