Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Durand Eastman Park • Zoo Road • November 29

It was a warm and mostly sunny noon hour walk along Zoo Road in Durand Eastman Park today. There were quite a lot of birds in the trees along both sides of the road! They kept pouring out of the trees and up from the ground as I made my way down the road. Robins and cedar waxwings were busy with the various types of fruit in the trees and shrubs. I took a picture of a waxwing that I still cannot believe: it's tossing a berry up in the air so that it can eat it on the way down, like one might do with popcorn. There were lots of juncos and chickadees as well as other usuals like cardinals and goldfinches. As I headed south, I heard quite the ruckus being created by a lot of crows. Curious, I eventually make it to the overlook pinetum and carefully walking in, found a tree where a bulk of the 25+ crows were. I was hoping for an owl mobbing, but concluded after watching them for a while that they were just "goofing around". :-) Turning around and heading back to the parking lot, I watched as a large bulk of the waxwings suddenly flew off in a flock, though a few individuals remained. As I neared my car, I suddenly saw at tree top level a crow chasing a Cooper's hawk in a very aggressive way. No "goofing around" going on now! The Cooper's may have been a female from the call, which was very harsh. (I found a matching recording on my Audubon iPod guide. It lists it as "harsh notes (female)", though their descriptions have been somewhat inaccurate before.) In any event, it was getting its butt handed to it by the crow. Interesting way to end the hike! :-)

 American robin

Cedar waxwing

European starling

Cedar waxwing. Playing with its food?!

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

Location:     Durand-Eastman Park--Zoo Road
Observation date:     11/29/10
Number of species:     13

Cooper's Hawk     1
Northern Flicker     1
Blue Jay     3
American Crow     25
Black-capped Chickadee     4
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
American Robin     12
European Starling     3
Cedar Waxwing     20
Dark-eyed Junco     5
Northern Cardinal     2
House Finch     1
American Goldfinch     2

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • November 28

It was a cold and cloudy morning hike in Oatka today. There was little to no wind, so it was a marked improvement over yesterday. Bird activity was way up as a result, it seemed. Starlings greeted me at the entrance to the park. Crows continue to congregate in large numbers all around the neighboring farmlands. Juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, bluebirds, cardinals, jays, and red-bellied woodpeckers all reported in along the dirt road leading to the woods. Today was Pileated Woodpecker Day in Oatka! As I walked up the dirt road, a pileated called out and then a pair flew towards me, overhead, and then out across the soccer fields, giving me an extended look at their silhouettes and the white flashing patterns on their wings, as well as an extended listen to their calls. These were two of five such birds that would make appearances today. Though there was no mistaking the calls for that of a pileated, there was a different quality to them today. They had hints of the kind of "oinking" that flickers make when interacting with each other in a family unit. As I was about to enter the woods, I heard the heavy pecking of another pileated, just behind the lodge. (This is a favorite pileated location known to all the regular visitors to the park.) Some scanning located the bird. It wasn't near a trail, so I carefully bushwhacked my way over blackberry vines and fallen branches to get a good vantage for a picture. Ha! The pileated saw and heard me right away and gave me quite the scolding before moving deeper into the woods. It was now near a trail, however, so I carefully, but quickly, moved into the woods along the trails to get a picture from the other side, but the pileated was in no mood. As I raised my camera, it flew off. Returning to my normal program, I moved onto Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, where robins, flickers, and downy woodpeckers, as well as previously mentioned birds, called out. Reaching Warbler Loop, as I approached post #15 near the center of the Loop, birds started *pouring* out of one side of the trail and disappearing into the other side. It was hard to pick out everything I saw, but I did note white-throated sparrows, American tree sparrows, a goldfinch, and a ton of cardinals. There was also a persistent call that sounded like a squeaky hinge, like a rusty blackbird, but without the gurgling component. I never caught up with the source. Moving into the Loop itself, the birds stayed in hiding, though the chip notes were everywhere. Reaching the creek, a few mallards were resting near the bridge. Crossing over onto Trout Run Trail, I soon came under the notice of a belted kingfisher (probably the same one as yesterday), that repeated yesterday's antics of flying along the creek between me and the fisherman (definitely the same fisherman as yesterday!) a number of times before leaving. At one point it was perched and calling out while I scanned the area with binoculars to locate the bird. The moment I found it, it locked eyes with me and flew off. I always find it uncanny how birds can do that! About halfway down the trail a pocket of birds materialized with the now-familiar mixed of chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, and kinglets. Closer to the turnaround point, a red-tailed hawk started calling out and launched from its perch over the creek. Reaching the point where the fisherman was, he pointed out that a red fox had just been standing on a log right in front of where I was, not five minutes before. It had given the fisherman a full visual inspection before leaving. I looked down in the soft mud and found the fox's footprints. Turning around at the end and heading back, I recrossed the bridge and entered the far side of the Loop. A hairy woodpecker called out while ring-billed gulls floated overhead. Things stayed quiet from that point on as I returned to my car. About halfway down the dirt road, a final pair of pileated woodpeckers shared a tree and gave me some okay pictures before they flew off. At the parking lot, the starlings were in full force just across the street. It was fun to listen to their mimicry with today's speciality being oriole vocalizations. As I drove way from the park, a pair of turkey vultures floated over the road.


European starling

Northern cardinal

Canada geese

Mallards

The beavers continued on the tree they dropped across Trout Run Trail.

Pileated woodpeckers: female (l), male(r)

Pileated woodpecker (male)

Pileated woodpecker (female)

Pileated woodpecker (male)

Pileated woodpecker (male)

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     11/28/10
Number of species:     25

Canada Goose     60
Mallard     4
Turkey Vulture     2
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Ring-billed Gull     3
Belted Kingfisher     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     4
Downy Woodpecker     5
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     3
Pileated Woodpecker     5
Blue Jay     4
American Crow     8
Black-capped Chickadee     15
Tufted Titmouse     3
White-breasted Nuthatch     5
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Eastern Bluebird     2
American Robin     3
European Starling     40
American Tree Sparrow     2
White-throated Sparrow     6
Dark-eyed Junco     3
Northern Cardinal     14
American Goldfinch     1

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • November 27

It was a cold and very windy morning hike at Oatka today. The sun came out from time to time, but that was secondary to dealing with the wind. Fortunately, there are a number of sheltering places in the park and that's where I found the birds. The walk along the dirt road from the parking lot to the woods was surprisingly productive! The bluebirds were in the trees in fairly large numbers. A pair of crows suddenly started putting up a fuss behind me and as I turned, I saw the perching red-tailed hawk they had spotted. The hawk promptly launched and left the area. Other usuals were in evidence: jays, juncos, chickadees, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, and cardinals. Moving onto Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, flickers called out. Entering Warbler Loop, things quieted down until I reached the creek. Before I got to the bridge, a belted kingfisher spotted me and starting putting out an alarm for all to hear, as it flew back and forth along the creek like some kind of Paul Revere. :-) Crossing the bridge and stepping onto Trout Run Trail, I noticed what appeared to be a brand new blowdown across the trail. (This is nothing new for Oatka, as blowdowns are rather common.) Closer inspection of the breaking point, however, revealed this to be the work of beavers, though, perhaps, the wind assisted with the last 10%. Stepping over the fallen tree, I was struck by a small group of chickadees nearby singing their "fee-bee" song. It must have been the sunlight eliciting the song, as it sure wasn't the temperature! (By the way, Trout Run Trail being down at the water level of the creek is naturally sheltered from the wind, making the entire stretch a haven from the elements.) Moving on, the kingfisher kept rattling away and it seemed to be stuck: I was as one end and a fisherman was in the creek at the other. It madly dashed between us, up and down the creek several times, until it finally left for parts unknown. A small group of mallards were in the water. The trail was quiet, at least as quiet as the roaring sound of the wind would allow. I reached the end of the trail and turned around. On the way back at roughly the same location as yesterday, a mixed flock of bird activity suddenly materialized around me. Chickadees, titmice, a kinglet, and a nuthatch were all in a feeding frenzy, working the trees. They shortly took off across the creek and were gone. Reaching the bridge and recrossing, I entered the far side of Warbler Loop and was shortly brought to a stop by what sounded like an army of kinglets. Though I under-reported to eBird, it seemed like the typical 6-8 kinglet winter flock. Three of these birds revealed themselves and came extremely close to me (three or four feet), as they worked the bare branches. I could hear many more kinglets back in the shrubs. I peering in with my binoculars and was amazed to see a bird party of cardinals on the ground, hairy and downy woodpeckers three to four feet above the ground in the thick shrubbery, and a healthy helping of chickadees throughout to spice things up! :-) A goldfinch reported overhead as it flew by. Continuing on to fields of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I came upon another pocket of birds in the shrubs near the intersection with Old Burrell Road and Bluebird Trail. Lots of chickadees, juncos, cardinals, goldfinches, and an American tree sparrow milled about. Turning the corner onto Old Burrell Road, I heard what I first thought to be starlings. However, as I walked a bit further, I realized it was a very noisy bunch of bluebirds! I had to check my sound files on my iPod to confirm these were bluebird calls. It was a mixed flock of bluebirds and juncos, with a few goldfinches and kinglets thrown in for good measure. The activity lasted for most of my walk back out to the edge of the woods. Not a bad day considering the weather!

Black Billed Cuckoo Trail. First snow accumulation of the year.

Black-capped chickadee

Beaver handiwork

Trout Run Trail and felled tree

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee. It seems to have found a stash of seeds in this branch.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Trout Run Trail turnaround point

Mallards

Golden-crowned kinglet

Golden-crowned kinglet

Northern cardinal

Northern cardinal

Dark-eyed juncos

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     11/27/10
Number of species:     19

Canada Goose     40
Mallard     6
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Belted Kingfisher     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     3
Downy Woodpecker     1
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     3
Blue Jay     2
American Crow     3
Black-capped Chickadee     20
Tufted Titmouse     5
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     5
Eastern Bluebird     8
American Tree Sparrow     1
Dark-eyed Junco     10
Northern Cardinal     7
American Goldfinch     6

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • November 26

It was a very cold and windy morning birding hike in Oatka today. It started off cloudy, though the skies did clear and the sun came out for about an hour before the cloud cover rolled back in. Bird activity was extremely light, though when pockets were found, the bird activity was rather intense! Crows continue to flock by the hundreds in the adjacent farm fields. Today was a good day for woodpeckers, as I found all five common species in the park. The dirt road heading from the parking lot to the woods was almost devoid of birds except for a single red-bellied woodpecker and a single chickadee. Moving onto Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, the quiet continued until I reached the intersection with Gypsum Hollow Trail. Here the insistent three-note calls of a golden-crowned kinglet broke the silence and I quickly found the source. Never standing still, I may have gotten some okay pictures, anyway. The remainder of this trail was quiet. Entering Warbler Loop, things picked up slightly as jays, goldfinches, cardinals, more chickadees, and a white-throated sparrow all made themselves known as the sun broke through the clouds and the birds jockeyed themselves for some warming sunlight and a bit of breakfast. Reaching the creekside, I looked down where the heron had been yesterday, and it was there again today. This time I ever so carefully crept down the steep embankment until I could get an unobstructed picture of the heron. It clearly saw me and repositioned itself for a quick escape, though it never launched and settled down once I stopped moving. Satisfied with the pictures from that location, I carefully returned to the trail and headed for the bridge. Once over, I moved carefully along Trout Run Trail so that I could get more pictures of the heron. Today I had success as I found a short fisherman's path down to the water level that had enough foliage to act as a makeshift photographic blind. True, the heron still saw me, but it felt safe enough not to launch as I took my pictures. Done with that, I returned to the trail and headed the rest of the way to the end without any other bird encounters. Turning around, a hairy woodpecker immediately flew to a tree in front of me, though high enough to preclude any pictures other than silhouettes against the white sky. As I returned down the trail, at one point I noticed a great deal of bird activity on the far bank across from me. Chickadees and nuthatches and, boy, were they yaking it up! As I stood and listened, the mixed flock moved across the creek and suddenly I was standing in the middle of the fun! Joining the chickadees and nuthatches were titmice, another kinglet, and a brown creeper. Eventually they moved on, and so did I. Recrossing the bridge and returning to Black Billed Cuckoo Trail via Warbler Loop, I noticed a lot of bluebird calls as I approached a stand of quaking aspens. I found the bluebirds in the aspens, as well as many other birds. I located a convenient deer trail and crept into the middle of the stand and waited. Soon I had bluebirds, chickadees, goldfinches, flickers, titmice, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, juncos, and an American tree sparrow all around me in a rather large and active mixed flock! I saw many interesting things, like a red-bellied woodpecker and a flicker sitting side-by-side atop tall goldenrods right next to the aspens. Juncos and downies interacting with members of their own kind just a few feet away from me. Goldfinches and bluebirds taking turns on various perches among the aspens. Usually, I wait until the bird party moves on, but this one outlasted me, so after several long minutes of soaking up all that was going on, I returned to the trail and eventually my car, deciding to end the hike on a high note.

Golden-crowned kinglet

Golden-crowned kinglet

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Golden-crowned kinglet

Golden-crowned kinglet

Brown creeper. The camouflage plumage is almost perfect!

Brown creeper

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     11/26/10
Number of species:     19

Great Blue Heron     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     5
Downy Woodpecker     3
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     4
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     3
American Crow     13
Black-capped Chickadee     12
Tufted Titmouse     6
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
Brown Creeper     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     2
Eastern Bluebird     6
American Tree Sparrow     1
White-throated Sparrow     1
Dark-eyed Junco     7
Northern Cardinal     2
American Goldfinch     6

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