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Trailblazers BSES Birding Club, Spring 2024

The spring session of Trailblazers BSES Birding Club was a fantastic way to end the club season! This final session of the school year happened during the peak of spring migration. As a result, we had a great diversity of bird species in their stunning spring plumages!

Our session began with the last of the wintering birds found in our area along with early migrants to our area. On our first hike, we had looks at Palm Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler. We also enjoyed great looks of our year-round residents: the White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Towhee, Red-tailed Hawk, and Eastern Bluebird.


Most exciting of all though was a single Hermit Thrush that we observed off the foot bridge in the forested section of the trail. This bird perched in the open for all the students to see up close! The bird even spent some time preening its feathers before taking off deeper into the woods and out of view!


During our second session, we enjoyed an amazing discovery: a White-eyed Vireo! Earlier in the day, I observed this bird singing on the edge of the recess yard. I didn't realize at the time that it was actually the 150th all-time bird species for the BSES Nature Trail! We had to go back out to see it with the club later that afternoon. Although the bird was not as visible in the afternoon as it was earlier in the day, the students were treated to its loud and distinct song as it gave us brief looks foraging behind the fence on the recess yard. A few weeks later, Ethan Kang checked this area and observed two White-eyed Vireos together; a sign that they are probably nesting on our campus!


On our third session, we walked over to Peanut Pond; a piece of private property just off the BSES campus. The location is an active farm and has a pond that we named after Peanut, the very friendly and rather notorious goat who once lived there. On the walk, we observed a Great-crested Flycatcher, which was the first photographed record of the species for the trail (although the bird has been observed over 30 times on the trail since 2013.)


After walking around the pond, we stumbled upon three Savannah Sparrows around the baseball backstop! This observation represents a fifth all-time record of the species for BSES! After we enjoyed fantastic looks at these birds, we stumbled upon a confusing sparrow: At first, I thought it was a Swamp Sparrow, but it turns out it was a rather weathered looking Chipping Sparrow. This bird threw me for a loop, and I made sure to take lots of pictures to study this unique individual!


In our final sessions, we toured the campus to check our bluebird boxes! We observed two active pairs of nesting Eastern Bluebirds; one of which already had babies! We also found one box was empty, another had a House Sparrow nest in it, and a third box had a Tree Swallow nest in it (with a dead Tree Swallow on the nest. RIP to a real one!) We also stopped at the bleachers to scan the sky for birds of prey! We were treated to a lot of activity with a pair of Red-tailed Hawk getting chased by an American Crow and a Turkey Vulture getting chased by a Common Grackle!


We even had an interesting amphibious find: Robert and Zoe spotted a secretive Gray Tree Frog when they heard its distinct call from inside a light post cover. We lifted up the cover and there it was!


By the end of the session, there had been a total of 79 different species of birds for the BSES Nature Trail in 2024. Now, our overall species total for the BSES Nature Trail stands at 150 species of birds!

I want to send a special thank you to our amazing Trailblazers Guides, James and Ethan (check out Ethan's website at www.bearybirding.com). They volunteer their talent and time to help us have fun, stay safe, and see great wildlife! Also, thank you to GV families for their continued support of Trailblazers programs. We are looking forward to our best summer season yet!

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