Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 30

After a quick refresh, part 2 of today's double-bill birding itinerary was an early afternoon hike in Oatka. When I got there, the parking lot was jammed to near capacity. I would learn that the girl scouts were having a event on the trails today. However, any concerns I had that this would disturb the birding opportunities were unfounded in practice. As I entered the woods and Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I quickly came upon a pair of golden-crowned kinglets there were maybe four feet off the ground in the shorter foliage. It was not really windy at all today, despite the weather predictions. As I moved out into Warbler Loop, some of the usuals checked in, like cardinals, woodpeckers, and, of course, chickadees. However, not a single sparrow was in attendance. I eventually reached the creek and crossed over to Trout Run Trail, where I assumed the girls scouts would avoid due to the mud and difficulty. (Actually, I was *wrong*, but they took an easier side trail after crossing the bridge and we didn't really end up meeting along the creek.) The creek was pretty good birding today! I first found some mallards, and then a hairy woodpecker. After that, as I causally glanced at the far side of the creek, I see that directly across from me was a great blue heron doing a cattail impersonation! My first picture of the bird revealed a pose reminiscent of an American bittern. Eventually it turned its head to a more normal great blue orientation and gave me a great photo-op. I eventually moved on, then heard and then saw a pileated woodpecker, though it was too far away for a picture. At the end of the trail just prior to turning around, I heard then saw a kingfisher launching and flying upstream. On the way back, I found the heron again, and we played hike-and-seek for a bit until it found a great hiding place in some tall grasses on a tiny island in the creek. Continuing on to the bridge and back to the far side of the Loop, I had a quick look at an accipiter. It was totally silhouetted by the sun and moving at high speed, so I can only guess that it may have been a sharp-shinned hawk from the squarish end of its tail. (I didn't have time to look for a notch.) I heard my first robin while leaving the Loop on what would be a very light robin day. Moving through the fields of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I watched as two red-tailed hawks shared a thermal overhead. Finally reaching White Tail Trail, I had to move through a wave of girl scouts, but soon I had the bulk of the trail to myself. I was being to think this was going to be a sparrow shutout. I noticed a turkey vulture floating overhead, teetering on the gusts of wind. Near where White Tail meets up with Maple Hill, I suddenly heard a nondescript alarm call and a black bird flew up to an exposed perch above the tall shrubs. Up with the binoculars, and it was a rusty blackbird! Okay, it was now the final portion of White Tail Trail and still not a single sparrow on my list. With *a lot* of persistent spishing I finally found a single white-throated sparrow buried deep in the shrubbery. With that, I finished up what turned out to be a pretty good run!

 Solar halo

Mallards

Mallards

Great blue heron


Great blue heron


Great blue heron


Great blue heron


Great blue heron

Mallards

Mallards


Great blue heron

White-breasted nuthatch

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Solar halo

Rusty blackbird

Rusty blackbird

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/30/10
Number of species:     22

Mallard     7
Great Blue Heron     1
Turkey Vulture     1
Red-tailed Hawk     2
Belted Kingfisher     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     6
Downy Woodpecker     1
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     15
American Crow     3
Black-capped Chickadee     16
Tufted Titmouse     4
White-breasted Nuthatch     4
Golden-crowned Kinglet     2
American Robin     4
European Starling     7
White-throated Sparrow     1
Northern Cardinal     2
Rusty Blackbird     1
American Goldfinch     4

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