Monday, December 13, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • December 13

It was a snowy "sunrise" morning birding hike in Oatka today. It started of snowing very lightly and 22F with the temperature falling and the snow fall increasing steadily from there. Surprisingly, it was a good morning for birding! The dirt road into the woods was relatively quiet with only one or two of a few species: crow, jay, junco, white-throated sparrow, and red-bellied woodpecker. Again, it felt as if most of the birds had yet to start their day. Black Billed Cuckoo Trail was quiet, though things picked up considerably on Warbler Loop. Post #9, once again, marked the middle of bird activity. A couple of flickers flushed from the shrubs shortly before I reached the post. A flock of 20+ cedar waxwings rested in one of the trees adjacent to the post. A titmouse and a few chickadees called out. Downy woodpeckers worked on tree adjacent to the trail. As I moved into the heart of the loop, the chipping of cardinals was all around. Reaching the creek, the snow picked up in intensity quite a bit, giving me reason to reconsider my plan of attack, which largely consisted of deciding whether to continue on despite the snow, or to abort the hike. Knowing the creekside is significantly sheltered from the elements, I decided to go on. Good choice! Shortly after entering Trout Run Trail, an *extremely* vocal nuthatch caught my attention. I then heard some rather loud and persistent "seep"s from white-throats. While looking for the sources of the latter, a brown creeper flew up to a nearby tree and gave me some decent looks, despite the snow. That was worth the price of admission, right there!  Continuing on, I found several mallards on my way out and back. With my list at 15 species and the snow getting fairly thick, once I recrossed the bridge, I decided to head back via Gypsum Hollow Trail, which turned out to be another fortunate choice. As I entered the trail, I picked up a few more woodpeckers, another titmouse, and a couple of nuthatches. As I approached the evergreens along the top of the bank over the creek, the calls of a juvenile red-tailed hawk broke the silence and the bird launched from in front of me with its red tail standing out remarkably again the winter backdrop. However, I guess I don't really know exactly how old the hawk was, because the juvenile call and the adult color of the tail didn't seem to match. Curiously, I would run into the bird three or four more times as I continued on Gypsum Hollow and then Black Billed Cuckoo Trails. It was making short repositioning flights, always in front of me. It never, however, gave me any kind of photo-op. Once on Black Billed, jays and robins called out. Eventually I found the recently very reliable kinglets along this stretch of the trail. Reaching the dirt road back to the parking lot, I wondered which birds might now be up and along the road, regardless of the snow. When I was about even with the bottom edge of the field by the lodge, a large flock of starlings launched from the trees to put more distance between it and me. Then I caught the calls of bluebirds, and found three sitting quietly in a nearby tree. Finally, a pileated woodpecker called out to cap a rather good, if snowy, birding run!


Cedar waxwings

Brown creeper

Mallards in the snow! :-)

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/13/10
Number of species:     21

Canada Goose     3
Mallard     11
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     5
Downy Woodpecker     6
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     4
American Crow     25
Black-capped Chickadee     6
Tufted Titmouse     2
White-breasted Nuthatch     4
Brown Creeper     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Eastern Bluebird     3
American Robin     4
European Starling     50
Cedar Waxwing     24
White-throated Sparrow     8
Dark-eyed Junco     1
Northern Cardinal     5

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