Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • March 16

It was cloudy and windy, 43F late afternoon birding hike in Oatka today. As I drove into the parking lot, a Turkey Vulture soared low overhead and nearby. Quickly parking and exiting with camera in hand, the Turkey Vulture eventually moved northward toward the creek where it formed a vortex with two other Turkey Vultures. After that, things quieted down with a Red-winged Blackbird, a Tufted Titmouse, and a large flyover of Canada Geese as I walked down the dirt road to the woods. With the exception of a few Black-capped Chickadees, nothing else presented itself until I reached the bridge over the creek. Trout Run Trail was now mostly above water, so I decided to explore it, at least until I got tired of the muddy footing. :-) I was immediately rewarded with a trio of titmice that passed in front of me. However, when they were gone, I still heard soft calling to my left. I turned, and a pair of Brown Creepers were working the trees right by me. They showed little concern for my presence, and I ended up with a prolonged and fantastic encounter. After getting my fill of pictures, I watched one of the birds carefully through binoculars and could see when a probe of its bill produced nothing and when it produced a morsel of food that was quickly swallowed. Eventually I left the creepers to their activities and continued on along the creek. The resident Red-tailed Hawk flew among the treetops along the far bank. Crows, which had been largely absent up until this point, started calling out, though without any particular urgency. The trail soon became too muddy, and I retreated the way I came and headed out to the fields in the southwestern portion of the park. A quick glance at the bluebird nesting boxes revealed a pair of bluebirds laying claim to a particular box, with the male and the female alternately taking turns perched atop the box. They would occasionally engage in flycatching behavior, which I thought was a bit optimistic this early in the season, though I have seen the odd flying mosquito-like insect in the park for a couple weeks, now. After leaving the bluebirds, a Killdeer called out briefly; probably a flyover. Eventually reaching the dirt road back to the parking lot, there was a moment of mutual surprise when a mink ran out from the swampy area and across the road in front of me only to do a hard U-turn back into the swamp when it noticed my presence. :-)

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper just a split second after takeoff! It's all in the legs ...

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     3/16/11
Notes:    
Number of species:     11

Canada Goose     115
Turkey Vulture     3
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Killdeer     1
American Crow     9
Black-capped Chickadee     5
Tufted Titmouse     6
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Brown Creeper     2
Eastern Bluebird     2
Red-winged Blackbird     2

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