Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • February 19

It was a snowy and windy 24F early morning birding hike in Oatka today. I was prepared for howling winds, however, the sustained windspeed was only 5 mph with gusts to 10 mph. Still, with the snowfall it made for reduced visibility. A few crows called out along the dirt road leading into the woods. About halfway along Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, a Pileated Woodpecker called, followed by the "turalee"s of a bluebird. Reaching the fields and leaving the protection of the woods behind, Warbler Loop was empty and it was a bit harder to keep my glasses clear and eyes open. Reaching the creek side, I saw that the creek was running higher and faster than I could remember ever seeing it. Moving onto the bridge over the creek, I picked up a robin, and then noticed a solitary dark-colored duck upstream of the bridge. I was facing directly into the wind and snow at this point. I had raised my binoculars, expecting a Mallard, when my jaw dropped at the sight of a Hooded Merganser! It may have been grounded by the weather. I quickly took pictures, hoping I'd get something before my camera lens became coated with snow. :-) It then surprised me when it *dove* in water usually populated by up-ended dabbling ducks and fishermen that just a couple days ago were only up to their knees in water. The merganser eventually surfaced and flew off upstream. I crossed the bridge with the intention of mapping Trout Run Trail today with my GPS. However, the trail was completely flooded from the high water level of the creek. Retreating, I recrossed the bridge and headed for the high creek bank of Sapsucker Trail, picking up a cardinal along the way. However, that would be the last bird I would see for quite some time during the walk. From Sapsucker Trail, I eventually made my way to White Tail Trail. I decided to map one of the trails off of White Tail that I'll call Brown Thrasher Trail as I used the first part of that trail during a nice encounter with a thrasher early last year. This trail, too, was devoid of birds, though I found a small waterfall, of all things. Returning to White Tail, I eventually came into a small pocket of birds consisting of chickadees, a kinglet, and a Downy Woodpecker. A Blue Jay called a few moments later. Reaching the dirt road and heading back to the parking lot, a Carolina Wren "cheer"ed loudly from the swampy region as I walked by. Not a bad day, actually!


Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Oatka Creek, looking downstream from the bridge

Oatka Creek. The edge of the creek is usually to the right of the large tree in the upper portion of the image. Trout Run Trail is the channel next to the edge of the snow.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     2/19/11
Number of species:     11

Hooded Merganser     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     1
American Crow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     5
Carolina Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Eastern Bluebird     1
American Robin     1
Northern Cardinal     1

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