|Font Hill Park, a wetland conservation area|
No decent homeschooling parent misses a chance to turn any event into a teachable moment, even a walk. A Charlotte Mason-style educator would be kicked out of the club if she didn't! So knowing that one of our Outdoor Hour Challenges for February was birding by ear, I realized that I had a perfect God-given opportunity to attempt the challenge and gain some nature study points.
(NOTE: I credit an old friend and birding expert in Pennsylvania, Skip Conant, for teaching the importance of birding by ear. He said it was more important than identifying by sight because so often you CAN'T see them. And I can recommend the Android app, iBird, for the added dimension of audio clips of every bird, something no book can give you. )
The park is one we have visited before, but not for a while. It is a wetland park with a boardwalk and asphalt path meandering around the perimeter of a pond and along the stream that it feeds through the woods. It is blessed with several types of environments perfect for attracting a variety of birds in a relatively small area.
Besides looking for the geocache, I further sweetened the deal by offering a reward--"Will work for Chocolate"-- for identifying at least six species of birds by ear.
It didn't take long.
|Canada Geese annoyed by our intrusion|
Four down and our walk had only begun.
Into the wooded stream area, and new species who prefer a secluded habitat welcomed us. A Blue Jay screeched, Chickadees dee-deed, and Tufted Titmice called for Peter-Peter-Peter! A Carolina Wren wanted his Tea-Kettle, Tea-Kettle, Tea! A Red-winged Blackbird preferred jer-KEEEY!
A Flicker teased us with a few Keew's, but never showed. And a White-breasted Nuthatch 'nyacked' about us to his neighbors.
|The stick horse gets a needed drink.|
Then, without a sound, a huge flap of wings grabbed our attention as a disturbed Red-shouldered Hawk rose up out of the swamp where it was planning its next meal not thirty feet from us and soared up to a gigantic tulip poplar to await our departure.
We didn't find the cache, but I was personally rewarded by the twelve species that Mei had identified by ear alone!
Gotten an earful from the birds? How would YOU interpret a Red-winged Blackbird? Tell Mother All About It!