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Football, baseball, and birding?
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Down two love and things are not looking up. You think I would pay more attention to the task at hand. With tall pines in front of me and open grass to the back I find myself smack dab in the middle of an evening throughway.

I should be playing tennis, however now I am counting over 10 species of birds flying back and forth over the court, and I’m not even birding. Looks like a place that may need some additional investigating, but on another day.

Needless to say I lost the set, but I did inadvertently scout a new birding location.

Just off of route 144 in Richmond Hill lies, appropriately named, Richmond Hill Park. A sporting complex by design turned bird sanctuary by nature. The large open areas bordered by mature pine and deciduous forest are a perfect habitat for many of the avian residents in our area as well as some summer transients.

Dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to go birding never gets any easier. Once I’m out I’m fine, it’s the getting up that still takes some nudging.

Pulling into the lower parking lot at 6 a.m. I got my first bird of the day, a Mississippi kite. Both the swallow-tailed kite and Mississippi kite are summer breeders here in Bryan County.

The far corner of the lower lot features a great grove of old pine snags. Here I was able to grab red-headed, red-bellied, downy and pileated woodpeckers.

As I began to make my way towards the large maintenance bay, I noticed an abundance of both adult and juvenile Eastern bluebirds.

My morning tour did reveal what seemed to be three planned nesting boxes, one of which was active, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. There was a lot of hunting and chasing going on, typical behavior for this time of day.

My leisurely walk continued as many of the sprinkler systems used to water the fields came on. The early light bouncing through the plumes of mist was a neat sight.

What looked to be a planted area of immature pines held in its midst a large squawking group of blue jays. This was comforting knowing that most of Georgia has been reporting reduced numbers of jays, and even so in my yard. This must be where they are hiding out.

Overall, the day yielded 27 species - most of which were common finds for this area.

Interesting sights included the great-crested flycatcher, blue-gray gnatcatcher, and the Mississippi kite at the start of the day.

Some birds I was hoping to see that I didn’t were the brown-headed nuthatch or the white breasted nuthatch. Hopefully next time.

It just goes to show you that you never really know what you are going to find or where you are going to find it.

Birds are generally adaptive creatures, though some are more demanding on their habitat than others. Though many birds may survive regardless of how we change the environment, many will not.

However, it always brings a smile to my face when I see man and nature living together in harmony.

It reminds us that it can be successful if we put our minds to it.



Heifert lives in Richmond Hill and is an avid bird watcher.


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