Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 31

It was a partially cloudy and cool morning birding hike in Oatka today. Today was a *very* birdy day! What's even more interesting is that as of a couple of days ago, someone must have flipped the "sparrow" switch to "off" in Oatka, as sparrows are now abruptly hard to find. A large group of juncos greeted me as I left the parking lot. There were a lot of very vocal chickadees and titmice, as well. A lone red-winged blackbird was singing in the marshy area. A fox sparrow popped up with the juncos at one point. I heard a white-throated sparrow, but it refused to come out of hiding. Moving into the woods, things quieted down until I reached Warbler Loop. Things picked up there with chickadees, jays, titmice, cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, robins, and a couple more white-throats. Today's birding hotspot was Trout Run Trail down by the creek. As I reached the bridge and crossed over, I was struck with a strange sense of there being lots of interesting birds being around. (No, not in the roseate spoonbill sense.) :-) I quickly found a golden-crowned kinglet near eye level and engaged in another of my ongoing attempts to photograph this hyperactive bird. Then I found a brown creeper. I've been recently looking intently for brown creepers, as they are one of the birds I haven't been able to get a great picture of. As a result, of course, I haven't found any in a while. Well, today was Brown Creeper Day along Oatka Creek! I found four creepers along Trout Run Trail, and there may have been more. I didn't get my great picture, but I got one or two good pictures. Goldfinches and mallards brought me back to earth after a creeper photo frenzy or two. :-) I then found a winter wren and through the binoculars got the ideal perfect view. No obstructions, close, perfect pose. Of course, I couldn't switch to my camera fast enough before it was gone. It called for quite some time from cover, but never came back out into the open. On the way back from the end of the trail, I found many birds from species already mentioned. As I approached the bridge, a pair of purple finches landed in the large tree that overhangs the northern end of the bridge. The male was stunning in its full-body raspberry plumage. I presume the brown bird with it was a female, as they traveled as a pair. Shortly after that, it started to drizzle, so I cut the hike short and returned to the parking lot. Fun day!

Tufted titmouse

Fox sparrow

Tufted titmouse amidst poison ivy berries. Yum! :-D

Golden-crowned kinglet

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Black-capped chickadee

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

Northern cardinal


American goldfinch

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/31/10
Number of species:     23

Canada Goose     50
Mallard     10
Ring-billed Gull     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     8
Downy Woodpecker     5
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     4
Blue Jay     7
American Crow     9
Black-capped Chickadee     17
Tufted Titmouse     9
White-breasted Nuthatch     6
Brown Creeper     4
Winter Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     15
Fox Sparrow     1
White-throated Sparrow     7
Dark-eyed Junco     7
Northern Cardinal     3
Red-winged Blackbird     1
Purple Finch     2
American Goldfinch     9

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

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)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LaSalle's Landing Park • October 30

It was a cold, though not windy, morning paddle in the southern end of Irondequoit Bay today. Pretty much considering this to be the last kayak outing of the season, Mary Flood and I wanted to see if we could spot the eagles again, but they were not to be seen. Moving on to our next objective, we approached the mud flat at the southern tip of the bay, hoping to (carefully and responsibly) cruise right up to the feeding birds, like we do in Salmon Creek behind Docksiders. No go! As we reached about the same distance one gets from standing on shore, our kayaks bottomed out. The water was only a couple of inches deep for a *long* way from the mud flat. So, we had to content ourselves with that. At least, we were far enough away that the birds didn't care about us or change their activities in the least. Of interest were a few greater yellowlegs and dunlins. Mixed in with the ocean of ring-bills were a few herring gulls. Under closer inspection we also found a group of a dozen or so Bonaparte's gulls in the mixed flock. Intrigued by a couple occasional cormorants that flew overhead, we headed out into the bay to look at the suspected cormorant rookery. However, before getting anywhere near the site, we discovered a large raft of 200+ cormorants in the water directly ahead of us! We were still at some distance on open water, and I was in a bright yellow kayak, so sneaking up on the birds was not really an option. :-) So, we carefully paddled closer to the raft, alert for any nervous behavior that would signal we were close enough and to stop. However, it didn't really work out that way. They saw us coming and merely swam away at the same speed to keep us from closing range. (We were quite far away.) Suddenly, they launched and gave us a thrilling flyover. After an hour or so on the water, it started getting too cold to ignore anymore, so we headed in and called it a successful season of birding by kayak! :-)

 Ring-billed gull

Ring-billed gull

Herring gull

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Dunlin. Note the long bill that slightly droops at the end.

Dunlins

Bonaparte's gull

Double-crested cormorants (a small portion of a huge raft of these birds)

Mute swan

Location:     Lasalle Landing Park
Observation date:     10/30/10
Notes:     Kayaking in the southern tip of Irondequoit Bay
Number of species:     16

Canada Goose     50
Mute Swan     25
Mallard     2
Double-crested Cormorant     200
Great Blue Heron     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Killdeer     2
Greater Yellowlegs     5
Dunlin     3
Bonaparte's Gull     12
Ring-billed Gull     200
Herring Gull     5
Belted Kingfisher     1
Blue Jay     3
American Crow     1
European Starling     4

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • October 29

It was a mostly cloudy, cold, and *windy* birding hike in Oatka this afternoon. It was a raw day for this time of the year, and the birds seemed to agree, as I only found them in sheltered places today. The dirt road up to the woods was mostly devoid of birds except for the "seeps" of a couple well-hidden white-throated sparrows. Once in the woods and on Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, chickadees and titmice came out to inspect me. A few robins were in the treetops, but I heard something else with them. A much higher call -- cedar waxwings! As I was watching all this, a turkey vulture floated over the top of the forest near treetop level. Moving into Warbler Loop, where there is a lot of very dense shrubbery for cover, the bird activity picked up. White-throats were well represented. Spishing popped up a pair of fox sparrows and one provided me an interesting photo-op. Moving down to the creek, the only bird activity from the bridge were a half-dozen mallards feeding well downstream from where I was. Returning to the far side of the Loop, I heard a flicker or two, and found a couple of yellow-rumped warblers. Moving on I eventually reached White Tail Trail. Near the beginning I found a trio of yellow-rumps and a large group of white-throats. A small pocket of juncos also appeared then disappeared again. Moving along White Tail, the robins massed in incredible numbers in the trees, as it was within a half hour or so of sunset. I found another fox sparrow along this trail, too. Near the end of White Tail I heard more high calls mixed in with the robins and, sure enough, there were half a dozen waxwings. At this point the light had faded significantly due to the sun setting and the clouds, so I switch to mostly birding by ear on my way back to the car. Except for playing tag with one more white-throat on the way out, that would be it for the hike.


 White tail deer 

 White-throated sparrow

 Fox sparrow

Fox sparrow

Fox sparrow

Fox sparrow

Mallards in Oatka Creek

Yellow-rumped warbler

American robin

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     10/29/10
Number of species:     17

Mallard     6
Turkey Vulture     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     5
Downy Woodpecker     3
Northern Flicker     3
Blue Jay     2
American Crow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     10
Tufted Titmouse     3
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
American Robin     50
European Starling     50
Cedar Waxwing     8
Yellow-rumped Warbler     5
Fox Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     25
Dark-eyed Junco     1

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