Bird Watching at Phinizy

*Notes from my nature journal.

What an adventurous weekend!!!  I went birding with the August-Aiken Audubon Society!  The field trip coordinators are Lois Stacey and Anne Walters.  Talk about a group that is highly knowledgeable about birds and nature in general!!!!  Though, I wasn't able to get a photo of all of the members that were on the field trip (including myself), I was able to capture a few photos of some of them.  (To learn about this amazing group, please visit their website.  They can also be found on Facebook.)

The group met 8:00am at the visitor parking area and later crossed the entrance road where we spotted House Wrens and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Many of the birds were well hidden, so I was not able to get photos.  There were also other beautiful birds that I could not capture because of not having a camera that was adequate for taking photos at a far distance.  Had to use my cell phone.  There are a couple of photos that I will include that were taken with the aid of a telescope and other bird info I found online for educational purposes in helping me to learn about and sketch the birds that I saw.

Photos from the National Audubon Society
We went to the Beaver Dam Creek trail area, which Lois informed us, can be very good for migrants.  Thankfully, the birds worked the same area for a long time so that newbies like me could learn as wonderful group members were identifying the birds.  To help me continue in the learning process,  one of the members advised getting a field guide book titled "Birds of Georgia".  A few of the other members advised to invest in The Sibley eGuide to Birds App.  It is more lightweight and manageable than a book when out in the field.  You are able to keep a record of the birds spotted, additional notes and comments, it also has the bird calls included with the identifications.  Good binoculars are a necessity when birding.  I was experiencing a little eye stain with mine.  One of the members had a Nikon Monarch 5 that I looked through and loved the clarity!  Another had lovely Vortex Binoculars.  I was told that Eagle Optics would be an excellent company for my search in a good pair.  Will definitely check out their website.



Here are many of the other birds that we spotted and/or heard at Phinizy: (I had no idea that so many were in the area!!)
-Yellow Throated Warbler (11)
-Tennessee Warblers (Spotted 7 by the end of the day.)
-Tufted Titmouse  -Sound:  Whistles, "Peter-Peter-Peter"
-Black-capped Chickadee (2) - *Native birds.  Sound:  Chica-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee". -->That is where they get their name.  Used in social interactions.  The more "dees", gives information about the threat posed.   Also use high pitched "C" to warn others.  All animals will stand still in their tracks at hearing that sound.  Males use the "swEE-TEE" sound to attract females. 

-Northern Parula
-Blackburnian Warbler -yellowish (1)
-Great Crested Flycatcher (1)
-Northern Flicker
-Red-shoulder Hawk (1) - *  Identified by 2 bands on the tail.  Field marks are what you look for to identify.  Saw through a telescope. Many thanks to Calvin!
-Great Egret (1) - *Photo taken with help of a telescope.  Many thanks to Calvin!

Great Egret
Print-out from Enchanted Learning

-Red-winged Black Bird - *Loves to be around cattails. 
-Black and-white Warbler - *Sounds like a wheel that needs greasing.
-Eastern Phoebe
-Mourning Dove (4)
-Red Bellied Woodpecker 
-Blue Jay
-Fish Crow - *Tip from Lois:  Imagine asking him, "Are you a Fish Crow?".  His reply, a slang form of the word "no"........ "Ahn-Ahn".  Sometimes says it just once....."Ahn".
-Pileated Woodpecker  - Allegro tempo, 16th notes:  "Tah-tah-tah-tah, tah-tah-tah-tah"
-House Finch
-Northern Cardinal
-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
-Brown Thrasher
-American Redstart - *This one had yellow on the tail. 
-Eastern Wood Pewee - * Sound:  Slurred call, "Pee-a-weeee".  Sound that I heard that day was a chip call: "Chip"-rest-rest-rest| "Chip"-rest-rest-rest| "Chip" -rest-rest-rest."
-Common Yellow Throat - *Sound:  Raspy chip note.

Calming water scenery at Phinizy
*Spotted a Rough Green Snake, and had a chance to rub his cute, long, narrow back. (Photo right)  Calvin holds the snake to share with the group!

-Warbling Verio (1)- *Fast frolicking sound.

On our direction back through the other side of the woods, we spotted:

-Yellow-rumped Warbler (1)
I "think" this is a Summer Tanager (?)

-Downy Woodpecker 
-Summer Tanagers (2) - *A boy and a girl.  Males are bright red.  Females are mustard-yellow.  Photographed via Calvin's scope.
-Red-eyed Verio (1)
-Red-bellied Woodpeckers - *They were feeding on Poison Ivy berries.  Lois stated that Poison Ivy berries have a nutritional value for birds.  Woodpeckers love them.  They are also important food for warblers.  Migrants birds eat them to fatten up for migration.
-Belted Kingfisher
-Black Vulture - *Named from color of head.

*Also spotted a Paw-Paw Tree. (Photo below on left)  Calvin pointed out about the odd smell of the leaves.....and he is exactly right! {giggles}  Leaf collected to be dried, researched, and sketched in my nature journal.  (Question for personal research....I notice that some of the leaves have been nibbled on.  What species enjoys eating Paw-Paw leaves? )

*My additional notes taken to remember:

Additional Notes:
-Cardinal and Carolina Wren - some of the calls are the same, but in a different pitch.
-House Wren - *Sounds:  Harsh rattles, sounds mechanical like winding up something.  Calls, like little laser guns going off.  Some of their calls are the same.

-Info about Stan Tekiela 
-Check into Phinizy Field Ornathology workshops
-Great website:  Cornell Lab of Ornithology, taught by Ruth Mead
-Difference between Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture

After we finished birdwatching at Phinizy, some of us rode along Lock and Dam Rd to view birds on the fence.  One of the members told me that birds sit on the fence and wait for bugs.  We saw a female Eastern Bluebird.  We also saw a Phoebe bobbing his tail and saying his name when he called. (Raspy undertone on the second syllable - "Fee-bee").  There were many Palm Warblers bobbing their beautiful tails (18 or more), and the first of the fall Savannah Sparrow (Comment from members: A winter species.  Have a dark cheek.  Seeing one was odd because Sparrows are normally in flocks.) We saw a Meadowlarke (Comments: A grassland bird, bright yellow, 2 white  marks on back of tail.  Has odd way of flapping wings.)

The weather and scenery was so beautiful at Phinizy and Lock & Dam.  While at the Dam, I remember the waters sparkling like diamonds as the sun shined upon it.  One of the members with us, named Jackie pointed out the puffy balls of Mistletoe in the tree photographed above-right. 

As we continued, we saw an American Crow (also called Common Crow) calling out "Caw!  Caw!" There was another Tufted Titmouse, a Wren, a Swallow, and a Tennessee Warbler (Here from April-October)

This is the extent of my note-taking while with the Augusta-Aiken Audubon group!  I thank them dearly for everything they taught me, and will be rereading my notes, sketching the birds, and making flashcards to learn more about them and their names. I see how this can be a highly addictive hobby.  It has been on my mind since the day that I was with them, and I have been doing a lot of online research to learn additional info, checking out the bird calls uploaded, and watching informative Youtube videos.  I had a highly eventful weekend in company with such an outstanding group!  Looking forward to my next adventure with them!


Charlene N.K. said…
Wow, that's a lot of birds you saw! Wish I were there too. I've always wanted to go birdwatching with the profs but have never had the chance. I'm ending up following some bird-watching blog of a professor who travels to different countries trying to locate birds in their different habitats, identify them and photograph them. He has wonderful photos.
Thanks for sharing your adventures. A joy to read!