hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warbler

12.1.23 ~ Mason Farm Biological Reserve
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

It was a dreary first day of winter when Tim and I drove over the ford crossing Morgan Creek and discovered an amazing biological reserve, chock full of birds! They were a challenge to photograph but I did manage to capture two new life birds.

Hermit Thrush, #78

An unassuming bird with a lovely, melancholy song, the Hermit Thrush lurks in the understories of far northern forests in summer and is a frequent winter companion across much of southern North America. It forages on the forest floor by rummaging through leaf litter or seizing insects with its bill. The Hermit Thrush has a rich brown upper body and smudged spots on the breast, with a reddish tail that sets it apart from similar species in its genus.
~ All About Birds website

Yellow-rumped Warbler, #79

Yellow-rumped Warblers are impressive in the sheer numbers with which they flood the continent each fall. Shrubs and trees fill with the streaky brown-and-yellow birds and their distinctive, sharp chips. Though the color palette is subdued all winter, you owe it to yourself to seek these birds out on their spring migration or on their breeding grounds. Spring molt brings a transformation, leaving them a dazzling mix of bright yellow, charcoal gray and black, and bold white.
~ All About Birds website

The reserve is a short 12-minute drive from our house. I like the no dogs allowed rule! Although, the possibility of another kind of canine encounter seems to exist. A friendly birder we met along the way pointed out some coyote scat sitting on the trail.

wholesome browns and primeval grays
celestial blue
vivacious green
snowy white

I love the few homely colors of Nature at this season, — her strong wholesome browns, her sober and primeval grays, her celestial blue, her vivacious green, her pure, cold, snowy white.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, December 4, 1856)

Our walk was long and wonderful, in spite of the damp, raw air and gathering clouds. There were so many bird calls and of course, many squirrels busy with their nuts and chasing each other up and down the trees. The trail we were on had mostly deciduous trees, leading us to believe it will be a good place for seeing fall colors next year.

Before visiting we are advised to check a water level gage, available online. If the gage reads less than 4.5 feet “it is usually safe to cross” with the car. It made me nervous crossing the low-water bridge, or ford. But it will be worth getting used to it to have a chance to keep exploring this huge property. “Mason Farm serves as a wildlife corridor between Chapel Hill and the Cape Fear River Basin.” So much to learn about our new home!

30 thoughts on “hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warbler”

  1. You certainly sound like you are enjoying discovering the area surrounding your new home, Barbara. So much different flora and fauna for you to learn about. πŸ™‚

    1. It is so different! Some species down here are the same as we had up north but they are mixed in with ones native to here, like crepe myrtle and loblolly pine. πŸ™‚

    1. It’s going to be fun getting back there after the holidays. So many birds to identify! You must get lots of thrushes and warblers in your garden.

      1. We used to, but invasive species along the river is impacting warblers by eliminating host plants that would provide caterpillars, so there has been a decline in recent years, so sad. And thrushes are shy and need deep woods for breeding. We get mostly wrens, phoebes, bluebirds, sparrows and robins.

        1. You are so knowledgeable Eliza! I love that you share so much, be it identifying something or explaining habitats and changes!! Thank you so much! πŸ’•

        2. That is so sad — sigh. I’ve been delighted with the juncos I see every day in the bushes right outside my window. They were spotted very infrequently in Connecticut. It’s interesting paying attention to which birds are moving where to find livable habitats.

  2. i used to be in the habit of checking the water level gage before going kayaking, but then i learned if the river was unsafe the nature-preserve-guy would rope-off the entrance and hang a “danger” sign so no one could launch their kayak. … perhaps in the spring, you will get a nice sign to alert you. πŸ™‚

    gorgeous pictures, gorgeous writing, and gorgeous quote! thank you, always, for sharing >3

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ren! πŸ’™ I wonder if there will be sign put up when it gets too deep — I don’t remember seeing a gate. That was nice of them to rope off the entrance to the preserve when it was too dangerous to kayak. I doubt this creek is deep enough for kayaking but then again we’re in a moderate drought so perhaps it will get a lot deeper in the spring when it rains more.

  3. With cooler air and the arrival of meteorological Winter, you and Tim are squeezing in lots of new venues and long walks. That does beat the cold and snow you might be enduring now. I’m glad you’ve learned of new places to go to check out and “report” on the Fall 2024 colors. The sign about entering at your own risk and traveling with a partner is a similar sign to what I saw when I returned to the Environmental Interpretive Center in early Fall. I was amazed to see that sign multiple times as I walked parallel to the area to get to the entrance because I never noticed it in May. Gave me an unsettled feeling, just like you had with the water level as well. (I would feel the same way about that.) Did I miss those signs? Are thy new? Were they put there for a reason? Hmm.

    1. I don’t blame you for wondering about those signs. Maybe something happened to make them realize people were going there unprepared for the terrain and environment. After someone gets hurt or lost they feel the need to post warnings. I know I’d never walk alone in most places anyway. That day I kept thinking, what if the water level rises while we’re in here and we can’t drive the car back over the ford? I’m such a worrier…

      1. That’s true and that is likely the reason for the signs Barbara. I am a worrier as well … the more I listen to the news, the more I worry – some days everything contributes to the level of worry.

        1. Lately I keep hearing Van Morrison on the radio, singing his version of Worried Man Blues. My father used to listen to Woody Guthrie’s version all the time when I was a little girl. It seems like it’s always been a big part of the human condition.

  4. Love your new adventure location, especially with all those birds waiting to be enjoyed! πŸ™‚ Great ‘eagle eyes’ on the Hermit Thrush, not an easily seen bird! (my post today has one too!) Congratulations on your new lifers, Barbara! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—

    1. Thank you, Donna! πŸ™‚ When we bumped into the other birders they were pretty excited about hearing a hermit thrush and I hope they did get to see it, too, before they left. I can’t wait to get back there and see what other birds I can find as the seasons change.

  5. Barbara, I’m so glad you’re exploring your new home and taking us along with you! I don’t think I’d like to meet up with a coyote anywhere, so it’s good that dogs are banned from Mason Park. Good captures on the birdies!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! The lighting wasn’t so great for pictures that day but I was still thrilled to capture the new lifers. I sure hope we don’t meet up with a coyote, and I still worry about encountering a copperhead snake that the locals keep warning us about.

  6. I’m glad to see you and Tim being so adventurous in your new neck of the woods, Barbara. Two new life birds to add to your list is certainly fun!

    I have a new bird for me too! It is a yellow breasted chat family nesting in the thick brush on the other side of the fence in my backyard.

    We have lots of coyotes here on the island but not in the city on the bay. Coyotes are not aggressive to humans unless you taunt them. If you come across one, don’t throw anything at it. A light easy toss of something several feet in front of it will give it notice that you are there and it will go the other way. It’s looking for small animals for prey. You two will be fine.

    So much for you two to explore and continue to learn on the way!

    1. How exciting to have a yellow-breasted chat family nesting near you! I looked it up — what a pretty bird — I’m quite sure I’ve never seen one. Looking on the range map they aren’t found in Connecticut but I might see one some day down here in North Carolina. Thanks for the coyote advice. We had seen them once in a while in Connecticut, usually at night on the road or on the side of the road. When we walk Tim frequently rings the bell on his walking stick to let wildlife know we are there. Hopefully we’ll never encounter one!

      1. I love that Tim has a ringing bell on his walking stick!! That will definitely let the critters know you are around! ❀️

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