Monday, June 25, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • June 13

Question Mark. Today started out, as usual, without a hint of what was to come.

Indigo Bunting. This female has been hanging around and defending an area along the creek that is also right on Trout Run Trail. Here she is eating grass seeds.

Indigo Bunting. Normally it is difficult to spot female buntings during nesting season, but this particular bird is now very reliable.

Osprey. It seems Osprey activity along the creek has been a bit higher this year than previous years.Within a month or so post natal dispersal will begin and Ospreys should become a nearly daily sight along the creek for a month or so.

Eastern Comma

Eastern Comma

Common Merganser. This event caught the notice of a number of the area birders. According to the first and second New York State Bird Breeding Atlas, no known breeding locations for this species were found in Monroe County. In fact, the Lake Ontario shore (and a good part of the Erie-Ontario Plain) is devoid of known breeding locations with the exceptions of Sodus Bay and the coastline north of Oswego.

Common Merganser. Locals (including me) have suspected local breeding due to older immature mergansers showing up along the creek later in the summer. However these older birds could fly and, hence, could have breed some distance away and were merely migrating through. These birds here do not appear to be old enough to fly yet. (According to Cornell's Birds of North America, Common Mergansers young cannot fly until they are about 65 days old.)

Common Merganser. Counting several times using several pictures, my best estimate is seventeen (17) juveniles following the adult female.

Common Merganser. Seventeen eggs is a very high number for a single merganser to lay, though it is the absolute upper end according to Birds of North America. Twelve is a more typical upper end. This brood may be the result of more than one merganser laying their eggs in a single nest, i.e., so-called "egg-dumping". If so, for better or for worse, this adult ending up having it be her nest.

Common Merganser. This adult didn't seem overly taxed by the large flotilla behind her, however. She kept an eye on them and me and the fishermen she would pass. When I would shift my position slightly to get a better angle, she would respond by moving the group a few inches further away from me.

Indigo Bunting. After the Common Mergansers, everything else seems a bit anticlimactic!

Eastern Bluebird

Rough-fruit Cinquefoil

Rough-fruit Cinquefoil

Eastern Cottontail

Common Milkweek. This is the first day I noticed milkweeks blooming. There fragrance is so sweet and wonderful, almost like candy. The large patch where I look for Monarchs can be intoxicating in the scent.

Monarch Caterpillar. I found one caterpillar with its head buried deeply in the flowers.

Eastern Bluebird

Yellow-throated Vireo. This is another easy to hear but incredibly difficult to see bird. I was hoping these birds would stay and nest in the park this year, but after an encouraging two or three weeks, they seem to have moved on.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This was a fine way to end the hike!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird