Six hardy folks joined me on this cold, wet, and windy morning for the monthly group walk. We started at the Braes Valley parking lot at 8:00 and spent a relatively short hour and forty five minutes on the trail. Temperatures started in the low 40s and actually descended into the mid 30s while we were out. Despite the weather and a low level of bird activity, we managed to make a few neat observations. Not too far down the trail we found a single male Downy Woodpecker at the top of a bare tree. With the overcast conditions, my photos of it came out very dark. So I decided to make a stark black-and-white silhouette out of one. I like the way it came out!
Before we got to the footbridge we got good looks at a Red-shouldered Hawk across the creek and a Song Sparrow in the creek bed. Beyond the bridge we found Killdeer, Least Sandpipers, and nine Greater Yellowlegs in the creek. I always enjoy finding these shorebirds on our neighborhood creek because when I first started birding I was very surprised that birds like this could be found away from the coast. I'm especially excited to find such a large group of Greater Yellowlegs. For the last few years, during a few construction projects along the creek like Parmer Village, I stopped seeing these winter-resident birds in groups this large. I was lucky to see one flying up or down the creek during my walks. It's great to see that things have settled down enough for them to return in numbers I'd see six or seven years ago. Here's a photo showing seven of the nine Greater Yellowlegs:
Greater Yellowlegs can be distinguished from the very similar Lesser Yellowlegs by its relatively long bill. That bill is also sometimes slightly upturned, which you can see in the photo below. Lesser Yellowlegs has a shorter and very straight bill.
Here's our complete bird list from the morning.