Today, as temperatures reached into the mid 90's, the birds were mostly hunkered down, avoiding the heat as much as possible. The only problem is that I was leading a beginners walk that did not start until 2pm (ouch!, for birds and heat).
I got up fairly early to conduct my bird survey at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, not expecting to see many birds as a result of the heat, even in the early morning. My mom (who was with me) and I saw 48 species, decent for the end of April. We didn't see anything incredibly exciting, but some new warblers for the year showed up, including Yellow, Black-throated Green, Prairie, and Black-and-white. We also saw a few Palm Warblers which have been around for the past few weeks.
When I returned home, a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was visiting the feeders. It was interesting to see RBGR and Pine Siskins at the same feeder. After a small rest after returning home, I walked my butterfly survey loop, which covers about 1 mile. The butterflies were slow at first, I found a few Cabbage Whites on some daffodils and a small group of Spring Azures (C. ladon) along the edge of some woods. As I walked into the woods, I realized that many of the butterflies were staying the forest, rather than venturing into the heat of the sun. Among the numerous Cabbage Whites and Spring Azures, I found a single Sleepy Duskywing.
As I continued through the forest, several Spring Azures and some unidentified butterflies (flew away before I could ID them) were nectaring on some blooming Serviceberry trees. As I walked through a small opening in the woods, a pair of Juvenal's Duskywings plopped themselves on the ground in front of me. After being "harassed" by these duskywings, I descended down the final stretch of the survey loop. This area is usually crappy for butterflies, not usually producing much except Mourning Cloaks and Cabbage Whites. As I was about to pack my notebook away, a small, brown butterfly flew past me, landing on the trail in front of me. As I put up my binoculars, I noticed that I was looking at an amazingly-patterned Eastern Pine Elfin, a butterfly "lifer".
Eastern Pine Elfin:
After enjoying the butterfly, it was time to head to my bird walk at Jacobsburg State Park. Upon arrival, I heard a Yellow Warbler and an American Crow, but nothing else--not good. As people started showing up, we split the group in two. One half went with me, the other half with my co-leader, Dennis Miller. As my group headed across the road from the main parking lot, then to a bird-less area, all anyone could thing about was the heat. After five minutes of toad watching, we headed to the Bushkill Creek, where the group got great looks at a male Belted Kingfisher.
As the heat continued to rise, we voted on heading to the mixed/hemlock forest for shade. Upon entering the forest, a beginner on the walk spotted birds feeding on a "lump". The "lump" happened to be a nest, which was being built by a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. We watched for a few minutes as the pair brought lichen pieces to the camouflaged nest. We continued up the trail to a steep hillside, where I stopped to point out the first bird that we had seen in a while, a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
As soon as everyone had gotten great looks at the butter-butt, birds started appearing from every direction! The first bird was a Worm-eating Warbler, which was feeding on the ground less than twenty feet below us. More warblers and other birds started popping up. Before long, the trees were filled with Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Great Crested Flycatchers, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Nashville, and Worm-eating Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and several White-throated Sparrows. After spending over an hour at the same place, we returned to the parking lot, where we found out we were quite a bit later than the other group. It turns out that the other group saw next to nothing, which their best birds being a Common Yellowthroat (decent considering first of season) and a Red-bellied Woodpecker (only on a really really bad day can a Red-belly be a "best bird").
After returning home, I walked around my yard until sunset, only finding a small group of Yellow-rumped Warblers and hearing a distant Barred Owl. While migration has yet to completely let loose!