Saturday, April 9, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • April 9

It was a sunny, glorious 38F sunrise birding hike in Oatka today. The temperature would rise nearly 20 degrees over the course of the three hour-plus hike. Spring continues to evolve with significant increases in the numbers and activities of Eastern Phoebes, the arrival of Field Sparrows, and the finding of a large patch of skunk cabbage with a number of plants in bloom. The phoebes were very vocal this morning and actively establishing their customary nesting territories. As I approached the restrooms, I saw a phoebe flying into the men's side to investigate potential nesting sites. (Old nests from previous seasons can be found there.) Down by the bridge over creek I had an *amazing* photo-op with a singing phoebe that stood atop one of the nearby concrete supports, singing its heart out. It will likely nest directly underneath the bridge as some phoebes did last year. The numbers and distribution of Brown-headed Cowbirds also took a big jump with females in company with the males. *Loud* and high-pitched woodpecker drumming was very conspicuous all through the park. The drumming was too fast for Pileated Woodpeckers, so I set out to find which woodpeckers were the sources. The process turned out to be surprisingly hard as I would stand right at a tree with loud drumming and could not see the bird. It reminded me of searching for owls. Finally, I found a Downy Woodpecker, tucked deeply into the crotch of a tree, drumming away and yet totally invisible unless seen from exactly the right direction. :-) The large numbers of Carolina Wrens in the park this past winter seem to have declined to one individual now, but it is a fairly reliable songster near the swamp along the dirt road leading from the parking lot into the woods. As I stood at the entrance to Bluebird Trail, scanning the nesting boxes before leaving cover, I actually heard the croak of a Great Blue Heron before seeing it fly overhead at treetop level (possibly preparing to land in the creek). First time birding that species by ear! :-) After passing the nesting boxes and seeing one female bluebird, I heard a call so utterly familiar that I automatically dismissed it until I realized its significance: the first Field Sparrows of the season for the park. Finally, on the way out by the woods behind the lodge, I heard the hammer-and-chisel work of a Pileated Woodpecker. A little searching revealed the source and I got a nice picture before it flew off, white wing patches flashing as it went. Awesome day!




Brown-headed Cowbird


Downy Woodpecker, well concealed!


Song Sparrow


Eastern Phoebe


Eastern Phoebe


Eastern Phoebe


Eastern Phoebe


Eastern Phoebe


Eastern Phoebe


Song Sparrow


Skunk Cabbage


Skunk Cabbage


Skunk Cabbage


Railroad Underpass


Skunk Cabbage


Skunk Cabbage


Eastern Bluebird


Brown-headed Cowbirds, male on left and female on right


Field Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Pileated Woodpecker


Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     4/9/11
Notes:      
Number of species:     27


Canada Goose     2
Wood Duck     1
Great Blue Heron     1
Killdeer     1
Ring-billed Gull     2
Red-bellied Woodpecker     9
Downy Woodpecker     7
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     4
Pileated Woodpecker     1
Eastern Phoebe     5
Blue Jay     11
American Crow     4
Black-capped Chickadee     13
Tufted Titmouse     8
White-breasted Nuthatch     5
Carolina Wren     1
Eastern Bluebird     1
American Robin     12
Field Sparrow     4
Song Sparrow     12
White-throated Sparrow     3
Dark-eyed Junco     2
Northern Cardinal     17
Red-winged Blackbird     7
Brown-headed Cowbird     9
American Goldfinch     3


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