Made it to the first official (Lake Region) Audubon field trip to "Ye Olde Stompin' Grounds", Saddle Creek Park. Discovered it's a fifteen minute ride there from my house, wonder how long it will take via bike. Need to measure the distance first.
Let me discribe the scene as I pulled up this morning.
When I bird this park, I start by birding from my truck, taking in whatever waders and wet habitat birds are around. The old mine pits hold water, and are used as fishing ponds by locals, both people and birds. They tell me the fishing is pretty good, but I haven't had much luck there yet. I mostly don't have time to fish. Like most Americans my age (28 right now, birthday in October, if you want to buy me a present!) I schedule away my time, but I think I do a pretty good job of getting my priorities straight. My daughter knows who I am, and comes running, and most of the time, she's my little sidekick. It was nice to have my whole brain to devote to finding and identifying birds for a change.
The amount of birds these ponds hold amazes me. I found several dozen, if not hundreds of BOAT TAILED GRACKLES at the turn in, hanging out at the local bait shop. A huge flock of WOOD STORKS flew up as I started my way. I thought to myself, "it's going to be a good day". All the way back, I found some more of "the Usual Suspects", AMERICAN ANHINGA, WHITE IBIS, MOURNING DOVE, GREAT EGRET, and GREAT BLUE HERON. At one pond, I watched, amazed as several BARN SWALLOWS swooped the water for drinks and bugs. Toward the gunrange I found NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, and BELTED KINGFISHER.
Phase two involved the rest of the birders with Lake Region Audubon, and entails the areas around parking, including the entryway onto the "Tenorac Trail." It costs $3 to actually do the trail, so we didn't do that. I guess that makes us all cheap! One day I'll actually do the trail, though, maybe when I get a little more cabbage. The cheary notes of NORTHERN CARDINALS and BLUE JAYS greeted us, and we experienced our first migrants. I found a RED EYED VIREO and CAROLINA WREN waiting in the tree tops. Across the pond at our little parking area, I spied a LIMPKIN, while a COMMON MOORHEN swam in the water. A pair of LOGGER HEADED SHRIKES perched atop a little picnic shelter, and our first of several (thousand it seemed) BLUE GREY GNATCATCHERS appeared. A DOWNY WOODPECKER cheered us on, and the NORTHERN PARULAS turned out in force. As we arrived at the trailhead (the free one that is) we spied two TRI COLORED HERONS as they flew accross the pond.
The "Good Part" as it were, is the story along the trail itself. It holds the migrants, and really keeps you on your toes at times. The great part to me is that water habitat and wood habitat are in such close proximity, you could find a heron and a warbler within a few steps of each other. The bugs weren't too bad, but I will have to remember my bugspray next time. High in a tree, we found PRAIRIE WARBLERS. It seemed odd to me, I've usually found them about eye level. Then we found a great bird, a YELLOW BILLED CUCKOO, a pair actually, eating a bug. Good job, is what I thought! I personally got excited over a RED BELLIED WOODPECKER. Since it was specie number two in the woodpecker catagory, I felt a woodpecker trifecta coming. I will keep birding all day to complete a trifecta. Trifectas come in several varieties, woodpecker, mimids, and swallow are the most common. There's also a Heron Perfecta, when I see all the local species of heron, but I've only scored that once (Stupid cattle egrets can be notoriously hard to find around here.) Then we got a great look at a female YELLOW WARBLER, several BLACK AND WHITE WARBLERS, and a TUFTED TITMOUSE. Soon after, toward the middle of the trail, we found GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER and AMERICAN REDSTARTS. The little fireballs were active!
I completed the woodpecker trifecta with some great looks at a PILEATED WOODPECKER. As I pointed out an anhinga on a branch to a lady from Connecticut, an OSPREY flew overhead. At a clear spot in the forest, we had decent looks at an odd looking WHITE EYED VIREO. It was in the throws of molt, and had no tail feathers. The final bird to note was YELLOW THROATED WARBLER a bird which eluded me a great deal of the day, but others had noted. I left about 11:00 AM, but the trip was going strong. I'm sure other species would have appeared.
Me and Katie are definately going to take a walk there soon.
Until the Next Hollingsworth report,