It was a nice trip up to Utica this weekend; about 16 hours driving for about 7 hours socializing with the older son. It was worth it. The rain held off pretty much the whole way, and the scenery was as nice as usual, especially up the Chenango valley. Just the way I like it, farms and smallish towns with that great old-fashioned oddness to the houses that Charles Addams loved as well. A good trip for natural history, too – scads of Trilliums, a few Trout Lilies, a host of newly-emerged Garter Snakes enjoying the ‘new normal’ hot weather in the traditional manner. We flushed two large females and probably about a dozen smallish males who rushed off, deeply offended, surfacing above the dead grass layer and then diving again to evade our attention (I didn’t check them in hand, as I didn’t feel like being chewed and shat on, but I figure I’m about right). Numerous Yellow Warblers and Goldfinches, and something I’m provisionally putting down as a Warbling Vireo until I can confirm my old memory of the song. Two Wild Turkeys (one of which was a male roadkill, alas) and a single Raven on the way home after I had given up, soaring along majestically with a Crow playing around it for a good comparison for the family. We had seen a largish Corvid flying over the car clutching a Garter Snake, on the way up, but the glimpse I got wasn’t enough to tell exactly what it was, and the traffic was too exciting at that point to make a thorough assessment. The other Turkey was a female sauntering nervously through a cornfield; I didn’t realize how much the head goes back and forth when they walk. I can’t believe they don’t get whiplash. It was like watching a giraffe/bird hybrid. Heard several Tree Frogs and a single frog or toad – it was similar to an American Toad, but much lower pitched and slower; less a screech and more a trill, but very different from a Tree Frog’s trill. I need to see if I still have my old Droll Yankee recordings anywhere. The roadkill was fewer deer, more woodchicks and a couple of possums and skunks and a single raccoon along with scattered cats in the more settled areas. Not as many vultures as I would have expected, though; perhaps the nesting season and an embarrassment of riches had dispersed their interest some.
It’s good to be back (sort of); this morning a warbler wave of sorts was going through in the wet, drippy morning; several Redstarts, a single Black-and-white, a single Yellow, and a rather early Blackpoll. Then a rather wet and molting female Sarpshin going over the road on my way in to work.