The area around Ithaca is so amazingly full of public green spaces -- between state parks and forests, Nature Conservancy land, Cornell land, and more -- it's hard to know where to even start! Yesterday morning, I decided to explore a small local nature preserve managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust: the Roy H. Park Preserve. The preserve itself is only a couple hundred acres in size, but it borders much larger state forests and Cornell-protected land, so it's basically a slice in a rather huge expanse of natural area.
Before I even left for the preserve, I got to hang out with two Cedar Waxwings perched in a tree near my driveway; what a great start to the day!
When I arrived at the preserve, the parking area was serving as a concert hall for a Gray Catbird. I've missed these funny/loud birds!
The preserve itself turned out to be really wonderful. I saw no other people the whole time I was there, and there were so, so many animals around. The trail took me through fields and woods, including a lovely Quaking Aspen grove:
And a dark forest of conifers:
At one point, I stopped to watch an Indigo Bunting family -- I don't think I've ever seen baby buntings before! The female was dashing around feeding her rather large but still very demanding fledglings; the male kept flashing past, but I didn't see him contribute much to the proceedings. Here's one of the babies, posing for a quiet moment in between its cries for food:
And then while I was watching the buntings, warblers started showing up. I'd already heard Prairie Warblers calling somewhere out of sight, and Common Yellowthroats had been popping up at various points along the trail, but those are warblers I've met as summer breeders before, during my years exploring southern Connecticut, so they weren't totally unexpected. Now, though, warblers I think of as exclusively spring migrants came practically streaming in. A female Blackburnian Warbler! A female Chestnut-sided Warbler!
(Pardon the poor pictures, but I feel like I need something to prove that this weird summer warbler parade actually happened!)
A male Black-throated Green Warbler zoomed in out of nowhere (and I heard two males calling in the forest later on):
And then a male Magnolia Warbler!
So basically, this is a magical fairy-tale land where many of the beautiful little birds I think of as passing visitors (and therefore special/lucky encounters) actually come to live. And now I live here, too! Why yes, I'll take my May avian sights all summer long, thank you!
Later in the morning as I passed again through the same area, the bird activity had mostly calmed down, except that now the male Indigo Bunting was singing from the very highest perch possible. Tiny blue bird and big blue sky:
Butterflies and dragonflies were now flying all over the place, and I watched a bulky -- and very pink -- orb weaver spider manipulate a recent catch (I think this is a female Shamrock Orbweaver, Araneus trifolium):
Another spider (a male of the same species, if my ID is correct) crept around on a neighboring stem; I've never noticed spiders quite like this before, but they seem to have a thriving population in these fields:
What a wonderful morning walk. Have I mentioned that I really like it here? :D