Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 19

It was a cool and partially to mostly cloudy late afternoon birding hike in Oatka today. It was windy enough for the birds to not want to perch in the open. Finally, there was a big cross-country meet going on in the park tonight. All the makings of a crummy birding run! :-( However, though it was all common birds tonight, there were some nice moments. I ran into lots of pockets of chickadees tonight. The woods of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail were quiet tonight due to the passing waves of runners, I suspect. Warbler Loop offered a very nice encounter with chickadees at close range and a towhee calling from deep cover. Normally, I can get the towhees to pop up with some spishing, but no one was buying tonight. Down by the creek, the water was somewhat high and fast, though clear. Out on Trout Run Trail, which is off-limits to the runners, I had several nice bird encounters! A pair of flickers flashed their brilliant yellow plumage at me as they feed in a tree. I came into a pocket of half a dozen chickadees or more with titmice mixed in. As I stood still and took pictures, the birds hung around, unconcerned with my presence, and fed from the many seed-bearing plants. Then I heard some nearby tapping that sounded like a woodpecker, but it turned out to be a white-breasted nuthatch. I gave me a very nice photo-op as it excavated an exposed tree cavity. Turning around only partway down the trail due to the early and early sunset, I re-crossed the bridge and was walking up the far side of Warbler Loop when I noticed some movement in some nearby bushes a couple feet off the ground. It was a golden-crowned kinglet and just as I raised my binoculars, a herd of female runners came thundering down the trail towards me. (The trail has a significant downward slope in the direction they were running at this point, so by definition you land very hard and loud when running.) I got two more seconds with the kinglet and then retreated off the trail so as not to get mowed down! :-) I continued onto the fields of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail and watched as a group of ring-billed gulls lazily made their way across the sky. Turning onto Old Burrell Road, I got another of my favorite sightings. I started hearing the "pleck" of a hairy woodpecker, as opposed to the "plick" of a downy. Sure enough, the hairy flies across and lands on a nearby tree with a good view. As I watched it in the binoculars, I notice some other movement in the field of view: a downy! So, on the same tree and in the same binocular view I could compare the dagger of the downy beak to the Roman short sword of the hairy beak. :-) I made it to White Tail Trail at a good time to inspect the bushes in the light of the setting sun, but some of the runners decided to run this section of the park again after the meet was over and essentially kept White Tail Trail in a bit of a ruckus, so no birds except for the many robins massing in the tops of the trees for the night. I *did* hear a lot of "seeps" from white-throated sparrows, but no amount of spishing or movement towards the shrubs was going to get any of the birds to pop up tonight. Still, not a bad night!


Black-capped chickadee. This was near the parking lot at the beginning of the hike. It actually starting raining a few drops at this point which made me think this *really* was going to be an unproductive night. Fortunately, it steadily improved from this point on.


Black-capped chickadee


Northern flicker. You can clearly see the yellow in the tail and underneath the wings.


Northern flicker


Black-capped chickadee


White-breasted nuthatch


White-breasted nuthatch


White-breasted nuthatch


White-breasted nuthatch


Black-capped chickadee


White tail deer


White tail deer


American robin in a staghorn sumac tree

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/19/10
Number of species:     18

Canada Goose     20
Ring-billed Gull     12
Red-bellied Woodpecker     5
Downy Woodpecker     1
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)     2
Blue Jay     5
American Crow     5
Black-capped Chickadee     12
Tufted Titmouse     2
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     25
European Starling     7
Eastern Towhee     1
White-throated Sparrow     3
American Goldfinch     1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)