Monday, July 15, 2013

Barn Raising at Stroud Preserve

The Florida feel has worn off, but I'm not quite circulated back into Arizona birding yet. Last week my wife and I, as well as some of my other family members, travelled to West Chester, PA, to attend my sister-in-law's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, as expected, but we Butlers like to overload in all things, so before the afternoon ceremony I took some of the family to a favorite little local nature spot.

It was pretty hot and pretty humid, with all of the grass holding more dew than one would think possible. It took three days for my shoes to dry out, but that's a necessary sacrifice. The rolling, grassy hills at Stroud Preserve are good for Bobolinks, and I was also able to finally see a semi-nemesis bird, the Brown Thrasher, to get an unexpected lifer out of the walk.
Eastern Bluebirds and American Goldfinches added their unusual panache to the morning, but some of the most concentrated, and also variegated colors came not from the birds, but from Stroud's carefully protected wildflowers.

The whole week was pretty overcast, and with the heavy humidity and my gamy leg I wasn't an overly enthusiastic photographer. However, one of Stroud Preserve's best features is an old stone bridge running over a charming brook near the entrance. After out loop walk, we loitered on the bridge, watching Carolina Wrens building a nest in a blackberry bush and Catbirds squabble about anything and everything. 

The bridge also allowed for some nice views of the Proud Stroud Swallows. Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows are both fairly common in Arizona, but I seldom see them or photograph them well. The higher concentrations in Pennsylvania improve the odds, and also the likeliness that one will find a few sedentary Swallows. The Barn Swallow below was practicing patient parentage above the bridge.

Its progeny seemed anything but precocious. It did not respond to the adult's enticements towards movement, neither in way of feeding itself nor attempted flight. With that wide, pale rubbery gape, young Swallows are some of the goofiest looking juveniles. It was delightful.

After a while, the parent took a seat too, perhaps a bit frustrated but undoubtedly still committed to its task in raising the little Barn. And to be fair, neither I nor many humans can say they'd know how to do a better job.