Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • February 5

It was sunny, clear blue sky, 23F sunrise birding hike in Oatka today. It would cloud up an hour and a half later, but the first half of the walk was under bright sunlight and the birds seemed to respond with far more singing than I've noticed all winter. There were even some bluebird songs. The walk down the dirt road from the parking lot to the woods was very productive with crows, a jay, titmice, chickadees, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, a red-bellied woodpecker, white-throated sparrows, tree sparrows, and a calling Carolina wren. Entering Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, the calls of the Carolina wren reached a remarkable volume, though it was too well hidden in the understory despite my intense searching. The first of many downy woodpeckers showed up and the first of many episodes of pileated woodpecker drumming began. A white-breasted nuthatch started singing and these birds would sing far more than call this morning. Warbler Loop was quiet. At the creek, I decided to turn right, rather than left, and check up on the sapsucker. Along the way I found a good-sized raft of mallards in the creek. It wasn't long before I heard some light tapping and with just a little searching found the yellow-bellied sapsucker. It was high in a tree and some distance away, but still an okay photo-op. I raised my camera and it flew from its perch. My rising disappointment flip-flopped into joy as it landed on a nearby tree in full view! I got a number of pictures and then moved on to the upper dam ruins for a panoramic view. A bluebird called then sang from the opposite side of the creek. Other previously mentioned species called or visited, too, with the highlight being the *loud* songs of another Carolina wren. I retraced my steps and headed to the bridge over the creek. A pair of flickers were spotted on the way. At the creek were a number of Canada geese, a kingfisher, and a small flock of robins. Heading over to Trout Run Trail, things began to quiet down for the morning with the only notable bird being the winter wren. It started "kit-kit"ing and, as usual, I began looking for it too far away from me. Finally, I looked down and about ten feet away, and there it was in full view, looking at me as to say, "You're not very quick on the pickup, today, are you?" It then flew off and probably laughed itself sick! :-) Upon recrossing the bridge, I took Woodland Trail to check out the creek upstream of the bridge. I found a ton more geese and then did a double-take as I noticed a pair of common mergansers (male and female) mixed in with the geese! I tried to jockey through the intervening tree branches to get a clear picture without flushing the birds, but didn't have much luck. (I got one picture that was good enough for documentation purposes, but that's about it.) Eventually leaving the creek side and climbing the hill back up to the main elevation of the park, I came upon at least a pair of kinglets and several accompanying chickadees. Turning onto Old Burrell Road Trail and taking it back the whole way to my car, I searched all the trees for a brown creeper. Finally, when the trail had turned into the dirt road, a creeper flew into a tree in front of me and in full view. Sadly, my camera battery was dead at this point, so I satisfied myself with an extended viewing session of this small bird. Great birding morning!

Updated yellow-bellied sapsucker sighting map:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B3JOLewKl5hPMTc5NTI3NmQtZWIwOS00OWFkLWEzYTQtMjJhYTY1MTc4Yjk2&hl=en


Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Mallards

Common merganser. Yes, I know it's a bad picture! :-p Here's a somewhat better one from January 25th from Summerville Pier:

Common merganser

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     2/5/11
Number of species:     25

Canada Goose     15
Mallard     20
Common Merganser     2
Belted Kingfisher     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     8
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     1
Downy Woodpecker     5
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Blue Jay     7
American Crow     8
Black-capped Chickadee     13
Tufted Titmouse     6
White-breasted Nuthatch     6
Brown Creeper     1
Carolina Wren     2
Winter Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     2
Eastern Bluebird     1
American Robin     5
American Tree Sparrow     3
White-throated Sparrow     2
Dark-eyed Junco     3
Northern Cardinal     2
American Goldfinch     3

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