Friday, December 31, 2010

Roberts Wesleyan College - December 31

The Roberts Wesleyan cross country trails behind Chili Plastics are just down the road from my house and are a nice area to bird and look for less common wildflowers, like red trilliums. After a quiet morning at Oatka, I decided to swing by RWC after Aunt Mary reported a lot of birds being along the trails this morning. Things had quieted down by the time I arrived after 11 AM. There were some nice finds, however. A northern mockingbird escorted me out of the parking lot and adjacent field. This mockingbird (presumably) is the same one that was defending this territory this spring and there's a good chance that this is its nesting territory. Its sighting in this area is very consistent, according to my wife, who runs these trails several times a week. A pair of male hairy woodpeckers were also interacting with each other along this stretched, with posturing and gesturing, but no signs of aggression. They were doing the same thing when I returned an hour later. Further along, I witnessed a classic crow mobbing of a red-tailed hawk. (Yes, I also had one earlier at Oatka, today.) The red tail was perching and the crows were perching in the same tree in the classic arc around the screaming hawk. The hawk calling and occasional repositioning of hawk and the crows went on for 20+ minutes. Finally, a downy woodpecker was intent on excavating a large tree limb to the point that I was able to walk run under it, about six feet away, and have some of the excavation debris float gently down upon me. :-) I first thought it was creating a roosting cavity until I noticed it had done the same thing all along the limb every three inches or so. I assumed, therefore, it was after an insect colony. There are nesting boxes placed all along these trails, so bird life is definitely being encouraged in this region.


Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Location:     Roberts Wesleyan College
Observation date:     12/31/10
Number of species:     15

Red-tailed Hawk     1
Ring-billed Gull     2
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Hairy Woodpecker     3
Blue Jay     4
American Crow     6
Black-capped Chickadee     7
Tufted Titmouse     2
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
Northern Mockingbird     1
European Starling     70
American Tree Sparrow     1
Northern Cardinal     1
American Goldfinch     2

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Oatka Creek Park • December 31

It was a very warm 43F and partially cloudy sunrise birding hike in Oatka this morning. Photographer and birder Leo Nealon had arrived at the park about the same time for his own birding run, so we teamed up today. There was a great burst of bird activity at the very beginning of the hike, but that would be it for the most part. As I exited my car, a mourning dove, a pileated woodpecker, blue jays, and the ubiquitous crows checked in. The sound of starlings brought me to the end of the road at Union Street, where it was funny to hear a starling imitate the "queedle" of a jay. :-)  A flock of cedar waxwings flew overhead as I made my way down the dirt road to the woods. I found a tree sparrow as a goldfinch flew overhead. I then found a group of juncos and a couple were very brown for juncos. Sibley's Field Guide to Birds describes a variant (slate-colored) variety and a brown variety for slate-colored juncos and warns that brown slate-colors can be confused with Oregon juncos. So, perhaps these were brown slate-colors. (Seems like confusing terminology, but there you go.) About this time, a classic crow mobbing erupted with a red-tail hawk the unfortunate recipient. I found the perching hawk just as it had had enough and took to wing, screaming the whole way with its tormentors in pursuit. Flickers and red-bellied woodpeckers completed the list heading into the woods. Once on Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I met up with Leo. Things quieted down until we reached Warbler Loop, where the still subdued atmosphere yielded chickadees, a cardinal, and white-throated sparrows. The creek was silent, as was Trout Run Trail except for a good pocket of birds at the end of the trail that added titmice, nuthatches, and a downy woodpecker to the list. The woods being quiet, when we recrossed the bridge we headed out to the fields of Black Billed Cuckoo and Bluebird Trails. The eastern field of Bluebird and the woods approaching it perked up a bit in bird activity with a nice group of flickers supplementing the robins, chickadees, juncos, and titmice. At that point we headed back to the parking lot with only a couple more cardinals to be added to the list. Quiet morning, actually.


European starling

European starling

American red squirrel with walnut

American red squirrel

American robin

American robin

American robin

Tufted titmouse

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/31/10
Number of species:     20

Canada Goose     27
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Mourning Dove     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     2
Downy Woodpecker     3
Northern Flicker     6
Pileated Woodpecker     2
Blue Jay     7
American Crow     18
Black-capped Chickadee     19
Tufted Titmouse     5
White-breasted Nuthatch     3
American Robin     19
European Starling     4
Cedar Waxwing     14
American Tree Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     3
Dark-eyed Junco     10
Northern Cardinal     4
American Goldfinch     1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • December 30

It was a sunny, clear blue sky, and cold 21F sunrise birding hike today in Oatka. The weather station that records the temperature for the park is located right on the bank of Oatka Creek, so it was probably reading a couple degrees higher than the rest of the park. As such, it seemed to be too cold for most of the birds at sunrise, and the park seemed largely deserted as a result. As the sun warmed the region, however, the birds began to slowly appear. The walk in from the parking lot to the woods eked out one or two members of several park regulars with a carolina wren being the most notable. Black Billed Cuckoo Trail and Warbler Loop added a few more regulars. The creek was empty as I crossed the bridge (no ducks today) and Trout Run Trail was also low in activity with the most notable sight being three cedar waxwings and three robins sitting in a tight cluster in a treetop, warming in the rising sun. Recrossing the bridge and heading to Gypsum Hollow Trail, I had yet to spot a kinglet or brown creeper. However, with some stubbornness on my part, I finally found both birds among the old gypsum mining pits. Finally reaching the dirt road once more on my way back to the parking lot, a trio of tree sparrows made a nice final addition to the hike.

European starling

White tail deer

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/30/10
Number of species:     21

Red-bellied Woodpecker     8
Downy Woodpecker     3
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     1
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     3
American Crow     19
Black-capped Chickadee     7
Tufted Titmouse     4
White-breasted Nuthatch     6
Brown Creeper     1
Carolina Wren     2
Golden-crowned Kinglet     2
American Robin     8
European Starling     1
Cedar Waxwing     3
American Tree Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     9
Dark-eyed Junco     3
Northern Cardinal     7
American Goldfinch     7

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • December 29

It was a cloudy and warm-feeling 28F sunrise birding hike in Oatka today. With no wind or all but the lightest possible precipitation, it felt very benign to be outside and the birds seemed to respond by showing up in good numbers and staying in relatively exposed locations throughout the hike. The walk in from the parking lot to the woods produced chickadees, nuthatches, a flicker, crows, cardinals, juncos, a robin, a tree sparrow, titmice, and a downy woodpecker. After a brief exchange with local birding expert Dave Tetlow last night during which he said he found an "Oregon" junco yesterday just beyond the southwest corner of Oatka Creek Park, and remembering I had seen a particularly brown looking junco in the park that same day (we concluded it was a common female slate-colored junco), I took special care to examine each junco I came across today. All the ones I saw were clearly slate-colored. Moving into Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I picked up on the "cheer" calls of a Carolina wren. On Warbler Loop I found a ton of birds, with a jay, a goldfinch, a bluebird, several white-throated sparrows, a red-bellied woodpecker, and a hairy woodpecker in addition to several individuals from previously mentioned species. The creek was quiet as I crossed the bridge, as was Trout Run Trail on the way out. At the turnaround point all that changed when a large mixed flock suddenly materialized all around me, defying my ability to note and identify all the winged life in the ball of activity! :-) The winter wren joined in with its "Look at me!" game. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and previously mentioned woodpeckers were joined by a kinglet, and a pileated woodpecker. I heard some brief songs that I originally attributed to the titmice, but upon review they may have been too buzzy sounding, though I saw no other potential song sources. On the way back down the trail, a nuthatch called my attention to a nearby brown creeper. I then found a large group of mallards, complete with an interesting black duck x mallard hybrid. Things quieted down from that point on with a couple more pockets of birds, but no additional species. Seems like everyone came out to play today!

American tree sparrow

Dark-eyed junco eating staghorn sumac berries

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Black-capped chickadee

Patterns in the ice along Trout Run Trail

Ice patterns

Golden-crowned kinglet

Mallards

American black duck x mallard in the background

American black duck x mallard on the right

American black duck x mallard on the right

American black duck x mallard

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/29/10
Number of species:     23

American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)     1
Mallard     20
Mourning Dove     2
Red-bellied Woodpecker     2
Downy Woodpecker     2
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     4
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     6
American Crow     13
Black-capped Chickadee     22
Tufted Titmouse     9
White-breasted Nuthatch     8
Brown Creeper     1
Carolina Wren     1
Winter Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     3
Eastern Bluebird     2
American Robin     3
American Tree Sparrow     1
White-throated Sparrow     11
Dark-eyed Junco     7
Northern Cardinal     14
American Goldfinch     5

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oatka Creek Park • December 28

It was a partially sunny, windy, and *cold* 26F sunrise birding hike today at Oatka. The wind chill made the conditions rather raw and most of the birds were in hiding as a result. Fortunately, Oatka has lots of accessible sheltering locations! On the walk down the dirt road from the parking lot, crows, goldfinches, robins, and bluebirds flew overhead with their respective calls. A brave red-bellied woodpecker and equally brave junco were out to complete the role call. Once in the woods of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, I found a lot of birds huddled together in the trees and understory brush: a cardinal, chickadees, a carolina wren, a brown creeper, a kinglet, a nuthatch, titmice, and downy woodpeckers. A red-tailed hawk did a low and slow flyby at treetop level nearby. I didn't have to take more than a few steps to find all these birds once I encountered this mixed flock. Moving out into Warbler Loop, the wind was pretty unpleasant, so all that I found (heard, actually) were chipping cardinals and calling blue jays, expect for one dense area of brambles. There I watched as several white-throated sparrows fed from the fruit-laden grape vines. As I was watching these sparrows, a red squirrel ran right through the center of the pack, giving the brief appearance through the binoculars of a running red fox. :-) Down by the creek there were several mallards as I crossed the bridge. At the end of Trout Run Trail, I began hearing the winter wren. It sounded close, but I scanned the entire area without finding it. Then, of course, I look down near my feet and there it is, "kit-kit"ing away. It gave me a nice photo-op and then took off. Things quieted down for the rest of the hike, with the last addition to the list being a group of American tree sparrows on the dirt road going back to the parking lot. I was alerted to their presence by their jingling call notes, as they foraged deep within the hedgerow along the road. Cold, but fun day!

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

White tail deer

White tail deer

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Mallards

Winter wren

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     12/28/10
Number of species:     20

Mallard     18
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     4
Downy Woodpecker     2
Blue Jay     3
American Crow     15
Black-capped Chickadee     9
Tufted Titmouse     5
White-breasted Nuthatch     4
Brown Creeper     2
Carolina Wren     1
Winter Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Eastern Bluebird     3
American Robin     11
American Tree Sparrow     5
White-throated Sparrow     11
Dark-eyed Junco     2
Northern Cardinal     6
American Goldfinch     5

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