Monday, January 31, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • January 31

It was a cloudy, 18F sunset birding hike in Oatka today. Wanting to get back to the see if I could recover the yellow-bellied sapsucker tonight (no luck), I made a beeline via Black Billed Cuckoo Trail right to Gypsum Hollow Trail and then the extension trail. As I entered Gypsum Hollow, the silence was finally broken by a hairy woodpecker who went into alarm call mode. This, in turn, got a Carolina wren worked up and giving its "cheer" calls. Reaching the extension trail, I took it to the dam ruins and then searched for the sapsucker, but all was quiet again until I heard the "kit-kit"s of the winter wren from across the creek. I was surprised how easily I could hear its calls. I then picked up on crows, chickadees, and finally a red-bellied woodpecker, all across the creek on the far side. After waiting long enough to attract the attention from any birds on my side of the creek, I gave up the sapsucker watch for the evening and continued on down to the bridge over the creek. A few mallards flushed in the distance and a robin called, but that was it there. Backtracking towards Gypsum Hollow, I ran into a group of chickadees and kinglets. The kinglets taunted my camera by hanging around me for several minutes, always moving just enough to defeat every attempt the autofocus made to get a sharp picture. :-) After getting my normal allotment of worthless pictures, I headed back into the woods, hoping for one last opportunity of finding the sapsucker. I got excited at one point when I heard light tapping, but found the source to be a downy woodpecker. Still, it gave me a nice photo-op. :-) The remainder of the hike was essentially birdless.


Dam ruins across Oatka Creek.

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Golden-crowned kinglet. Focused, but poor scene composition. :-)

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     1/31/11
Number of species:     10

Mallard     6
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     3
Hairy Woodpecker     1
American Crow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     9
Carolina Wren     1
Winter Wren     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     3
American Robin     1

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • January 30

It was a snowy and breezy, 22F sunrise birding hike in Oatka today. Though the feel of the morning was one of all the birds being in hiding, safe from the elements, I did have seven species on my walk along the dirt road to the woods: crows, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, a jay, a white-throated sparrow, and a red-tailed hawk. The later was interesting, as the crows seemed to be mobbing something in the distance, and the hawk call came from that midst. However, there was also a blue jay right behind me, so one can never be 100% sure without a visual sighting ... Black Billed Cuckoo Trail was quiet, and Warbler Loop only produced a cardinal and a small flock of robins before reaching the creek side. There, a flicker called out and as I approached the bridge, I could a lot of ducks in the creek. Carefully walking out onto the bridge so as not to spook the ducks, the main raft moved near the creek bank and fed while keeping a wary eye on me. A lone black duck broke off from this group and went its own way downstream. Moving onto Trout Run Trail, I was surprised by a call I hadn't heard since before the snows came. It was the "querr" call of a red-bellied woodpecker. Of course, these birds have been extremely vocal all winter, but this call has seemed generally absent from their repertoire. Reaching the end of the trail and turning around, I picked up a downy woodpecker and then some starlings. Then, near the dam ruins and across the creek in the woods of the far bank I heard a mewing. I had been momentarily standing still to allow some chickadees to catch up to me in the hopes of them bringing a mixed pocket of birds along, but figuring 10 minutes of hard walking could get me back across the bridge and into the area of the mewing, I abandoned the chickadees and took off. I had to eventually take a trail unmarked on the park map, but blazed with yellow paint marks, to finally reach the creek side near the dam ruins on the south side of the creek. I heard the mewing again and then all went silent except for some light tapping. A few tense moments of searching revealed my quarry: a male yellow-bellied sapsucker. It was working a tree about four feet off the ground and wasn't the least bit concerned with my presence. I took tons of pictures and a couple of videos. I've had sapsuckers once or twice before in the park and in this same generally area (northeast corner of the park). I'll have to add this location to my daily hikes to see if this bird hangs around this area for a while or is just passing through. Though I hiked some more through the park afterwards, that was pretty much it for the species list.

Click on the pictures for larger versions!

Mallards

Red-bellied woodpecker

American robin

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Blue jay

Blue jay

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     1/30/11
Number of species:     17

American Black Duck     1
Mallard     20
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     1
Downy Woodpecker     4
Northern Flicker     1
Blue Jay     7
American Crow     13
Black-capped Chickadee     6
Tufted Titmouse     2
White-breasted Nuthatch     4
American Robin     17
European Starling     4
White-throated Sparrow     4
Northern Cardinal     3
American Goldfinch     1

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(
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Oatka Creek Park • January 29

It was a snowy, 27F noontime birding hike in Oatka today. With the snow and light wind, I assumed the birds would be huddled down by the creek and in other sheltering locations, and they were. Before leaving the parking lot, I picked up a red-bellied woodpecker, crow, and Carolina wren. A chickadee checked in along the dirt road to the woods. Black Billed Cuckoo Trail was quiet and then I stepped into Warbler Loop. The pileated woodpecker from a couple days ago was back in the tallest tree along the Loop and as soon as it saw me, it started making like Paul Revere and alerted the whole area of my presence. :-) This, in turn, caused a flicker and a hairy woodpecker to go into alarm calls, which caused a white-throated sparrow to pop up from the foliage and give me a once-over. I moved on and left the commotion behind me as I approached the creek side. Walking towards the bridge, a belted kingfisher started rattling as if to pick up where the pileated left off. As I crossed the bridge, a titmouse and a downy woodpecker called out. Along Trout Run Trail I spotted a small raft of mallards that seemed to grow every time I counted them over the course of walking the trail in both directions. The treat of this section, however, occurred on the way back when I noticed the "hammer and chisel" pounding of a pileated woodpecker. Spotting the bird diligently engaged in excavating a large hole next to some other large holes in a tree, I got a number of good pictures. Eventually moving on, I returned to the bridge and decided to take Woodland Trail so as to continue along the creek side going upstream. While I didn't find any more birds in the water, about halfway along the trail the drumming of another pileated started and accompanied me nearly the entire rest of the way along this trail. At this point I decided to take Old Burrell Road all the way back to the parking lot.

Click on the pictures for larger versions!

White-throated sparrow

Mallards

Mallard

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     1/29/11
Number of species:     16

Canada Goose     3
Mallard     19
Belted Kingfisher     1
Red-bellied Woodpecker     2
Downy Woodpecker     4
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     3
Blue Jay     1
American Crow     2
Black-capped Chickadee     4
Tufted Titmouse     3
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Carolina Wren     1
American Robin     1
White-throated Sparrow     4

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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

RBA Trip • Mendon Ponds Park • January 29

Today I attended the Rochester Birding Association field trip to Mendon Ponds Park. We walked the Square along Birdsong Trail and fed the birds by hand. It was great fun for everyone and this is one of those trips that is great for photography!

Click on the images for larger versions!

Black-capped chickadee

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

Dark-eyed junco

American tree sparrow

Eastern gray squirrel

Northern cardinal

Northern cardinal

Northern cardinal

Northern cardinals ... standoff?

Northern cardinal

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

White-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

Downy woodpecker

Brown creeper

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oatka Creek Park • January 28

It was a cloudy, snowy, and windy, 30F sunset birding hike in Oatka today. Being another quiet night for birding, I was lulled me into thinking nothing was going to happen when suddenly along the creek side I came up a large, noisy flock of robins. They were just east of the bridge, feeding on the buckthorn berries on either side of the trail. They would also take turns going down to the creek into a particularly sheltered location to drink. I stopped my progress and with each careful step several robins would fly into the air nervously, then land back in the trees and resume feeding. Reaching the bridge, I heard the calls of a golden-crowned kinglet on the far side of the bridge. Moving across the bridge, I spotted where the robins were drinking and noticed a cardinal in the general vicinity. Retracing my steps, I carefully made my way back through the flock of robins and onto Gypsum Hollow Trail. The quiet returned with only the addition of a red-bellied woodpecker and a second downy woodpecker for the night. The walk down the dirt road back to the car was silent.


American robin

American robin

American robin

American robin

American robins

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     1/28/11
Number of species:     7

Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     2
American Crow     1
Black-capped Chickadee     6
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
American Robin     55
Northern Cardinal     1

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

Oatka Creek Park • January 27

It was a cloudy and frequently snowing, 33F sunset birding hike in Oatka today. It was a very quiet night for birds. The only hardy souls seemed to be the woodpeckers, who appeared undeterred by the elements. The dirt road to the woods was devoid of birds. Once on Black Billed Cuckoo Trail, the silence was eventually broken by the loud calls of a downy woodpecker. As I raised my binoculars, however, I caught sight of a silent flicker in almost perfect camouflage. As I walked further down the trail, the flicker eventually started calling and making interaction sounds. A chickadee called from deep in the woods. Out on Warbler Loop, a pileated woodpecker sat near the top of the tallest tree that borders the Loop, allowing it to see me long before I realized it was there. Still at some considerable distance, it decided I was too close, and flew from its perch with a loud, long sequence of calls. Deep within the heart of the Loop, a single white-throated sparrow summoned up enough courage to investigate me, flying up to an exposed perch in front of me. It then moved to two or three more perches before it was satisfied and disappeared back in the thicket. Birdlife disappeared after that for a while, as the creek around the bridge was empty. Doggedly scanning the creek from the bridge, I finally found the mallards way downstream. Since it had been a quiet night, I had a few extra minutes. So, I walked a couple tenths of a mile down Trout Run Trail. No one was there, so I backtracked and eventually reached Gypsum Hollow Trail, where I found another downy. Finally nearing my car on the dirt road to the parking lot, I starting picking up the calls of tree sparrows. I found a pair perching in a tree along the road. One gave me a nice photo-op, despite the snowy and miserable lighting conditions. It was a nice high note to end on!


Mallards

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

Location:     Oatka Creek Park
Observation date:     1/27/11
Number of species:     8

Mallard     9
Downy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     1
Pileated Woodpecker     1
American Crow     4
Black-capped Chickadee     3
American Tree Sparrow     2
White-throated Sparrow     1

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