Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 24

It was a seasonably warm and humid morning today in Oatka. I had to delay my start by 30 to 45 minutes due to a passing band of showers. After that, the weather got rather nice and the bird activity was *extremely* high with a fair amount of robin and cardinal *songs* mixed in with the normal autumn chorus. As I got out of the car, three starlings sat at the trees by the entrance, giving an impressive display of call mimicry. (Did I just hear meadowlark?) :-) A red-wing sang its "conkeree!" from the marshy area. As I began walking down the dirt road towards the woods, a relatively large number of juncos spilled out of the shrubs on either side of the trail. "Spilling" and "pouring" would be apt descriptions for the bird activity today as there seemed to be notably large amounts of most species and a great deal of movement was done by the numbers of birds rather than singly. A carolina wren sang out again from the marshy area. Having just rained, there was a large rain puddle in the road conveniently close to the side of the road and near cover. As I stood still, a juvenile white-crowned sparrow came out and started to take a bath. It kept an eye on me, but as long as I didn't move, it continued on with its business. Dunk, flap, dunk, flap. I was so close I could clearly hear the high-speed wing flapping as it shook the water free between dunks. :-) Moving on into the woods, things quieted down until I reached Warbler Loop. There was a considerable amount of activity, though not many birds responding to spishing. Cardinals continue to increase their visibility (or is that simply a consequence of the leaves falling?) A pileated called out in no uncertain terms, as did flickers. Finally, as I was watching some white-throated sparrows, a couple of fox sparrows popped up. Moving on to the creek, things were quiet from the bridge, so I crossed over to Trout Run Trail. Immediately I started hearing the "chimp" calls of song sparrows. With a little hunting, I found the songsters, though with plumage wet from the rain-drenched plants they were hiding in, they looked a tad more exotic than normal. Red-wings serenaded me most of the way along the trail from the marshy areas bordering the railroad tracks. I took a fisherman's trail back to one of the marshy areas, and though I could hear the birds, I couldn't see them. Perhaps they were on the far side of the tracks. There is a tunnel underneath the tracks at this point and I have never explored it. Returning to the main trail, I came across the usual woodpeckers, chickadees, and titmice. At the end just after turning around, I found the winter wren again. That would be it for the creek today. As I recrossed the bridge and walked the far side of Warbler Loop, I heard *a lot* of bird activity in the Loop. Intrigued, I re-entered the Loop at the bottom and was rewarded with an infrequently-seen female towhee. Unfortunately, it evaded all attempts on my part to take its picture. I then noticed some bird activity in the high shrubs right behind my back. Peering in many levels of obstructions and listening, I finally got a peak at a ruby-crowned kinglet. Its calls, however, were quite clear and obvious. Resuming my normal route, as I walked into the fields along Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, waves and waves of sparrows flushed with almost no provocation on my part. (I'm on a trail and not actually in the fields themselves.) Most were white-throated, but a couple more fox sparrows showed up, too. Suddenly, a very loud pileated call splits the morning calm and it launches from a tree maybe twenty feet in front of me and flies across the trail and then a field, giving me an excellent view of the bird for quite some time. A few more of the unending waves of sparrows accompanied me the rest of the way to Old Burrell Road. From there, robins and woodpeckers, again, in relatively large numbers escorted me to White Tail Trail. Continuing along White Tail, I eventually come upon a flock of birds that looked to me to be mostly starlings, though inspecting their silhouettes and concentrating on only the birds in full profile, the lengths of the tails varied noticeably, so there may have been a mixture of birds. As the flock moved away from one tree due to my approach, a lone black bird flew up in its place. I first thought it was just a starling late to the party, but the silhouette was not right. Then, it started giving a gurgling call -- a rusty blackbird! Of course, it was completely backlit, but I started taking pictures nonstop as I slowly crept down the trail to hopefully get the bird front lit. I did eventually get a few better lit shots, but with looking up at the bird against a bright cloudy sky, it was really backlit no matter what you did. I finished the rest of the hike without anything else of note, except that it was warm enough to elicit another wave of ladybugs today. I had to gently shoo a couple that had taken a liking to my sweatshirt before I entered my car to leave the park. Fun day!

European starling. What a big mouth! :-)

Dark-eyed junco

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow dunking in a rain puddle

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow shaking water from itself while bathing

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Downy woodpecker. It always find it remarkable that the lower body is rock still (i.e., not blurred) while its head is pounding away.

Downy woodpecker

Black-capped chickadee. This bird seems so proud of the seed it had found! :-) Unfortunately, it flew off before I could adjust the exposure and take another shot.

White-throated sparrow. Only one of perhaps a hundred white-throats in the park today!

Rusty blackbird

Rusty blackbird

Rusty blackbird

Rusty blackbird

Female northern cardinal

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/24/10
Number of species:     26

Canada Goose     100
Red-bellied Woodpecker     6
Downy Woodpecker     5
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     9
Pileated Woodpecker     2
Blue Jay     8
American Crow     10
Black-capped Chickadee     25
Tufted Titmouse     4
White-breasted Nuthatch     5
Carolina Wren     1
Winter Wren     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     50
European Starling     50
Eastern Towhee     1
Fox Sparrow     4
Song Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     60
White-crowned Sparrow     1
Dark-eyed Junco     8
Northern Cardinal     6
Red-winged Blackbird     100
Rusty Blackbird     1
American Goldfinch     2

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