Putting the episode of the misidentified thrush behind me, I am returning to our trip to Mt Washington three days ago. Besides the Bicknell's Thrush we also saw a number of Blackpoll Warblers.
Interesting fact: According to BNA Online, the Blackpolls undertake the longest migration of any warbler. Part of their fall migratory route is over the Atlantic Ocean from the northeastern United States to Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, or northern South America. This route averages 3,000 km over water, necessitating a potentially nonstop flight of up to 88 hours.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler was stopping to drink from one of the refill stations for radiator water at a "brake stop" along the way.
Another familiar bird was the White-throated Sparrow, heard more than seen. It was startling to find this common winter backyard feeder dwell in this subalpine boreal forest. It gave me an altogether new three-dimensional view of this species.
After our return from the guided tour, which had turned around at midway, we (my husband and I) got into our Subaru Outback to drive to the very top of the mountain. The final 2000 feet or so of the 6000+ feet drive on the narrow auto route were hair-raising: sheer drop on the downhill side and deep ruts on the uphill one. I kept my eyes peeled to the center. Fortunately it was very early with no oncoming traffic, but we pictured this road on a weekend with bumper to bumper traffic both ways, imagining big SUV's shouldering smaller cars aside.... We were glad though to have escaped the clouds of black flies that had emerged at the lower level as the day warmed up.
Arriving at the top, I looked and listened for any birds in this rock-strewn wasteland and indeed heard one. I traced it to a Junco singing from one of the boulders lining the parking lot:
To find a Junco at this level with no tree in sight, just thin patchy low ground vegetation between the rocks, was a surprise. It was the only Junco though and no others responded to his song, nor did we see any other birds, no Ravens or Bald Eagles...
With still no oncoming traffic, driving down was a piece of cake, because of the much broader, long-distance view going downhill. We made our leisurely way along the scenic Kancamagus Highway home to Brattleboro, VT, glad that we had bought mosquito head nets that kept the black flies out, but frustrating too because it' s near impossible to use them with binoculars.
Cheers and Happy Birding!
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