Backpacking

This weekend, I was given the opportunity to go backpacking in the Allegheny National Forest. I was to go with my non-birding friend and his parents. I jumped at the chance to get into this piece of wilderness and see some of the birds there. So yesterday morning, we set off into the unknown. We left the trailhead at about 11:00 A.M. Not ideal birding time. However, that didn’t stop me from hearing a cardinal and black-throated green warbler right off the bat. We hiked along and the cheery chatters lowly turned into silence as we realized just how heavy our packs were. Soon however, we entered a clearing in the forest choked with undergrowth. It was there we saw the first birds of the trip. A group of chickadees and a palm warbler. Excited by this discovery, I forged ahead hoping for some more birds. We moved on quickly until we reached the top of the ridge we were on. The the forest thinned and we stopped to rest in a circle of trees. That was when I noticed something odd. I saw something moving up the trunk of a nearby tree. Upon closer inspection I found it to be a tent caterpillar. As I scanned the trunk it was on, I saw more and more. I son realized that hundreds were crawling up the truck. It was like a little caterpillar highway! I showed the others my discovery and after watching them for a while we sat back down to eat some gorp. However, the peace didn’t last long. We soon discovered that the caterpillars were more widespread. We looked and found them to be overly tree and every plant and on the ground and much to our despair, every person. We quickly moved on. However, we found our retreat cut off by squadrons of caterpillars. After a short battle in which many a caterpillar was flicked off a trouser leg, we managed to escape in to the deeper (and less caterpillar filled) forest. Little much more happened besides a sighting off a flicker which burst up from the ground in front of us. Later that day at about five o’clock, we staggered into camp and deposited our packs on the ground. At camp, I was pleased to find more chickadees and a female common yellowthroat who scolded us angrily from the bushes. That night we went to sleep to the calls of an eastern screech owl. I woke up the next morning to listen to the dawn chorus. I was mostly composed of the yellowthroat, a handful of chickadees and nuthatches, and a black-throated green warbler. There was also a flyover common raven. At about 9:30 we donned our packs again and broke camp. Our spirits were high as we felt close to accomplishing our goal. Early in our hike we heard the drumming of a piliated woodpecker and the sweet song of a northern parula. Later I got my FOY ovenbird. Our spirits remained hight throughout the rest of the morning and we soon found ourselves back at the trailhead and civilization.

Birds seen/heard: 1. Black-throated green warbler
2. Downy Woodpecker
3. Piliated woodpecker
4. Common flicker
5. Red-bellied woodpecker
6. Common yellowthroat
7. Palm warbler
8. Common raven
9. Black-capped chickadee
10. Blue Jay
11. White-breasted nuthatch
12. Black and white warbler
13. Cerulean warbler
14. Northern parula
15. Dark-eyed junco
16. Ovenbird

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