Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • November 3

Cedar Waxwing. A flock of waxwings was perched along Warbler Loop this morning in the intermittent rain and snow. (The ground is still too warm for the snow to accumulate.) Unlike the other birds in the flock, there are no red wax tips on the wings of this bird. Its bill seems a bit stubby, too, so it is probably a first year (immature) bird.

Great Blue Heron. Yes, that is snow falling in the picture! (The first of the year that I can recall.) The white crown and "shaggy" appearance indicates this is an adult. It is trying to nap and not very happy with me spotting it at a distance.

Great Blue Heron. It would take to wing moments later, but that is not the end of the story ...

Red-tailed Hawk. About this time of year a young Red-tailed Hawk takes up residence along the creek and will be a fixture late into the winter. There will be plenty of ducks and songbirds to feed on the entire season ... if it can catch them. The success rate is generally low for a young raptor until it fine tunes its hunting techniques. The question is whether it will survive long enough to figure out the hunting thing!

Great Blue Heron. On my return trip across the bridge I found the heron now on the bank. It was seemingly settled in as it is was only on one leg (the other was tucked up under its feathers for warmth) and didn't move as I slowly made my way so as not to startle it. 

American Tree Sparrow. These cold weather birds are common winter residents in the area, with the notable exception of last winter when they were largely absent. Today I casually counted more that I had all last winter total in the park. There were easily a dozen or more without trying hard to find or hear them.

Maple Hill. The deciduous trees are largely bare in the park now, making the few with remaining leaves stand out. There are only isolated evergreens throughout the park and probably not enough to constitute a distinct ecological habitat. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch. The Red-breasted Nuthatch Invasion of 2012 continues! I usually have to travel elsewhere in the region to find these birds as they favor dense conifers, though they will tolerate a larger variety of trees during migration. There are a dozen or so large conifers by the park entrance on an adjacent private property. Maybe I won't have to travel to find these birds this winter!

Red-breasted Nuthatch