Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • December 8

Oatka Creek Park, Monroe, US-NY
Dec 8, 2011 8:07 AM - 10:32 AM
Protocol: Traveling
5.1 mile(s)
Comments:     It was a partially cloudy and 34F early morning birding hike in Oatka today. The wind was very chilling this morning, making it feel much colder than the thermometer reading. The big sighting was a possible Varied Thrush along Gypsum Hollow Trail. (See detailed report below.) Apart from that, it was a quiet morning that seemed to be less active than the checklist suggests. The creek was devoid of birds except for a Winter Wren and a Dark-eyed Junco. The wooded section of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail continues to be an excellent spot for multiple species sightings of woodpeckers.

White-tailed Deer

Red-bellied Woodpecker. The woodpeckers have been enjoying the grapes of late. Perhaps it's been cold enough now that the fruits have sweetened up a bit.

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch. It looks like it has just removed this large seed from a cache in the crack of the tree bark.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

18 species

Ring-billed Gull  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  10
Black-capped Chickadee  9
Tufted Titmouse  7
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Winter Wren  1
Varied Thrush  1     Soft nondescript chip notes from the high shrubs and tangles along Gypsum Hollow Trail caused me to try some Screech Owl imitations. This area usually produces White-tailed Sparrows and American Robins of late. Up popped a bird about 80% the size of a robin and clearly larger than a sparrow. Not recognizing the species, I went for binoculars instead of camera. My first impression of the coloration was that of a male Blackburnian Warbler in breeding plumage, though the bird was clearly too big and sported a dark band across the upper breast near the base of the neck. (Of course, the season was wrong for a breeding Blackburnian, too.) The color of the throat and breast were rosy, though the lighting from the clouded skies made subtle color differences hard to see. The upper parts of the bird were slate colored without noticeable banding or streaking. The tail was notably shorter than a robin's and the overall profile was more 'compact' than a robin's. The bird was seen amongst the tangles against a bright clouded sky, though binoculars helped to reduce the influence of the white background. I have never seen a Varied Thrush before and knew they were a rarity in the region, so I was trying hard to make it be a small robin seen under less than idea viewing conditions, but could never convince myself of that. It flew off in the direction of the creek, heading upstream (west). I tried to recover it, but was not successful. On the chance it might be associating with robins, I went looking for robins until I realized there were none in the park today. (I had seen some unusual robin movement in the skies over the park yesterday, though I didn't think it was that noteworthy at the time. Perhaps it still isn't.) Comparing what I saw with field guide photos on my iPod (i.e., still in the field), it looked just like an immature (first year) Varied Thrush.
European Starling  6
White-throated Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  6
Northern Cardinal  2
House Sparrow  2

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (