Somerset County birder Jeff Payne has been hosting a beautiful immature female Rufous Hummingbird that was captured and banded by Bob Mulvihill to confirm the ID. On November 3rd, my friends and I were able to stop by and watch the hummer off-and-on for almost an hour before heading up to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch for a PSO field trip. The bird was very vocal and heard chipping and calling many times as it flew around the yard, visiting the two feeders, and perching in specific perches in a handful of short trees and bushes. Whenever I have gone to see wintering hummingbirds, they are always quite aggressive…especially considering how tiny (and out of place) they are. This young female Rufous was no different – during the time we were there we saw her chase and call at Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and particularly one Ruby-crowned Kinglet that just wanted to quietly forage through one bush in the Payne’s yard.
Earlier in the day, we had joined up with Somerset County’s top birder (and NemesisBird contributor) Mike Lanzone to see what waterfowl and shorebirds were hanging out at Somerset Lake. Mike had gotten there before us and had a flock of Dunlins fly over which was interesting but there were hardly any waterfowl on the lake. Soon, ducks started dropping out of the sky and by the time my friends and I got there 20 Gadwall, 18 American Wigeon, 8 Green-winged Teal, 10 Ring-necked Ducks, 35 Bufflehead, 16 Hooded Mergansers, 1 Common Merganser, 40 Ruddy Ducks, and 4 Pied-billed Grebes were floating on the lake. One Dunlin and 14 Pectoral Sandpipers were frantically foraging along the edge of the lake and would occasionally flush for seemingly no reason, and then quickly land at another spot along the lake.
The PSO field trip to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch sort of turned out to be a bust, since the wind was coming out of the west which pushes birds away from the Front and also doesn’t create any sort of updraft along the edge. One adult Red-shouldered Hawk did migrant past while we were there, seemingly undeterred but the difficult weather conditions. The hawk circled up above everyone, offering a great view of one of our most handsome raptors.