Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chateau Papillon Birding Update: Scarlet Tanager for Bird #62

It's been ridiculously hot and humid so far this summer in the Washington, D.C., area, so much so that we haven't spent as much time out in the yard as we'd like.  It's just no fun sitting out by the pond when the heat index is well into triple digits and the breeze, if not completely nonexistent, fails to do anything but send a few gnats and mosquitoes your way.  Earlier this week, though, braving the sauna yielded a new bird for our home list: the Scarlet Tanager.

In the wake of serious derecho storms and their 80 mile-per-hour winds, we lost power for several days, and thus I adopted a ritual of several daily trips out to refuel and tend to our generator--all that stood between us and total collapse of civilization (okay, so I engage in a bit of hyperbole now and again). During one of those service visits and the now-uncharacteristic silence as the roar of the generator's engine died away in preparation for topping off its gasoline, I heard a birdsong new to our back yard and immediately started thinking tanager, whereupon I scanned the trees above until I spotted a red with rather too much orange to be the common Northern Cardinal we see all year 'round, then spied out the black wings and excitedly ran inside to grab my camera and Beth so she, too, could enjoy our 62nd backyard avian species.

In addition to the Scarlet Tanager as our most recent addition, since my last post on birding at Chateau Papillon we have added several more birds--unfortunately few of which I got a photo of. Last fall, Beth and I saw a kinglet (probably a Ruby-crowned Kinglet) in the crepe myrtle between our front yard and our neighbor's yard.  Earlier that same season, I spotted a male Palm Warbler in the back yard and even got a few (poor-quality) photos, and I identified by ear a Northern Parula during the same timeframe. Subsequently, this spring, I identified by ear a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher--a long-expected visitor to Chateau Papillon and one I hope to get a chance to photograph the next time it passes through.  We've also at last had several Red-winged Blackbirds visit, and I know I'm forgetting at least a couple of other new species given my naturalist's speadsheet for our home currently lists 62 birds as compared to the 54 present when I listed the Red-breasted Nuthatch back in the fall of 2010--well, one of these days I'll post a full updated list (probably around the time I finish our plant census).

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