Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • December 9

Pileated Woodpecker. Winter, at least for birds, is in full effect. Perhaps due to the prevailing dry conditions, this year's small fruit crop is largely gone already in the park. Though the woodpeckers will still mostly subsist on overwintering insects, there will be little in the way of Poison Ivy berries and grapes to supplement their diets. Staghorn Sumac berries are fairly plentiful, however.

Pileated Woodpecker. Generally speaking, however, this bird, along with the other woodpeckers, will do well enough in Oatka this winter. The park's insect population is generally quite large, probably due to the presence of the creek and the area previously being farmland.

Pileated Woodpecker. Of course, bird feeders at the various houses that surround the park will also supplement the winter food supply.

Pileated Woodpecker. On a different note, the best time of the year for spotting these large woodpeckers is definitely at hand! Simply listen for the drumming, hammering, and loud cries throughout the woods. They are all over the place!

Mallards. The temperatures are not yet consistently cold enough for area ponds to freeze over. So, the creek has only sported these four ducks of late. However, they are now regulars and fairly easy to find, nestled somewhere along the bank in an attempt to avoid detection.

Oriental Bittersweet. This is an invasive species that is, however, not having much luck in Oatka it seems. There are only one or two isolated plants in the entire park, and this situation has not changed over the past few years. Still, the bright red seeds are a welcomed splash of color in a park that is otherwise dressed in its heavily muted winter colors.