Friday, December 17, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • December 17

It was a lightly snowing, 27F morning birding hike at Oatka today. Though the snow was light, it seemed to keep the vast majority of the birds in hiding for the first hour or so of the hike. White-breasted nuthatches, robins, red-bellied woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, and, of course, the crows were among the hardiest of the birds, as they reported in regardless of the elements. Upon reaching Warbler Loop via Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, a pair of titmice stirred up the troops and brought out a fair number of chickadees despite the snow. Reaching the bridge over the creek, all was quiet except for a lone mallard. Crossing over onto Trout Run Trail, things picked up in short order with the rattling of a kingfisher who would accompany me the bulk of the way along the creek in both directions. Reaching the end of the trail, I found a sizable pocket of white-throated sparrows and cardinals that banded together and flew to one of the small islands in the middle of the creek. I could see all the activity through my binoculars, but the situation would have been better served with a spotting scope. Returning to the bridge, and with the cessation of the snowfall, I decided to explore the field environment. So, I took Black Billed to Bluebird Trail. As I entered Bluebird, I watched the high drama of two crows mobbing a red-tail across the treetops and out of the area. Flickers called out and the shrubbery seemed alive with *lots* of juncos. Focusing on the nesting boxes, I saw a group of juncos with a bluebird mixed in. The latter landed on a box and gave me the impression that that was the box of the six in the field that was used for a roost at present. A red-bellied woodpecker closely examined the companion box. (The boxes are in pairs, which I've been told is the preferred arrangement.) A pileated woodpecker called out to complete that section of the park. Eventually making my way back to the dirt road leading to the parking lot, a large flock of house finches were feeding in the middle of the road. As I slowly approached, they moved off, probably to return a few minutes after my departure. As I got into my car, a pair of Carolina wrens started filling the air with their songs. A fitting conclusion!

Oatka Creek, looking at a small island in the middle of the creek

American robin

Red-bellied woodpecker at bluebird nesting box

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

House finches

House finch

House finch

Northern cardinal

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/17/10
Number of species:     21

Mallard     8
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Belted Kingfisher     1
Downy Woodpecker     5
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     8
American Crow     11
Black-capped Chickadee     20
Tufted Titmouse     6
White-breasted Nuthatch     4
Carolina Wren     2
Golden-crowned Kinglet     3
Eastern Bluebird     1
American Robin     17
European Starling     21
White-throated Sparrow     5
Dark-eyed Junco     6
Northern Cardinal     7
House Finch     15
American Goldfinch     4

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