Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 22

It was a cold, windy, and partially cloudy birding hike tonight at Oatka. It didn't look very promising, but it turned into an excellent birding run! It was Black-Capped Chickadee Day in the park, as they were simply *everywhere* and in large numbers. My count of 20 is pitifully low, I believe. However, they kept moving, so it was hard to keep track of who was traveling with you and who wasn't. Yellow-rumped warblers continue to hang around in the park, though the records suggest they will be leaving any day now. Warbler Loop was very productive tonight! As I entered the center of the Loop, spishing for sparrows, I suddenly starting hearing the three-note call of golden-crowned kinglets. But, before I could follow up on that, at least two fox sparrows popped up and perched nearby and were fairly unobstructed for a great photo-op! As I was taking pictures of the foxes, I kept hearing the kinglets and wanted to shout, "Wait your turn!" :-) Finally, the fox sparrows left and as I turned towards the kinglet calls I saw not a golden, but a ruby-crowned kinglet. It tipped its head and showed me its cute red cap and then started calling with its characteristic harsh call. I got some nice pictures and then looked for a golden, but that would have to wait for later in the hike. I went down to the creek and onto the bridge, but the creek was silent except for a group of mallards. I didn't have time for Trout Run Trail, so I turned around and headed back along the far side of Warbler Loop and out into the fields of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail. In the fields I noticed overhead a large group of ring-bills lazily making their way across the sky, seemingly content to let the wind blow them wherever it may. Before leaving the fields, I encountered a particularly active group of chickadees that were singing a liquid call I don't usually notice coming from chickadees, though I found it in my Audubon guide on my iPod. Making my way along Old Burrell Road, I eventually came to White Tail Trail. Reaching the bushes near the start of the fields, I found a golden-crowned kinglet. Its crown was so deep yellow, it verged on orange. Despite *a lot* of effort on my part, I just couldn't get a picture of the golden tonight. It would respond to my spishing, but I just couldn't push the shutter button fast enough when it would dash from cover and be momentarily unobstructed. That's okay, because I got a big consolation prize when a towhee popped up and gave me a fairly good photo-op, all without a single call from the bird. But the best was for last. Last year around this time (Oct. 18th, to be precise), I found and photographed my first rusty blackbird ever (i.e., lifer) and that picture started a chain of events that led to me joining the birding community and all the enjoyment that has transpired with that. Today I finally found a rusty blackbird again in Oatka at pretty much the same location (eastern side of White Tail Trail) traveling with a group of robins, just like last year. The gurgling call confused me at first, as I didn't know the rusty's vocalizations, but it led me right to the songster. I got one so-so picture, but hope to have a few more chances before they move on. So, despite being gloomy and cold, it turned into a great birding night!

Yellow-rumped warbler. Sometimes a (unintentional) soft focus highlights colors, like on the flank of this bird. Those are poison ivy berries in the upper right, a favorite with birds!

Yellow-rumped warbler with poison ivy berry

Yellow warbler nest. This nest was *right on* the trail edge on Warbler Loop. This picture makes it look big. It was rather small in actuality.

Yellow warbler nest. Notice the berries near the top of the picture to provide a little scale.

Yellow warbler nest. I actively looked for working nests along Warbler Loop this year and never saw this one that was literally only two inches or so into the foliage. It took the leaves dropping to reveal it.

Ruby-crowned kinglet. You can see some small tufts of red on the top of its head.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Fox sparrow

Fox sparrow

Fox sparrows

Fox sparrows

Fox sparrows

Black-capped chickadee. This bird is singing its liquid call.

Eastern gray squirrel. This was a very intense-looking squirrel! :-)

Old Burrell Road looking east, just before the trailhead of White Tail Trail

Eastern towhee, the unofficial Oatka Creek Park bird. (I just made that up, but it fits.) :-D

Eastern towhee

White tail deer. This deer held this pose for quite some time. Too bad I couldn't get a better focused picture, but daylight was running out.

Rusty blackbird

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/22/10
Number of species:     22

Canada Goose     20
Mallard     7
Ring-billed Gull     50
Red-bellied Woodpecker     5
Downy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     2
Blue Jay     9
American Crow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     20
Tufted Titmouse     4
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     20
Yellow-rumped Warbler     1
Eastern Towhee     1
Fox Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     20
Northern Cardinal     2
Rusty Blackbird     1
Common Grackle     10
American Goldfinch     1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(