Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • December 1

Hairy Woodpecker. Winter is now upon us as there was a thin layer of snow on the ground throughout the park this morning. This is the best time of year for spotting woodpeckers, like this female Hairy Woodpecker.

Pileated Woodpecker. This was another female woodpecker that was loudly and persistently excavating the crevice in front of her.

Pileated Woodpecker. As I inched my way through the woods to close the range, it became apparent that this Pileated had found a very productive food spot as she alternated hammering and eating. 

Pileated Woodpecker. I was permitted to approach quite closely. The food spot must have been remarkably productive and the woodpecker was not about to abandon it. She was also perched about twenty feet in the air, so I was not exactly in her face. :-)

Mallards. Like most waterways in the area, the creek is particularly low at the moment. These four ducks were the sum total of all birds actually in the creek this morning.

Red Squirrel. Along the creekside the Red Squirrel appears to be the dominant squirrel by far. As you move away from the creek the Red Squirrel population falls off and is replaced with Gray Squirrels and Eastern Chipmunks.

Winter Wren. Being the first hour after sunrise, the creekside Winter Wren seemed more interested in interacting with me than it has recently. It still beat me hands down in hide-and-seek as it would perch on the end of the exposed bit of downed tree and call until I spotted it, at which point it would change perches and repeat the process. This was the best I could manage with the camera today.

Carolina Wren. Ah, but the Carolina Wrens were also out in full force and loudly singing in a call-and-answer sequence with each other! As I stood, watched, and listened, three or four Carolinas passed by me at close range, singing one type of song back and forth until one of the birds would change songs. Then, all the other wrens would switch to the new song, singing back and forth again.

Carolina Wren. These birds were very responsive to my whisper spishes today. Of course, now that winter is hand, it is time to start retiring most spishing for the season so that the birds are not needlessly distracting from the task of surviving the harsher weather conditions. 

Northern Mockingbird. Winter is also the best time for spotting mockingbirds in the park. Though they are year-round residents and probably nest in the immediately vicinity of the park, e.g., the backyards of neighboring houses, I usually only see them actually in the park when the snow flies.