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For a few weeks in spring, some species of birds
appear just briefly in our frequented spaces. As Little Crum Creek swells with rain,
the black and white warbler comes and goes with May.

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Summer’s dense foliage makes it tough to spot a kingfisher
as it rattles along the Little Crum corridor sounding the creek loudly for prey.

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But the constant call of a female, tracing low flights over the water,
recently made like a beacon through the bare limbs of a bright January day.

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A yellow-rumped warbler, flitting for insects on every limb, rests a minute before eventually continuing north again.

Like the black-throated blues, and at least one elusive black and white warbler, several seemed to stay only a week or two on this part of Little Crum Creek.

Gone now several days …  we might meet again in fall.

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I once spotted an osprey perched over the water at Ridley Creek State Park.

That’s not far from the Springton Reservoir where it might easily dive for fish.

But I’ve since harbored little expectation of ever seeing one over Little Crum Creek.

Then there it was, downstream, April 10, soaring high and low in broad circles over Ridley Park Lake,  dipping, breaking, and rising for about 5-10 minutes before disappearing someplace north.

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This raptor visit called for a specialist.

My nephew, who recently wrote a grade school report on ospreys, said that maybe the bird was fishing, looking for a good place to nest, or just migrating.

For more osprey insights, and for lots of extraordinary pictures, consider visiting Bay Photos by Donna.  In this post, Donna documents an osprey family’s full nesting season on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Thanks to her lens on life there, I recognized our visitor here straight away.

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The quickly moving chickadee inspires a particular affection.

Often meeting a common need in the calm between crowds at area feeders, it tends to visit, retreat, and pick the seeds at its feet on a nearly distant limb.

Then, soon, spotting others arrive, it disappears for the time up or down the creek.

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According to bird maps and guides, black-capped chickadee and Carolina chickadee ranges overlap here in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Complicating attempts to identify them, these already similar-looking birds are said to hybridize:  one might display characteristics of both.

Since I can’t confidently say which chickadee we’re seeing here on Little Crum Creek, I’m including several shots from various times and angles this winter.

Based on these, what might you say:  black-capped, Carolina, or hybrid chickadee?

And are you seeing some around your way?

[Click a picture to enlarge]

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It is easy to overlook what we are not prepared to see.

But a patient gaze will often reward long familiarity with a place.

Then the mutest shape might suddenly pronounce its presence,

like a Green Heron on the fallen ash beside Little Crum Creek.

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Pennsylvania, like the entire eastern half of the United States, is part of the Green Heron’s summer breeding range.

I have spotted one here on Little Crum Creek as early as April and as late as August.

But I had never noticed one before squatting one day among the long-appreciated turtles of nearby Crum Creek.

There, with the slightest step, a yet unseen heron suddenly stirred the shade of a late summer day,

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fully startled me with the raising of its head,

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and assuredly prepared all our later engagements.

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Morning brought a couple inches of snow,
plus a female complement to Monday’s post,

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both reminders of cardinals distinguished 
by last year’s long white winter. 

 

 

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The Red-bellied Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker I’ve seen along Little Crum Creek. 

Its spring call is so lush and ruffling  that we can often spot one through new leaves. 

But now, in late fall, it is particularly conspicuous, sometimes drumming loudly on tree sides and departing dramatically from every landing.

Red-bellieds visit rarely enough to warrant announcement when one hits the suet to set it swinging.  Its strong tail and grasp then steady the cage for feeding.

We can tell these males by the full red caps running all the way to their beaks.  A female’s red streak ends at the nape.

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Distant ripples on Little Crum Creek signal the visit of a young Green Heron.

Dark cap, striped breast, and brown plumage all blend with the sandy creek bank’s morning shade.

But the heron’s bending golden legs step visibly into stillness.

Achieving a vantage to stand and fish, it is not easily perturbed.

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There is no mistaking the call and tufted crest of a Belted Kingfisher angling

over Little Crum Creek in the morning sun.