Monday, February 25, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 25


Pileated Woodpecker. As I walked the gloom of Oatka today, loud and nearby cries rang out from this Pileated Woodpecker. It did not take long to track down this bird!

Pileated Woodpecker. That large hole looks freshly worked. I wonder if this is the bird's roosting hole and it was making its end of the day declarations of its territory before turning in for the night.

Pileated Woodpecker. Once it noticed me (this tree is right along the trail), the woodpecker froze until I had moved on.

Pileated Woodpecker. One last shot as I walked past and left the bird to return to its previous activities.

Species Seen:

Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 24


Northern Mockingbird. "Crossbill" the mockingbird was found in his usual location, defending his buckthorn berries. After the freezes we've had, I bet they are pretty sweet now.

Northern Mockingbird. It will be interesting to see if this bird nests in this area of the park, or whether this has been just a wintering location.

Winter Wren. I also recovered the Winter Wren that has been spending the winter along Oatka Creek. It is looking none the worse for wear after the winter we've had.

Winter Wren. The wren was not in a mood to play this morning. So, it was up for brief encounter and then over to the opposite bank of the creek.

American Robin. Perhaps due to the lack of fruit in the park this winter due to a poor growing season, robins have been spending their winter elsewhere. For the first time in months, treetops throughout the park were adorned by calling robins! Spring is on the way!!

Species Seen:

Canada Goose
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Black Creek Park • February 23


Tree Farm Trail. This is the same area I photographed a little while ago when all the trees were frosted with freshly fallen snow. The area feels different without that frosting. Perhaps still magical, but in a very different way.

Red Squirrel. Most of the time one has to marvel at how clever the members of the animal kingdom are. But, once in a while you wonder. I would have never noticed this squirrel for it was quite some distance away from the trail in the underbrush. However, once it saw me, it put up an alarm loud enough to raise the dead! When I naturally looked in its direction as a result, it suddenly decided it needed to hide, so it began climbing this tree until it realized I was watching it. At that point it froze in full sight. Next time, buddy, just keep quiet! :-)

Red-bellied Woodpecker. The county park map describes Black Creek's Bluebird Trail as a great place to find birds year round. I have always wondered at that because the seemingly solid mass of high, dense shrubbery doesn't seem to me to support that statement. Also, I've never found the trail to be very birdy at all. However, today it was Bird Central! A large mixed flock anchored by chickadees and woodpeckers was working the area along the trail for food. They were finding it, too, as this Red-bellied had just finished caching a large goodie in a neighboring tree's bark moments before this picture.

Red-bellied Woodpecker. On to look for the next munchie!

Red-tailed Hawk. This hawk definitely wants to use one of the several nests in Hardwood Swamp this spring. I've seen it now more than once trying to establish this area as its territory. However, it did not like my notice, despite the large distance between us. (By the way, I am now using a new 50x ultrazoom camera, so shrink this bird fifty times to get a sense of how far away this picture was taken.)

Red-tailed Hawk. It didn't waste any time leaving and finding a different and better hidden perch. This is about a second before launching.

Species Seen

Canada Goose
Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Tree Sparrow
House Sparrow

Oatka Creek Park • February 23


Carolina Wren. It was a morning of wintry drizzle in Oatka today. You can see this in most of the pictures. The creekside was the refuge of a few birds, such as a small flock of Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren. These spunky birds swirled around me at one point and then returned to cover. This bird here stayed in the open and went into a lengthly preening process.

Carolina Wren. Preening away!

Eastern Bluebird. I found the park's winter population of bluebirds out by a copse of Quaking Aspens along Black Billed Cuckoo Trail that seems to be a perennial favorite of this species.

Eastern Bluebirds. The bright blues of these males contrasts nicely with the remaining red fruits of the Multifloral Rose.

Eastern Bluebirds. There were at least four bluebirds in the group, and maybe more.

Eastern Bluebird. Here's one of the females of the bluebird flock.

Species Seen

Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 21


Hairy Woodpecker. It was cold and quiet at Oatka today. This lone Hairy Woodpecker broke the silence along the creek. You can see the hole that it is freshly excavating. The bit of red on the back of its head indicates it is a male.

White-tailed Deer. A couple of deer paused from their foraging activities to watch me as I moved along the creek trail. A small flock of Mallards would flush a few moments later and that would be it for most of the activity for the hike.

Species Seen:
Mallard
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 18


Brown Creeper. There were several wandering mixed flocks in Oatka today. As I was about to leave the woods and approach Warbler Loop, the sounds of chip notes began in ernest about me. Not seeing the sources of the calls, I whistled a few screech owl imitations. This Brown Creeper responded by taking up residence on a nearby tree!

Brown Creeper. These was more than one creeper mixed in with chickadees and other likely suspects. The creepers were also singing winter abbreviated songs. Hope for the coming spring!

Brown Creeper. Here the bird could be singing as the feathers on the throat appeared to be raised.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 17


Pileated Woodpecker. As you can see, it was a snowy morning at Oatka today. At the end of my hike the woods behind the lodge suddenly became alive with a large mixed flock of mostly woodpeckers. Tapping and hammering was going on all around me!

Pileated Woodpecker. Out of focus, but you can see the large area of white underneath the Pileated's wings. This produces a "flashing" effect when these large birds fly.

Pileated Woodpecker. Once again, this is a female. Where have the male Pileated Woodpeckers gone in Oatka Creek Park?

Pileated Woodpecker. This bird changed trees frequently, keeping an eye on me. However, it always chose to land on a tree closer to me than the last one!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Black Creek Park • February 16


Virginia Opossum. It was a partially cloudy afternoon with intermittent snow flurries at Black Creek Park today. As I was hiking along one of the trails not marked on the county park map, I saw this opossum making its way along the forest floor. It was clearly wary of me, though I was still at a distance and moving slowly. What it did next surprised me, though I've since learned it is quite natural ...

Virginia Opossum. It climbed a tree like it was easiest thing in the world to do! It was almost defiantly easy for the animal. It then froze so as to blend in with the other trees in the area.

Virginia Opossum. I soon realized the opossum was waiting me out. So as not to disturb the animal any further I put my camera down and moved on. Now I have a name for the trail on my map of the park: Possum Trail!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 13


Pileated Woodpecker. It felt like an early spring evening today in Oatka. This Pileated Woodpecker was still out and excavating for food.

Pileated Woodpecker. This is probably one of the two females I have been photographing all winter.

Pileated Woodpecker. This bird seems healthy and well fed despite the hard winter we've had.

Moon. Early spring also brings some of the best time for planet watching as the zodiac is almost straight up and down from the western horizon now. This means that early evening objects are generally at their yearly highest out of the haze of the horizon.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Black Creek Park • February 9


Tree Farm Trail. A hundred years ago Green's Nursery (Green Nursery Company) sat on the land that is now Black Creek Park. This is evident today as there are sections of the park where evergreen trees grow in tight spacings along straight rows.

Tree Farm Trail. After a good snowfall like we had yesterday (10 inches or so), the former tree farm areas become magical in their appearances and atmospheres.

Tree Farm Trail. Though these trees were heavily coated with snow, they did not bow under the weight like the deciduous trees elsewhere in the park.

Tree Farm Trail. The organized spacing of the trees is evident here.

Tree Farm Trail. This is a well used trail despite not begin on the county park map.

Tree Farm Trail. When seen in person, views like this automatically draw you into a state of bliss!

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. Elsewhere in the park are at least three old hawk nests in close proximity. Frequently a Great Horned Owls will use an old hawk nest as its own nest. However, close inspect (from quite a distance, however) did not reveal any "horns" peaking above the edge of any of the nests.

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. These nests were quite high in the air, well over 30 feet up. My vantage point was atop a small ridge which helped somewhat. Also, I have my 35x zoom camera with an 840 mm equivalent focal length at full zoom. All this is rather important as the Eastern Birds' Nests Peterson Field Guide notes this about Red-tailed Hawk nests: "Difficult to approach closer than about 100 yds. (91.4 m) before incubating bird flushes." Fortunately, the terrain around these nests makes a "too close" approach impractical to impossible.

Red-tailed Hawk Nest. Though there are no hawks in this picture, there were two at this nest just moments before this shot! Rather than a potential mating pair, it seemed they might be two males as a fight ensued the moment the second hawk showed up. As one of the hawks landed on this nest, the other flew in, started screaming that well known call, and drove the interloper off.

Red-tailed Hawk. And here is the victor! The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas Handbook for Workers gives egg dates for Red-tails of March 8th through May 16th, unfledged juveniles (nestlings) from April 17 through June 20th, and fledglings from June 1st to July 8th. (Remember that birds don't read the books and don't always follow such specifications exactly!) There is one brood per year, the egg incubation period is from 23 to 28 day, and nestlings can fly after day 45.

Red-tailed Hawk. No, the hawk is not looking at me, but at the other hawk that has come back for round two! A moment after this picture was taken the cries of the Red-tail resumed and the chase was on once more. Must be prime real estate!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • February 4


Brown Creeper. The area along Gypsum Hollow Trail near the creek has always been a productive area for spotting Brown Creepers. Today was no exception! The bird's trill caught my ear and I was delighted as it made a very close pass to me on its way towards the creek.

Brown Creeper. I briefly spished and it seemed the bird responded by coming even closer.

Carolina Wren. Later along the creek, the Carolina Wrens put up a nearly continuous alarm of "cheer" calls as I entered their territory.

Carolina Wren. These birds have been, perhaps, the most vocal birds in the park this winter, even more so than the Blue Jays and crows.

Carolina Wren. These birds seem to have weathered this winter successfully enough, as I have not really noticed a decline in their numbers.