There’s just nothing like migration time. It seems especially fun in the Spring as the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and there is the sense of twitterpation in the air. One of the many reasons that we haven’t been posting as often is we’ve just been birding hard – every weekend (as long as it’s not raining), before work, during our lunch break, and after work. It’s been an intense migration season, to say the least.
One little gem out in what seems in the middle of nowhere is the Solomon Tract of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. This is not a place where “usual visitors” go. This side plot of land is nestled behind an industrial area, and it is mostly explored by birders and driven through by the occasional hunters. It can be super buggy, riddled with mosquitoes and high probability of ticks, but it’s totally worth it for migrant birds and other creatures and critters.
|Prothonotary Warbler singing|
In late April, Nick and I ventured out there and had quite a flurry of activity. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we could hear a number of Prothonotary Warblers singing along the watery forest edge. Each one was out to stake their claim on territory and woo the ladies. Some got into some intense fights, but looking beautiful all the while. These warblers are some of my favorites. These little beauties are so intensely yellow all over their entire bodies except for their boldly contrasting slate blue wings. And their song is so sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet.
|Prothonotary Warbler singing|
A couple of other warblers that we only get to enjoy during migration vocalized and showed themselves off nicely, although maybe not as showy as the Prothonotary Warblers. We could here the sweet, choppy song of Hooded Warblers amongst the dense patch of trees. These little bandits wearing their black ski masks are also some of the prettiest warblers.
The other special treat we saw was a Worm-Eating Warbler. Although it is not as flashy as some of its other warbler kinfolk, it is still a very nice warbler to see, using its impressive, long bill to pick through the dead leaves in the trees to find juicy little grubs. These guys have usually been difficult to get good looks at for us since they typically are digging around in dense vegetation. But this one in particular allowed for some decent looks and for a good amount of time.
There is a curious part of the trail at the Solomon Tract. Out of nowhere, about 20 feet from the main path, there is a type of wooden cage/crate in the woods that looks like it’s set up to trap a slightly large animal as there is a door that could be triggered to slide down with the yank of a string. I’ve always suspected that it may be some kind of hog trap since we do have feral pigs sprinkled around the area. But even more curious is that along the path directly in front of it is hanging a long, thick rope with a knot at the end. It was probably more secure at some point, but it still remains hanging ever so tenuously on the smallest bit of a branch. In my wild imagination, I picture a couple of guys waiting for a hog to be lured into this trap, but should their plans fail, they had this rope to climb up if the target hog gets angry and comes after them.
|Feral Piggies running|
This past trip, as we stopped near the hog trap to look around, we did in fact see 3 feral pigs rooting around on the opposite side of the path about 20 yards away. I admit I was a little intimidated because I know they can be quite aggressive and very strong. But these three little pigs (well, not that little) were far enough away, and there was enough vegetation to hide behind as we snuck in looks and got photos of them. And they seemed way too into looking for food to care about anything else.
|Little Wood Satyr|
|A grass skipper of some sort|
To round out our eventful trip, we encountered a number of other creatures, winged and otherwise, including many butterflies and dragonflies. Some of them posed very nicely and allowed for great looks. But even so, the identity of some of them proved to be difficult to narrow down for us novice butterfly watchers. But they were still pretty and nice to photograph.
|A Duskywing of some sort|
|Green Darner dragonfly|
One creature that really intrigued us was this BIG spider – about quarter sized. It was running around in the grass along the bank of a canal. Its size alone was impressive, but what really got our attention was what appeared to be a large egg sack clinging to its belly. Nick was creeping closer and closer to it trying to get pictures of it, but I, again with my wild imagination, was slightly worried about him accidentally stepping on it or something else happening causing that egg sack to pop and then hundreds of little creepy baby spiders would run out in all directions. Eeek! I actually saw this happen once when I was a kid and my mom stepped on a much smaller spider and tons of tiny babies scurried out, and I squealed as we tried to step on all of them. I don’t mind spiders in general, but the scrambling of tons of little babies spiders coming out freaks me out a bit. But luckily the spider and egg sack stayed intact, and we ended the day creepy-spider-incident free and hog attack free. Winner!