14 folks participated in this month's NASWC Bird Walk. For the first time we overflowed the small parking area at the Parmer Village model homes! The weather was wonderful -- cool, clear, and calm. We found 37 species of birds in about 2 and a half hours, and here are some of the highlights:
Sparrows! The tall grass along the creek between our meeting spot and the first dam was loaded with native sparrows. It was difficult to get decent looks at them, but some of us saw several Vesper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows, the 2 most common winter sparrows along this strip. And a few of us got quick looks at this much less common Grasshopper Sparrow.
In the creek bed we found 3 American Pipits, the first I've seen this season.
Throughout the morning we found several Eastern Phoebes, our only year-round member of the flycatcher family, perched in obvious spots and sometimes singing. Here was one.
By the last dam on the creek Barry Noret played a recording of an Eastern Screech-Owl which brought in several small songbirds because of their instinctive predator mobbing behavior. This included Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Northern Cardinals, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Carolina Wren, and half a dozen Blue Jays, squawking up a storm.
In a dead tree over the woods beside the creek 2 Northern Flickers lounged for a bit, allowing us pretty good views from the other side of the water. And when we entered these woods we got great looks at a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in an elm tree we walked underneath. These are 2 woodpecker species we only see here in the winter. Here's a great photo Gracen Duffield got of most of us just before we found the sapsucker. (I'm the fat guy with the beard in the middle.)
(Here are more of Gracen's photos from this morning. Thanks Gracen!)
In these woods we heard a few White-throated Sparrows and got fleeting glimpses of them. But it wasn't until we were further down the trail that we got a great look at a beautiful singing male. This was my favorite bird of the morning, and the first White-throated Sparrow I've seen this season. This bird sang for us and stayed perched in a visible spot for several minutes, allowing everyone in the group to see and hear him.
On our way back we encountered 2 female Lesser Goldfinches feeding on sunflower seeds. And Gracen got this great photo of one:
As we got back to the cars a Red-tailed Hawk flew over, completing a very enjoyable morning of birding with friends and neighbors. Thanks for joining me!