Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hawk, Owl, Brown Thrasher

Just after dawn this morning I got out of my car at the new Lake Creek Trail parking lot and I was actually a little bit cold in a t-shirt and light pants. The first birds I heard were Blue Jays and something loud and large-sounding that I didn't recognize. I walked a little ways down the trail near the low water crossing and I saw that it was a first-year Cooper's Hawk. I've never seen one vocalizing so much. (In fact, maybe I've never seen one vocalizing at all!). A few minutes later after checking the creek and not finding anything interesting, I returned and flushed a Great Horned Owl! It flew right over me and across the creek. Maybe that's why the Blue Jays and Cooper's Hawk were making so much noise. The Blue Jays saw it too, and followed the owl across the creek. I found it again in an uncomfortable-looking perch and got this poor photo:

This was a great way to start my morning, and now I was really enjoying the cool weather and the anticipation of finding some new fall birds. Near the end of Briar Hollow I found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Wilson's Warbler, and another warbler I just couldn't identify. Then I heard a call note that sounded like a Mockingbird, but not quite right. I suspected it was a Brown Thrasher. These are related to Mockingbirds but we only get a few of them in the neighborhood during the winter. They are real skulkers and usually stay in the low dense brush. I kept hearing this call note and finally saw the bird and confirmed it was a Brown Thrasher, my first of the season. I staked it out for a few minutes and got these pictures when it finally came out into the open.

I observed at least 1 more Brown Thrasher on the flood plain property and there might have been 4. I kept seeing brown long-tailed birds flying into the foliage that did not look quite like female Northern Cardinals. Some other fall migrants and returning winter resident birds I saw were 2 Indigo Buntings, several House Wrens, 2 Yellow Warblers, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and several Eastern Phoebes. I also saw a flock of 14 ducks fly over, heading south, but they were too high and fast for me to identify. The rest of the morning was fun, but increasingly warm. Even though I started out a little bit cold, I ended my birding sweating from the heat, as usual.

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