Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 20

It was a cool, breezy, and mostly sunny evening birding hike in Oatka tonight. I made it to the park later than usual, and had only enough time to walk White Tail Trail as the sun set. It was quite a productive hike! A red-winged blackbird called from the marshy area as I walked up the dirt road towards the woods. White-crowned sparrows worked the dirt for either grit or seeds, I couldn't tell which. I could hear a few "seeps" from white-throated sparrows, but their appearance would have to wait until I was out in the fields along White Tail. Robins were starting to establish themselves in the tree tops. Chickadees and titmice poured out of the bushes and flew across my path as I entered the fields. Some spishing produced a yellow-rumped warbler. Woodpeckers made their usual calls as I re-entered the woods along the trail. (White Tail passes alternately through woods and fields several times.) Entering a field, I heard a towhee very clearly enunciate "tow-HEE!". Normally, I just hear a single syllable "zzWEET!" As I approached the entrance to Maple Hill, the most *amazing* pocket of birds showed up! All around me were chickadees, titmice, robins, white-crowned and white-throated sparrows, all moving around like the inside of a popcorn machine. Then I noticed my first of a number of fox sparrows in the mix. I put two down in eBird, but feel the number was more like six. I got some okay pictures of the fox sparrows, though they are mostly peeking through foliage with some kind of obscuration. With all the birds, I just basically shot a continuous sequence of dozens upon dozens of pictures at the swirling mass and hoped I got something. :-) A large flock of grackles flew over at one point, and Canada geese where off near the horizon. Eventually, things died down, and I moved on to finish White Tail before the fading sunlight gave out. The overall bird activity seemed to just pick up with robins *everywhere* and many other birds traveling with them, it seemed. I came across another fox sparrow and also spotted a lone juvenile cedar waxwing. This time last year I found a rusty blackbird traveling with the robins at this very spot, but I have not spotted any yet in Oatka this season. Finishing the trail, I returned to the dirt road and to the sound of white-throated "seeps", walked back to me car pretty pleased with the shortened outing.

White-crowned sparrow. Looks like some seeds in its bill.

White-crowned sparrow

White-crowned sparrow. Munching on more seeds.

Yellow-rumped warbler. The setting sun makes the bird look more yellow than it really is.

Yellow-rumped warbler

White-throated sparrow

American robins

White-crowned sparrow

Fox sparrow. Too bad the head is partially hidden. You can see that the spots on the breast are triangular and that the lower bill is yellow. The upper bill is grayish.

Fox sparrow

Fox sparrow. This is among the largest of sparrows. It's so big I didn't recognize this bird as a sparrow at first. My first thought was a female red-winged blackbird.

American robin

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Moon. I combined twelve shots to create this picture. It's interesting what you can do when your subject isn't constantly flying from tree to tree! :-) October 22nd will be the Hunter's Moon. 

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/20/10
Number of species:     20

Canada Goose     20
Ring-billed Gull     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     1
Blue Jay     4
American Crow     4
Black-capped Chickadee     10
Tufted Titmouse     2
American Robin     25
Cedar Waxwing     1
Yellow-rumped Warbler     1
Eastern Towhee     1
Fox Sparrow     2
White-throated Sparrow     10
White-crowned Sparrow     4
Dark-eyed Junco     2
Red-winged Blackbird     1
Common Grackle     200
American Goldfinch     1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(