Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • February 2

It was a lightly snowing and breezy 24F sunset birding hike at Oatka today. It was a good night for birding, despite the weather. I got most of my birds on the dirt road leading into the woods at a single staghorn sumac tree. It seemed like everyone was feeding from that tree tonight! Chickadees, a titmouse, and a white-throated sparrow all had berries in their mouths in my pictures. A downy woodpecker pecked on a branch just a foot away from this activity. A Carolina wren called in the background, as did a crow and a pileated woodpecker. (More on the last in a bit.) A cardinal shot through the scene at one point, too. A flock of nine cedar waxwings came out of nowhere and landed in the sumac tree in the midst of things. However, they didn't stay long and were off again before I could bring my camera to bear. The pileated was *really* calling up a storm just inside the woods, so I eventually left this party and headed off to the woods. As I stood at the trailhead for Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, the pileated was loud and insistent! I finally saw it change trees with its deliberate, stately way of flying, and though I saw where it landed, it was a bit far away under the dim lighting conditions for a picture. Stepping onto Black Billed, the constant calling of the pileated finally riled up a nearby flicker who proceeded to add its own piercing squeals. As I moved on, things eventually quieted down in the deep snow that had erased all the footprints in the trails from yesterday. Reaching the extension of Gypsum Hollow Trail, I heard a red-bellied woodpecker over by the far bank of the creek. A pair of black ducks took to the air from the creek. Aside from an occasional chickadee, that would be it until I retraced my steps and eventually reached the bridge over the creek. As I stood scanning the creek for birds, a mallard decided to land upstream of the bridge and took a final approach route low and right over my head, calling the whole time. Getting ready to turn around that point, I noticed some bird activity by the far side of the bridge. I crossed the bridge and got a strong hunch as to the identities of the furtive shapes weaving among the trees. Walking about a tenth of a mile down Trout Run Trail, I finally got an excellent look and positive ID: bluebirds! Always a pleasant sight in the dead of winter. I checked the time and decided it was time to head back to the car. Back along the dirt road on the way to the parking lot, I heard some soft tseeps that weren't white-throateds. Following the always moving, always hidden sources, I eventually got great looks at a pair of tree sparrows. An above average night for me!

Downy woodpecker

Black-capped chickadee

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Gypsum Hollow Trail filled with clean, unbroken snow

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     2/2/11
Number of species:     15

American Black Duck     2
Mallard     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     1
Pileated Woodpecker     1
American Crow     1
Black-capped Chickadee     4
Tufted Titmouse     1
Carolina Wren     1
Eastern Bluebird     4
Cedar Waxwing     9
American Tree Sparrow     2
White-throated Sparrow     1
Northern Cardinal     2

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