Friday, December 10, 2010

Is this what I’ve been reduced to? Watching birds through binoculars for lack of herping? Freezing weather can drive you to do strange things.

In all seriousness and fairness, though, I had a lovely time last week walking around the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center with Tony Croasdale, a birder friend who works at the Center and who put up a bird feeder right outside his office window so he’d have something to look at besides a computer screen.

We observed some of the common local feeder birds – a nuthatch, a downy woodpecker, titmice, juncos, mourning doves, and chickadees. Tony even helped me distinguish between the black-capped and the Carolina chickadees (black caps show more white on the wings).

I couldn’t walk around the park with Tony without flipping logs, though. Partly it’s habit, since I know there are no garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) with a high in the 40s, but I did manage to turn up a redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus), the lead-back phase. This time of year I was happy to see it.