Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • December 31

Merlin. Before arriving at the park proper, I decided to drive around the adjacent farm fields looking for Snowy Owls. No owls, but this Merlin was perched over the road.

Merlin. I stopped the car (the road was deserted at the moment), rolled down my window, and took a few pictures. The falcon never budged from its perch.

Long-eared Owl. At the park I was walking along the wooded portion of Black Billed Cuckoo Trail scouting for possible Great Horned Owl nesting locations when my heart skipped a beat: right on the trail was this Long-eared Owl!

Long-eared Owl. This is my first Long-ear sighting in Oatka, though I have had many in Owl Woods.

Long-eared Owl. A video of this owl is at http://youtu.be/33yibB_BID0 .

Eastern Towhee. Another surprise! What is this summertime bird doing here in winter?

Eastern Towhee. The area Christmas Bird Count usually turns up a towhee on its list, so this is not unheard of. It is still rare, however!

Purple Finches. Another pleasant surprise! Though a fairly common winter visitant in our area, I haven't seen Purple Finches at Oatka in nearly a year.

Purple Finch. This is the female.

Purple Finch

Purple Finch. The finches sure enjoyed eating the seed pods in the foreground.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Summerville Pier • December 30

Today's Snowy Owl was finally found at Summerville Pier after searching Charlotte and Summerville Piers, then the east shore of Braddock Bay, and finally back at Charlotte and Summerville Piers.

This owl was a light colored male.

This was the best possible picture from Charlotte Pier looking across the river to Summerville Pier. Time to drive over to the other pier!

Now approaching Summerville Pier, it soon became apparent that the Snowy Owl was sitting in a pothole in the pier's surface. And, yes, the snow and wind were brutal!

Have to always check for other pesky raptors!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • December 29

Red-breasted Nuthatch. As far as I can tell, there is a single resident Red-breasted Nuthatch in Oatka Creek Park. It has been in residence since last winter.

Red-breasted Nuthatch. Last year was an invasion year for this species. It was during that invasion when this individual showed up in the park and put roots down in a stand of tall evergreens near the park's entrance.

Red-breasted Nuthatch. I use to go to Mendon Ponds Park to see Red-breasted Nuthatches, but recently the Oatka bird has been a more reliable find.

Pileated Woodpecker. It was an excellent morning for spotting woodpeckers, and there were plenty of Pileateds to add to the checklist.

Pileated Woodpecker. Like last winter, I am finding almost exclusively female Pileateds at this time.

Golden-crowned Kinglet. During the other three seasons of the year these birds tend to stick to the upper tree canopy. However, during the winter I frequently find them on or near the forest floor, like this bird.

Golden-crowned Kinglet. This bird was only a couple of inches off of the ground.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Pileated Woodpecker. Cleaning up a batch of Poison Ivy berries. Yum, yum, yum!

Pileated Woodpecker

Friday, December 27, 2013

Charlotte Pier • December 27

Today's Snowy Owl was hidden on the very end of the pier. I couldn't see it until I was almost too close to it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • December 26

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Brown Creeper almost invisible against the tree bark.

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • December 25

Last Quarter Moon

Pileated Woodpecker. This is a first-year (i.e., less than one year old) female.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

House Finch. This is a female.

House Finch. This is a male.

Oatka Creek. The rapid melting of a few days ago has caused areas streams to flood their banks and Oatka Creek is no exception. From this perspective the righthand bank is still above water but the lefthand bank is still largely under water and ice, flooding all of Trout Run Trail and depositing prodigious amounts of large downed trees and debris on the trail, to boot. A chainsaw crew will be needed at some point to put things aright.