Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Winter robins

Regular correspondent Bob Levy sent in the photo below and a comment:
[By the way, in answer to his question, I'd agree that the tree is a hawthorn. The berries are sometimes called haws. I find them tasty.

In your story “The Baths at Warbler Ridge” on October 29, 2007 you added a postscript to my report in which you mentioned that most American Robins were about ready to head south although a few would likely remain. Well, we are well into winter now and just as you predicted a few hardy robins have made their presence known. I recently found them hard at work in a Hawthorn Tree (correct me if I have the wrong tree species) on the south western edge of the Great Lawn. There were about two dozen robins excitedly picking off the berries. Some were so into the process that they hovered in a kind of hummingbirdish way at the tips of the branches where most of the food was. That was my first surprise. The second was the arrival of a lone Hermit Thrush that frustrated my photographic efforts by keeping the twigs between itself and the camera lens at all times. A third surprise was the arrival of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that initially kept its back to the whole scene, then spun around, snatched a berry in its beak and rushed away to an adjoining tree to eat it. The sapsucker was too quick for my camera reflexes and I missed that shot too. Sigh.
The birds scattered when a Cooper’s Hawk zoomed low over the tree. There were no known casualties. All, I hope, returned safely to continue with their feast.