Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • September 9

White-tailed Deer. The behavior of the deer in the park is changing in step with the season. They are more cautious, though the first year deer can still be rather curious. This one started walking towards me, and then thought better of it. I began talking calming words and this seemed to have the proverbial "deer in the headlights" type of effect. When I stopped talking the spell was broken and the party of deer moved off.

Eastern Towhee. The passing cold front last night brought in a large number of fall migrants into the park. The resulting cooler weather also seemed to enliven the park residents, like this towhee. This was an excellent breeding season for Eastern Towhees, the unofficial park bird. A number of large families of towhees continue to be very vocal and active throughout the park. With the possible exceptions of Gray Catbird and Northern Flicker, they are most vocal birds in the park right now. Yes, they are more vocal than the chickadees!

Eastern Towhee. This is a first year bird. Its iris is sepia brown as opposed to an adult's bright red. Its behavior was also juvenile-like: when the other towhees dove for cover, this one carefully snuck out along the branch until it could safely get a good look at me. Then, with no perceived threat from my direction, it began a staring contest with the camera!

White Turtlehead. An Osprey made two separate passes along the creek this morning, both times annoyed that I had disturbed its fishing by being within half a mile of its hunting perch! After one failed attempt to get free of the tree canopy to get a picture, I walked by this blooming turtlehead. I have never seen this species before in Oatka. It was an isolated plant, so it will be interesting to see if it establishes itself in the long run.

Chestnut-sided Warbler. This morning you simply spished whenever you heard a chickadee, and accompanying migrants would readily reveal themselves. The best photo op was of this first year female Chestnut-sided Warbler. The eye ring was bright white and strong, the top of the head and back a bright yellowish-green, and the wing bars distinctly yellow.

Chestnut-side Warbler. This is actually a terrific shot for identification purposes. The black and white pattern under the tail immediately narrows the number of possible species quite a bit. The underside is pure white except for two yellow blotches at the base of the tail. (As a corollary, there is *no* chestnut coloring on the flank.) The visible wing bar is clearly yellow. Finally, the tail is being held cocked upwards as in all the pictures of this bird. All this adds up to a first year female Chestnut-sided Warbler in fall plumage.

Chestnut-sided Warbler. The eye ring was quite obvious in the field, as was the color of the top of the head and back.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Great Blue Heron. The first time I spished along the creek, an undetected Great Blue Heron must have been perched in a nearby tree. It did *not* like my spishing and erupted into a prolonged stream of loud, ugly croaks as it lifted to the air and flew off. It may or may not have been the bird here, as this picture was taken some time later.

Goldenrod. In the bright sunshine these flowers more than earn their name!