12 folks joined me this morning for the November NASWC Bird walk. The weather was pleasantly overcast with just a bit of rain when we started by the Parmer Village model homes. We found a nice diversity of birds (especially our native sparrows) but we didn't get many good looks at them. That's sometimes how birding goes. Still it was a fun morning and here are some highlights.
Northern Mockingbirds were plentiful as usual, and I couldn't resist photographing this one near the east end of the creek.
Near the east end of Lake Creek we were treated to some beautiful views of light rain mixed with sunlight over tall grass in the creek bed. The creek bed was full of sparrows, and we got brief looks at Spotted Towhee, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow. Red-winged Blackbirds were numerous there, and we got some good looks at the males' red wing patches as they flew past us. Near the last dam on the creek we stumbled on a Grasshopper Sparrow that came back when I played a recording of its song. I got this mediocre photo of it and most of us got pretty good looks at it perched high in a Roosevelt Weed.
By the last dam on the creek we were treated to a female Belted Kingfisher flying in and chattering. But more exciting to me were two distant ducks upstream. Based mostly on the profiles of their heads, we figured out that they were female Hooded Mergansers. I got this distant photo of one, barely good enough to identity the species. And the birds flew off before we could get closer. But this was a new bird for my neighborhood list, bringing my personal total up to 208 species!
In the woods upstream of the last dam we found Ruby-crowned Kinglets and got good looks at several White-throated Sparrows. We also got to hear the White-throated Sparrows sing. Just west of these woods a few of us found a male Common Yellowthroat in the reeds alongside the trail. We continued west to the Town and Country playing fields where we walked the perimeter of the soccer fields to try and find the Lark Buntings that Barry Noret found on Friday. We couldn't find them but we did get good looks at a meadowlark and a Vesper Sparrow. And some of us briefly saw a Merlin fly right over our heads. I've only seen this small falcon a handful of times in the neighborhood.
We made our way back to the creek and watched a few more sparrows in the tall bushes and grass including Field Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, and Lincoln's Sparrows. A male and female House Sparrow even showed up providing a great opportunity to compare them with our native sparrows.
On our way back we found a Dark-eyed Junco, bringing our sparrow species total to 11! We found 43 species of birds total, and here's the complete list. What a fun morning!